Valverde ‘in great form’ but ‘realistic’ ahead of Worlds: Daily News Digest

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

Alejandro Valverde says he is “in great form” but “realistic” about his Worlds chances, Rémi Cavagna extends with Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Marion Sicot tests positive for EPO. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Valverde ‘in great form’ but ‘realistic’ about Worlds chances

The reigning world road champion is hoping to defend his title in Yorkshire next weekend, but he knows it will be a tall order, with a parcours does not suit his skill set quite as perfectly as last year’s Worlds in Austria.

“Yorkshire is a good worlds course for me, but it’s true, it’s not as good as Innsbruck,” Valverde said in an interview published in AS on Thursday afternoon. “One has to be realistic. Last year’s route was only for a select few riders. This year, the field is wide-open. Sure, I have a chance to win, but less than last year.”

The Yorkshire Worlds course features some longer climbs in the early goings after setting out from Leeds before dropping riders onto a lumpy 14-kilometer Harrogate circuit that the men’s race will cover seven times en route to a total distance of 284.5 kilometers. There’s plenty of up-and-down for the peloton to traverse, but no particularly grueling ascents like the ones featured in a climber-friendly 2018 Worlds.

Alejandro Valverde leading Primoz Roglic and Nairo Quintana on stage 7 of the Vuelta a España. Photo: Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2019

A handful of other big names might find the course a bit more favorable to their talents than Valverde, who named Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, and France’s Julian Alaphilippe as favorites to watch.

Valverde does, however, headline a Spanish line-up that features a solid mixture of climbing talents and rouleurs. The 39-year-old Spaniard also says he feeling particularly good after his strong showing at the Vuelta a España, where he finished second overall and won a stage.

“It really motivates me. It shows that I’m in great form,” he said. “There’s plenty of time after the Vuelta to recover, rest, and get right mentality to go all in [for Worlds].”

Moving Pictures

The newest chapter in the EF Gone Racing series goes inside the team’s Vuelta a España campaign, which featured some very tough moments but an emotional stage victory too.

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Cavagna extends with Deceuninck-Quick-Step

Rémi Cavagna will ride on with Deceuninck-Quick-Step into next year and beyond, the team has announced.

A talented time trialist that can handle a few climbs as well, the 24-year-old Frenchman made his pro debut with the squad in 2017 after having success in the junior and under-23 ranks.

Rémi Cavagna on stage 16 of the Vuelta a España. Photo: ©kramon

Cavagna has turned potential into results this season with his first two WorldTour victories. He won stage 3 of the Tour of California with a long breakaway, and soloed to his first Grand Tour stage win on stage 19 of the recent Vuelta a España.

“It is the best team in the world and for my improvement it is best that I can be part of,” Cavagna said in the team’s announcement of the signing. “Every year I am with them I improve and I pass the standard that I set last time.”

Cavagna’s new deal extends his time with Deceuninck for a further two seasons, keeping him with the Belgian WorldTour outfit through 2021.

Marion Sicot tests positive for EPO

Marion Sicot (Doltcini-Van Eyck) has tested positive for EPO, L’Equipe reports. The 27-year-old Frenchwoman returned the positive result on June 27, the day of the individual time trial at the French national championships, where she finished 10th.

In a statement to Direct Velo, Sicot denied having used banned substances and offered a possible explanation the positive test.

“I just want to say that I am innocent,” Sicot said. “I had my period when I was tested and the tester made a note. When we have our period, women produce more EPO. I have never taken anything and I hope that the truth will quickly emerge.”

According to Le Monde, however, French anti-doping expert Michael Audran pointed out that “the test recognizes the difference between endogenous EPO and exogenous EPO.”

Sicot is currently awaiting a B sample.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step stagiaire Steimle wins Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen

Jannik Steimle, who joined Deceuninck-Quick-Step as a stagiaire in August, already has his first victory with the squad. The 23-year-old Belgian soloed to a close win at Friday’s Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.

Jannik Steimle wins the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen. Photo: Tim van Wichelen/Cor Vos © 2019

Steimle, who will join Deceuninck on a pro contract next year, held off Timo Roosen to take the win in Koolskamp, Belgium, with Roosen’s Jumbo-Visma teammate Dylan Groenewegen winning the sprint for third.

Schurter in hot water with Swiss Army over Instagram photo

Nino Schurter has had plenty of fun in North America this year. The 33-year-old Swiss mountain biking star won his eighth cross-country world title in Canada, and he also apparently visited the White House in Washington, D.C. while on service duty with the Swiss Army. During his visit, he took a photo that has apparently landed him in hot water with the military.

In a since-deleted photo posted to Instagram that tagged Donald Trump’s Instagram account, Schurter and three of his colleagues mooned the camera while standing in front of the White House. AP reports that Schurter faces a reprimand for showing his backside, although whatever the disciplinary action may be, the Army says it will not be publicly announced.

Schurter has reportedly apologized to his commanding officer. He told Swiss media that the photo was a bit of spontaneous fun and that he enjoyed his time in America.

Cofidis signs Elia Vivian’s brother Attilio

Attilio Viviani will join his brother Elia at Cofidis next year. The 22-year-old Italian has ridden as a stagiaire with the French Pro Continental team – which has signed Elia Viviani for 2020 – over the past few months. Cofidis announced on Thursday that it had signed both the young Viviani and fellow stagiaire Eddy Finé to two-year deals.

Attilio Viviani, eight years younger than Elia, took his first big win this season, sprinting to a close victory at Schaal Sels.

In case you missed it …

Feature Image: Primoz Roglic and Alejandro Valverde on stage 5 of the Vuelta a España. Photo: ©kramon

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