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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe among headliners announced for 2020 Vuelta a San Juan, Mathieu van der Poel rolls on with Jaarmarktcross win, Lucinda Brand takes women’s race in first start of ‘cross campaign, Danish cyclist rides 5,000 kilometers on Zwift from inside a shopping mall. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Danish cyclist rides 5,000 kilometers on Zwift from inside a shopping center
Like most cyclists preparing for a start at the Race Across America, Denmark’s Michael Knudsen has been hard at work putting in long hours in training. Unlike most cyclists, Knudsen spent the past several days putting in those hours from the inside of a shopping center.
The 31-year-old rode the 5,000 kilometers on Zwift completely within the Field’s shopping mall in Copenhagen, finishing his effort last week. Knudsen slept next to his bike inside the busy shopping center over the course of 10 days, only going outside for a breath of fresh air.
Knudsen will face plenty of outdoor challenges at next year’s Race Across America, but as he pointed out Zwift Insider, his long stint on the trainer brought plenty of challenges too, including getting a bloody nose from all the time spent in dry air-conditioned air, the music playing in the mall at night, and lengthy trips to the toilets on other floors.
“Over a year ago, I got the crazy idea to do something crazy in a large mainstream shopping center to reach a far larger and different part of the population than what you typically achieve by doing these sorts of virtual cycling events,” Knudsen said in a Facebook post.
“I just wanted to say a thousand thanks for the massive support I have received over the last 10 days. It’s been absolutely amazing.”
It’s never a bad time to enjoy on-bike highlights from one of the best races on the calendar.
Vuelta a San Juan announces Sagan, Alaphilippe, and other stars on 2020 start list
The Vuelta a San Juan has announced some of the big names attending next year’s race, with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates), and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) among the headliners set to race in Argentina.
According to the organizers, 2020 will see six WorldTour teams in attendance. In addition to Bora, Deceuninck, and UAE, Israel Cycling Academy, Cofidis, and Movistar will make the trip.
The seven-day race starts on January 26.
Van der Poel’s spring schedule
Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) will ride Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Milano-Sanremo next season, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports.
The versatile Dutchman, who won Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Amstel Gold Race this year, is targeting the spring Classics again in 2020 before he shifts his focus to mountain biking at the Tokyo Olympics.
According to Wielerflits, after Sanremo, van der Poel’s provisional 2020 calendar will take him to Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and Brabantse Pijl, pending invitations. As a Pro Continental rider, van der Poel’s participation in any WorldTour race is contingent on a bid from the organizers.
Van der Poel, Brand win at Jaarmarktcross
Speaking of van der Poel, his strong cyclocross campaign rolled on with another victory on Monday at Jaarmarktcross in the Netherlands. The reigning world champion, fresh off his third straight European Championship title, topped Laurens Sweeck and Thijs Aerts in the men’s race on a muddy course in Niel.
After reining in aggressive rivals in the early goings of the race, van der Poel stormed clear to a huge lead. No one could close him down from there, and van der Poel took the win with a massive margin of 1:20 to Sweeck.
Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise Lions), making her ‘cross season debut, triumphed in the women’s race over Katie Compton (Trek) and Marion Norbert Riberolle (Experza Pro Cx). Brand pulled away from the field midway through the race and held off Compton in the closing laps to win.
Ellingworth says he believes Cavendish can get back to winning ways
Rod Ellingworth, the former Head of Performance at Sky who recently started a new role as Team Principal at Bahrain-Merida, says his new team has signed Mark Cavendish with the expectation that the Manx speedster can return to winning ways.
“I’ve been really straight with him and he’s not here on mate’s rates. I’ve been really clear and told him that he’s here to do a job,” Ellingworth told Cyclingnews in an interview published Monday. “With everyone on the team, I want them to be clear and know why they’re here. Some are developing riders, some are here to help to win and some are winners. I’ve told Mark very clearly that he’s a bike rider and you’re either here to win or help to win.”
Cavendish has spent the past four seasons with Dimension Data. His first year with the team was by far his most successful; he notched four Tour de France stage victories and other strong results in 2016. Since then, wins have been much harder to come by, with health issues derailing significant stretches of Cavendish’s last few seasons with the team.
“There’s a window where he struggled due to illness and I think he was mentally battered through that. My job is to make sure that we support him as best as we can and then we’ll see what we can do,” Ellingworth told Cyclingnews.
“I’ve also told him that he’s not old and that he’s experienced. He’s only 34 and in the grand scheme of things he’s not an old man, he’s a young man.”
McNulty expected to ride first Grand Tour in 2020
American up-and-comer Brandon McNulty is making the jump to the WorldTour next year with UAE-Team Emirates after three seasons with the Rally UHC organization. As UAE’s head sports director Matxin Joxean Fernández told VeloNews, the team plans to give McNulty some three-week racing experience in his first season at the top division.
“I’ve already spoken with Brandon and we’d like that he can test himself in a grand tour, be it a Giro or Vuelta,” Fernández said. “Later we’ll see his evolution. We want him to have the room to race in big races, without unnecessary pressure, but to be able to get a taste of these more important events.”
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Riding in the Pyrenees. Photo: Jered Gruber