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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Tadej Pogacar solos to his third stage victory of this year’s Vuelta on the final day in the mountains as Primoz Roglic all but seals the overall title, Michael Matthews tops Peter Sagan to defend his GP Québec crown, Mathieu van der Poel wins the eighth stage and the overall title at the Tour of Britain. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Pogacar solos to victory on the Vuelta’s final mountain stage
Fast-rising star Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) soloed to his third stage victory of the 2019 Vuelta a España on Saturday’s stage 20. The 20-year-old Slovenian, making his Grand Tour debut, powered off the front of the GC group with around 35 kilometers still to go on what was the final mountain stage of the race, and held out all the way to the Plataforma de Gredos uphill finish line.
Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde finished second on the windy, rainy day, 1:32 back, with Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) in third. Race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) finished a few seconds back in fifth, all but wrapping up his overall victory with only Sunday’s sprinter-friendly finale remaining.
Pogacar’s big effort nabbed him not only the stage 20 victory, but also a spot on the provisional final podium, knocking Movistar’s Nairo Quintana into fourth.
“My legs were good but my mentality was not super good in the first part of the stage. But then I saw that everyone was uncomfortable in the cold and rain,” Pogacar said. “I chose the right moment and rode full gas to the finish.”
Stage 20 took the Vuelta peloton 190.4 kilometers from Arenas de San Pedro to Plataforma de Gredos over a challenging profile with six categorized climbs. A big breakaway move formed in the very early goings, and there was plenty of action up front as the escapees attacked each other on the climbs.
Sergio Samitier (Euskadi-Murias), Ruben Guerreiro (Katusha-Alpecin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos), and Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) left their breakaway companions behind to form a lead quintet, which took a four-minute advantage over the bunch into the last 70 kilometers. The peloton upped the pace as the race approached the final climbs of this year’s Vuelta, however, bringing the gap down to two minutes with 45 kilometers to go.
Geoghegan Hart and Guerreiro powered off the front on the day’s penultimate climb, the first-category Puerto de Peña Negra, but the peloton was not far behind.
Astana’s Miguel Ángel López kicked off the action out of the GC group, attacking once and then again on the steep slopes, but he was unable to build much of a gap before being reeled in. Moments after López’s second short-lived surge was brought to heel, however, Pogacar made his move, surging clear of the red jersey group and quickly closing in on Geoghegan Hart and Guerreiro. He caught the duo before long, and then dropped them to continue on alone.
By the time Pogacar hit the summit, he had already built an advantage of over a minute and a half on Roglic, Valverde, and the rest, who caught the last survivors from the break as they went over the top. On the ensuing descent and final climb, the chasers barely ate into Pogacar’s gap, despite a hard pace in the red jersey group in the last few uphill kilometers that dropped both López and Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, both of whom started the day ahead of Pogacar in the general classification.
After spending over 30 kilometers alone out front, Pogacar sailed to a comfortable stage 20 win and moved from fifth overall into third, while Roglic all but wrapped up what would be his first ever Grand Tour GC title with a fifth-place finish a little over a minute and a half later.
Stage 20 results
1 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates) 5:16:40
2 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar Team) 1:32
3 MAJKA Rafal (BORA – hansgrohe)
4 PERNSTEINER Hermann (Bahrain Merida)
5 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 1:41
6 HIGUITA Sergio (EF Education First) 1:49
7 TEUNS Dylan (Bahrain Merida)
8 QUINTANA Nairo (Movistar Team) 1:56
9 NIEVE Mikel (Mitchelton-Scott) 1:59
10 KELDERMAN Wilco (Team Sunweb)
1 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 80:18:54
2 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar Team) 2:33
3 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates) 2:55
4 QUINTANA Nairo (Movistar Team) 3:46
5 LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel (Astana Pro Team) 4:48
6 MAJKA Rafal (BORA – hansgrohe) 7:33
7 KELDERMAN Wilco (Team Sunweb) 10:04
8 HAGEN Carl Fredrik (Lotto Soudal) 12:54
9 SOLER Marc (Movistar Team) 22:27
10 NIEVE Mikel (Mitchelton-Scott) 22:34
The “how to pack your cycling equipment like a pro” tweet was one of the biggest things in the world of cycling media this week, for better or worse. We prefer Phil Gaimon’s method instead.
Back at the Vuelta, stage 19 winner Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) is still only 24 years old, so you can forgive him for struggling to pop the champagne properly.
Matthews defends his GP Québec title
Michael Matthews (Sunweb) successfully defended his crown at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec on Friday, putting in a powerful uphill sprint in a battle to take the victory ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC).
The 201.6-kilometer circuit race in Quebec City concluded with a furious finale. After the break was caught on the penultimate lap on the lumpy course, the final two kilometers of the lap saw a powerful surge from Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) that drew a small selection off the front, with both Sagan an van Avermaet in the move.
A hard-charging peloton closed down the split shortly after the flamme rouge, however, setting up a sprint battle on the Grande Allée. Alaphilippe led out on the left side of the road, but defending champion Matthews jumped to the right and wound up to a speed no one could match to take the clear win, his first in a WorldTour one-day race this year.
“I’m not exactly sure how I did that,” said the 28-year-old Australian. “I made a big mistake at the bottom of the climb. I wasn’t in a good enough position and when all the big favorites went I wasn’t in the position to go with them. I’m angry with myself about that but they came back and I had the legs for the sprint.”
WorldTour racing continues in Canada on Sunday, where Matthews will try to defend his GP Montréal title and become the first rider to ever win both events in back-to-back years.
Van der Poel nabs final stage and overall title at Tour of Britain
Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) won the overall title at the Tour of Britain and put an exclamation point on the result with a victory in Saturday’s eighth and final stage.
The 166-kilometer stage from Altrincham to Manchester came down to a sprint, which van der Poel won by the narrowest of margins ahead of Sunweb’s Cees Bol. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) took third.
Van der Poel stood atop the final GC podium with Trentin earning runner-up honors and Lotto-Soudal’s Jasper De Buyst in third overall. His victory in the UCI 2.HC-rated event marks van der Poel’s biggest win in a stage race thus far in his young career.
López apologizes for criticism of Valverde and Movistar
Miguel Ángel López apologized on Twitter on Friday evening for his comments about Movistar and Alejandro Valverde in the immediate aftermath of a tense stage 19 at the Vuelta.
López had voiced his displeasure with Movistar’s decision to push the pace in the peloton after López, Roglic, and several others were caught up in a crash with 65 kilometers to go in Friday’s stage.
“What a world champion we have,” López said in a post-stage interview. “They [Movistar] always take advantage of these moments. They’re always stupid. They are the same ones who do these things. It’s their usual reaction.”
Several hours later, López tweeted his “most sincere apologies to Alejandro Valverde and the Movistar team,” for the comments he made “in the heat of the moment with the pain of the crash.” He followed that up with comments on Saturday morning at the start of stage 20, saying “Valverde is a great rider, and a good person as well, and I’ve never had any problems with him.”
Brennauer wins the stage 1 TT at the Madrid Challenge
Lisa Brennauer (WNT-Rotor) took her first WorldTour victory of 2019 in the stage 1 individual time trial at the Madrid Challenge. The former world TT champion – and Germany’s current national road race champ – set the winning time of 12:52 on the 9.3-kilometer course in the town of Boadilla del Monte.
Sunweb’s Lucinda Brand finished second on the day, four seconds back, with her teammate Pernille Mathiesen in third, 13 seconds down.
Brennauer will take the race lead into Sunday’s second and final stage of the race in central Madrid.
Powless signs two-year deal with EF Education First
Neilson Powless, who has been busy at the Vuelta this month defending the lead of Jumbo-Visma teammate Primoz Roglic, will join EF Education First next year. After two seasons with Jumbo, the 23-year-old American has signed a two-year contract with EF.
“I see him as a guy with a massive upside, from time trials to short stage races, and eventually the longer stage races, too,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “His climbing is improving every year. He can already be a leader in week-long stage races that are more time-trial focused.”
Coming up at the Vuelta
Only one stage remains at the 2019 Vuelta a España.
Stage 21, which runs 106.6 kilometers from Fuenlabrada to Madrid, should be one for the sprinters – although this is the Vuelta, and as sprint star Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and company have learned on numerous stages so far at this year’s race, anything can happen in the season’s final Grand Tour.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Tadej Pogacar wins stage 20 of the Vuelta a España. Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/Cor Vos © 2019