Higuita solos to Vuelta stage 18 victory: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Sergio Higuita solos to his first WorldTour win on stage 18 of the Vuelta a España, Edoardo Affini wins the stage 6 time trial at the Tour of Britain as Mathieu van der Poel reclaims the race lead, Dimension Data extends Ben King and others. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Higuita solos to his first WorldTour win on stage 18 of the Vuelta a España

Sergio Higuita soloed to an impressive first WorldTour victory on Thursday’s stage 18 of the Vuelta a España. The 22-year-old Colombian, who joined EF Education First in May, attacked out of the main breakaway on the descent off the day’s penultimate climb, and held on all the way to the line to take the win.

Overall race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) led a select GC group across the line 15 seconds later to nab second ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and add to his lead.

Valverde reclaimed second overall after his teammate Nairo Quintana finished just over one minute down on the red jersey group.

The 177.5-kilometer stage from Colmenar Viejo to Becerril de la Sierra featured four category-one climbs. Wout Poels (Ineos) soloed off the front on the first ascent, and Higuita and several others ultimately linked up with the Dutchman to form the day’s main breakaway.

The escapees had an advantage of around five minutes at the midway point of the stage, heading into the penultimate climb, which would see action in both the break and the GC group.

Up front, Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data), Jonas Koch (CCC), and mountains classification leader Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r La Mondiale) where among a handful of riders trying their luck with attacks, but nothing stuck on the steep gradients. A few minutes behind, Astana hit the front of the GC group with an injection of pace that shed several domestiques from rival teams, setting up Miguel Ángel López to fire off the front with around four kilometers left to climb.

The Colombian quickly caught up to several stragglers from the breakaway going over the top. At the head of the race, Higuita shot off the front on the descent, and quickly powered to a healthy gap with only the last category-one climb and the subsequent descent left to tackle.

López was caught by the red jersey group shortly before the start of the final ascent, and before long it was Higuita alone out front with the overall contenders comprising the next group on the road. As the final climb began, López attacked again, and then again. Although he did not hold a gap for long, the pressure proved too high for Quintana and for Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates), both of whom were distanced, leaving only López, Roglic, Valverde, and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Rafal Majka in the main GC group.

Despite the firepower in the group behind, Higuita did not flag on the final climb, and arrived at the summit with a gap of around 40 seconds. Even with the strong descending skills of those in pursuit, that was plenty of time for Higuita to hold on through the downhill run to the line, where he took his first ever WorldTour victory in his first ever Grand Tour. Fifteen seconds later, Roglic pipped Valverde for runner-up honors and a few bonus seconds.

Primoz Roglic pips Alejandro Valverde for second on stage 18 of the Vuelta a España. Photo: Dario Beligheri/RB/Cor Vos © 2019

Quintana and Pogacar finished together just over a minute behind the red jersey, allowing Valverde to take over second from the former and López to take over fourth from the latter with just one high-mountain stage remaining in this year’s race.

Stage 18 results

1 HIGUITA Sergio (EF Education First) 4:33:09
2 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 0:15
3 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar Team)
4 MAJKA Rafal (BORA – hansgrohe)
5 LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel (Astana Pro Team) 0:17
6 HAGEN Carl Fredrik (Lotto Soudal) 1:16
7 MEINTJES Louis (Team Dimension Data)
8 QUINTANA Nairo (Movistar Team)
9 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates)
10 RODRÍGUEZ Óscar (Euskadi Basque Country – Murias) 3:47


1 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 71:16:54
2 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar Team) 2:50
3 QUINTANA Nairo (Movistar Team) 3:31
4 LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel (Astana Pro Team) 4:17
5 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates) 4:49
6 MAJKA Rafal (BORA – hansgrohe) 7:46
7 KELDERMAN Wilco (Team Sunweb) 9:46
8 HAGEN Carl Fredrik (Lotto Soudal) 11:50
9 KNOX James (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 12:44
10 SOLER Marc (Movistar Team) 21:09

Socially Speaking

Believe it or not, ‘cross is … well, pretty much here actually. The UCI World Cup kicks off this weekend in the United States, where Iowa City hosts Jingle Cross and round one of the series.

The UCI’s cyclocross Twitter account has helpfully posted some video content …

… to get you in the right mindset for the upcoming season …

Race Radio

Affini wins Tour of Britain stage 6 time trial, van der Poel reclaims the GC lead

Edoardo Affini (Mitchelton-Scott) delivered an impressive performance on stage 6 of the Tour of Britain to win the 14.4-kilometer individual time trial by seven seconds.

Edoardo Affini wins stage 6 of the Tour of Britain. Photo: SWPics/Cor Vos © 2019

The promising young Italian completed the course in Pershore in 16:39 early on in the afternoon and then spent nearly two hours in the hot seat before his victory was sealed. Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First) took second in the TT with Dylan van Baarle (Ineos) in third.

Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) set the sixth fastest time on the day, good enough to retake the overall race lead from Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott). He has a six-second advantage over Trentin as the race heads into its final two stages.

King, Gibbons, Gasparotto among six riders renewing with Dimension Data/NTT

Ben King, Ryan Gibbons, and Enrico Gasparotto will ride on with Dimension Data, to be known as NTT next year, after extending their contracts with the squad. The team announced renewals for six riders on Wendesday.

King, 30, enjoyed the biggest season of his career with Dimension Data last year, winning two stages at the Vuelta a España. The American joined the team in 2017.

Ben King at the 2019 Vuelta a España. Photo: Nico Vereecken/PN/Cor Vos © 2019

Gibbons is a versatile talent who turned pro with the team in 2017. He counts a Tour de Langkawi overall title on his palmares, but also has a strong sprint, and the team is hoping the South African can continue to develop into a contender for the fast finishes.

Gasparotto has continued to contest the Ardennes Classics even in the later years of his career. The 37-year-old Italian is a two-time Amstel Gold Race winner.

Jay Thomson, Nicholas Dlamini, and Amanuel Ghebreighzabhier also renewed with what will be the NTT team in 2020.

In other news …

Planning for safer streets in New Orleans

New Orleans is hoping to make its streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians with a “rapid buildout” of new infrastructure.

Amid a general – and worrying – trend of rising cyclist deaths in the United States, the issue garnered more public attention in New Orleans last year when a driver hit eight people in a bike lane, killing two cyclists. Now, the city is planning “75 miles of lanes around the crash-heavy downtown core” for the next two years, according to Grist.org.

The full story is an interesting read.

Coming up at the Vuelta

Stage 19 at the Vuelta a España will be a treat for the history buffs, taking the peloton from Ávila, whose famed town walls have survived from the Middle Ages to today, to Toledo, where medieval and Renaissance buildings await around practically every corner.

A mostly flat profile should favor the sprinters, although an uphill final kilometer could make things interesting.

In case you missed it …



Feature Image: Sergio Higuita wins stage 18 of the Vuelta a España. Photo: Dario Beligheri/RB/Cor Vos © 2019

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