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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Alex Howes and Ruth Winder secure stars and stripes jerseys at U.S. nationals, Vincenzo Nibali could be eyeing the Tour de France GC after all, Movistar confirms its trio of Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa, and Alejandro Valverde will take on the Tour. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Howes and Winder secure stars and stripes
Alex Howes (EF Education First) and Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) both secured their first ever U.S. road race titles after some aggressive racing in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The 31-year-old Howes had long been chasing the elusive stars and stripes jersey, with two podium finishes on his palmares, and finally pulled off the big win on Sunday.
“I was in tears,” Howes said. “I’ve been running after this one for a while, eight years or so. So, I’ve been on the podium a few times and always an animator, just never there. Today we went early and just kept going. I can’t believe it paid off.”
The men’s race covered 15 laps of a lumpy 12.7-kilometer circuit for a total of 191 kilometers. Howes escaped a dwindling pack late in the day alongside Neilson Powless (Jumbo-Visma) and Stephen Bassett (First Internet Bank). The trio worked well through the closing kilometers and held on the battle for the victory on the final lap. Inside the last five kilometers, Powless tried to solo clear of his fellow escapees, and Howes briefly lost touch as Bassett hung on.
The EF Education First rider did not throw in the towel, however, working his way back to the leaders to contest the finale. With a chase group threatening, Powless attacked again. Then Bassett made a move of his own, momentarily finding daylight at the front of the race—but Howes surged up to the 24-year-old, dropped him, and powered over the final few hundred meters alone to secure the win.
The women’s race came down to Winder’s impressive solo move late in the race. Finding some space on the pack in a small group on the seventh of nine laps, Winder powered off the front with Lily Williams (Hagens Berman-Supermint) on the eighth lap. The duo quickly built an advantage over the reduced peloton.
As the chase got into gear on the final lap, however, Winder made her solo bid for victory, putting in a surge on the final trip up the Sherrod Road climb. Dropping Williams, she continued on alone as the pack whittled away at the gap. The pursuers caught Williams, but Winder was not to be denied, just holding out to take the solo victory one second ahead of a hard-charging Coryn Rivera (Sunweb). Emma White (Rally UHC) took third and the under-23 title.
“It’s not over ‘til it’s over, just keep on going, that’s all I was thinking,” Winder said. “I thought everyone was going to pass me in the last 100 meters; I had nothing. I sat down, and I was like, ‘get up, sprint, sprint, sprint.’ Nobody passed me and I can’t believe that I won.”
For those who don’t get caught in a huge pileup, this must be fun. For everyone else … gutsy.
Chapeau to Alice Barnes for having what it takes to win a British national road title while keeping the environment in mind.
Nibali could be eyeing Tour GC after all
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) said earlier this month that his Tour de France campaign would be all about hunting stage wins, but he might have greater ambitions in mind.
Bahrain-Merida has announced it’s starting eight for the Tour with Nibali as the centerpiece of the roster, and according to sports director Gorazd Stangelj in the roster announcement, “Vincenzo will be able to aim for the GC.”
The 34-year-old Italian is a former Tour champion (2014), but with a Giro d’Italia already under his belt this season, his ability to contend for another yellow jersey will be a question mark. Nibali says he plans to see how the first few days pan out before committing too openly to another Tour GC bid.
“I will listen to my feelings in the first week of the race and after the first uphill finish at La Planche des Belles Filles I will see where I am,” he said.
Australia’s Rohan Dennis, the reigning time trial world champ, will also feature in a strong Bahrain-Merida squad that includes Damiano Caruso, Matej Mohoric, Iván García Cortina, Sonny Colbrelli, Dylan Teuns, and Jan Tratnik as well.
Bouhanni absent from Cofidis Tour de France selection
For the second straight year, Nacer Bouhanni has missed out on Tour de France selection. The Frenchman is notably absent from the Tour lineup unveiled Monday by his Cofidis team.
Christophe Laporte will instead lead the French Pro Continental squad in the sprints, with Jesús Herrada, Julien Simon, Natnael Berhane, Stéphane Rossetto, Nicolas Edet, Anthony Perez, and Pierre-Luc Périchon rounding out the roster.
De Vos and Canuel win Canadian road titles
Adam de Vos won the Canadian men’s road title on Sunday, adding another maple leaf jersey to Rally UHC’s count after Rob Britton won the men’s time trial. De Vos and teammate Nigel Ellsay scored the one-two finish in the road race after attacking out of a small lead group at the end of a hectic, hilly race in Beauce, Quebec. Nicolas Zukowsky (Floyd’s) rounded out the podium in third.
Saturday’s women’s race saw Karol-Ann Canuel (Boels-Dolmans) take her first elite road title, soloing to the win on rain-soaked roads ahead of Leah Kirchmann (Sunweb) and Arianne Bonhomme.
Movistar confirms trio of Quintana, Valverde, and Landa for the Tour
The Movistar team will indeed send all three of Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa, and Alejandro Valverde to the Tour de France for the second straight year. Monday’s roster announcement noted that Quintana and Landa would “again be the main GC references for the Eusebio Unzué-led outfit.”
Valverde, whose initial 2019 plan was focused on the Giro d’Italia before an injury forced him to miss the race, will be a strong wild card, particularly considering his recent showing of form at La Route d’Occitanie.
Marc Soler, Andrey Amador, Imanol Erviti, Nelson Oliveira, and Carlos Verona comprise the remainder of the lineup.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Alex Howes wins the U.S. men’s road title. Photo: Wil Matthews