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A win 10 years in the making: Daily News

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Hi there, 

As we hurtle towards a new week there’s a swathe of bike races for us to update you on. Arguably the most interesting among them is the men’s road race at the New Zealand Road Nationals where fan favourite George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) finally won the silver fern jersey after a decade of trying. We look forward to seeing how Jumbo-Visma will combine yellow, black and silver in a jersey for Bennett this year.

For that and all the other big-ticket items today, please read on!

Matt de Neef
Managing Editor

What’s news?

Ivan Sosa wins the Tour de la Provence

Ivan Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers) has taken out the four-stage Tour de la Provence courtesy of a solo victory on the stage 3 uphill finish.

The 23-year-old Colombian burst free from a reduced bunch 5 km from the Chalet Reynard finish on a misty Mont Ventoux. He won the stage by 15 seconds ahead of teammate Egan Bernal, with world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) right behind at 18 seconds.

Sosa held onto the overall lead by finishing safely in the bunch in Sunday’s final-stage sprint finish. Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious) claimed stage honours ahead of stage 1 and 2 winner Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic). 

Alaphilippe started the final stage in third overall but overtook Bernal on GC by snagging a few bonus seconds at the first intermediate sprint.

Giacomo Nizzolo wins the Clasica de Almeria

Italian and European champion Giacomo Nizzolo has claimed Qhubeka-Assos’ first victory for the season with a sprint win at the Clasica de Almeria in Spain.

A few early breakaway attempts yielded little and the race was all back together for the final 50 km. There were several crashes on the run-in to the line before Nizzolo powered away from Florian Senechal (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Martin Laas (Bora-Hansgrohe).

“I am really happy about today’s victory and the great job the team did today,” Nizzolo said. “From the start we tried to control the race, but the race was a bit strange, kind of on-and-off a few times because of the wind. The final was quite tricky but we managed to have a good position for the sprint.”

George Bennett wins Kiwi Nationals road race

After a decade of trying, George Bennett finally has a national road race title.

The affable 30-year-old had taken silver on two occasions (2013 and 2020) but had never managed the top step. Not until Sunday’s 174 km circuit race around Cambridge.

Bennett attacked multiple times throughout, particularly on the four ascents of the French Pass climb, but it was on flat road 8 km from the finish that he finally broke clear. He soloed to victory by 1:48 ahead of Mark Stewart with Michael Torckler right behind.

“I was down and out a week ago and wrote myself off,” Bennett said. “I was a month behind last year and I was doing a workout on the time trial bike and I was not there. Then I had a really good TT on Friday and that picked me up quite a lot.

“I am excited and proud to wear that jersey, to take it to Europe and represent New Zealand Cycling because it is a special thing.”

Earlier in the week Bennett finished second to Aaron Gate (Black Spoke) in the time trial. Impressively, 19-year-old Finn-Fisher Black (Jumbo-Visma Development Team) was faster than all the elite riders to win the U23 title on the same course.

Georgia Williams wins another Kiwi road title

In the women’s race meanwhile, Georgia Williams (BikeExchange) rode to her second ‘Double’ at the Kiwi Nationals. Just like she did in 2018, the 27-year-old won both the time trial and the road race.

In the road race Williams attacked just 7 km into the 130 km race around Cambridge, with only full-time police officer Kate McCarthy able to follow. The pair led for the remaining 120 km of the race before Williams won the two-up sprint.

“It was sort of in the back of my mind that I wanted to go early, just because if I waited too long then the sprinters might have been able to hang on,” Williams said. “But I was a little bit surprised and thought maybe it’s too early. But I knew Kate was super strong, so I knew we would be ok.”

Williams won Friday’s time trial by 22 seconds ahead of Jaime Nielsen.

Richard Freeman charged with two rule violations by UK Anti-Doping

The BBC is reporting that former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman has been charged by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) for two violations of its anti-doping rules.

According to Britain’s national broadcaster, Freeman has been charged with “possession of a prohibited substance” and “tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control”. Freeman has reportedly contested the charges and has requested a hearing.

If Freeman is found guilty by an independent anti-doping panel, he could face a four-year ban from the sport.

A special Valentine’s Day message from Cyrus Monk

And finally today, here’s something a little more light-hearted – Australian cyclist/musician/scientist Cyrus Monk with a wonderful little cover version of a classic track for Valentine’s Day.

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