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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Georg Preidler faces fraud charges in Austria and a possible lawsuit from Sunweb, EF Education First signs 2016 under-23 world champ Kristoffer Halvorsen, former Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone acquitted as former administrative director sentenced to prison time in misappropriation scandal. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Preidler faces fraud charges, Sunweb considers lawsuit
Austrian cyclist Georg Preidler, who received a four-year ban for blood doping this June after being caught by Operation Aderlass, is facing charges of fraud in Austria.
Preidler, 29, raced in the Sunweb organization from 2013 until 2017 before joining Groupama-FDJ in 2018. After allegations of blood doping emerged this spring, he confessed to having blood taken for a transfusion and quit the Groupama-FDJ squad before being sanctioned by the UCI.
According to reports in the Austrian press, Preidler is accused of blood doping and using growth hormones from the 2017 Giro d’Italia – where he rode in support of race winner Tom Dumoulin at Sunweb – up until this year, and has been charged with fraud. He has two weeks to appeal the charge, and faces prison time if found guilty.
AD.nl reports that Sunweb is considering suing Preidler for damages.
“This offense would go a hundred percent against agreements we make with our riders,” the team said in a statement to the Dutch newspaper. “For this we will also contact his last team, Groupama-FDJ, to investigate whether we can work together on this. We also consider them victims in this situation.”
Dumoulin himself shared his thoughts on social media, writing that it would be a “bitter pill to swallow” if it were true that Preidler had indeed doped while riding in support of his Giro bid, but that Dumoulin “would not be surprised” either.
A handful of big names are racing at the Tour of Slovakia this week, but the biggest highlight so far from the event might just be the mascot.
There’s a bit of confusion around the circumstances leading to this podium celebration as Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Yves Lampaert was not actually in the race lead, but the mascot’s excitement makes it worth it just the same.
Former Giro director Acquarone cleared of fraud, accountant sentenced
On what is apparently a big day for fraud cases across the world of cycling, Former Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone has been acquitted after six years of investigations into the scandal that saw millions misappropriated from the coffers of race organizer RCS, according to reports in Tuttobiciweb and other Italian media. Former administrative director Laura Bertinotti has been handed a sentence of eight years and eight months for her involvement in the scandal.
After working for Giro organizer RCS Sport for more than a decade, Acquarone was fired in the fall of 2013 after it was discovered that around €15 million of funds had disappeared over a period of several years. Internal investigations did not produce definitive answers on what happened to the money. Acquarone said that the misappropriation had occurred without his direction, a position he maintained through a lengthy investigation and trial process.
He has now been acquitted by a court in Milan, as have others accused in the case, with the exception of Bertinotti, who faces prison time and a seizure of considerable monetary assets.
Lutsenko wins Coppa Sabatini
Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) put on a strong display of form at the Coppa Sabatini on Thursday. Early on in the 195.9-kilometer Italian one-day race, Lutsenko jumped into a powerful breakaway that also featured Ineos’s Egan Bernal before soloing clear out of the group with over 80 kilometers to go.
He held on all the way to the finish in Peccioli to take the victory by over a minute. Bahrain-Merida’s Sonny Colbrelli took second with Simone Velasco (Neri Sottoli) in third.
EF signs former under-23 world champ Halvorsen
Kristoffer Halvorsen will join EF Education First next year on a two-year deal.
The 23-year-old Norwegian, the 2016 under-23 world road champion, has spent the past two seasons with the Ineos organization. A fast finisher with the ability to handle a lumpy profile, he has picked up a handful of wins this year, nabbing a stage victory at the Herald Sun Tour and another at the Tour of Norway, where he also finished second overall.
EF team CEO Jonathan Vaughters had high praise for the youngster in the announcement of the signing.
“Our sports science and sport directors group is motivated to make this guy a champion,” Vaughters said. “As an organization, we’re only missing one monument on the trophy mantle, and that’s Milan-Sanremo. Halvorsen is our ticket to getting that last one over the fireplace.”
Trek CEO John Burke receives the Champion for Equality Award
The Women’s Sports Foundation announced John Burke, CEO of Trek, as the Champion for Equality Award honoree. Burke is joined by the Billie Jean King Leadership Award recipient, Sheila C. Johnson. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Monumental Sports & Entertainment Vice Chairman, and Black Entertainment Television (BET) co-founder.
Burke continues to be a vocal advocate for women in sports, and is being recognized for his “unwavering commitment to gender equality and to the advancement of girls and women in sports,” according to the press release. “Burke advocates for women on issues like equal pay in major competitions and the equitable treatment of all-female cycling teams. He also established an advocacy team that works to improve the relationship between female riders and retailers.” Burke and Johnson will accept their awards at the 2019 Salute to Women in Sports on October 16 in New York City.
Bollé Brands announces acquisition of Spy Optic
Bollé Brands has acquired Spy Optic, adding the California-based brand that produces sunglasses and helmets to a portfolio that already includes brands like Serengeti and Cébé.
“Spy Optic has its own unique and irreverent identity with huge growth potential in North America, its home market, and internationally where Spy Optic will leverage our Bollé Brands international distribution network,” said Bollé Brands CEO Peter Smith, according to Bicycle Retailer.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Georg Preidler leading Tom Dumoulin at the 2017 Giro d’Italia. Photo: LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017