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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Astana wins the opening team time trial at the 2019 Vuelta a España to put Miguel Ángel López into the first red jersey, Vos goes back-to-back to win stage 3 of the Ladies Tour of Norway, Alessandro Petacchi receives a two-year ban. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Astana wins Vuelta’s opening TTT
Miguel Ángel López is off to a fine start at the Vuelta a España. He earned the first red jersey of this year’s race after his Astana team won Saturday’s opening team time trial in Torrevieja.
Astana set a mark of 14:51 on the flat 13.4-kilometer course along the Mediterranean, with Deceuninck-Quick-Step taking runner-up honors just two seconds down and Sunweb in third, five seconds back. Jumbo-Visma, the pre-stage favorite, finished 40 seconds back after crashing midway through the course.
The Vuelta got underway on a warm, sunny afternoon in the Alicante Province, with Dimension Data the first squad off the start ramp. Of the early starters, EF Education First impressed with a mark of 14:58 that earned the squad a brief spell in the hot seat before Sunweb went two seconds faster.
Sunweb’s control of the hot seat would not last long, however. The team held off Trek-Segafredo but Astana was the next team on the road. With big engines like Luis León Sánchez and Ion and Gorka Izagirre in the mix alongside López and Jakob Fuglsang, the team drove a high pace the was good enough to set the fastest mark up to that point, with López leading the team across the line.
All eyes then turned to Jumbo-Visma, the pre-race favorite to win the stage, but disaster struck the Dutch WorldTour outfit midway through the team’s effort when four riders hit the deck after rolling through a wet patch in the road. Most of the squad remounted quickly and resumed the effort, but the stage win was no longer in play for Jumbo-Visma.
With Jumbo-Visma out of the picture, Deceuninck-Quick-Step was the closest challenger for the stage victory. On the approach to the line the Belgian outfit looked to have a strong chance of toppling Astana, before taking the final hard corner too hot, forcing some of the team’s riders to slow down. The brief delay cost the team dearly—Deceuninck-Quick-Step hit the line just two seconds slower than Astana, settling for second on the day.
As Movistar, the final team on the road, hit the line 16 seconds back, Astana’s stage win was secured.
Stage 1 results
1 Astana 0:14:51
2 Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:02
3 Sunweb 0:00:05
4 EF Education First 0:00:07
5 Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:13
6 CCC 0:00:15
7 Movistar 0:00:16
9 Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:18
10 Lotto Soudal 0:00:19
1 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana 0:14:51
2 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
4 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana
5 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana
6 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:02
8 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep
9 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
10 Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck-QuickStep
Beauty of Cycling
Marcel Kittel announced his retirement from cycling on Friday. At times, the German sprint star was untouchable in the bunch kicks. Few riders from his generation can claim to have starred in as many victory photos at Tour de France finish lines.
You can see more Kittel victory salutes and quite a few other memorable images in our gallery of the Best of Marcel Kittel’s Career So Far.
Vos extends Norway lead with stage 3 victory
Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) doubled up on Ladies Tour of Norway stage victories, winning Saturday’s stage 3 after getting away late with Coryn Rivera (Sunweb).
Towards the end of the 125.2-kilometer stage from Moss to Halden, Vos and Rivera jumped clear from the pack on first of two climbs to Frederiksten Fortress. The duo stayed clear to battle it out on the final climb, where Vos exploded past to win by five seconds. Rivera settled for second with Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg) leading a small group over the line in a distant third.
Vos’s GC lead now sits at 19 seconds, with Rivera moving up to second overall thanks to her strong ride.
The WorldTour stage race concludes on Sunday with a 156.2-kilometer stage 4 from Svinesund to Halden.
Petacchi banned for two years
The UCI has banned Alessandro Petacchi “for a period of two years of ineligibility for anti-doping rule violations committed in 2012 and 2013.” Retired since 2015, Petacchi raced for the Lampre and Quick-Step organizations during that stretch.
The 45-year-old Italian, who collected 48 Grand Tour stage victories over the course of his career and was recently working with Italian TV network RAI, was implicated in the blood doping scandal investigated under the umbrella of Operation Aderlass.
According to the UCI’s statement, Petacchi’s case is based “on information received from the Austrian police authorities.” Authorities initially began looking into Erfurt, Germany-based Dr. Mark Schmidt for his involvement in facilitating blood doping among cross-country skiers, before the investigation grew to include athletes in a broader range of sports.
Petacchi was linked to the scandal in May at the same time as Kristijan Koren (Bahrain-Merida), Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), and Bahrain-Merida sports director Borut Bozic. At the time, Petacchi denied the allegation.
He has apparently now accepted the decision, which strips him of three stage wins from the 2012 Bayern-Rundfahrt and prevents him from participation in UCI events for a period of two years, starting on this past May 14.
De Buyst wins Tour of Denmark stage 4
Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal) took stage 4 of the Tour of Denmark, out-sprinting Amaury Capiot (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Huub Dujin (Roompot-Charles) after 175.2 kilometers from Korsor to Asnaes Indelukke.
Niklas Larsen (ColoQuick) remains atop the general classification in Denmark with one stage remaining.
Wiggins-Le Col to close at the end of 2019
British Continental squad Wiggins-Le Col will close its doors at the end of the season.
“After five great years, the team’s ownership have taken the decision that the operation has come to its natural conclusion,” the team said via its announcement of the news.
Bradley Wiggins founded the team in 2015 after his final season with Sky. Initially focused on the 2016 Olympic ambitions of Wiggins and a few compatriots, the squad continued after the Rio Olympics as a development team for up-and-coming riders.
The list of Wiggins alumni now racing on the WorldTour includes Owain Doull (Ineos), Chris Lawless (Ineos), and James Knox (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), while rising star Thomas Pidcock is currently in his second season with the team.
The impending closure of the Wiggins team will mark yet another departure from the British domestic scene that saw JLT-Condor and the One Pro Cycling men’s team shut down last year, with Madison-Genesis also closing at the end of 2019.
Dygert-Owen doubles up in Colorado
Chloe Dygert-Owen (Sho-Air Twenty20) stormed to a second straight stage victory at the Colorado Classic on Friday afternoon.
On the heels of her solo win on the opening stage, the race leader bridged up to the breakaway on stage 2 and then pressed on alone to nab another win and extend her overall advantage. Stage 2 runner-up Brodie Chapman (Tibco-SVB) again finished second, 28 seconds back, with Omer Shapira (Canyon-Sram) in third.
Dygert-Owen now enjoys an overall lead of 1:28 to Chapman as the Colorado Classic heads into its third stage, a circuit race of 102.5 total kilometers in Golden. You can watch all the action here:
Coming up at the Vuelta
The Vuelta a España rolls on with Sunday’s hilly stage 2, 199.6 kilometers from Benidorm to Calpe.
The sprinters will have their eyes on the flat finish, but a late category-two climb could serve as a launching pad for a late attacker, putting quite a few names into play as potential stage winners.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Astana en route to victory in the stage 1 team time trial at the Vuelta a España. Photo: Dario Beligheri/RB/Cor Vos © 2019