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Shortly before today’s Daily News Digest was set to post with some expected transfer season signing updates and racing news, Lotto-Soudal announced that Bjorg Lambrecht had passed away following a crash at the Tour of Poland. The 22-year-old was one of Belgium’s most promising up-and-comers.
Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal) has died after a crash on stage 3 of the Tour of Poland. The 22-year-old Belgian reportedly hit a concrete culvert near the town of Zory in the rainy stage from Chorzów to Zabrze. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he passed away while in surgery.
Lambrecht was one of Belgium’s most promising young riders. He rode to runner-up honors in the under-23 road race at the 2018 world championships, and recently claimed the white jersey at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
CyclingTips sends its sincerest condolences to Lambrecht’s family and friends.
The biggest tragedy possible that could happen to the family, friends and teammates of Bjorg has happened… Rest in peace Bjorg… ❤️ pic.twitter.com/9u9LZkp2Rt
— Lotto Soudal (@Lotto_Soudal) August 5, 2019
In less important news from the world of cycling: Bahrain-Merida has signed Mikel Landa for 2020, Elia Viviani will join Cofidis next year, U23 world time trial champ Mikkel Bjerg will head to the WorldTour with UAE-Team Emirates.
Bahrain-Merida signs Mikel Landa
Mikel Landa is leaving Movistar for Bahrain-Merida in 2020.
The 29-year-old Basque climber, whose career achievements include multiple Grand Tour stage wins and an overall podium finish at the Giro d’Italia, will join his new team on a two-year deal, Bahrain-Merida announced on Monday.
Bahrain will be Landa’s fifth team since 2013. After emerging as a promising climber with Euskaltel-Euskadi, he spent two years with Astana and then two years with Sky. He is currently nearing the end of his two-year deal with Movistar. During his stint with the Spanish WorldTour outfit, he has raced the 2018 Tour de France and the 2019 Giro and Tour, finishing inside the top 10 in all three races.
With Vincenzo Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida contract expiring at the end of the 2019 season, Landa will likely be his new squad’s featured Grand Tour GC contender moving forward.
“I feel very proud of Team Bahrain Merida who has chosen me to lead this project,” Landa said. “I feel really excited for coming challenges.”
Elia Viviani signs with Cofidis
Cofidis announced the signing of Elia Viviani for 2020 on Monday, one day after he won the RideLondon Classic. Viviani’s current Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammate and lead-out man Fabio Sabatini will join him in the move to the French Pro Continental squad, which is looking to upgrade to the WorldTour.
“I was able to see, by talking with [Cofidis manager] Cédric Vasseur and [sports director] Roberto Damiani, how much the Cofidis team was committed to recruiting me and proposing me an ambitious project,” Viviani said in a Cofidis press release. “I very much appreciate the desire to create a dynamic around me and the confidence I am shown with the arrival of my friend Fabio.”
After turning pro with Liquigas and spending several years there, Viviani rode for three seasons with team Sky before joining Deceuninck-Quick-Step at the start of 2018. He has flourished in the Belgian squad, proving one of the sport’s most successful riders last year and continuing to rack up results in 2019. He won his first ever Tour de France stage on stage 4 of this year’s race, and is fresh off a WorldTour one-day victory at RideLondon.
At Cofidis, he will be the clear top name for the sprints and will fill an opening left by the impending departure of Nacer Bouhanni. Even as a Pro Continental team, Cofidis generally scores invites to many of the biggest WorldTour events, but with Viviani’s arrival the team’s jump to the WorldTour proper becomes more likely.
Pascal Ackermann wins Tour of Poland stage 3 after Fabio Jakobsen relegated
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Pascal Ackermann won stage 3 of the Tour of Poland after Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was relegated in the final sprint. Jakobsen was the first rider across the finish line, but the race jury penalized him for pushing Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ) out of the way as both riders geared up for the final kick.
Ackermann took the win ahead of Danny van Poppel (Jumbo-Visma) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), extending his overall race lead.
The 150.5-kilometer stage 3 from Chorzów to Zabrze saw the peloton race through intermittent stretches of pouring rain. After the early breakaway was caught, the sprinters’ teams moved into position for a bunch kick.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe were well positioned as the pack hit the finishing straight. After taking his hand off his handlebars to push Sarreau out of his way, Jakobsen hit the front of the sprint inside the final 50 meters and crossed the line first, but his post-race relegation a few minutes later left Ackermann as the stage winner.
Kolbinger primed to become Transcontinental’s first female winner
24-year-old German Fiona Kolbinger is nearing a victory in the Transcontinental Race, which would mark the first time a female cyclist has ever won the ultra-endurance event.
As of Monday afternoon in Europe, Kolbinger is in Brittany and approaching the finish in Brest, France, after some 4,000 kilometers of racing.
You can check out the route she has taken on her long ride from Bulgaria here.
UAE-Team Emirates signs Mikkel Bjerg
Only a few days after signing promising American youngster Brandon McNulty (Rally UHC) for 2020, UAE-Team Emirates has announced another big prospect acquisition. Mikkel Bjerg (Hagens Berman Axeon) will join the UAE squad next season.
The 20-year-old Dane has won the under-23 world time trial title for the past two years in a row. Alongside McNulty and recent Tour of California winner Tadej Pogacar, he figures to be part of an impressive core of rising talents for UAE-Team Emirates in the coming years.
Movistar signs British up-and-comer Gabriel Cullaigh
Gabriel Cullaigh will make the jump from the Wiggins squad to the WorldTour next season. Movistar has announced a two-year deal with the 23-year-old Briton.
Cullaigh has shown potential as a fast finisher in his appearances at a number of smaller races, most recently winning a stage at the Volta ao Alentejo.
EVOC joins in on the bike-packing movement
Previewed at the Sea Otter Classic, EVOC has expanded its luggage range to include frame and bike-packing bags. Most interesting are the new handlebar and seat packs, both of which use Boa dials for retention. The Handlebar Pack Boa will soon be available in either 2.5L (US$130) or 5L (US$150) sizes, both featuring a waterproof roll closure design with dual-sided access. The Seat Pack Boa will be offered in 1L, 2L and 3L sizes, priced at US$110, US$130, US$160 respectively.
The rest of the new range includes the .5L Top Tube Pack (US$40) and a Multi Frame Pack in either .7L (US$45) or 1L (US$50) sizes. All options will be available in a carbon grey or gold coloring.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Bjorg Lambrecht with his Lotto-Soudal teammates at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Photo: VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2019