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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Alberto Bettiol and Marta Bastianelli give Italy a pair of Tour of Flanders winners, Pete Kennaugh steps away from cycling, Brandon McNulty wins the revitalized Giro di Sicilia. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Alberto Bettiol wins the Tour of Flanders
Alberto Bettiol’s first win as a professional was a big one. The 25-year-old EF rider soloed to a stunning victory at the Tour of Flanders, attacking on the Oude Kwaremont with around 17 kilometers to go and holding out to take the win in Oudenaarde.
Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) jumped from a chase group to take second, with Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) winning the sprint for third.
“I still don’t believe what I did. My first victory… I don’t believe it,” an incredulous Bettiol said at the finish. “I was on the Kwaremont feeling really good and [director] Andreas [Klier] from the car said, ‘If you can, just go.’ I closed my eyes and I just went.”
— Ronde Van Vlaanderen (@RondeVlaanderen) April 7, 2019
The 103rd edition of De Ronde van Vlaanderen saw a handful of crashes in the first few hours of the race, with defending champ Niki Terpstra (Direct Énergie) abandoning after hitting the deck very hard, and then several splits and regroupings in an aggressive final hour of racing.
Asgreen, Bettiol’s EF teammate Sep Vanmarcke, Dylan van Baarle (Sky), and Ag2r La Mondiale’s Stijn Vandenbergh led the race with a small gap into the last 40 kilometers. Vandenbergh was dropped on the tough terrain that followed, and then van Baarle and Asgreen left Vanmarcke behind on the run-in to the Oude Kwaremont. Asgreen and then van Baarle were both caught on the climb, however, leaving only open road in front of Bettiol when he launched clear.
The Italian jumped out to a handy gap and held on to most of it going over the Paterberg. The powerhouse chase group included the likes of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), but there was little cooperation in the pursuit.
“In the car they just said, keep pushing,” Bettiol said. “On the Paterberg I didn’t lose a lot, and then it was the longest 14k of my life.”
With no one willing to put in a sustained effort leading the chase, Bettiol stayed clear all the way to the line. Asgreen jumped away with a little over a kilometer to go to secure runner-up honors, with Kristoff topping Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) in the sprint for the final spot on the podium.
After his win, Bettiol tipped his cap to the hard work of teammates like Vanmarcke, who has come close to winning the Tour of Flanders more than once.
“We’re a really good team,” he said. “From now on, you should look more for the pink in the front.”
Van der Poel’s fourth-place ride in his debut Tour of Flanders was all the more impressive considering the hard fall he took with around 60 kilometers left to race. The cyclocross world champion found himself forced to bunny hop a curb as the pack approached some road furniture, and he banged up the front of his bike in the process. He pulled over to the side of the road and was slowing down while trying to call for assistance when he suddenly went over the handlebars, hitting the ground hard.
— Stephen Chapman (@steve_chappie) April 7, 2019
He would ultimately remount, chase back to the peloton, and finish fourth.
Bastianelli takes women’s Flanders victory ahead of van Vleuten and Ludwig
Marta Bastianelli (Virtu) continued her stellar 2019 campaign with a victory at the women’s Tour of Flanders. The 31-year-old Italian topped Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Bigla) to take her second WorldTour win so far in a season that has seen her finish inside the top 10 in every one of the 10 pro races she has started.
The winning move formed on the final ascent of the Oude Kwaremont as a quartet, with Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) joining the escape before losing touch on the Paterberg. Bastianelli, van Vleuten, and Ludwig held on at the front through the final flat kilometers to contest the win in a three-rider sprint in Oudenaarde. Bastinalli triumphed convincingly at the end of the 160-kilometer race.
— Ronde Van Vlaanderen (@RondeVlaanderen) April 7, 2019
McNulty wins Giro di Sicilia
21-year-old American Brandon McNulty won the Giro di Sicilia, which returned to the racing calendar this year after a 42-year absence.
The Rally-UHC rider took his first pro victory and the race lead in the third stage, and held on through a challenging final stage to Mount Etna to follow that up with the overall win.
Kennaugh steps away
Pete Kennaugh is taking an indefinite break from professional cycling, his Bora-Hansgrohe team announced Friday. The 29-year-old from the Isle of Man, twice a British national road champion, is stepping away to focus on his recovery from “ongoing mental health issues.”
“We thank Peter for his contribution to the team and we wish him well in his recovery process,” Bora-Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk said in a statement. “We look forward to him making a full return to professional cycling in the future.”
Betsema suspended following test for prohibited anabolic steroid
Denise Betsema (Marlux-Bingoal), who racked up several victories in a breakout cyclocross campaign this winter, has been suspended.
The 26-year-old Dutchwoman “was notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of Endogenous Anabolic Androgenic Steroid(s) administered exogenously in a sample collected on 27 January 2019 during the Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Hoogerheide, Netherlands,” according to a statement from the UCI.
She has the right to request the analysis of a B sample.
Bianchi brings back the Sprint, now an entry-level racer
Last used in the 70s, Bianchi has brought back the Sprint moniker. The new carbon fiber Sprint aims to bring racing pedigree to a lower price point with complete bikes starting from just EU€2000. It’s available in both disc and rim brake variants, with room for 32 and 28c tyres respectively.
The frame looks to merge a number of aero cues as seen on Bianchi’s Oltre series with some budget-conscious selections, such as the regular 27.2mm round seatpost. The Sprint Disc is available in seven sizes, with the rim version offered in eight; each offers fast angles and relatively long and low riding positions.
Easton adds US$120 EA90 alloy cranks to range
Based on Easton’s well-loved EC90 SL Cinch cranks, the new EA90 looks to pack in plenty of versatility into a surprisingly affordable package. The Cinch system allows both the 30mm spindle and the chainring spider to be interchanged, allowing a staggering number of options for 1x or 2x gearing setups, including gravel-specific variants.
The black anodised EA90 cranks are available in 170, 172.5 and 175mm lengths, with the 172.5mm said to weight 534g without chainrings or bottom bracket. The US$120 price tag is for the cranks only, with the chainrings and bottom bracket sold separately. You can also upgrade to power measurement with the Cinch powermeter axle.
Happy Birthday to …
Andy Hampsten is 57. The only American winner of the Giro d’Italia, Hampsten won three stages there over the course of his career, and also won the Alpe d’Huez stage at the 1992 Tour de France, among many other highlights on his palmares.
In case you missed it …