Zwift’s Giro partnership, Urán headed to California: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Zwift is bringing the Giro prologue course to the virtual world, Rigoberto Urán is returning from a collarbone injury to make his debut at the Tour of California, Silca’s new bar tape is inspired by F1 tires and running shoes. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Zwift partners with the Giro for a virtual prologue experience

Zwift is partnering with the Giro d’Italia to bring the prologue of the upcoming race to the virtual world.

The four Pro Continental teams set to contest the Giro will compete in two exhibition races on a Zwift rendering of the Bologna prologue course, which will then be available for Zwifters around the world to ride and race.

“The Giro d’Italia has a long history of innovation,” said Paolo Bellino, CEO of Giro organizer RCS Sport. “This year, we are excited to be able to bring a new technological advancement to the race. Not only does this give fans around the world a chance to get closer to the race by experiencing a stage, but it also gives the competing riders a new way to prepare for the start of the race.”

Nippo Fantini, Bardiani-CSF, Androni Giocattoli, and Israel Cycling Academy will take part in a Thursday showdown on the virtual course ahead of the real-life prologue. As the Giro gets underway on Saturday, the virtual course will go public. At 8.2 kilometers, it’s a short TT test, but it also features a very steep final two kilometers.

Zwift will also host a series of time trial races for e-riders throughout the Italian Grand Tour.

Socially Speaking

Albstadt, Germany is set to host its round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series next weekend, May 17 to 19. New Zealand’s Anton Cooper took to Instagram to opine on the difficulty (or lack thereof?) of the course.

Over on the road side of things, Tao Geoghegan Hart offers a creative depiction of the Ineos lineup for the upcoming Giro d’Italia. Christian Knees (on the left) and Salvatore Puccio (not pictured as far as we can tell) are the only riders over the age of 25 on Ineos’s otherwise extremely young roster.

Race Radio

Urán to race the Tour of California

After recovering from a collarbone fracture, Rigoberto Urán will make his return to racing at the upcoming Amgen Tour of California. While his EF Education First team has not made the official announcement, Urán shared the news himself, both on Colombian radio and on Twitter.

The 32-year-old Colombian, second overall at the 2017 Tour de France, got off to a fine start to this season with a stage victory and a top 10 at the Tour Colombia 2.1, but crashed hard in Paris-Nice and broke his collarbone. His debut Tour of California will be the first step on his build-up to the Tour de France this summer.

Rigoberto Urán crashed on the second stage of Paris-Nice. Photo: PdV/PN/Cor Vos © 2019

With 2018 California runner-up Tejay van Garderen also expected in EF’s squad for next week, the American WorldTour outfit should have one of the strongest lineups in the race.

Masters Gran Fondo champion suspended after anti-doping violation

According to Ciclo21, two Spanish masters racers have been suspended following anti-doping violations.

Raúl Portillo, the 40-45 Gran Fondo world champion in the TT and road race in 2018, and José Antonio Larrea returned positive tests for an unnamed substance, which Basque newspaper El Correo reports to be EPO. Both riders have been suspended by the Agencia Vasca Antidopaje (Basque Anti-doping Agency), suspensions backed internationally by WADA. They have the right to request a B sample.

Tech News

New Silca Nastro bar tapes inspired by F1 tires and running shoes

Silca found inspiration from well outside the cycling industry for its new Nastro handlebar tapes. The “SILCAlon” high-rebound foam mid-layer is derived from recent developments in running shoes and provides more effective cushioning with less thickness than standard tapes, while the “SILCAthane” TPU surface is non-porous for easier cleaning. Underneath it all is a layer of 3M viscoelastic adhesive to hold it in place.

The Nastro bar tape is available in two flavors. The 1.85mm-thick Piloti (US$40) features a Formula 1-inspired asymmetric texture that allows users to choose their preferred level of grippiness depending on how the tape is wrapped. The Fiore (US$44) features a cushier 2.5mm thickness and a symmetrical texture enhanced with silicone grippers. Piloti also gets more subdued colors – black, white, or red – while you can pick up the Fiore tape in three different floral patterns.

Both types of tape will also come with a butterfly-shaped section of bar tape that should make dealing with the fussy area around lever clamps a bit easier.

Shimano introduces proper Tiagra hydraulic disc brakes

Shimano’s new gravel-specific GRX took the limelight yesterday, while all-new Tiagra hydraulic disc brake levers and calipers were hiding in the shadows.

Shimano’s value-orientated Tiagra road group has had a hydraulic disc option (RS405) for a number of years, but it was a “non-series” option and didn’t carry Tiagra branding. It was also seriously ugly and weird in shape.

That changes with the new ST-4720 and ST-4725 shifters, which offer vastly improved ergonomics and shift function that now mimic 105 R7000. In many ways, they’re a 10-speed version of 105 shifters, and like 105 R7000, there’s even a small hand-specific option available. The new shifters are joined by a matching flat-mount brake caliper, new 12mm thru-axle hubs and a 48/34T crankset option.

In case you missed it …

Feature Image: Rigoberto Urán in the peloton at the Tour Colombia 2.1. Photo: Dario Belingheri//RB/Cor Vos © 2019

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