Mark Cavendish signs with Bahrain-Merida: Daily News Digest

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

Mark Cavendish signs with Bahrain-Merida, Hugh Carthy renews with EF Education First, Matt White says the 2020 Giro route is “up there with one of the toughest editions I’ve seen.” Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Bahrain-Merida announces signing of Mark Cavendish

Bahrain-Merida has finally made it official: Mark Cavendish will join the squad next season.

The announcement confirms months of rumors that Cavendish would be heading to the Bahrain squad at the end of his contract with Dimension Data. The 34-year-old Manx sprinter, whose career palmares includes 30 Tour de France stage wins, a world road title, and a Milano-Sanremo win, is currently closing out his fourth season with the South African team.

His time there started on a high note, with Cavendish taking four Tour stages in 2016, but he has not won a Tour stage since. Health issues have derailed his recent seasons, and Cavendish was left off the Dimension Data Tour roster this summer.

Mark Cavendish wins stage 14 of the 2016 Tour de France. Photo: Dion Kerckhoffs/Tim van Wichelen/Cor Vos © 2016

His move to Bahrain-Merida, which is expected to race as Bahrain-McLaren next year, will reconnect Cavendish with Rod Ellingworth, the new team principal, who formerly worked at British Cycling and Team Sky.

“Having worked closely with McLaren in the past, and seen the benefits of their technology and processes, this was an opportunity I jumped at,” Cavendish said. “My relationship with Rod goes way back, and he’s been instrumental in helping me develop as a rider and a person. I can’t wait to join my new teammates and do everything I can to help us achieve the successes I know will come.”

According to the team, Cavendish’s signing completes the roster for 2020, finishing what has been a busy transfer season for Bahrain-Merida. The squad bids farewell to Vincenzo Nibali and Rohan Dennis, but has signed Wout Poels, Mikel Landa, and others in addition to Cavendish.

“Having last worked with him at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Qatar World Championships, I’ve been delighted to see that his energy and determination to succeed are greater now than ever,” Ellingworth said of Cavendish. “We’re going to do everything in our power to enable him to perform at his best.”

Socially Speaking

Michael Kwiatkowski just got married last week, but he’s back to riding his bike this week in Japan. He has reconned the route for next summer’s Olympic road race alongside Chris Froome and others, and if Kwiatkowski’s assessment of the gradients is accurate, Froome and the rest of the climbing stars have to be happy with the way things look …

Race Radio

Carthy renews with EF Education First

Hugh Carthy will stick with EF Education First through 2021, his team has announced.

Carthy has been with the squad since 2017, and rode to his first WorldTour stage victory this season at the Tour de Suisse. A talented climber, the 25-year-old Brit was also just outside the top 10 at this year’s Giro d’Italia, finishing 11th overall.

Hugh Carthy at the Giro d’Italia. Photo: Gruber Images

“Hugh’s spectacular win in Tour de Suisse convinced me that he’s a very special type of talent. He’s an emotional and passionate racer,” said EF team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “His 100 kilometers solo in Suisse was evocative of the big mountain raids we used to see in the ’70s and ’80s. He’s exactly the type of rider we want on this team.”

Lobato, Fernández, and Iturria sign with Fundación Euskadi

The Fundación Euskadi team will move up from the Continental ranks to the Pro Continental level next year with several new riders coming on board. The Basque squad announced a collection of signings on Friday.

Rubén Fernández will join the squad after five years at Movistar. The 28-year-old climber won the 2013 Tour de l’Avenir, and compiled a handful stage racing top 10s during his time with Movistar, although he generally played a support role in the Grand Tours.

Juan José Lobato, closing out his second season with Nippo-Vini Fantini after stints at Movistar and LottoNL-Jumbo, has signed with Fundación Euskadi as well. A fast-finisher who can handle a few climbs, Lobato is a stage winner at the Tour Down Under and other one-week races.

Mikel Iturria, who won stage 11 at this year’s Vuelta a España, is another notable signing. Other new arrivals the team announced on Friday include Antonio Angulo, Gari Bravo, Joan Bou, Julen Irizar, Mikel Aristi, and Mikel Mizkarra.

White: 2020 Giro route is ‘up there with one of the toughest editions I’ve seen’

The recently unveiled route of next year’s Giro d’Italia features some serious high-mountain climbs, particularly in the final week. The way Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White sees things, it’s an especially challenging parcours, even by Giro standards.

“The Giro is renowned for always having a backend heavy race, but this is up there with one of the toughest editions I’ve seen in the last 20-years, that’s for sure,” White said via the team website.

Even with its brutal stretch of tough stages in the last few days, however, the race presents enough early challenges that White said riders will have to be on their toes from day one.

“You’re going to have to be ready to rock and roll straight away because you don’t want to be giving away time on stage one, then straight away on stage four and five in Sicily you have a four kilometer hilltop finish and then a climb up Etna, and that’s in the first five days, so there will be no riding into the race,” White said.

Trek-Segafredo re-signs Cordon-Ragot and others

The Trek-Segafredo team has completed its women’s roster for 2020, announcing four contract renewals on Friday.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot will continue with the team into 2020 after a strong 2019 campaign. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman won the Tour de Bretagne and Drentse Acht van Westerland this year.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot wins the Drentse Acht van Westerveld. Photo: Anton Vos/Cor Vos © 2019

Australia’s Lauretta Hanson has also renewed with the Trek team, as have Great Britain’s Abi Van Twisk and Polish time trial champ Anna Plichta.

In case you missed it …

Feature Image: Mark Cavendish at the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen. Photo: ©kramon

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