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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Cees Bol wins hectic Nokere Koerse, van der Poel goes down hard, a lead change at Cape Epic. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Bol wins Nokere Koerse after big crash in finale
Cees Bol sprinted to Sunweb’s first victory of the 2019 season in a hectic finale at Nokere Koerse.
As a compact bunch was getting into position for the expected sprint finish in Nokere, a big crash in the final kilometer saw put several riders on the deck. A rub of shoulders between Sunweb’s sprint headliner Max Walscheid and another rider ultimately led to a messy pileup a few riders deep into the bunch, with cyclocross world champion Mathieu van der Poel among those affected.
— Pasión Ciclismo 🚴🏻 (@pasiociclismo) March 20, 2019
With Walscheid down, Bol became Sunweb’s option for the ensuing sprint. The 23-year-old Dutchman made the most of his opportunity.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Pascal Ackermann launched early on the cobbled finishing straight, but Bol jumped onto his wheel. With 50 meters to go, he surged past the German and held on to take the biggest win of his young career. Ackermann settled for second, with Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) rounding out the podium.
Walscheid was able to walk his bike across the line to enjoy his team’s victory celebration, but van der Poel was among those left more badly hurt in the crash. The 24-year-old Dutchman, racing a number of road events again this year with Corendon-Circus, fell hard and rolled on the cobbles, and then a CCC rider rode into him from behind. Van der Poel spent several minutes on the ground before being lifted into an ambulance, with the extent of his injuries as of yet unknown.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) celebrated his dramatic jump to the top step of the Tirreno-Adriatico podium yesterday without putting on the blue leader’s jersey—because race organizers accidentally printed the wrong team name on the maglia azzurra.
Although it was only by a single second, Roglic did win the overall title, but the leader’s jersey arrived at the podium sporting the Mitchelton-Scott logo of runner-up Adam Yates. An astute Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) noticed the error, keeping Roglic from putting on the jersey and creating any potential headaches for his own team’s sponsors.
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) March 19, 2019
Wiebes wins inaugural women’s Nokere Koerse
20-year-old Lorena Wiebes won the inaugural Danilith Nokere Koerse voor Dames, giving her Parkhotel Valkenburg team its first pro win of 2019.
The Dutch youngster sprinted to convincing victory in the Belgian race, holding a women’s event at the UCI 1.1 level for the first time in its history of more than 70 years. Wiebes topped Lisa Klein of Canyon-SRAM and Lotto Soudal’s Lotte Kopecky at the line to make for an all 23-or-younger race podium.
Fumic and Avancini take over Cape Epic lead after Forster puncture
After three straight Cape Epic stage wins, the Scott-SRAM team of Nino Schurter and Lars Forster hit a snag. On a challenging stage 3 in chilly conditions, Forster suffered a rear wheel puncture some distance from any help. By the time the backup team arrived to change wheels, Scott-SRAM’s closest rivals – Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini – had opened up a hefty gap on the Swiss pair. Fumic and Avancini held on through the finish to take the stage win. Nino Schurter and Lars Forster would ultimately finish the day in fourth, behind Urs Huber and Simon Stiebjahn and Damiano Ferraro and Samuele Porro, nearly seven minutes down.
— capeepic (@CapeEpic) March 20, 2019
Fumic and Avancini now lead the Absa Cape Epic by 2:41 over Schurter and Forster.
In other news from the men’s race, Samuel Gaze has pulled out of the Cape Epic after crashing hard in stage 1. While he initially continued on to finish stage 2, Gaze suffered a concussion in the fall and has now left the race.
On the women’s side, the dominant team of the race continues to dominate. Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen cruised to yet another victory at the Cape Epic, taking stage 3 with a gap of nearly six minutes over Candice Lill and Adelheid Morath, who move into a distant second overall after Ariane Lüthi and Maja Wloszczowska lost ample time to drop to third overall.
21 athletes across five sports suspected of blood doping
German prosecutors have revealed that 21 athletes across five sports are suspected of blood doping in connection with the doping ring brought into the spotlight by a raid at the World Nordic Skiing Championships last month, Inside the Games reports.
So far, Austrian cyclists Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler have admitted to blood doping. Multiple skiers have been arrested, as has the German doctor at the center of the doping ring, Mark Schmidt. Several names have yet to be revealed, however. It remains unclear whether any other professional cyclists are among those implicated in the scandal.
Provisional rosters announced for Milano-Sanremo
Milano-Sanremo awaits on Saturday, which means teams are unveiling their lineups this week for the first monument of the 2019 season. For some squads, that means tough decisions are being made in the leadership department.
Bora-Hansgrohe, for instance, has announced that both Peter Sagan and Sam Bennett will headline the team in Italy this weekend. Sagan has been a perennial favorite for the event, but Bennett has had a strong start to the season, earning a co-leadership nod. Deceuninck-Quick-Step will also bring multiple powerhouse options to Milano-Sanremo, with an on-fire Julian Alaphilippe as a potential attacker for the final climbs and Elia Viviani as one of the top contenders for a sprint. With Philippe Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar in the mix as well, the Belgian team will have to like its chances to keep winning in the early goings of this season.
Other teams on the provisional start list with multiple potential options include UAE Team Emirates, who will bring former winner Alexander Kristoff as well as Fernando Gaviria, and Bahrain-Merida, with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and fast-finishing Sonny Colbrelli.
Hammer Series introduces captains
The Hammer Series will feature team captains this season. Velon’s series of alternative events has announced that participating teams are appointing “Hammer Captains” for 2019, with the first five names unveiled in the announcement: Alexander Kristoff for UAE Team Emirates, Brenton Jones for Delko Marseille Provence, Cameron Meyer for Mitchelton-Scott, Tim Wellens for Lotto Soudal, and Tom Dumoulin for Sunweb.
What kind of sporting role the captain could have in the Hammer Series is unclear. Off the road, according to the announcement, they “will bang the team drum and generate support among fans by providing exclusive content on social media and will lead their team’s cheering even if they’re not participating in a Hammer race by providing insight into their colleagues’ performance.”
The Bunch, episode 7
Dave Everett is back with another episode of The Bunch. Catch up the highlights of this week’s racing and tech news and check out Dave’s pick for rider of the week…