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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Philippe Gilbert, Oliver Naesen, and Sep Vanmarcke are all battling health issues ahead of the Tour of Flanders, Look unveils a new e-bike, and Trek is making bottle cages out of discarded fishing nets. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Health woes for Belgian stars ahead of De Ronde
The throngs of Belgian fans taking in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday may find themselves wondering where a few of their home favorites are as the race rolls by. Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale), and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) are all dealing with injury or illness in the run-up to the De Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Gilbert, who won the 2017 Tour of Flanders with a stunning long-range attack, pulled out of Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday due to stomach problems. His Classics campaign has already been a comparatively quiet one. Fortunately for Quick-Step fans, his team has more than a few potential winners on the roster should Gilbert need to slot into a support role. Zdenek Stybar is currently the top favorite with a handful of bookmakers.
Naesen has said that he is battling bronchitis. He told Belgium’s TV Oost Nieuws that he suspected a champagne celebration at Gent-Wevelgemn – where he and Alexander Kristoff sprayed the beverage in each other’s faces – may be the culprit. Nonetheless, Ag2r says he should still be able to make the start at De Ronde. If he’s healthy, Naesen looks to be among the top contenders for the win coming off his second place finish at Milano-Sanremo and third at Gent-Wevelgem.
Vanmarcke’s problems could be the most serious. The 30-year-old Fleming crashed hard at the E3 BinckBank Classic last week. Although he did not sustain any fractures in the incident, he came away nursing several injuries.
“It’s all bruised, ribs are bruised and knee and ankle are twisted. Those are swollen now and I can’t quite walk now properly,” Vanmarcke said afterward. He skipped Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen following the crash. He and his team are hoping that the pain will have subsided enough for Vanmarcke to make the start on Sunday in Flanders. Alberto Bettiol has emerged as a strong alternative for EF should Vanmarcke need to sit this one out.
Beauty of Cycling
The Tour of Flanders is the biggest race in the world’s most cycling-crazed country. It’s hard to imagine a better day on the racing calendar. It may not have high-mountain vistas or seaside scenery, but with its collection of iconic climbs and cobbles, De Ronde has a beauty all its own.
Broken pelvis for Barguil
A single crash in the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya has numerous big names nursing injuries this week. The same pileup that left Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) with injured ribs and Simon Geschke (CCC) with a collbarbone fracture also brought down Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic).
His team has announced that the Frenchman sustained a fractured pelvis in the fall, which occurred during a descent on the Barcelona finishing circuit of the Volta’s seventh stage. Barguil will have to spend two weeks off the bike while he recovers.
Mathieu van der Poel won Dwars door Vlaanderen in impressive fashion on Wednesday, showing off his big engine with an attack out of the peloton and then his handy finishing kick with a convincing sprint out of a small group. In case you forgot about his incredible bike handling skills, however, here he is casually flicking a rock out of the way while riding at speed in the peloton.
This year marks 50 years since Eddy Merckx took his first of two career wins in his home Monument. Race organizers paid homage to “De Kannibaal” (no need to translate that one) with a look back at his triumphant day in 1969.
Look unveils new e-765 Optimum e-road bike
Look has added a full carbon e-road bike to its range, the e-765 Optimum. The premium electric bike is built around Fazua’s e-road system – the same system as used by the likes of Pinarello’s Nytro and Focus’ Paralance2.
The endurance-style road frame integrates the Fauza mid-mount drive e-bike system into the frame. The Fauza system offers peak power assistance of 400W, and decouples for resistance-free pedaling when pedaled over its speed limit. The system adds roughly 4.5kg to the bike’s weight, with Look claiming its e-765 Optimum sits at about 13.4kg.
French cycling legend Bernard Hinault is Look’s spokesperson for the new e-road platform. Look is yet another classic European road brand catering to the booming e-bike market. Earlier this week Colnago announced its E64 e-road bike.
Trek’s Bat Cage is now made from discarded fishing nets
As part of an effort to get plastic out of the ocean, Trek is turning discarded fishing nets into water bottle cages. The manufacturer has announced that its longest standing product, the Bat Cage water bottle cage, will now be made from fishing nets “that would otherwise pollute our oceans.”
According to Trek, the new approach to producing the Bat Cage will remove 44,000 square feet of fishing nets from the ocean in one year alone.
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