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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Caleb Ewan headlines a stage-hunting Lotto-Soudal squad in his Tour de France debut, Kiryienka and Reusser win TT titles at European Games, Virtu Cycling will fold at the end of the season. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Ewan to lead Lotto-Soudal’s hunt for Tour de France stage wins
Caleb Ewan is finally getting his chance to race the Tour de France. His Lotto-Soudal squad has officially announced its Tour lineup with the Australian speedster as a featured rider, one of the best options the team will have in its plan to hunt for stage victories in July.
The Belgian WorldTour team is headed to the Tour de France without a top contender for the yellow jersey, and as such will pour its resources elsewhere. That’s good news for Ewan.
“Even though some riders already announced they won’t participate, we don’t have any real ambitions for the general classification,” said Lotto-Soudal Marc Sergeant in the team’s Tour lineup announcement. “We are fully aiming for a stage victory.”
Ewan, who will turn 25 during the Tour, has enjoyed success in other big races on the calendar but has never made the start in the sport’s biggest event. Mitchelton-Scott had initially planned to send him to his debut Tour last season, but announced a change in plans in June.
After making the move to Lotto-Soudal over the offseason, Ewan will make that long-awaited Tour start in Brussels in less than two weeks. He’ll have some support in his sprint stage goals too.
“With already three stage wins in the Giro and one in the Vuelta, I think the ambition to also win a Tour stage, will come automatically,” said Lotto-Soudal manager Marc Sergeant. “During the sprint preparation, Caleb will be perfectly supported by amongst others Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge but by the other Lotto Soudal riders as well.”
With Ewan for the flat stages, Lotto-Soudal will have Tim Wellens, Thomas De Gendt, and Tiesj Benoot as favored stage-hunting options for the lumpier stages.
Jens Keukeleire and Maxime Monfort round out the roster.
Chris Froome can’t be happy to be missing the Tour de France this year, but he has managed to stay upbeat on social media over the past week as he recovers from the multiple injuries he suffered in a crash while reconning the Critérium du Dauphiné time trial. The photo he shared on Twitter on Tuesday was taken just minutes before he hit the deck.
Rohan Dennis eyes stage wins at Tour
Bahrain-Merida’s Rohan Dennis has been focused on building himself into a Grand Tour contender in recent years, and he just finished second overall at the Tour de Suisse, but he is downplaying his GC hopes for the upcoming Tour de France.
“There’s still some other guys. The Tour de France is a whole other level,” he said after the Tour de Suisse.
The reigning world time trial champ says he is eyeing stage wins in July.
“I’m not sure why I’ve got good form here [in Switzerland]. It just happened,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t put for finger on why you’re going so well. I’m going to take it as it is for now, be happy with this result, and look towards the Tour for stages hopefully.”
Ag2r La Mondiale sponsorship extended through 2023
French WorldTour squad Ag2r La Mondiale has announced that its title sponsorship has been extended through 2023.
The continuation of the partnership will further an already-long-lasting sponsorship from the French company, which provides insurance and retirement plans. Ag2r first came on board as a sponsor in 1997.
Kiryienka and Reusser win European Games TT titles
Vasil Kiryienka scored the gold medal in the time trial at the European Games in Minsk, in his home country of Belarus. The 2015 world time trial champ, who has ridden professionally with the Ineos organization since 2013, topped Nelson Oliveira (Portugal) and Jan Barta (Czech Republic) on the 28.6-kilometer course.
On the women’s side, Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser took the time trial gold. The Netherlands’ Chantal Blaak rode to silver, with Great Britain’s Hayley Simmonds taking bronze.
Virtu set to fold at end of season
Virtu Cycling, the team of European champion and recent Tour of Flanders winner Marta Bastianelli, will stop at the end of 2019, owner Bjarne Riis told TV2 Sport.
“I was hoping it was a project we could continue to drive, but we simply lack sponsors,” Riis told TV2 Sport.
“We have now financed it ourselves over the past three years, and for business reasons we do not think we should keep it going.”
Earlier this month, TV2 Sport reported that the Denmark-based team finished 2018 with financial losses over $2 million.
Hagens Berman Supermint losing title sponsor
Elsewhere in the women’s peloton, Hagens Berman Supermint co-owner Lindsay Goldman wrote in a journal for VeloNews that her title sponsor, the Hagens Berman law firm, will be discontinuing its sponsorship for 2020.
As Goldman explained, Steve Berman – a longtime supporter of American teams – had decided to direct his funds elsewhere after four years backing the squad. While Goldman did not explicitly shut the door on finding a new sponsor or putting together a new team, she was candid about the team’s future.
“I’m sharing this because it’s news when pro cycling loses another sponsor and I’m hoping at some point these losses can cumulatively be a catalyst for change in the pro cycling business model,” she wrote.
“This is not a call for you to send my team $20 or for somebody to launch a GoFundMe to save the program. While I may launch a new women’s program from the ashes of this team, I’m not writing this in hopes of being saved.”
Amateur ambassador killed after being hit by truck while riding
The Hagens Berman Supermint squad had already received heartbreaking news this week when one of the team’s amateur ambassadors – a program the squad developed to increase involvement at the grassroots level – was killed while working as a bike messenger.
Robyn Hightman, age 20, was hit by a truck while riding in New York City.
Barguil and Greipel headline Arkéa-Samsic Tour lineup
Arkéa-Samsic has announced six of its eight riders for the Tour de France, confirming that climber Warren Barguil and sprinter André Greipel will both feature in the squad.
Barguil won the mountains classification and two stages in 2017, while Greipel counts 11 Tour stage wins on his career palmares.
The French Pro Continental outfit plans to announce the final two spots for its Tour roster after the many national championships scheduled for the coming days.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Caleb Ewan wins stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia. Photo: IB/RB/Cor Vos © 2019