Cav’s future and Ewan wins Scheldeprijs: Daily News Digest

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Mark Cavendish isn’t done. After an emotional interview at Gent-Wevelgem, which he said might be “perhaps the last race of my career,” he lined up at the mid-week sprinter’s classic Scheldeprijs and hopped in the day’s early breakaway.

“I don’t have a desire to stop,” he said before the race kicked off. More on Cav’s future below.

At Scheldeprijs, Caleb Ewan was the fastest, and at the Giro, Arnaud Demare proved he’s the sprinter to beat.

Flanders is coming this weekend, though organizers asked fans to stay home, and the Giro is still walking a COVID tightrope.

Sam Bennett is going to the Vuelta and Greg van Avermaet might race Flanders, despite his hard crash and injuries at Liege.

Read on for more …

Caley Fretz

What’s News

| Demare makes it four at the Giro d’Italia

Arnaud Demare is having his best grand tour ever. In Rimini, he stormed to yet another stage win, his fourth of the race thus far, topping Peter Sagan and Alvaro Hodeg.

“We had to do well getting through all the tight turns in the town but of course before the finish, everybody did a great job. Jacopo Guarnieri was fantastic,” Demare said. “He was there for 400 meters and I was waiting. Then, in the end, I launched the sprint and I knew that people were trying to get around but I was strongest for the line.”

Demare has proven almost unbeatable in the Giro thus far.

Only 144 riders remained in the race after Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma pulled out with COVID positives. The finale was the first for the sprinters since stage 7, and the teams of the fast men sought to take advantage. Despite good efforts from Israel Start-Up Nation, Deceuninck-QuickStep, and Bora-Hansgrohe, none could match Demare when he set off for the line.

Top 3, stage 11

1 DEMARE Arnaud (Groupama – FDJ) 4:03:52
2 SAGAN Peter (BORA – hansgrohe) ST
3 Álvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck – QuickStep) ST

Top 3, GC

1 ALMEIDA João (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 39:38:05
2 KELDERMAN Wilco (Team Sunweb) 0:34
3 BILBAO Pello (Bahrain – McLaren) 0:43

| Caleb Ewan wins Scheldeprijs

Caleb Ewan timed his sprint to perfection on the bumpy run-in to the finish of Scheldeprijs, accelerating away from Pascal Ackermann.

“We haven’t had a win in a classic at this level in the team for a while. I’m happy to add this one to my palmares,” Ewan said.

Deceuninck-QuickStep tried to take control of the finale but ran out of firepower just under the 1km to go kite. Lotto-Soudal and Bora made efforts inside the last kilometer and Ewan timed his sprint to perfection, blasting out of the group and finishing with a bike length ahead of Ackermann and Niccolò Bonifazio.

In the final 300 meters a touch of wheels led to a hard crash that took down Ivan Cortina of Bahrain-McLaren and others.

Mark Cavendish popped himself into the day’s early breakaway. Earlier in the day he’d spoken to reporters about this future in pro cycling, saying he would like to continue racing. He remains without a contract for 2021.

Scheldeprijs held onto a Wednesday slot in this year’s revised calendar, as usual, but was placed a week ahead of Flanders, rather than in between Flanders and Roubaix. That made it a pure sprinter’s classic, as Flanders favorites mostly just spun their legs out in the bunch. Riders like Dylan van Baarle, for example, never even took their winter kit off.

Top 3 at Scheldeprijs
1 EWAN Caleb (Lotto-Soudal)
2 ACKERMANN Pascal (Bora-Hansgrohe)
3 BONIFAZIO Niccolò (Total Direct Energie)

| Michael Matthews tests negative for COVID after leaving Giro

Michael Matthews left the Giro d’Italia following a positive COVID test on Monday. A second test today came back negative.

That doesn’t mean Matthews is in the clear. The second test was one of the faster and less reliable variety, compared to the PCR test which showed a positive result at the Giro on Monday. Matthews will take another PCR test in the coming days. We’ll keep an eye on this story and update you in tomorrow’s Daily News Digest.

| Greg Van Avermaet will make last-minute call on Tour of Flanders

Greg Van Avermaet may line up at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, two weeks after a crash left him with a fractured vertebrae and punctured lung at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Van Avermaet will leave the decision to the last minute. “I feel much better than I did nine days ago. I’m back cycling, I haven’t thrown the towel in yet,” he said.

| Sam Bennett headed to the Vuelta

The winner of the green jersey at the Tour de France, Sam Bennett, will line up at the Vuelta a Espana, his team has announced.

Bennett already has two Vuelta stages on his resume, stage 3 and 14 from the 2018 edition he raced with Bora-Hansgrohe. He’ll be joined by leadout men Shane Archbold and Michael Mørkøv.

| Cav isn’t done racing

Cavendish doesn’t want this season to be his last.

The source of Cav’s Gent-Wevelgem interview, in which he said the race might be his last, was a combination of his current contract status and rumors that the COVID cancellations would make Gent-Wevelgem one of the last races of the season. Cavendish hasn’t signed a contract for 2021 yet, and the lack of clarity around his future had him worried the race could be a rather unceremonious departure from professional cycling.

“There were rumors at the start of the race that the rest of the races would be cancelled,” Cavendish told reporters at the start of Scheldeprijs on Wednesday morning. “I don’t have next year sorted yet and it dawned on me that it could be the last race of the season and potentially my career.

“Obviously, I wear my heart on my sleeve and especially with racing here in Belgium. Here in Scheldeprijs was my first win as a professional. I was looking forward to this race and I was enjoying racing in Belgium. It’s pure racing like when I was a kid again.”

Cavendish in the early breakaway at Scheldeprijs, a race he’s won before.

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