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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Julian Alaphilippe says he could target the Tour de France overall at some point in the future, but not next year, Nairo Quintana and Steven Kruijswijk among big names eyeing the Vuelta a España, Michael Matthews rues Tour stage 21 mechanical but says morale is still high. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Alaphilippe could focus on Tour GC in future, but ‘not next year’
With his two stage victories and two unexpected weeks in yellow, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) played a huge part in making this year’s Tour de France one of the most thrilling in recent memory. The 27-year-old Frenchman had the world of cycling buzzing as he held the race lead longer than almost anyone expected, before ultimately dropping to fifth overall. He was awarded the race’s overall combativity prize for his efforts.
After his impressive Tour, Alaphilippe said that he is not quite ready to put all his eggs into the Grand Tour specialist basket right now. He did not rule out a future push, but another big race has his attention for 2020.
“Maybe the general classification will be something I would focus on in the future, but certainly not next year,” he said. “First, I want to explore the Tour of Flanders.”
Alaphilippe’s all-rounder skill set makes him a contender in almost any race he starts. He may have been best known prior to this year’s Tour for his one-day exploits – with wins at races like Milano-Sanremo, la Flèche Wallone, and Strade Bianche – but he has had plenty of success elsewhere too. His time trialing ability, climbing legs, bike handling skills, and general racing savvy were on full display this year at the Tour.
He has yet to spend much time racing the big Cobbled Classics, however, and is eyeing a run at De Ronde as his next big objective. Plus, the way he sees it, the Tour of Flanders is already a pretty natural fit for his talents. Focusing on three-week races, on the other hand, requires a change in approach.
Maybe that will come in the future, but not quite yet.
“If you want to prepare for the Tour, you need months if not years for that,” Alaphilippe said.
For Deceuninck-Quick-Step manager Patrick Lefevere, the 2019 Tour was a big success regardless of the final result for Alaphilippe.
“There is no disappointment. 14 days in yellow, that is already beyond expectations,” he said. “In Belgium I was also approached by everyone, on the street and in the restaurant, about Alaphilippe. What he did was great publicity for cycling and of course also for himself.”
There was plenty of excitement inside the commentary booth of Robbie McEwen and Matthew Keenan as the sprinters battled for the final stage of the Tour de France.
— Matthew Keenan (@mwkeenan) July 28, 2019
Meanwhile, in Catalonia, the organizers of this junior race probably should have called off the team time trial due to inclement weather …
The driver of the ambulance: "We're stopping right here, we can't go any further! 😰"
*suddenly 4 cyclists followed by their team car pass by like nothing happens*
The driver: Am I a joke to you?
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) July 28, 2019
Quintana and Kruijswijk eye the Vuelta a España
With the Tour de France in the rearview mirror, some big names are already looking ahead to the next opportunity for Grand Tour glory. According to NOS, Jumbo-Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk will join Primoz Roglic, who said two weeks ago that he would target the Vuelta a España, in Spain next month. The pair will have both George Bennett and Robert Gesink alongside as well.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is also eyeing the Vuelta, having told ESPN that he will take some a short break in Colombia in Colombia and then head to the season’s final grand tour. He won the race in 2016.
Matthews rues late mechanical on Tour stage 21
Michael Matthews (Sunweb) closed out the 2019 Tour de France on a frustrating note after a late mechanical derailed his chances of fighting for the final sprint on the Champs-Élysées. By the time he managed to rejoin the peloton, the sprinters were already jockeying for position.
“When I saw that I had a bad mechanical I was still hoping to get back for the finale,” Matthew said, according to SBS. “I had a fast bike change from the team and I really appreciate that. I had Nico [Roche] waiting in the cars to bring me back to the bunch, before Lennard [Kämna] and Chad [Haga] were there to bring me as close to the front of the bunch as possible.
“By that point I was pretty sure it was over but we fought all the way to the line; you never know what happens.”
The 28-year-old Australian ultimately finished 28th on the day.
The Tour may not have gone quite the way Sunweb had hoped, with expected leader Tom Dumoulin pulling out of a planned start shortly before the race, and the team finished the event without a stage win, but Matthews said he and his teammates were holding their heads high after a challenging few weeks.
“The team morale is still super high at the moment,” said Matthews. “We kept fighting and kept trying, and hopefully we can keep that spirit going and break the bad luck train we’re on at the moment.”
Attaquer adds bags to line-up
Sydney-based cycling apparel brand, Attaquer, has expanded beyond trendy kit and into bags. The surprisingly affordable range includes two saddle bags, a carry-whatever wallet (aka, the Pocket Pouch) and a handlebar bag. While all of the pieces seem like no-nonsense options with durable construction, it’s the Adventure Handlebar bar bag that’s most intriguing.
Available in black or camo (pictured, but invisible), the Adventure Handlebar bag offers a design, shape and sizing that’s almost identical to the OrNot handlebar bag we reviewed previously, however, Attaquer’s version fixes a key complaint by adding a huge dual-zippered opening. And it’s cheaper at AU$100 (approximately USD$70). It looks to be yet another good option in what’s becoming a competitive space.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Julian Alaphilippe on Tour de France stage 18. Photo: Gruber Images