A bevy of Bahrain-Merida signings, Tour route reactions: Daily News Digest

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

A bevy of new signings for Bahrain-Merida, Tour route reactions, Chris Juul-Jensen will ride on at Mitchelton-Scott through 2021. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Comings and goings at Bahrain-Merida

The Bahrain-Merida team has announced a bevy of new arrivals, combining six signing announcements into one on Wednesday.

Punchy Basque rider Pello Bilbao, who won two stages at this year’s Giro d’Italia, will join the team from Astana. 32-year-old Spaniard Rafael Valls has signed on from Movistar, and another experienced pro, 33-year-old Italian Eros Capecchi, will come aboard after three seasons in the Deceuninck-Quick-Step organization. Fast-finishing Austrian Marco Haller has signed on from Katusha-Alpecin.

Marco Haller at Paris-Roubaix. Photo: ©kramon

Joining those veterans is a pair of up-and-comers. 24-year-old Brit Scott Davies will join from Dimension Data, while 22-year-old Dutchman Kevin Inkelaar, who has won two stages and twice finished on the podium at the Baby Giro, will turn pro with the team after a season with the Groupama-FDJ development squad.

Not included in the announcement was word on the contract status of Domenico Pozzovivo, who is currently recovering from a serious training crash. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Pozzovivo’s future lies elsewhere with Bahrain-Merida deciding not to renew his contract.

Interestingly, there continues to be no official news on the potential arrival of Mark Cavendish. The Manx sprinter is widely reported to be heading to Bahrain-Merida next year after fours seasons with Dimension Data, but Bahrain-Merida has yet to make an announcement to that effect.

Moving Pictures

The final Monument of the season may be in the rearview mirror now but the WorldTour calendar still has one event on the horizon. For those who aren’t ready to call it a season just yet, the Tour of Guangxi does actually have some big names on the start list – notables set to race in China include Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First).

Velon has some pre-race content courtesy of Lotto-Soudal and Mitchelton-Scott …

Race Radio

French stars approve of Tour route

The newly unveiled Tour de France route was sure to get people talking, with its focus on non-stop action and a dearth of time trials and pure sprint stages.

Traditionalists might have a bone to pick with organizers. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) saw only “three or four sprint chances” at first glance. Defending champ Egan Bernal (Ineos), on the other hand, seemed pleased.

“I think that people will try and attack,” he said. “That will be good and it will mean a good Tour to watch on TV.”

The reception for the 2020 Tour route also seemed warm for the home favorites.

“It is a parcours that I like, with many new climbs, which will make the race more interesting and spectacular, but at the same time, harder,” said Julian Alaphlippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). The Frenchman’s strong showing at the 2019 Tour helped make for one of the most popular editions of the race in recent memory, and with more hilly stages on tap for 2020, he should have plenty of opportunities to shine again next summer.

That said, Alaphilippe is cautious with any talk of aiming for the overall title next year.

“I won’t go for the general classification, as next season I will have other goals,” he said.

The French notables that don’t have quite as many reservations about publicly hunting the Tour GC also praised the route.

“Once again the Tour de France has created a very beautiful route,” said Ag2r’s Romain Bardet. “The number of stages in the mountains will offer us the chance to put on a good show, and I imagine that many riders will want to take part in it.”

Romain Bardet on stage 18 of the Tour de France. Photo: ©kramon

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) agreed.

“At first glance, it’s an ideal Tour route for me,” said the 29-year-old Frenchman, who looked to be on his way to at least a podium finish at the 2019 Tour before an injury knocked him out of the race in the final week. “I can dream of doing even better than last year.”

Juul-Jensen signs two-year extension with Mitchelton-Scott

Chris Juul-Jensen will stick with Mitchelton-Scott through 2021, the team has announced.

The 30-year-old Dane has been with the team since 2016 and racked up quite a few race days along the way as a familiar face in both Classics and Grand Tour lineups for the squad. His stint at the team has also seen him nab his first career WorldTour win, a stage victory at last year’s Tour de Suisse.

Chris Juul-Jensen at the Antwerp Port Epic. Photo: ©kramon

“Within the four years that I have been here, Mitchelton-Scott has developed into a general classification team with a massive string of big GC results but also one-day results,” Juul-Jensen said. “There’s so much to ride for but also so many riders to ride for, which makes my job so enjoyable.”

Investigations underway into abuse allegations at Italian Cycling Federation

Investigators are looking into allegations of abuse at the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI), according to reports in various Italian media outlets.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that investigator Nicola Capozzoli is conducting interviews to gather more information on “alleged illegal conduct committed against athletes registered with the FCI” after reports of abuse and bullying in the Italian women’s national team have appeared in the media.

As of yet, no charges have been filed.

Cyclingnews has more on the story.

Tech News

Strava phone app to lose direct Bluetooth and ANT+ pairing on October 28

As of October 28, Strava users will no longer be able to directly log sensor data from paired Bluetooth or ANT+ devices while recording in the phone app. Strava has announced the change due to the fact that “supporting Bluetooth devices was causing the app to crash during recording, whether or not a sensor was connected.”

According to Strava, the crashes were affecting millions of athletes, “most of whom don’t even use these kinds of sensors.”

The change won’t affect workouts recorded on a GPS watch or bike computer. For those that do want to use their phone while also capturing Bluetooth or ANT+ sensor data, however, Strava recommends recording with an app that uploads to Strava.

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Feature Image: Pello Bilbao leading the way on stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia. Photo: ©kramon

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