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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Annemiek van Vleuten goes solo from over 100 kilometers out to win the elite women’s world road title, the UCI releases video of Nils Eekhoff drafting in the U23 men’s race, Mathieu van der Poel acknowledges he’s a Worlds contender but says status as “biggest favorite” may be a “bit too much.” Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Annemiek van Vleuten wins the elite women’s world road title
Annemiek van Vleuten spent more than two hours off the front in the elite women’s road race at Yorkshire Worlds en route to a dominant victory.
The 36-year-old Dutchwoman, whose team was a heavy favorite to win the day with so many star riders, fired off the front of a reduced lead group on the Lofthouse climb with over 100 kilometers still to go in the race. The 2018 world time trial champion stayed clear solo all the way to the final crossing of the finish line to win the gold medal and the rainbow jersey by more than two minutes.
“It was not planned. I wanted to go hard on the climb. I thought that was good for the team, but then I saw I had a gap,” she said. “The coach said, ‘Just continue now.'”
Van Vleuten’s Dutch teammate and 2018 world road champ Anna van der Breggen secured silver, with Australia’s Amanda Spratt claiming bronze and the final spot on the podium.
The 149.4-kilometer race from Bradford to Harrogate, ridden under windy but clear conditions, saw early splits on the lumpy Yorkshire roads, and van Vleuten made the selection to be in the main lead group some 30 kilometers into the race. After a move by Dutch teammate Floortje Mackaij was reeled in, van Vleuten saw her chance as the group hit the tough gradients of the Lofthouse climb.
With just over a hundred kilometers still to go, van Vleuten shot off the front and didn’t look back. After only a few kilometers solo, she had worked her advantage to one minute as a chasing group formed behind her.
The second group comprised Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Soraya Paladin, Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain), Clara Koppenburg (Germany), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark), Chloe Dygert-Owen (United States), Spratt, and van der Breggen, who could afford to sit on with teammate van Vleuten up the road.
After holding at around one minute for a little while, the gap to van Vleuten began to grow again before long, despite the firepower in the chase.
With around 30 kilometers left and van Vleuten now around two minutes up the road, Dygert-Owen, Spratt, Longo Borghini, van der Breggen pulled clear of the chase group, and then Dygert-Owen soloed ahead in pursuit of van Vleuten.
The new world time trial champ was unable to put too much of a dent into van Vleuten’s advantage on the Harrogate finishing circuit, however. After chasing alone for a lengthy stretch, she was caught by van der Breggen and Spratt, who had distanced Longo Borghini, with around 10 kilometers to go.
Nevertheless, there was simply no catching van Vleuten, who rode to her first world title with her massive gap still mostly intact to win by 2:15.
“I was so disappointed after the time trial on Tuesday,” said van Vleuten, who finished third in the TT this week in Yorkshire. “To finish [the road race] off after 100 kilometers solo, I can’t believe it.”
Behind, the Netherlands secured silver as well with van der Breggen dropping Spratt in the closing kilometers, while Dygert-Owen settled for fourth.
1 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek (Netherlands) 4:06:05
2 VAN DER BREGGEN Anna (Netherlands) 2:15
3 SPRATT Amanda (Australia) 2:28
4 DYGERT-OWEN Chloe (United States) 3:24
5 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa (Italy) 4:45
6 VOS Marianne (Netherlands) 5:20
7 BASTIANELLI Marta (Italy)
8 MOOLMAN Ashleigh (South Africa)
9 BRENNAUER Lisa (Germany)
10 RIVERA Coryn (United States)
Chapeau to whomever made this possible, because it wouldn’t be a Yorkshire Worlds without a few sheep in rainbow jerseys, right?
UCI releases video of Eekhoff drafting and addresses disqualification
Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands) initially won the final sprint of the under-23 men’s road race at Yorkshire Worlds but was then disqualified by the jury for drafting after a mid-race crash. Coming well after the finish and without much of an explanation, the decision left Eekhoff in tears. It also drew angry responses from current and former pros on social media.
It didn’t help that most of the video of the incident circulating around the cycling world yesterday was a brief clip of Eekhoff behind a team car. A day after the ruling, the UCI has finally released a much longer video of Eekhoff in the slip stream.
According to the UCI, the jury did not see the full footage during the race, and therefore did not pull Eekhoff immediately. Upon review, and well after the finish, commissaires determined that a lengthy stint behind the cars was grounds for disqualification for Eekhoff and two other riders as well.
“The UCI wishes to provide further information on the disqualification yesterday of Dutch rider Nils Eekhoff at the men’s U23 road race. The rider was disqualified for sheltering behind a vehicle (4.7. of article 2.12.007) for over two minutes. The maximum sanction provided by the article was considered appropriate to the time spent sheltering,” read a statement from the UCI.
“The decision was taken by the commissaires’ panel after the race based on images from a moto camera available to the UCI video commissaire. Race officials have reviewed the images, followed due process by hearing the rider and team before making the decision.”
Thomas: ‘The difference between winning the Tour and coming second is massive’
Geraint Thomas (Ineos) reflected on his season and the challenges of carrying form into Worlds after a challenging Tour de France in a recent interview with media in Yorkshire.
For Thomas, this year has been a mixed bag. Although a teammate (Egan Bernal) won the general classification and Thomas stood on the final podium, he ultimately did not defend his own title.
“The difference between winning the Tour and coming second is massive,” he said. “Last year when I won it was just constant. Your phone is constantly going and you’re going pulled left right and center. You come second and no one really cares. You’re back to normal and you’re back to business. It’s tough because I’m all or nothing.”
The 2018 Tour champ will make the start in the elite men’s race for Great Britain on Sunday, but only after pulling out of a planned start in this week’s individual time trial, a decision he said earlier this week was due to him not feeling in “good enough shape to perform my best.”
“With the Tour being a big goal you then have a down period through November and then the whole build-up starts,” he said. “It’s hard to get out of that routine, unless you have different goals.”
Van der Poel: I’m a Worlds contender but status as ‘biggest favorite’ may be a ‘bit too much’
Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) knows people consider him among the top favorites for the elite men’s race at Worlds. With a lumpy course that in many ways resembles the Amstel Gold Race that van der Poel won the spring, Worlds looks perfect for his skill set.
The reigning world cyclocross champion is not denying his status as a premier contender for the world road title, but as he told reporters in Yorkshire this weekend, he has his eyes on other riders as well, and is wary of the unpredictable weather too.
“I don’t consider myself as the strongest one. I think there are a lot of strong riders,” van der Poel said.
“I think I’m among the favorites but to point me out as the biggest favorite is maybe a little bit too much.”
For van der Poel, the heavy rain expected could help bring other riders into play. He mentioned 2012 world road champ Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) as one of those riders.
“He’s good in those weather conditions and I think he showed his form as well in the Vuelta, that he is in top shape and he’s one of the riders that also that is really strong in long races,” van der Poel said. “So I think the course suits him.”
Fans and riders alike won’t have too much longer to wait to find out what Yorkshire has in store for the elite men’s race. The 285-kilometer race from Leeds to Harrogate closes out this year’s road Worlds on Sunday.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Annemiek van Vleuten wins the elite women’s road race at Yorkshire Worlds. Photo: SWPics/Cor Vos © 2019