De Gendt solos to victory in Catalunya opener: Daily News Digest

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

De Gendt does what he does best in Catalunya, Dauphiné unveils 2019 route. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: De Gendt goes it alone to win stage 1 at the Volta a Catalunya

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) did what he does best in the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya, winning solo after attacking from the early breakaway. His ride to a fourth career Catalunya stage win also put him into the first leader’s jersey by a considerable margin, albeit with plenty of mountains ahead in the race.

“I have trained a lot in Spain and I know the roads and mountains really well,” De Gendt said. “I love coming back every year to this race. It’s hard, but I really like doing it.”

The 32-year-old Belgian was one of six riders in the initial break, alongside Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Luis Ángel Maté (Cofidis), Ángel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Álvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural), and Huub Duyn (Roompot-Charles). The group jumped clear in the early goings of a lumpy 165-kilometer stage that started and finished in coastal Calella, and worked its advantage up to around four minutes. Midway into the stage, De Gendt made his move, bidding his fellow escapees farewell and powering away up the Coll Formic alone.

Thomas De Gendt gets up close and personal with the camera in stage 1 at the Volta a Catalunya. Photo: Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2019

The chasing peloton mopped up the rest of the early attackers over the ensuing up-and-down kilometers but never even came close to catching De Gendt. By the final 20 kilometers, it was clear that De Gendt was heading to a stage victory and the race lead, assuming he simply stayed upright. He did just that to take the win. Bora-Hansgrohe’s Maximilian Schachmann finished second nearly three minutes later after making a late jump from the pack to snag a few seconds at the line, while Grega Bole (Bahrain-Merida) sprinted to third out of the peloton.

Taking bonus seconds into account, De Gendt will start stage 2 with an advantage of 2:48 on the overall leaderboard, but he his downplaying his chances of holding on to the race lead. Although he did once finish third overall at the Giro d’Italia, De Gendt has eschewed the GC battles in recent years as he has transformed into the pro peloton’s preeminent breakaway artist.

“I will not be in the fight for the GC, because there are riders like [Egan] Bernal here, and it will be really hard to match them,” De Gendt said. “I think I will lose the leader’s jersey on the first mountaintop finish. I am sure that less than three minutes is not enough to defend against the best climbers.”

Tuesday’s second stage runs 168 kilometers from Mataró to Sant Feliu de Guixols.

Beauty of Cycling

With plenty of kilometers along the coast, Milano-Sanremo always delivers the scenery, and this year’s race was no different. The sun even decided to shine for most of the afternoon in northwestern Italy, which is no guarantee for a race in March.

Kristof Ramon and Jered and Ashley Gruber were on hand to capture the beauty of the season’s first Monument Classic.

Follow the link to view the photo gallery.

Race Radio

GP Denain crashes: Offredo stable, Beppu breaks collarbone

Wanty Groupe-Gobert’s Yoann Offredo crashed hard on the cobbles at this weekend’s GP Denain and was taken to a nearby hospital via helicopter. According to his team, he was “never in a life-threatening situation,” and is now in stable condition.

“The CT and MRI scan in Lille did not reveal any anomaly,” said team doctor Jelle Van Nieuwenhuyze in a statement. “The shock to the spinal cord caused temporary tetraplegia and mutism that gradually reduce since the crash. Yoann is getting better and better.”

Yoann Offredo at Nokere Koerse. Photo: Tim van Wichelen/Cor Vos © 2019

Initial tests revealed no fractures. Medical examinations were ongoing as of Monday.

Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo) also crashed in the race, sustaining a broken collarbone. The Japanese veteran was operated on today to repair the injury.

Dauphine unveils challenging 2019 route with finish in Switzerland

The Critérium du Dauphiné, often a critical tune-up for Tour de France hopefuls, will feature a few great opportunities for the GC stars to put their talents on display this June. The ASO-run event has announced a route that will include a 26.1-kilometer individual time trial and three days for the climbers.

The queen stage will ascend to Les Sept Laux-Pipay on the penultimate day of the race, with a short but demanding final stage that finishes in the resort town of Champéry, Switzerland.

Of the last seven winners of the eight-stage race, five have gone on to win that year’s Tour de France. Sky’s Geraint Thomas is the defending champion, having relied on his team’s team time trial strength and his own climbing legs to take the 2018 title.

Geraint Thomas en route to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc in the 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné. Photo: VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Moving Pictures

Today’s video stars BMX racer Sam Willoughby, who rode to a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. After sustaining a spinal injury in a training crash in 2016, he was left partially paralyzed, but he has not stopped battling to get back on his feet.

Socially Speaking

Luis Ángel Maté may have been tired from a long day in the breakaway at the Volta a Catalunya today, but he still made time to take his empty bottles back to the team car instead of throwing them carelessly into the Catalan countryside. Hats off to the veteran for making sure the sport is “responsible with nature.”

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