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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Marcel Kittel leaves Katusha-Alpecin, Patrick Lefevere hopes to keep Julian Alaphilippe at Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Lorena Wiebes wins stage 1 at the Tour of Chongming Island. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Kittel leaves Katusha-Alpecin
Marcel Kittel is leaving the Katusha-Alpecin team after both parties “mutually decided” to terminate his contract early. The 30-year-old German says he is going to take time away from professional cycling.
Kittel counts 14 Tour de France stage victories on his career palmares to go with numerous other big wins, but has struggled to deliver results since his 2018 debut season with Katusha. Kittel has not raced since a disappointing Scheldeprijs in early April. He was a late scratch from expected starts at both the Tour de Yorkshire and the Amgen Tour of California. His fitness has been a question mark, but neither rider nor team have gone into detail about what is holding the sprinter back.
In a statement announcing his departure from Katusha and hiatus from racing, Kittel said that he has had “the feeling of being exhausted” over the last two months.
“At this moment, I am not able to train and race at the highest level,” he said. “For this reason, I have decided to take a break and take time for myself, think about my goals and make a plan for my future.”
Although recent quotes in various media outlets suggested a growing rift between Kittel and Katusha management, Kittel praised the team staff in his statement and thanked them for their support.
He also said he hopes to get back to racing sooner or later.
“From now on I will put my happiness and joy above everything and seek ways to find this also in my future,” Kittel said. “I’m very excited about what is going to come. I would like to ride and race again in the future and I have to work out a plan to be able to reach this goal. This is the biggest challenge of my career and I’m accepting it.
Beauty of Cycling
With the Classics in the rearview mirror, Grand Tour season is upon us, and it all gets underway in Bologna, Italy on Saturday. Is it even possible to not be excited for the Giro d’Italia?
The Italian Grand Tour always delivers thrilling racing, stunning scenery, unpredictable weather, and passionate fans. Matt de Neef has everything you need to know in a preview of the upcoming race.
Lefevere hopes to keep Alaphilippe at Deceuninck-Quick-Step
Julian Alaphilippe’s contract with Deceuninck-Quick-Step ends at the conclusion of the 2019 season. It won’t be easy for team boss Patrick Lefevre to hang on to the French star, but he’s going to try.
“We had a good conversation at the end of the classics,” Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad. “The desire is to continue working with each other.”
Alaphilippe became a Monument winner at Milano-Sanremo this year, and also took victories at Strade Bianche, La Flèche Wallonne, and elsewhere. Still just 26, he should have plenty of big years ahead. That kind of talent and potential will command a hefty price on the transfer market. Lefevere is hoping he can convince Alaphilippe to stay despite not having unlimited funds.
“There is a difference between upgrading a contract with tens of thousands of euros or with hundreds of thousands,” he said. “I hope I can work it out with Julian later, but not at all costs.”
Sagan after tough Classics campaign: ‘Results won’t tell you everything’
Peter Sagan’s Classics campaign did not go the way he’d hoped. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider was in the mix on a few occasions this spring, but did not come away with any big victories. He wrapped up his Classics campaign earlier than expected, pulling out of a planned start at Liège-Bastogne-Liège after struggling through the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne.
As Sagan told Slovakian newspaper Hospodárske noviny earlier this week, he finished his Classics run with positive takeaways nonetheless, and remains motivated for his upcoming goals this season.
“Results won’t tell you everything. After getting sick in the spring, I was rather weak, and when I was healed, I immediately returned to racing, which didn’t do me any good,” he said. “I lost a few weeks of training and it ended up as it ended up. On the other hand, at Milano-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix, I fought for the victory or was at least at the front. That’s why I rate it positively.”
Sagan gets back to racing this week in the United States at the Amgen Tour of California, where he has won an incredible 16 stages over the course of his career.
Wiebes wins Chongming opener
The Women’s WorldTour is in China this week for the Tour of Chongming Island. Racing got underway Thursday with the first of three stages, where Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) continued a strong run of recent results with her first WorldTour victory of the season.
The 20-year-old Dutchwoman topped Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) and Nina Kessler (Tibco-SVB) in a bunch kick at Chongming Xingcheng Park, and will lead the race heading into stage 2, another sprinter-friendly day at the same location.
Special-edition Fizik Infinito R1 19 19 shoe commemorates the 1919 Corsa Rosa
Fizik commemorates the 1919 Corsa Rosa – and beyond – with the special edition Infinito R1 19 19 road shoe. Inspired by not only 100 years of racing in Italy, Fizik recognized the efforts of the riders of the 1919 race as Europe emerged out of the Great War.
“As the world recognizes a century since the end of the Great War, we wanted to show our respect with a special design that keeps the memory of that time alive and in touch with today, by combining racing in 1919 with racing in 2019,” said Carlo Maria Ferrero, Fizik’s marketing and communications manager. “We hope that the memories and stories they conjure up serve as inspiration for today’s racers.”
The graphics on the Infinito R1 19 19 recall routes used in the Giri d’Italia of 1919 and 2019. Aside from the special design, the uppers are also fully reflective to provide more visibility in low-light conditions, paying homage to the 15 riders who finished the Corsa Rosa in 1919 … in the dark. Otherwise, the Infinito R1 19 19 is the same as the standard Infinito R1, and uses the same Infinito Volume Control uppers, twin Boa IP1-B dials, Dynamic Arch Support, and vented carbon outsole.
Claimed weight for the special edition Infinito R1 19 19 is 245g (size 42.5), and retail price is US$450 / AU$650 / £350 / €380. They’re available for order at www.fizik.com.
Happy Birthday to …
Birthdays abound for North American cycling stars. Retired American pro Evelyn Stevens is 36. She enjoyed an illustrious road career that included multiple Giro Rosa stage wins and a Flèche Wallonne title, and she also held the women’s UCI Hour Record for over two years. She shares a birthday with Canadian veteran Svein Tuft, who turns 42.
Tuft is still going strong in the pro peloton, racing this season with Rally UHC. His list of career achievements includes an incredible 11 Canadian time trial titles.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: The GC favorites work their way up the final climb to Pratonevoso in stage 18 of the 2018 Giro d’Italia. Photo: ©kramon