Hodeg takes opener at Catalunya; early drama at Cape Epic: Daily News Digest

by Neal Rogers

March 20, 2018

In today’s Daily News Digest: Colombian sprinter Alvaro Hodeg takes opening stage at Volta Catalunya; Italian sprinters sweep Stage 2 podium at Langkawi as Astana’s Minali takes race lead; Greipel shares disappointment over lost opportunities after collarbone plated with 10 screws; Cape Epic: Cannondale men win Stage 1; Specialized women in control; Schurter loses bid for Cape Epic repeat after Stirnemann is forced to abandon; Tire problems see Hincapie, Vande Velde lose Masters category lead at Cape Epic; Austin bomber injures cyclists with tripwire; Video: Why isn’t cycling normal in London?

Cape Epic: Cannondale men win Stage 1; Specialized women in control

by CyclingTips

Runners-up in the prologue, Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing) mastered the 110km opening stage of the 15th Absa Cape Epic Monday in South Africa. Fumic and Avancini outsprinted Jaroslav Kulhavy and Howard Grotts (Investec Songo Specialized), while Fabian Rabensteiner and Michele Casagrande (Trek-Selle San Marco 2) placed third, 5:33 behind the stage winners.

Fumic and Avancini entered the first water point in the lead followed closely by Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek (Canyon-Topeak), and overnight leaders Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr (Centurion Vaude). Despite the efforts of the race leaders, the Cannondale team kept the pace high and consolidated their early lead by attacking down the “Skid and Bones” Land Rover Technical Terrain. Kulhavy and Grotts followed in hot pursuit and managed to join Avancini and Fumic at the head of the race. The  quartet worked together for the remainder of the race and increased their lead to nearly six minutes at one point.

As the final 20km loomed, Kulhavy assumed his characteristic position on the front of the pace line followed by Fumic, Avancini, and Grotts, who appeared to be struggling in the final moments. The stage would eventually go to Cannondale, who outfoxed Investec Songo Specialized in a sprint finish at Arabella Wine Estate that handed them both the overall lead and yellow zebra jersey. Cannondale leads Investec Songo Specialized by 40.9 seconds. Centurion Vaude are third, 5:36 back, and less than a minute ahead of Lakata and Hynek of Canyon-Topeak, in fourth.

In the women’s race, multiple World Champion Annika Langvad and her young American partner Kate Courtney overcame a puncture to surge to a second successive victory. The Investec Songo Specialized duo attacked early on the 110km stage, and despite a slow leak in Courtney’s back tyre, which at one point looked to put their second consecutive victory in danger, they were able to add to their lead from Sunday’s Prologue. The pair finished the stage with a time of 4:45.22, while Langvad’s former partner Ariane Lüthi, riding with Githa Michiels, finished second. After losing another 52 seconds on Monday, the Team Spur duo is now 2:04 off the pace.

“Kate could feel that her rear wheel was leaking,” Langvad said. “We kept on riding for a bit, but then she said, ‘No, we need to plug it.’ When we plugged it the second team caught us and they got a gap. We chased and got back to them and then on a climb we attacked and were able to keep it to the end.”