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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Elia Viviani and Amy Pieters nabbed European Continental Championships wins, on a windy, technical course in the Netherlands. WorldTour pros made their mark on the prestigious Leadville MTB marathon event. Jenny Rissveds is back, and Mathieu van der Poel continued his winning ways at the Lenzerheide Mountain Bike World Cup. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Elia Viviani wins European Continental Championships from a breakaway
The UEC Road Championships concluded on Sunday, with Elia Viviani claiming the win in the Men’s Road Race. Raced on a completely flat course in the northern Netherlands, the race seemed on paper to be destined for a sprint finish – but that wasn’t how it turned out.
The peloton was shredded by crosswinds on the opening 45km loop out from Alkmaar, before returning to 11 laps of an 11.5km circuit through the city. The Italian national team played the echelon game well, reducing the front group to 60 riders before Matteo Trentin – the 2018 European champ – pushed the pace on the front and split the group again, to just 13 riders.
At two laps to go, the leading group splintered again, with Elia Viviani, Yves Lampaert (Belgium) and Pascal Ackermann (Germany) slipping off the front and pushing on to the line. At 3.5km, Lampaert made a solo bid for victory, needing to play a different hand against two stronger sprinters. Viviani jumped across to join his Deceuninck-Quickstep trade teammate, sitting on his wheel before sprinting past for the win. Ackermann trailed in third, followed 30 seconds later by a chase group led by Alexander Kristoff (Norway).
“It’s one of my best wins, because it’s totally different from a bunch sprint,” said Viviani after the finish, where he also dedicated the win to the late Bjorg Lambrecht.
“We did a completely different tactic from what we were thinking this morning. This morning we were thinking about the sprint, but then we wanted to make the race hard… The race had a lot of corners, that cobbled section, then the wind makes the difference.
“With five or six laps to go we decided to go, and we split that group. That was the right move. We knew in the last few laps it would be about all about tactics and whoever had something in the legs. Luckily we had still something in the legs.”
Tweet of the day
Home victory for Amy Pieters at Continental Championships
The women’s European Continental championships, held on Saturday over 10 laps of the same finishing circuit as the men’s race, saw Amy Pieters (Netherlands) claim a popular win from a three-rider breakaway ahead of Elina Cecchini (Italy) and Lisa Klein (Germany).
With a dominant Dutch Women’s road team competing for the spoils in front of a home crowd, it wasn’t a surprise to see an orange-clad rider on the top step of the podium. The Dutch team led out the race from the starting line, pushing a fierce pace in the opening lap and pounding the field with a flurry of attacks. The move that stuck was, ultimately, the winning trio, who built a lead as great as two minutes before being slowly reigned in by the Dutch and Belgian teams. At a lap to go, however, the Dutch sat up again, putting their faith in Pieters to deliver the win. A tense cat-and-mouse finale saw Klein lead into the final 500m, with Pieters opening the sprint at 200m to go to beat Cecchini to the line.
“This is really special, because it’s close to my home. It’s a good win,” Pieters said.
WorldTour pros at Leadville 100 mountain bike marathon
The high-altitude mountain bike marathon classic, Leadville, is a fixture of the US MTB calendar, and this year, it produced a number of stirring plot-lines.
First across the line, American Olympian Howard Grotts who outpaced a strong field to win his third consecutive Leadville 100 title, days after announcing his plans to step back from the sport to pursue graduate studies.
Just behind, in second place, 18-year old Quinn Simmons became Leadville’s major talking point. In his debut outing – he was too young to compete last year – Simmons started mid-pack, passed hundreds of riders to ride up to the leading pack early in the race, encountered sabotage on the course riding over tacks, lost more than 10 minutes dealing with the mechanical aftermath and then rode on anger for several hours, solo, to rejoin the front of the race.
Dropped by Simmons on the final climb was a trio of WorldTour pros continuing to explore a world of racing off the road. Lachlan Morton (EF-Education First), Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and Alex Howes (EF-Education First) – each of whom finished top five at Dirty Kanza in late May – took third, fourth and fifth respectively.
In the women’s, it was Rose Grant who won on her Leadville 100 debut – and indeed, her first race at this distance. Grant finished almost twenty minutes ahead of Sarah Sturm and Angela Parra.
Nairo Quintana: “The yellow dream is still in my heart
Following a frustrating final Tour de France for Movistar, Nairo Quintana has spoken to Colombian radio station BLU about his hopes for the future. Whilst he’s yet to confirm his departure for Arkea-Samsic, it has been heavily rumoured – and indeed, confirmed by his father – that the Colombian climber will be making the move across to the French squad.
Quintana expressed his gratitude for his time with Movistar, saying “I arrived very young, they took me from a Colombian team and taught me a lot, and supported me. That cycle is now over, by mutual agreement – although we still have the rest of the year to complete – and I will always have total gratitude to the sponsor.”
Quintana’s next target will be the Vuelta a Espana, a race that Movistar enter with a familiar, multi-pronged approach.
“We have to wait and see what the orders from the team will be, because we’ll be there with Valverde, Carapaz, and Marc Soler, and the team considers us all leaders. So it will be a case of what the team wants,” Quintana said.
As for the future, Quintana hopes to find a team that offers unqualified support. “That’s the idea – to be able to find a team where I feel at home, where I’m happy, and where they can support me 100 per cent… where I feel myself and where I can shine as bright or even brighter than ever,” he said. “The yellow dream is still in the heart.”
Leah Thomas wins Women’s Tour of Scotland
The inaugural edition of the Women’s Tour of Scotland concluded over the weekend, with Leah Thomas (Bigla) taking the final stage win, and in so doing, claiming enough bonus seconds to overtake stage 2 winner Alison Jackson (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) in the GC.
The race was heavily weather-affected, with stage one abandoned due to flooding on course. Stage three was also raced in rainy conditions around Edinburgh. The race concluded with three laps of a hilly 5.3km circuit around Holyrood Park, with Thomas’ Bigla teammate Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig making a move that lasted almost all three laps. Ludwig was caught on the final lap, her effort having whittled the peloton down to just 15 riders.
From that select group, it was the American, Leah Thomas that would take the win, followed by Bigla team-mate Elise Chabbey and Stine Borgli (Norway) in third.
Mountain Bike World Cup – Lenzerheide, Switzerland
The short track opened the weekend in dramatic fashion, with Germany’s Elisabeth Brandau mistakingly assuming the win with a lap to go. A lap later, it came down to a sprint finish between Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Jolanda Neff, with Ferrand-Prévot holding off the Swiss rider. Jenny Rissveds followed in third place.
Nino Schurter animated the men’s short track with multiple attacks, but once again it was Mathieu van der Poel who rode away for the win. Brazilian Henrique Avancini finish second ahead of Schurter.
In the cross country, Jenny Rissveds proved that she’s back to form, riding away with Anne Terpstra on the bell lap. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot held onto third. Further back, an ill-timed flat (after recovering from an earlier mechanical) for local Jolanda Neff saw her drop from fourth to eight in the final lap, and as a result Kate Courtney (7th) narrowed the points gap for the overall title.
In the men’s, it was a race of Nino Schurter and Mathieu van der Poel tearing shreds from each other. That was until van der Poel broke away for the win, leaving Schurter with a silver on his home turf. Mathias Flückiger finished in third.
Jongewaard and Mullens prevail in Australian CX championships
In cold, sloppy conditions in the King Valley, Chris Jongewaard (SA) and Peta Mullens (VIC) took home the spoils at Australia’s national cyclocross championships on Sunday.
The weather proved a deciding factor in Mullens’ win, her second national championships victory in the disciple having won in 2016 in Adelaide. “Because it was so heavy in the mud, my road legs would come good in the end. [I] just tried to play it cautious first half of the course, then smash the second half,” she said. From a deep field of talented riders, the rest of the podium was also made up of former national champs – 2017 champion Rebecca Locke in second, and 2018 champion April McDonough in third.
The men’s race was a two-way tussle early on between Chris Jongewaard and Garry Millburn, who had been the dominant rider of the Australian season so far. However, a crash on the third lap brought Millburn undone, opening the way for Jongewaard to claim a fifth national title ahead of Christopher Aitken and Millburn. “I have had the jersey so long I may as well keep it,” Jongewaard said after the finish, calling the race and conditions “brutal… one of the toughest races I have ever done.”
In the juniors, Dominic Paolilli and Phoebe Thompson (both of Victoria) took the wins.
NZ National CX Champs decided
Over the ditch, in Macleans Island, Christchurch, the New Zealand National Championships were also run.
Taking the win in the women’s race was Kate McIlroy, a multi-disciplinary talent who has represented New Zealand at the Olympics in Triathlon, also races MTB and rides for the Australian Specialized Women’s Racing NRS team. In the men’s race, previous champ Brendon Sharratt added to his record as one of New Zealand’s most dominant cyclocross riders.
ShineOn claims to be the “world’s safest light”
Student start-up ShineOn is claiming to have the world’s safest light. With a regular 500-lumen forward facing beam and a rearward glow that illuminates the rider, it aims to show motorists the human riding the bike. The light recently launched on KickStarter.
Happy Birthday to …
Colombian Movistar rider Winner Anacona, who lived up to his name at this year’s Vuelta a San Juan and on a stage at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.
Kristin Armstrong, two time World time trial champion and three time Olympic gold medalist for the USA in the women’s ITT.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: The men’s peloton battles the windy conditions of the European Continental Road Race Championships, Alkmaar, Netherlands. Image: Cor Vos.