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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Ineos sending its “youngest-ever” Grand Tour squad to the Giro, the Vuelta announces wild card invites, Kittel will miss the Tour of California. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Team Ineos sending its “youngest-ever” Grand Tour squad to the Giro d’Italia
Ineos had to make a few last-minute changes before locking in its roster for the Giro d’Italia, but the overall focus on featuring younger riders remains.
“Over the last two seasons we have been bringing together a carefully selected group of young riders who we believe to be the future of our team,” Brailsford said. “With this developmental goal in mind, we have chosen to field our youngest-ever team for a Grand Tour and it’s fitting it should be our first one as Team Ineos.”
The former Team Sky has officially announced that Egan Bernal, who was expected to lead the squad in his debut, will miss the race after breaking his collarbone in training. Gianni Moscon’s program has been altered as well; Ineos has decided to send him to the Amgen Tour of California instead of the Giro.
Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart will start the Giro as Ineos’s GC leaders. Both impressed at the recent Tour of the Alps. Eddie Dunbar, fresh off a strong performance at the Tour de Yorkshire, will make his Grand Tour debut.
Sebastian Henao, Jhonatan Narvaez, and Iván Sosa will fly the Colombian flag in Bernal’s absence, while Salvatore Puccio and Christian Knees will bring veteran support to an otherwise inexperienced lineup whose average age is around 25 years old.
With Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome set to return to the Tour de France, the “next generation” will have a chance to shine in Italy starting this weekend. The Giro rolls out from Bologna on Saturday.
One year ago this week, Spanish TV viewers had the pleasure of watching Joaquim Rodríguez on Ninja Warrior.
— Cycling out of context (@OutOfCycling) May 5, 2019
Would Alberto Contador have made that jump?
Vuelta wild cards announced
Vuelta a España organizers have decided on the four Pro Continental squads that will have the opportunity to race the Spanish Grand Tour later this year. Hopefully the race directors were pleased with how things went in 2018—the same four wild cards from last year’s race will take on the 2019 Vuelta.
All three Spanish Pro Conti squads made the cut. Caja Rural-Seguros RGA has been a Vuelta fixture in recent years, while Burgos BH and Euskadi-Murias will both return to the race after jumping up to the Pro Conti level for the 2018 season. Cofidis rounds out the selection.
Although technically French, Cofidis shares a sponsor with one of the Vuelta’s own main sponsors, which could be why the team has raced every Vuelta this decade.
The 2019 Vuelta starts in Torrevieja on August 24.
Kittel out of the Tour of California
Things have not gone according to plan for Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) this year. According to Het Nieuwsblad, the 30-year-old German sprinter will miss the Amgen Tour of California after already having missed an expected start at the Tour de Yorkshire last week as he struggles to find form.
After a disappointing 2018 campaign, his first with Katusha, Kittel seemed to be on his way to bouncing back when he started 2019 with a win at the Trofeo Palma and a second place at the Clasica de Almerica. Since then, results have been hard to come by.
Sports directors told various media outlets last month that something needed to change, and soon after, Kittel vented his frustration on Twitter.
Always easy to beat a man when he's on the ground. I'm facing a difficult period and I'm thankful for everyone who is supporting me now. To those people making headlines on my cost now: enjoy your minute of fame! 👌
— Marcel Kittel (@marcelkittel) April 11, 2019
It is unclear where Kittel will race next now that the Tour of California has been scrubbed from his calendar.
Yorkshire angling for Tour, Vuelta starts
Tour de Yorkshire organizers are staying busy. British media outlets report that Welcome to Yorkshire, which promotes tourism in the region, is angling for another Tour de France start – Yorkshire hosted the Grand Départ in 2014 – as well as a Vuelta a España start in the coming years.
“It’s ongoing conversations,” said commercial director Peter Dodd, according to the Telegraph. “Firstly, to bring the Vuelta here and then, we say this publicly, our belief is it’s a question of when the Tour de France comes back to Yorkshire and not if.”
Yorkshire is already set to host the UCI Road World Championships this fall.
Viviani, Jungels to lead the way for Deceuninck-Quick-Step in Italy
Elia Viviani is headed to his sixth Giro d’Italia. The 30-year-old Italian, the reigning points classification champion at the Giro, headlines Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s roster for the race, on the heels of what has been a strong spring so far.
Deceuninck will also feature Bob Jungels in a starring role in Italy. Twice a top 10 finisher at the Giro, Jungels will lead the GC charge for the team.
Eros Capecchi, Fabio Sabatini, Florian Sénéchal, Pieter Serry, Mikkel Honoré, and James Knox round out the roster.
21-year-old Higuita joins EF in midseason transfer
Colombia’s Sergio Higuita is headed to EF Education first in a midseason transfer from the Continental-level Fundación Euskadi. According to his new team, the 21-year-old caught the eye of Jonathan Vaughters at the 2018 Tour of Colombia, and EF offered him a gig with the condition that he get some experience racing in Europe with Euskadi first.
Higuita has raced well so far this year, and with that in mind, EF has pushed a mid-season transfer “originally planed for July” up to May. Higuita will make his EF debut at the Tour of California.
Australia’s O’Connor set for Giro return
Ben O’Connor, who crashed out of the Giro last year while in contention for a top 10 GC spot, is ready to take up the challenge again. The 23-year-old Australian will shoulder Dimension Data’s GC ambitions this month in his return to the race. Dimension Data will also have Giacomo Nizzolo for the sprints. The Italian counts an incredible nine runner-up Giro stage finishes and two Giro points jerseys on his palmares without a single stage victory in the race.
The roster also includes Enrico Gasparotto, Ryan Gibbons, Danilo Wyss, Mark Renshaw, Amanuel Gebrezgabihier, and Scott Davies.
Happy Birthday to …
Andrea Tafi is 53. The Italian’s hopes of returning to Paris-Roubaix in his early 50s may not have come to fruition this year, but that doesn’t diminish his impressive career accomplishments. Tafi’s list of achievements includes Monumental wins at the Giro di Lombardia, Tour of Flanders, and Milano-Sanremo, along with other big results over the years.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Elia Viviani wins stage 13 at the 2018 Giro d’Italia. Photo: DB/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018