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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Robbert de Greef has been put into an artificial coma after suffering a heart attack during a race, Egan Bernal could head to the Tour after the Giro, Michael Matthews and Tim Wellens are set to start the Tour of Flanders for the first time. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Robbert de Greef placed into coma after heart attack during race
Robbert de Greef, who races for the Continental-level Alecto Cycling Team, has been put into an artificial coma after suffering a heart attack in the early goings of the Omloop van de Braakman.
The 27-year-old Dutchman was taken from the scene to an Antwerp hospital, and, according to his team, and has been placed into a coma for 48 hours. BN DeStem reports that doctors hope he will then be able to begin follow-up treatment.
De Greef rode at the Pro Continental with Roompot-Nederlands Loterij last season before that team merged with Vérandas Willems–Crelan, leaving several riders out of contract. He joined Alecto for 2019 and got off to a hot start with runner-up performance at the Ronde van Drenthe two weeks ago.
The Omloop van de Braakman was cancelled after his heart attack.
Alexander Kristoff won Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday mostly thanks to his powerful sprint, and with some help from his UAE teammates too. Fernando Gaviria jumped into the early breakaway, taking the pressure off of Kristoff in the peloton behind, and the Colombian also lent a hand – intentionally or not, only he knows for sure – in the final sprint, helping box in rival Elia Viviani. That’s how Robbie McEwen sees it, at least, and he knows a thing or two about sprinting.
— Robbie McEwen AM (@mcewenrobbie) March 31, 2019
Bernal could make another Tour start
Egan Bernal could return to the Tour de France in a support role after starting the Giro d’Italia as Sky’s featured GC leader.
According to Cyclingnews, Sky’s current plan is to evaluate Bernal’s status after he makes his first career appearance in the Giro d’Italia and then decide whether a Tour start riding for Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas would make sense. The possible change in plans comes on the heels of Bernal’s strong start to the 2019 season. He took the biggest win of his young career with an overall title at Paris-Nice last month, and also finished fourth at the Colombia 2.1 and third at the Volta a Catalunya.
“He’s gained a lot of confidence in himself, and that has helped the team gain confidence in him as well,” Sky sports director Nicolas Portal told Cyclingnews.
Matthews, Wellens set for debut rides at Flanders
Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) will make their first career appearances at the Tour of Flanders, their teams have announced.
Matthews, fresh off of a pair of stage victories at the Volta a Catalunya, has ridden Gent-Wevelgem and E3 before, but has never made the start in Belgium’s biggest race. He heads north from Spain this week to embark on a stretch of one-day events that will take him onto the Ardennes Classics.
Wellens should be in the mix there as well after his own debut at De Ronde. The 27-year-old Belgian has not spent much time racing over the cobbles in his career thus far, and says he is focused on getting the experience under his belt.
“It will mainly be about learning as much as possible in my first participation, so I am realistic,” he said via a Lotto Soudal press release.
Successful surgery for Aru
Fabio Aru is recovering after a successful surgery to repair a constriction in the iliac artery of his left leg, his UAE team has announced.
The procedure entailed “placing a special balloon catheter inside the artery, using a minimal invasive technique, in order to restore the lumen (the central cavity of the vessel),” according to a UAE-Team Emirates press release. “It was completed with a stent, or a cylindrical metal piece that keeps the lumen open.”
The 28-year-old Italian was diagnosed with the issue late last month. Recovery from the surgery will force him to miss a planned start at the Giro d’Italia, but rider and team are hoping that he will be able to return to winning ways sooner or later with the problem now resolved.
Fryatt first to Sydney in 2019 Indian Pacific Wheel Ride
Endurance racer Jacob Fryatt arrived at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday evening as the first rider to finish the 2019 Indian Pacific Wheel Ride. The 34-year-old finished the trek of roughly 5,500 kilometers from Fremantle to Sydney in 15 days, 14 hours, and 28 minutes.
Fryatt was one of 21 riders to start this year’s “IndyPac,” which has continued as an unsanctioned “ride” after the death of Mike Hall in the 2017 edition of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.
Armstrong received AUS $1.5 million to appear at 2009 Tour Down Under
The fee Lance Armstrong received to race the Tour Down Under as part of his 2009 comeback has been officially secret until now. As a 10-year period of confidentiality has expired, the Sunday Mail reports that the 1993 world road champion (yes, it’s one of the few big wins still on his official palmares) was paid AUS $1.5 million to make the start.
Happy April Fool’s Day!
The 2019 Taipei Cycle Show gave us a chance to see plenty of cool new tech. Tech guru Dave Rome was on hand to check out the many interesting developments on display in Taiwan, including a new drivetrain from Microshift and what Dave calls “probably the coolest folding e-bike I’ve ever seen.”
In case you missed it …