Bernal takes Paris-Nice overall, Astana keeps winning: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Bernal holds off Quintana to win Paris-Nice, Fuglsang storms to Tirreno stage win, Bastianelli wins women’s Ronde van Drenthe. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Bernal wins Paris-Nice as Izagirre takes final stage

Egan Bernal survived a hectic final day of Paris-Nice to claim the overall crown in Nice, marking the sixth time in eight years that a Sky rider has won the French stage race. While Ion Izagirre took the stage 8 victory – one of three WorldTour victories an impressive Astana team has collected this weekend alone – Bernal staved off a spirited challenge from fellow Colombian Nairo Quintana to wrap up the general classification.

“It was a really complicated week. Honestly, I’ve never won anything like this,” said Bernal, whom Sky has tapped to lead the team at the upcoming Giro d’Italia. “I had a team that supported me throughout, and I’ve gained a huge amount of experience in this race.”

Michal Kwiatkowski and Egan Bernal cross the final Paris-Nice finish line together. Photo: PdV/PN/Cor Vos © 2019

After Sam Bennett took a sprint win in Friday’s stage 6, Bernal took over the race lead from Sky teammate Michal Kwiatkowski in the mountainous stage 7, won by an attacking Daniel Martínez. Bernal rode into stage 8 with a 45-second lead over Philippe Gilbert and 46 seconds over the third-placed Quintana.

The up-and-down final stage saw a powerhouse breakaway of nearly 40 riders jump clear in the early goings, with Izagirre in among a group of big names that also included Oliver Naesen, Simon Yates, Miguel Ángel López, Bob Jungels, and Tejay van Garderen. The advantage remained relatively tight as the kilometers ticked down despite aggressive racing in the breakaway.

Gilbert lost touch on the difficult parcours and dropped out of GC contention, but it was a different story for Quintana. The two-time grand tour winner powered away from the peloton with nearly 50 kilometers still to go on the Côte de Peille to make for a thrilling final hour at this year’s Paris-Nice.

Quintana made his way up to the remnants of the early breakaway in short order, and with that added firepower for company, he was able to put a chasing Team Sky under pressure. Quintana and Bernal went back and forth as virtual race leaders on the road as the escapees and the chasers navigated the final few climbs, but a well-marshaled chase group began closing down the advantage inside the final 20 kilometers.

Ion Izagirre wins stage 8 at Paris-Nice. Photo: PdV/PN/Cor Vos © 2019

The break would ultimately stay clear, with Izagirre making his long day in the move count by jumping away to snatch the stage win ahead of a frustrated Naesen. The chasers, however, had closed to only a few seconds behind Quintana’s group, putting an end to his hopes of claiming the overall crown. Bernal crossed the line as the GC winner, shaking hands with Kwiatkowski. Despite his dramatic ride, Quintana was forced to settle for second overall, with Kwiatkowski rounding out the overall podium.

“The thing that gets me the most is having the lion,” a grinning Bernal said of the stuffed lion trophy given to the race winner, similar to the one awarded at the Tour de France. “Not even in my dreams – it was just like, ‘Wow, it would be cool to have the lion.’ I know it’s not the lion of the Tour, but it means so, so much to me.”

Socially Speaking

The Tweet of the day is video evidence of the immense support Colombian riders receive from their compatriots everywhere in the world, win or lose. Stop by the Movistar bus after any race, anywhere, and you’ll be sure to find a throng of Colombian fans waiting to for Quintana to come out – even when a fellow Colombian has just bested him to take a big victory. As Movistar put it, “for these people, it’s worth it to fight hard every day.”

Race Radio

Fuglsang wins fifth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico

Jakob Fuglsang scored a third WorldTour win in two days for Astana with an impressive solo performance in the fifth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Danish all-rounder left a whittled down GC group behind with a little over 20 kilometers to go and rode on to the stage victory in Recanati. Adam Yates crossed the line 40 seconds later, retaining his overall race lead.

Jakob Fuglsang wins stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico. Photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2019

Sunday’s exciting finale was the latest in a handful of compelling days at the Italian race. Elia Viviani won a battle of marquee speedsters in Friday’s third stage, besting Peter Sagan and Fernando Gaviria. On Saturday, Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko delivered a thriller to win stage 4. The Kazakh rider, on brilliant form since his dominant win at the Tour of Oman last month, bridged to the early breakaway inside the last hour of racing and then soloed away, opening up a big gap. He crashed twice in the finale, however, allowing a small group of chasers to catch back up, but topped them anyway in the final sprint. Behind, a group of 66 riders was stopped from racing on the day’s finishing circuit when it became clear that they might be caught up by the race leaders. To prevent a confusing combination of riders, commissaires halted the trailing group and calculated virtual finishing times for them for the stage.

Fuglsang delivered the excitement in today’s fifth stage, attacking a select group near the start of the last lap on a hilly circuit. He bridged to the last survivors of the morning breakaway, and then pushed on alone, with Roglic and Yates in pursuit behind. With Yates doing most of the pulling, the pair never came close to catching Fuglsang, who stormed up the short final climb to win handily. Yates dropped Roglic in the final kilometer, putting time into one rival even as another – Fuglsang – inched closer on the leaderboard. Yates now enjoys a 25-second advantage over Roglic in the overall standings, with Fuglsang surging into third, 35 seconds back.

“Fuglsang was another level today. He attacked from afar and still held a big advantage at the finish,” Yates said after the stage. “25 seconds, for me that’s not a comfortable advantage, but I’ll try my best and if it’s enough, it’s enough.”

Tirreno-Adriatico continues Monday with a 195-kilometer stage 6 from Matelica to Jesi.

Bastianelli wins women’s Ronde van Drenthe

Marta Bastianelli continued an impressive March run with a WorldTour victory at a muddy Ronde van Drenthe today.

Bastianelli and Chantal Blaak joined what would ultimately be a race-winning move initially spurred by Ellen van Dijk. The trio opened up a gap on the pack, leading to a three-rider showdown in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands. Bastianelli topped Blaak in a messy sprint to take the win.

The victory marks Bastianelli’s sixth top 10 in a pro one-day race just this month.

New Continental champions in Africa, Oceania

Continental champions from both Africa and Oceania were crowned this weekend. Australia’s Benjamin Dyball (Team Sapura Cycling) is the new men’s champ for Oceania in both the road race and the time trial. New Zealand’s Sharlotte Lucas claimed the women’s road title, while Australia’s Kate Perry won the TT title.

South Africa’s Stefan de Bod — who rides for Dimension Data — won the African Continental time trial championship on the men’s side, while Ethiopia’s Selam Ahama Gerefiel took the women’s title. Road races take place this week.

Woods re-ups with EF

EF Education First announced Friday that Canadian Michael Woods had signed a “multi-year deal” to stay with the team. The 31-year-old has been with the team since 2016, and has taken a big step forward in recent years. In 2018, he won a stage at the Vuelta a España and finished on the podium at both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the world championships.

Mike Woods celebrates his first career grand tour stage victory at the 2018 Vuelta a España. Photo: Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2018

“I had no experience in the WorldTour when I joined the team, but [team director Jonathan Vaughters] said I could win an Ardennes Classic,” Woods said in a team statement. “Knowing what I know now, that was a bold prediction for him to make about me at the time. I had not shown anything that truly indicated I could win a Classic – but he was right. I haven’t won one yet, but with the results I got last year, these are races we know I can win.”

Beauty of Cycling

An emotional Jakob Fuglsang dedicated today’s Tirreno stage victory to former teammate Michele Scarponi, who was from the same area of Italy that hosted the stage 5 finish.

Moving pictures

The Redlands Cycling Classic featured its Downtown Redlands criterium stage on Saturday. Watch the full replay of the fourth stage of the race here:

Industry News

Specialized rolls out U.S. Click and Collect program

Specialized rolled out a Click and Collect program for American customers on Friday, allowing consumers to make purchases online and then select a retailer to pick up products in store.

The American bike brand characterized the launch as an evolution in a strategy that began with the January 2017 roll out of S-connect & Find Nearby, which gave customers the ability to see local retailer inventory through the Specialized website.

“Our rider-facing marketing is the strongest it has ever been, and the ability to offer the rider the convenient option to ‘buy now, pick up in-store’ alongside ‘find nearby’ will deliver more convenience to the rider resulting in a seamless experience,” said Charles Bisaillon, Global Sales Operations Leader, via a Specialized press release.

Follow the link to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News to read more.

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