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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
The UCI announces the 2020 WorldTour calendar with the Tour de France set to start in late June due to the Summer Olympics, Astana unveils its 2019 Tour lineup to support Jakob Fuglsang, Elia Viviani and Julian Alaphilippe headline Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Tour roster. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: 2020 Tour de France to start in June
The 2020 Tour de France will start a week earlier than usual (on June 27) to accommodate the Olympics. The change was announced as part of the UCI’s unveiling of the 2020 calendars of the WorldTour and Women’s WorldTour.
“The dates of several events have been adapted, as is the case every four years, so that they do not take place during the Games,” read the UCI statement. “Accordingly, the UCI WorldTour will see the Tour de France begin one week before its traditional date, and the Tour de Pologne will take place in July instead of August as in previous years. Similarly, the Prudential RideLondon Surrey Classic will be organized slightly later than usual, after the Olympic Games.”
With the changes, there will be less than a month between the final stage of the 2020 Giro d’Italia and the start of the Tour – as if the Giro-Tour double weren’t already hard enough.
The Women’s WorldTour is also affected accordingly: “All the events organized from the month of May onwards will take place one week earlier, enabling the best riders to participate and also represent their country at the Olympic Games.”
A few of the specific races making the top-division calendar (or not making it) are also notable. Absent from the men’s WorldTour in 2020 is the Presidential Tour of Turkey.
“This decision was taken due to the number of UCI WorldTeams taking part in the last two years being less than the minimum of 10 required by the UCI Regulations (2.15.192),” the statement explained.
On the women’s side, the WorldTour calendar will start with a new addition: the women’s event at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, currently organized as a 1.1 race.
As such, both the men’s and women’s races at the CEGORR will be part of the top-division series.
Later in the season, the RideLondon Classique will no longer be a Women’s WorldTour event.
Taking on two thousand unsupported kilometers sounds pretty hard, but at least Lachlan Morton (EF Education First) gets to enjoy some beautiful countryside during his GBDuro ride. The Australian registered the fastest time on the first stage of the bike-packing race. As of this writing he is the only rider to have completed the second stage, with two still to go.
Astana announces roster to back Fuglsang’s Tour hopes
Astana has named its starting eight for the Tour de France, with Jakob Fuglsang receiving the nod as the team’s clear leader.
The 34-year-old Dane is in the middle of an impressive season, having carried his Liége-Bastogne-Liège-winning form through June to a recent victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Despite his limited career success in three-week races, he will start the Tour among the top overall favorites.
Fuglsang will be able to rely on Luis León Sánchez, Gorka Izagirre, Omar Fraile, Alexey Lutsenko, and Pello Bilbao for the lumpier stages, with Magnus Cort and Hugo Houle in the mix as well for the flatter terrain.
“It’s a strong and experienced team,” said sports director Dmitriy Fofonov in the team’s roster announcement. “Only Hugo Houle and Pello Bilbao will ride their first Tour de France. With Hugo Houle, we have someone who knows how to work for the team and he works well together with Jakob Fuglsang. Pello Bilbao is a very strong climber, as we could see in the Giro d’Italia where he won two stages, we definitely need him in this Tour de France as there will be a lot of climbing.”
The squad will try to bring home the team’s first Tour title since Vincenzo Nibali won it in Astana colors in 2014.
Viviani to Alaphilippe to lead Deceunick-Quick-Step’s hunt for Tour stages
Deceuninck-Quick-Step has announced its roster for the upcoming Tour de France, with 2018 Julian Alaphilippe and Elia Viviani set to lead the way in the hunt for stages.
Alaphilippe will look to follow up an impressive 2018 Tour that saw him win the mountains classification and two stages. For Viviani, this summer will mark his first Tour appearance since 2014. The Italian has generally targeted the Giro d’Italia in recent years.
“We need to remember that it is his first time in years at the Tour,” Steels said. “He has proved himself as a Grand Tour stage winner, but this is the Tour and with a full team behind him, he will need to stay calm and can hopefully take his opportunity with both hands.”
Enric Mas, second overall at the 2018 Vuelta a España, will lead the GC campaign for the team as he makes his debut in the French Grand Tour.
Kasper Asgreen, Max Richeze, Michael Mørkøv, Yves Lampaert, and Dries Devenyns round out the roster for the Belgian WorldTour squad. Notably absent from the lineup is Philippe Gilbert, who said via Twitter that the news came as a surprise.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step addressed his absence in its statement, saying, “With such a strong roster available, it was really difficult to pick just eight riders and it is a shame that people like Philippe Gilbert have to miss out, but we feel that this is a really balanced team.”
Bouhanni reportedly heading to Arkéa-Samsic next season
Wielerflits reports that Nacer Bouhanni is headed to Arkéa-Samsic in 2020, which would finally bring an end to his troubled tenure with Cofidis.
The 28-year-old Frenchman joined Cofidis from FDJ for the start of the 2015 season after emerging as one of cycling’s most promising young sprinters. Things have not gone the way rider or team have hoped. Bouhanni joined the team with four Grand Tour stage wins on his palmares and has added only one in the five seasons since. He has clashed with manager Cédric Vasseur, who has publicly criticized Bouhanni’s attitude.
Bouhanni did not start the 2018 Tour de France, and is reportedly out of Cofidis’s lineup for this year’s race as well. With his contract finally up at the end of the season, however, Wielerflits reports that he will jump to another French Pro Continental team.
Arkéa-Samsic does already have André Greipel as a featured sprinter, but the German is entering the twilight years of his career, turning 37 in July. Bouhanni should hypothetically be in his prime at age 28, although he has not won yet this season, and his 2018 Vuelta a España stage victory is his lone WorldTour win since March of 2017.
Hagens Berman Axeon to return to Continental level
Hagens Berman Axeon will drop down from the Pro Continental level back to the Continental level next season, DirectVelo reports.
The successful development team jumped up to the second-division last season to remain eligible for selection to the Amgen Tour of California, which can no longer invite Continental squads now that it is a WorldTour event. As team manager Axel Merckx explained to DirectVelo, however, racing at the Pro Continental level is not worth the added cost.
“The return on investment was not enough, we can do without it,” Merckx said. “We have analyzed the situation for the future and we have no interest in staying in this category.”
Van Vleuten and Van Emden score Dutch time trial titles
Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Jos van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) scored the 2019 Dutch national time trial titles in Ede on Wednesday.
Van Vleuten, the reigning world time trial champion, topped Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) and Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) to take her fourth national TT victory. Van Emden won the men’s title ahead of Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First) and Dylan van Baarle (Ineos).
DT Swiss 25th anniversary wheels are the company’s lightest
DT Swiss is celebrating its 25 year history with limited edition “PRC 1100 DICUT 25Y Edition” wheels. Claimed to weigh just 1,283g, it’s the Swiss company’s lightest disc brake clincher road wheelset to date and even bests what Lightweight offers (but not the yet-to-be-available Partington).
Wholly made in Europe, the 180 hubs offer carbon shells and DT’s newly updated Ratchet EXP. The tubeless-ready carbon rims are just 24mm deep and 18mm wide, and the logo is moulded in. And at £3,000, we suspect we’ll see these limited edition hoops in equally limited numbers.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Julian Alaphilippe in the polka dot jersey at the 2018 Tour de France. Photo: ©kramon