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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
John Degenkolb has helped to save the junior Paris-Roubaix. Astana had a great weekend with wins in Oman, Colombia, France and Spain. Nick White won the Melbourne to Warrnambool. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: John Degenkolb saves the junior Paris-Roubaix
Late last week it was looking as if the the under-19 version of Paris-Roubaix was going to be cancelled. It’s organisers were facing a €10,000 shortfall and seemingly had no choice but to scrap the 2019 edition. Cue John Degenkolb.
The 2015 Paris-Roubaix winner set up a GoFundMe page to crowdfund the needed cash, raising more than €11,500 in 24 hours.
“Immediately it was clear to me that I wanted to do everything possible to prevent this worst case,” Degenkolb wrote on the GoFundMe page.
All funds over the needed €10,000 are going to the Amis des Paris-Roubaix group, a volunteer organisation that cares for the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix. Degenkolb became an ambassador for the group in October 2018. He kickstarted the funding for the junior Paris-Roubaix with his own donation of €2,500.
Gut gemacht, Herr Degenkolb.
Beauty of Cycling
Urban downhill mountain biking is both beautiful and utterly bonkers. Check out the winning run from the recent Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo, won by local rider Pedro Ferreira. Held on the steep streets (and stairs and rooftops …) of Valparaíso, Chile, this event is now into its 17th edition.
Follow the link for more at Pinkbike.
Miguel Angel Lopez wins the Tour of Colombia
Colombian riders took the first six places on GC at the Tour of Colombia which wrapped up over the weekend with Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) taking overall honours.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was leading the GC coming in the final stage (having won stage 5 from a small group), but the sixth and final stage was a battle of the Colombian climbers. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the stage ahead of 21-year-old Ivan Sosa (Sky) and Lopez, with Egan Bernal (Sky) fourth. After a fourth and a second earlier in the race, Lopez took the overall win by four seconds, ahead of Sosa, with Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) third, at 42 seconds.
The final stage was marred somewhat by an excited fan who got too close to the leading group at one point, knocking Quintana and Sosa off their bikes briefly.
Follow the link for full results from the 2019 Tour of Colombia.
Alexander Kristoff leads the Tour of Oman
Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) leads the Tour of Oman after two days of the six-stage race, having won stage 1 and gone close on stage 2.
Stage 1 saw Kristoff take out a bunch sprint ahead of Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) while stage 2 went the way of solo winner Alexey Lutsenko (Astana). Kristoff managed to get over the late climb of Al Jissah and won the bunch kick, but defending champion Lutsenko had got away on the climb and held on for victory.
Four stages remain in the 10th edition of the Tour of Oman. Stage 5 will almost certainly decide the GC, courtesy of the steep finishing climb of Green Mountain (5.8km at 10.1%).
Follow the link for full results from the 2019 Tour of Oman.
Gorka Izagirre wins the Tour de la Provence
His brother Ion opened his account last week at the Volta a la Valenciana and now Gorka Izagirre (Astana) has joined the winners list as well. The Spanish national champion rode to victory in the four-stage Tour de la Provence after moving into the lead on stage 2.
It was a close-run thing though. Izagirre finished on the same overall time as Australia’s Simon Clarke (EF Education First) and only a difference of hundreds of a second in the stage 1 time trial was able to split the pair. Clarke finished fourth, fourth then second in the final three stages, the last of those being an impressive runner-up spot in the bunch sprint behind John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).
“We knew it would come down to seconds and every day I’ve missed some seconds,” Clarke said. “I got squeezed in two final sprints and today, Philippe [Gilbert] beat me at the intermediate sprint by nothing. That was the difference. I don’t understand why he sprinted but that’s racing, anyone can do what they want. It was really close but I have to accept that.
“I wasn’t expecting to come second on the finishing line as I’m not a pure sprinter but I knew Degenkolb was fast and I made sure I found his wheel in the last corner.”
Follow the link for full results from the 2019 Tour de la Provence.
Luis Leon Sanchez wins the Vuelta a Murcia
Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) has continued his run of impressive early-season form, taking out the Vuelta a Murcia over the weekend.
— Zona Cycling (@zonacycling) February 17, 2019
The Spaniard was third on the opening day of the two-stage race, finishing behind two-teammates in an Astana 1-2-3. Pello Bilbao took the chocolates ahead of Omar Fraile. Sanchez took the win on day 2, edging out world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to take overall victory. Sanchez and Valverde went 1-2 overall last year as well.
For Valverde, it’s been a strong start to the year with five podium finishes already (and 10 top 10s from 12 opportunities), but the Spanish veteran is yet to win in the rainbow bands. He is a five-time winner of the Vuelta a Murcia, and has also finished second on three occasions and third once.
Follow the link to results from the 2019 Vuelta a Murcia.
Pascal Ackermann wins the Clasica de Almeria
The one-day Clasica de Almeria came down to a bunch sprint as it normally does, with German champion Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) narrowly taking the win ahead of Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott).
“It was a really hard race,” Ackermann said post-race. “Actually 100km before the finish there was a split in the peloton. Mitchelton[-Scott] did it and then we came to the finish line and the sprint was a hard one.
Follow the link for full results from the 2019 Clasica de Almeria.
White wins the ‘Warrny’
Nick White (BridgeLane) continues to rise through the ranks of Australian cycling having won the prestigious Melbourne to Warrnambool over the weekend.
White, the Australian U23 road champion, was part of a breakaway that got clear roughly 70km into the epic 262km race. As the riders tackled a new route starting in Avalon and including parts of the iconic Great Ocean Road, the lead group dwindled somewhat but White always stayed up front.
It came to a sprint from the lead group with White taking the win ahead of Harrison Bailey (GPM-Stultz) and MTBer Brendan “Trekky” Johnston (Stitch and Dart).
“I’m pretty stoked,” White said. “It was a really hard ride out there and I wasn’t sure I would be able to get it at one point, and everyone in the break was racing really well. Deep down I just knew I had to keep it together for a bunch kick and that I would be in with a shot.”
Former Aussie road champion Peta Mullens took out the women’s event, winning in a sprint ahead of Taryn Heather and Bec Wiasak.
Follow the link to read more at CyclingTips.
Jaime Roson banned for four years
Spanish rider Jaime Roson has been handed a four-year ban as a result of an “adverse analytical finding” in his biological passport.
The 26-year-old was provisionally suspended in June of last year following an investigation that began in January 2017. Late last week Roson’s Movistar team confirmed that they’d terminated his contract.
Comunicado Oficial / Press Release. pic.twitter.com/fRAUzCOhqF
— Movistar Team (@Movistar_Team) February 15, 2019
“Abarca Sports wishes to underline that the period when the irregular values in Roson’s biological passport were found is dated one year before the start of his contract with our team,” the statement said. Roson was racing with Caja Rural at the time of his adverse analytical finding.
Bernal on bouncing back from his San Sebastian crash
The 2018 season was one of highs and lows for Egan Bernal. He won some big races but then had a horrible crash at the Clasica San Sebastian. Reporter Rebecca Reza caught up with Bernal at the Tour of Colombia over the weekend to talk about his return to the sport and what might come next. Here’s an excerpt from the article on CyclingTips:
The crash sent him lower than ever before. He rode with his mother for his first ride back, in late August of last year. She prepared herself to ride fast, as usual, so she could keep up with her son. She instead dropped him. He asked her to ease off so he could keep up. Little by little his form returned and he began to feel like himself again.
He struggled both physically and psychologically after being at top form following the Tour. He was eager to return to racing, and after his forced rest period, and a few weeks to get faster than his mother, the team caved in, allowing him to race a few one-day races in Italy last October.
“I wanted to finish the season racing, but of course the team kept telling me not to race,” he said. “After telling them over and over how much I wanted to compete, they gave me some opportunities in a few races. After seeing my results and looking at the situation, they were right.”
Follow the link to read more at CyclingTips.
Tour de Langkawi rescheduled
One of Asia’s biggest races, Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi, has been postponed to avoid a clash with Lima ’19, an international maritime and space exhibition being held in the region. Originally scheduled for March 24-31 the UCI 2.HC event will now be run from April 6-13.
— Dato' Amarjit Singh #ASIAFIRST (@AmarjitSG) February 14, 2019
No UCI-ranked Ras in 2019
There’s worse news for Ireland’s Rás Tailteann (commonly known as ‘the Rás’) – the tough stage race won’t be held as a UCI-ranked event in 2019. Organisers were unable to find a major backer in time for it to keep its UCI 2.2 ranking. It’s hoped that a shorter, non-UCI-ranked race may still come to fruition, with a view to returning the race to UCI status in 2020.
The Rás has run every year since 1953 and has had UCI-ranking since 2000.
Tweet of the day
Mat Hayman’s days as a pro racer might be over but he’s certainly not stepping away from bike racing. This shot was snagged by Kristof Ramon at the Mitchelton-Scott team camp in Almeria, Spain.
Somebody looking pretty newish at the DS table here… pic.twitter.com/3YfBHat4la
— kristof ramon (@kristoframon) February 17, 2019
Happy Birthday to …
Bernie Eisel (38). The Austrian powerhouse has spent much of his long career riding in the service of others, but he does have a handful of impressive wins to his name. Not least the 2010 Gent-Wevelgem, two stages of the Tour de Suisse, and five stages of the Volta ao Algarve.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Today’s feature image comes from Kristof Ramon and shows part of the Mitchelton-Scott men’s team at a training camp in Andalusia, Spain. Pop quiz: can you pick out the riders pictured here? For bonus points: who’s the rider at the back of the group, in the slightly different kit?