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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
The saga of Vincenzo Nibali’s Alpe d’Huez crash continues. The first European stage races of the year are complete. Daryl Impey and Ashleigh Moolman crowned South African champions. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Nibali’s letter from ASO
Remember Vincenzo Nibali’s crash on Alpe d’Huez at last year’s Tour de France? The crash that was caused by a spectator and saw Nibali fracture a vertebra, derailing the back half of his season? According to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport, the first official correspondence Nibali received from Tour owners ASO came six months after the fact, in mid January.
“The safety of the athletes is at the top of our priorities,” said the letter. “In 2018 we adopted a series of measures more than those provided by the UCI … and in 2019 we are working with the Ministry of French Interior to reinforce them further.”
Commenting on the letter to Gazzetta dello Sport, Nibali’s lawyer Fausto Malucchi said that he and his client “appreciated the reaffirmation of the prioritisation of safety and the involvement of the ministry of the interior” but added that “on what happened that day, our opinions diverge because more than one thing went wrong and Vincenzo was thrown to the ground. The drunken state of many spectators, the lack of barriers, so many people but just one gendarme present …”
Malucchi is hoping for an audience with ASO’s legal team “because what happened seems clear to us, just as it is clear how Vincenzo was penalized for that Tour (and the rest of the season) given that in the final of that stage he realized the best time to climb despite the broken vertebra. When things are so obvious, there is no need to sit in front of a judge.”
Nibali was slated to start his season at the Volta a la Valenciana but now looks set to get things underway at the UAE Tour, starting February 24.
Follow the link to read more at Gazzetta dello Sport.
Ion Izagirre holds off Alejandro Valverde at Volta a la Valenciana
Basque rider Ion Izagirre (Astana) has claimed his first win since the 2016 Tour de France, taking out the overall at the Volta a la Valenciana.
Izagirre moved into the overall lead on stage 4 of the five-stage race when he finished fourth on the uphill finish behind stage winner Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Pello Bilbao (Astana). Izagirre took a seven-second lead into the final stage, with Valverde breathing down his neck, but with both finishing on bunch time, Izagirre was crowned the overall winner.
“It’s been a while without winning, without having this feeling and this taste in my mouth,” Izagirre said. “It’s what I crave and what I wanted most. We have started the season in the best possible way, with a victory for me and for the team.”
Dylan Groenwegen (Jumbo-Visma) took out a narrow sprint on the final stage while Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) opened his account for the year with victory in the stage 3 bunch sprint on Friday.
Follow the link for full results from the 2019 Volta a Valenciana.
Lotte Kopecky wins women’s Vuelta a la Valenciana
Three years after bringing the men’s Volta a la Valenciana back to life, organisers this year put on the first-ever women’s edition. The one-day race used the same course as the final stage of the men’s race and saw Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal Ladies) take out the bunch sprint. Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) was second and Kopecky’s teammate Thi That Nguyen was third.
Follow the link for results from the 2019 women’s Vuelta a la Valenciana.
Christophe Laporte wins Etoile de Bessèges
Two stage wins from four has paved the way for overall success at Etoile de Bessèges for Frenchman Christophe Laporte (Cofidis).
The 26-year-old won both the stage 2 bunch sprint (to take the overall lead) and the stage 4 ITT to win the French race by 16 seconds ahead of Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ). The result is a step-up from Laporte’s second overall in last year’s edition, a result that paved the way for early season success.
Follow the link for full results from the 2019 Etoile de Bessèges.
Daryl Impey and Ashleigh Moolman win at South African Nationals
There were no great surprises in the South African Nationals road races over the weekend with the favourites winning both the elite men’s and women’s races.
In the men’s race the victory was far from a gimme for Impey, who started as the lone rider for Mitchelton-Scott. With Nicholas Dlamini (Dimension Data) leading solo late in proceedings, Impey was left to do the chasing on his own, as Dimension Data riders stuck to his wheel. Impey got away on the steep climb on the final lap, overtaking Dlamini to win solo, 25 seconds ahead of the in-form Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data). Stefan de Bod (Dimension Data) was third, another six seconds back, as Dimension Data took out all places from second to sixth.
The win is Impey’s second South African road title (he won last year too) and adds to his ITT title from late last week — his eighth National title in that discipline.
Follow the link to see results from the men’s road race.
It was significantly easier going for Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio who went it alone to win by 1:51 ahead of Juanita Venter. Joanna van de Winkel was third at 3:01. The win gives Moolman-Pasio her fifth South African road title.
Follow the link for results from the elite women’s race.
Van der Poel, Cant take double wins
It was a case of getting back to business for the newly crowned cyclocross world champions this past weekend. At the DVV Krawatencross in Lille, Belgium both Sanne Cant and Mathieu van der Poel won their respective races, riding to victory in the rainbow bands.
Cant crossed the line two seconds clear of Denise Betsema in a race that saw the first four riders finish in relative proximity to one another. In the men’s race, van der Poel came across the finish nine seconds clear of Michael Vanthourenhout.
Cant and van der Poel also both won earlier in the weekend at the Superprestige Hoogstraten.
UCI to combine multiple world championships every four years
In case you missed it over the weekend, the UCI has announced that, once every four years, it will bring together all of cycling’s disciplines — except cyclocross — for two weeks of rainbow chasing at the UCI World Cycling Championships.
The first edition of this new “Super Worlds” will take place in August 2023 and will see road, mountain bike, BMX, indoor cycling, and an amateur gran fondo (among other events) run on a series of courses built in and around Glasgow, Scotland. It’s not a giant cycling onmium, rather it’s almost all of cycling’s world championships in one place at one time.
So why is the UCI making the change? The UCI press release is light on real details but digging into the UCI’s books offers a few clues, and indicates that the major factor could simply be a desire to increase the scale, and thus profits, of the governing body’s premier product.
For more on this development, check out the story we wrote over the weekend here.
Tweet of the day
Normally we use the Tweet of the Day to celebrate something funny or clever or uplifting. Today’s tweet is none of those. In fact, it’s horrible. A horrible reminder that the world is full of people who wish harm towards cyclists, and even celebrate when a cyclist dies.
The tweet comes from former pro (and occasional CT contributor) Adam Phelan and touches on the tragic story of a rider in New South Wales who was hit and killed by a truck over the weekend. Click through to read the whole Twitter thread and see the extent of the hate.
To read more about online hatred for cyclists and those that are making the issue worse, be sure to check out our feature from last year: Finding Mr X: The story of an anti-cycling hate page (and the cyclist behind it).
Please be kind to each other, folks.
Several big names are celebrating their birthday today:
Jacky Durand (52), winner of the 1992 Tour of Flanders plus three stages of the Tour de France. Kim Andersen (61), former professional racer and current sports director for Trek-Segafredo. Andersen took 32 wins throughout his career including a stage of the Tour de France in 1983 and Fleche Wallonne in 1984. And last but not least, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (27), the 2014 world champion and winner of the Fleche Wallonne, Emakumeen Bira plus a stage of the Giro Rosa.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Mathieu van der Poel doing his thing at the DVV Krawatencross over the weekend.