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Dan Martin will join Israel Cycling Academy in 2020, Romain Bardet calls it a season, Álvaro Hodeg tops Sam Bennett to win stage 5 of the BinckBank Tour. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Dan Martin signs two-year deal with Israel Cycling Academy
In one of the first big surprises so far in this year’s transfer season, Israel Cycling Academy announced a two-year deal with Dan Martin on Friday.
The 32-year-old Irishman will join the Pro Continental team in 2020 after two seasons with UAE-Team Emirates.
“Not only will I be able to help this great project reach its exciting goals, but also a great opportunity for me to refresh myself and improve further,” Martin said. “I have not reached my peak and I strongly believe that the best is yet to come for ICA and myself.”
Martin’s list of career of achievements includes two Monument wins – Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2013 and Il Lombardia in 2014 – and two Tour de France stage victories. He has won one-week stage races at the WorldTour level and counts four Grand Tour top 10 overall finishes on his palmares as well.
Unless Israel Cycling Academy’s status changes between now and 2020, the move will mark the first time Martin has raced below the WorldTour level in over a decade.
For his new team, Martin represents the biggest signings since the squad started in 2015.
“We see Dan Martin as the start of our big leap,” said team manager Kjell Carlström. “After several years during which we were progressing step by step, we have now found the moment to strengthen the team significantly with a leader of Dan’s caliber.”
Speaking of Israel Cycling Academy, the team made a solid social media sportsmanship move to bring the world this video of 21-year-old American Thomas Revard (Hagens Berman Axeon), who finished stage 3 at the Tour of Utah despite sustaining some serious bruises in a crash.
Meanwhile, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) apparently needs to beware injuries inflicted by his own team staff.
Hodeg wins BinckBank Tour stage 5
Álvaro Hodeg won stage 5 of the BinckBank Tour, sprinting to victory ahead of Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) in the Dutch town of Venray.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) finished safely in the peloton to retain his race lead.
With a pancake-flat profile that did not feature any categorized climbs, the 191.4-kilometer stage from Riemst, Belgium, had the sprinters’ teams invested in keeping the race together for a bunch kick. The last of the day’s escapees were caught inside the last five kilometers to set up the sprint.
Trek-Segafredo was well-placed for Theuns in the last kilometer but the Deceuninck-Quick-Step train pulled Hodeg into position inside the last few hundred meters. Theuns launched early in the sprint, with Hodeg making his move with around 200 meters to go. Bennett was slotted in just behind and tried to get on terms with the 22-year-old Colombian, but no one could match Hodeg as he wound up to top speed.
The victory is Hodeg’s sixth so far this year, but his first of 2019 at the WorldTour level.
Bardet calls it a season
Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is calling it a season. The 28-year-old Frenchman has said in a statement from his team that he needs to “recharge” after a season that has not lived up to expectations, and will therefore not race again in 2019.
“I will take advantage of the next few weeks to rest, while continuing to remain physically active, and define the contours of a 2020 season that looks already very exciting,” Bardet said. “I thank the team, staff, team partners, and the fans for their trust in me and support throughout the season.”
Bardet has compiled a handful of respectable results in WorldTour events this year, but the climbing star has not won any races in 2019. His Tour de France campaign did not go as he had hoped, with Bardet out of contention by the end of the first mountain stage, although he did ultimately win the polka dot jersey after recalibrating his objectives.
“Despite the joy of winning the polka-dot jersey as the best climber of the Tour de France, the 2019 season did not reach the goals I set for myself,” Bardet said.
“After a few days of personal reflection and discussions with the management of the AG2R La Mondiale team, it became clear to me that I needed to recharge myself physically and mentally to come back stronger next season. The level of competitiveness that I want to reach requires freshness in all areas.”
Hermans doubles up in Utah
After climbing to an impressive win on the grueling Powder Mountain on Wednesday, Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) extended his overall lead at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Thursday with his second straight victory.
The 33-year-old Belgian topped Kyle Murphy (Rally UHC) and Niklas Eg (Trek-Segafredo) at the end of a lumpy 138.3-kilometer stage from Antelope Island to North Salt Lake. He now enjoys a 44-second advantage over James Piccoli (Elevate-KHS) in the general classification.
Chaves headlines Mitchelton-Scott line-up for the Vuelta a España
Mitchelton-Scott will head to the upcoming Vuelta a España with Esteban Chaves as the team’s GC leader, the team has announced.
Defending champion Simon Yates, who has already raced both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France this year, will not race the Spanish Grand Tour.
For Chaves, the race will mark a first opportunity since last year’s Giro that he is starting a Grand Tour as a featured leader. After battling mono last season, the 29-year-old Colombian worked his way back into form early this year, riding to a stage win at the Giro in May, and the team is looking to him to put his GC talents on display at the upcoming Vuelta.
Luka Mezgec will give the team an option for the sprints at the Vuelta. Sam Bewley, Tsgabu Grmay, Damien Howson, Mikel Nieve, Nick Schultz, and Dion Smith round out the roster.
Coquard out-sprints van der Poel on stage 2 of the Arctic Race
Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept – B&B Hotels) won stage 2 of the Arctic Race of Norway.
The 164-kilometer trek from Henningsvær to Svolvær came down to a sprint, with Coquard pipping stage 1 winner Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) to take the victory. Christope Laporte (Cofidis) took third.
Van der Poel remains atop the GC, with his runner-up ride affording him a few bonus seconds, growing his advantage over second-placed Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) to nine seconds.
Aranburu wins Burgos stage 4
Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural) won stage 4 of the Vuelta a Burgos on Friday, topping UAE-Team Emirates teammates Alexandr Riabushenko and Rui Costa in an uphill kick in Clunia, Spain, a town famed for its Roman ruins.
Ineos’s Iván Sosa remains in the overall lead with one stage left to race.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Álvaro Hodeg wins stage 5 of the BinckBank Tour. Photo: Davy Rietbergen/Cor Vos © 2019