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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
The cycling world is in mourning after the tragic passing of Kelly Catlin, Dylan Groenwegen took opening-stage honours at Paris-Nice, Annemiek van Vleuten and Julian Alaphilippe won at Strade Bianche, and Mario Cipollini is in hot water. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Kelly Catlin dies at 23
The cycling community is in mourning today after the tragic passing of 23-year-old racer Kelly Catlin. Catlin raced for Rally Pro Cycling on the road, but was best known for her exploits on the track. A three-time world champion in the team pursuit, Catlin took a silver medal in the same discipline at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Away from the bike she was a graduate student in Computational Mathematics at Stanford University and a classical violinist.
Catlin was discovered by a roommate in an on-campus residence at Stanford. There was no indication of foul play, according to a statement from the university.
“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” Kelly’s father Mark wrote in a statement to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”
The news of Kelly’s passing has hit many people hard. She will be remembered as much more than just a talented bike racer.
The CyclingTips team would like to extend its condolences to everyone that was lucky enough to know Kelly.
Click through to read more at CyclingTips.
Beauty of Cycling
Those dusty white roads, the rolling green hills — Strade Bianche is something quite special.
Groenwegen nabs Paris-Nice opener
After a chaotic day in the crosswinds, the opening stage of Paris-Nice eventually ended in a bunch sprint. Dutchman Dylan Groenwegen (Jumbo-Visma) was first across the line, but only just — Australia’s Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) was mere millimetres behind after a very fast finish. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) rounded out the podium.
“It was extremely close, but I knew right away that I had won,” Groewegen said of his third win for the year. “It was a typical Dutch day: a lot of wind, lots of echelons and a continuous fight for your position. We knew in advance that this could happen.
“It’s awesome. The fact that I beat all the top sprinters and clinched the yellow jersey makes it even better. I am already looking forward to the coming sprint stages.”
Stage 2 of the eight-stage race is another one for the sprinters. The race overall is set to be decided on the mountainous final three days.
Follow the link for results.
Annemiek van Vleuten wins Strade Bianche
In just her second race back since breaking her leg at last year’s Road Worlds, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) put on a demonstrative display to win Saturday’s Strade Bianche. The world time trial champion went clear with 12km to go and rode to the line solo. Mountain biker Annika Langvad (Boels-Dolmans) was second at 37 seconds, while Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) took her fourth podium in the race’s five editions, three seconds behind Langvad.
“I just waited for a good moment [to attack],” van Vleuten said. ‘There was only one teammate with me, Lucy Kennedy. It was really good for us to be there together with two, but we were a bit outnumbered. We were only two in a big group so we had to [play] poker a bit, then I thought I had to put the hammer down on the uphill.”
Alaphilippe wins Strade Bianche
The men’s Strade Bianche came down to just two riders as the race entered Siena: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). Alaphilippe attacked on the steep final ramp, opening enough of a gap to hold off Fuglsang in the finish. Three-time cyclocross world champion Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was third for the second year in a row.
“It’s unbelievable that I win Strade Bianche at my first participation,” Alaphilippe said. “I was focused all day on the finale. I was lucky to never crash nor have a flat tire. My team did a great job in protecting me. Fuglsang was very strong, but I made no mistakes. However I wasn’t confident in winning until the last corner. This is a wonderful victory.”
Alaphilippe’s win means Deceuninck-QuickStep has won all four noteworthy races so far this Classics season (Omloop Net Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Le Samyn and Strade Bianche), and with four different riders no less.
Max Scachmann wins GP Industria & Artigianato
Max Scachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) had a frustrating Strade Bianche, a mechanical issue ending his chances after making a crucial selection late in Saturday’s race. On Sunday the German bounced back, taking out GP Industria & Artigianato from a two-up sprint.
Scachmann went on the move on the final climb of San Baronto in the Italian one-day race, with Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli) for company. The pair reached the line together with Scachmann able to take his first win for the year.
“After my bad luck at Strade Bianche, I’m super happy to win this race,” said Schachmann. “The attacks started on the final climb, with [Thibaut] Pinot trying too. I could follow them and then go with the Androni rider too. We made it to the finish together and I’m super happy to have won it.”
Follow the link for results.
Michael Matthews crashes out of Paris-Nice
It hasn’t been the greatest start to the 2019 season for Michael Matthews (Sunweb) who’s crashed in both of the two races he’s started. He hit the deck in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but managed to get up and eventually finished 12th. He wasn’t so lucky at Paris-Nice on Sunday, crashing with roughly 80km to go at a time when crosswinds were splitting the bunch. Matthews subsequently withdrew from the race.
A team statement revealed that Matthews “suffered a concussion” but “was cleared of having any fractures”. He remained in hospital overnight.
Richie Porte to race Tour of California
Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) is taking a slightly different path to the Tour de France this year, with the Australian eyeing off a potential debut appearance at the Amgen Tour of California.
“We’ll see it how it all goes, but I’ll probably race California and then stay there for a bit of altitude and then the next big goal is the Dauphine,” Porte told Cyclingnews. “That’s the race where I need to be going and then the Tour. It’s a bit of an unprecedented run. Normally, I hit the Tour with more race days in the legs.”
Porte had been due to ride Paris-Nice this week but a bout of bronchitis after the Jayco Herald Sun Tour set the Tasmanian back. He will now ride the Volta a Catalunya as he builds towards his build goal for the year.
Follow the link to read more at Cyclingnews.
Tweet of the day
Which race do you think is harder: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad or Strade Bianche? The former has a bunch of rough cobbled roads, including tough cobblestone climbs; the latter has a bevy of gravel roads, some of them uphill too. Twitter user @ammattipyoraily has pulled some screenshots from Alexey Lutsenko’s Strava file, to make an interesting comparison between the two races.
Both races featured a similar amount of time on the bike, Het Nieuwsblad was longer, but Strade Bianche was quite significantly harder. Why? Likely the amount of climbing, with Strade Bianche having roughly 3,200m of climbing vs Het Nieuwsblad’s 1,800m.
Highlights from stage 1 of Paris-Nice
Close finish this!
There has to be a story here, right? Sabotage from a friend? Poor bike maintenance? Something else? Either way: ouch.
In other news
Cipollini to face court over stalking and assault charges
There’s been disturbing news out of Italy with sprint star Mario Cipollini facing charges that he stalked and violently assaulted his ex-wife, Sabrina Landucci, and make threats towards her new partner Silvio Giusti. According to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, a judge is set to determine whether there is enough evidence to indict Cipollini.
Cipollini has been accused of physically assaulting Landucci with “punches, slaps, kicks” and of making death threats towards her.
“I was working like every day in the sports centre when Mario assaulted me in front of colleagues and clients,” said Landucci. “He grabbed my neck and then banged my head against the wall. I had injuries, I had to go to the emergency room. But more than the wounds, it hurts me was that the gesture was so violent. Even today I’m upset.”
The accusations date back to 2016 and 2017. The hearing is set for March 20.
Follow the link to read more at Corriere della Sera.
CyclingTips and Pinkbike join forces
In case you missed our exciting news over the weekend, CyclingTips has joined forces with MTB publication Pinkbike, effectively immediately.
Here’s what CyclingTips founder Wade Wallace wrote in his announcement post:
Our new partnership with Pinkbike will allow us to leverage the resources, expertise, and model for success that they’ve found over the past 20 years in the media industry. We’re both trying to accomplish the same thing, we understand each other’s businesses, and it will allow us to integrate as one powerful team.
I won’t be going anywhere and will continue to run CyclingTips with the same dedication I always have, along with the rest of our valued employees. This was the best outcome I could imagine for the business, our readers, our members, and our industry partners.
I’d like to thank BikeExchange for the significant investment and support they made into CyclingTips over the past three years which enabled us to build one of the best teams in cycling media and become a well respected global brand. Without the investment, trust and autonomy that BikeExchange has given us, we probably wouldn’t be here right now.
Click through to read more in our announcement post.
Happy Birthday to …
Luke Rowe (29) who spent his birthday on the front of the Paris-Nice peloton riding in support of teammate Michal Kwiatkowski.
Happy birthday too to 1996 Australian road champion Nick Gates (47), long-time friend and teammate of Australia’s greatest ever sprinter, Robbie McEwen.
In case you missed it …
Today’s feature image comes from Kristof Ramon and was taken during Saturday’s men’s Strade Bianche.