Hepburn renews, McLay wins in Guangxi, Merckx returns home: Daily News Digest
Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Daniel McLay sprints to his first WorldTour win on stage 2 of the Tour of Guangxi, Eddy Merckx is out of the hospital, Michael Hepburn renews with Mitchelton-Scott. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: McLay wins stage 2 of the Tour of Guangxi
Dan McLay sprinted to his first ever WorldTour victory on stage 2 of the Tour of Guangxi.
The 27-year-old Brit, making his last racing appearance in EF Education First colors with a transfer to Arkéa-Samsic on the horizon, topped Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) to take the win in Qinzhou.
“To win at a WorldTour race is pretty good, and yeah, it’s not the biggest race of the year, obviously, but it’s a real sprinter’s race and you have to be pretty fast,” McLay said.
“I think I obviously haven’t shown what I can do for two years, and today I showed a glimmer of what’s in the legs. I hope I can carry it into next year.”
Ackermann, who also finished second on stage 1, now leads the race.
Relive the key moments from Stage 2 of the @TourofGuangxi which produced a great bunch sprint and a first WorldTour win for @McLAYDan of @EFprocycling. Stage report here: https://t.co/p5O0FYUxMc pic.twitter.com/P4V2Ph6qqp
— Velon CC (@VelonCC) October 18, 2019
The 152.3-kilometer second stage rolled out from Beihai and covered mostly flat roads, with no categorized climbs on the day’s parcours. The last survivor of the day’s break, McLay’s EF teammate Sep Vanmarcke, held out until the final kilometer before the sprinters’ teams brought it all back together for a bunch kick.
A very wide finishing straight saw numerous sprinters take their chances in the closing moments. While Ackerman had to squeeze through a narrow space against the barriers on the left side of the road, McLay kicked on the right side of the road.
He gradually came towards the center as he powered up to speed, and out-paced Ackermann to take the highest-rated win of his career at the line.
Working out how to pack a purée into your jersey pocket may still be a challenge, but this is great news for cyclists who also love potatoes (which may be why Toms Skujins also shared it on his Twitter account).
“Potato ingestion is as effective as carbohydrate gels to support prolonged cycling performance”. https://t.co/DavGrNbxTn
Question is: how do you eat this wonderful “Patatas a la Riojana” on the bike? 👇🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/46OXaJdpm0
— Iñigo San Millán (@doctorinigo) October 18, 2019
Hepburn renews with Mitchelton-Scott
Michael Hepburn will continue with Mitchelton-Scott for a further two seasons, the team has announced. The 28-year-old Australian has been with the squad since its first WorldTour season in 2012 when he was just 20 years old.
“We have had Heppy from the beginning of the team, he is one of the founding members, but he was very much track orientated when he started with the team,” said sports director Matt White.
“He has progressed through that period of his career now and settled into a very good road rider and a guy that we lean a lot more on as one of the captains and leaders on the road.”
Hepburn, who has collected numerous accolades on the track over the course of his career, is a strong time trial talent on the road, with an Australian national TT title on his career palmares. His engine has made him a key member of both Classics and Grand Tour lineups for Mitchelton-Scott in recent years.
“We’ve seen a big shift over the last four or five years with the team’s targets and goals and with the young riders coming up and turning into some of the best GC riders in the world,” Hepburn said. “We’re all aware that of our jobs and being a part of the engine room is something I really enjoy doing.”
Merckx out of the hospital
Eddy Merckx is out of the hospital, Het Nieuwsblad reports. The Belgian cycling legend, who was hospitalized after sustaining a head injury in a cycling crash earlier this week, is now recovering at home after a few days of evaluation. Doctors were cautious given Merckx’s use of a pacemaker, but he was ultimately cleared to leave the hospital and taken home by his wife, Claudine.
“He is happy that he can go home,” said Claudine Merckx, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “Ultimately, it is still better at home than in a hospital, no matter how well looked after.”
Peter Stetina says he will leave Trek-Segafredo at the end of the season
Peter Stetina has told Cyclingnews that he will be leaving Trek-Segafredo as his contract expires at the end of this season. What’s next for the 32-year-old American remains unclear.
“I’m not quite ready to announce what it’ll be yet. You’ll see and hear about me next year, but it will not be in the Trek-Segafredo colors,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I would think that I’ll announce it by the end of October.”
Giro queen stage rumors
The route of the 2020 Giro d’Italia is set to be unveiled next week, and rumors of how the race could look are trickling out ahead of the presentation. Reports in Italian media this week have suggested the event’s queen stage will roll out from Alba and feature some especially brutal climbs, although with differing accounts of what that might look like.
Italian newspaper Targato CN reports that the queen stage may finish at Sestriere, and La Flamme Rouge posted an image on Twitter this week of a potential profile concluding with the Sestriere climb, with visits to the immense Colle dell’Agnello, the Col d’Izoard, and the Colle del Monginevro along the way.
#Giro2020 – So this will be the route of the rumored queen stage.
220 Km x 5300 denivel meters.
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) October 16, 2019
La Stampa, however, reports that the stage could finish with an unpaved stretch on the Colle Fraiteve climb, which, like the Colle dell’Agnello, reaches heights over 2,700 meters.
Fans – and prospective Giro starters – won’t have too much longer to wait to see the official route. The RCS will unveil the parcours in Milan on October 24.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Michael Hepburn at the Antwerp Port Epic. Photo: ©kramon