O’Connor and Soler take their first Grand Tour stage wins: Daily News Digest

(Want the Daily News Digest delivered directly to your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.) Hello again, CyclingTips readers, Wednesday was another busy day in the world of pro cycling with three WorldTour races all going on at once. Over in Italy, a rider who had to settle…

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Hello again, CyclingTips readers,

Wednesday was another busy day in the world of pro cycling with three WorldTour races all going on at once.

Over in Italy, a rider who had to settle for runner-up honors on Tuesday went one better to get the win, his first ever in a Grand Tour, this time around. In Spain, another first-time Grand Tour stage winner nabbed a win for the home team. And in Belgium, a team that you might expect to go one-two in a few Classics now and then did just that.

Read on for more …

Dane Cash
News Editor

What’s News

| O’Connor wins stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia

One day after he rode to a second-place finish on stage 16, Ben O’Connor soared to his first career Grand Tour stage victory on Wednesday’s stage 17.

The 24-year-old Australian joined another large breakaway at the start of the day, and then attacked out of a select lead group on the Madonna di Campiglio finishing climb. He quickly built a healthy gap and held on to take an impressive victory with Hermann Pernsteiner in second, 31 seconds back, and Thomas De Gendt in third, 1:10 down.

The GC contenders finished in a small group 5:11 back, with João Almeida retaining his overall race lead with just four stages left in the race.

The 203-kilometer stage from Bassano del Grappa, the first of four high-mountain stages in this final week of the Giro, got underway with a flurry of attacks to get into the break. When the move did eventually form, it was a big one, with O’Connor, Pernsteiner, and De Gendt riding with notables like Rohan Dennis, Ilnur Zakarin, and Diego Ulissi up front.

The escapees gradually grew their advantage going over the first two of four categorized climbs on the day. The break split on the descent off the Monte Bondone, but things came back together again on the run-in to the penultimate climb, with the gap at around eight minutes. A Deceuninck-Quick-Step-led pack brought the advantage down to around six minutes before the Madonna di Campiglio finishing climb, where the action kicked off in earnest.

After surges from De Gendt and Dennis, O’Connor made his move with around 8km to go. From there, there was no catching O’Connor, with only Pernsteiner coming within a minute of him at the line. Behind, there was little action in the GC group and no major movement in the GC standings at the end of the day.

Top 10, stage 17

1 O’CONNOR Ben (NTT Pro Cycling) 5:50:59
2 PERNSTEINER Hermann (Bahrain – McLaren) 0:31
3 DE GENDT Thomas (Lotto Soudal) 1:10
4 ZAKARIN Ilnur (CCC Team) 1:13
5 FRANKINY Kilian (Groupama – FDJ) 1:55
6 VANHOUCKE Harm (Lotto Soudal) 2:49
7 VILLELLA Davide (Movistar Team) 3:29
8 RODRÍGUEZ Óscar (Astana Pro Team)
9 GHEBREIGZABHIER Amanuel (NTT Pro Cycling) 3:30
10 HANSEN Jesper (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) 4:32

Top 10, GC

1 ALMEIDA João (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 71:41:18
2 KELDERMAN Wilco (Team Sunweb) 0:17
3 HINDLEY Jai (Team Sunweb) 2:58
4 GEOGHEGAN HART Tao (INEOS Grenadiers) 2:59
5 BILBAO Pello (Bahrain – McLaren) 3:12
6 MAJKA Rafal (BORA – hansgrohe) 3:20
7 NIBALI Vincenzo (Trek – Segafredo) 3:31
8 POZZOVIVO Domenico (NTT Pro Cycling) 3:52
9 KONRAD Patrick (BORA – hansgrohe) 4:11
10 MASNADA Fausto (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 4:26

| Soler nabs stage 2 of the Vuelta a España

The Vuelta a España also saw a first-time Grand Tour stage winner on Wednesday as Marc Soler soloed away from an elite group in the finale to nab stage 2.

Another challenging day in the Basque Country featured the late Alto de San Miguel de Aralar climb before a descent into the finish. After a select group of 10 riders made it over the top together, Soler surged off the front on the downhill that followed and quickly opened up a small advantage. He held a gap all the way to the line in Lekunberri to nab the win.

Race leader Primoz Roglic nabbed runner-up honors 19 seconds later at the head of a small group with Dan Martin in third. Richard Carapaz was just behind in fourth with Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas, Esteban Chaves, Hugh Carthy, Sepp Kuss, and George Bennett also making the selection, but Tom Dumoulin, who had already lost time on stage 1, dropped out of contention completely, finishing around eight minutes behind his Jumbo-Visma teammate Roglic.

The Vuelta’s second stage was busy from the start with numerous attacks off the front as riders tried to get into the breakaway. The main move finally formed on the slopes of the first of the day’s three categorized climbs as five riders managed to get clear, with Tim Wellens the biggest name rider in the group.

The peloton allowed the break to get some room and then Wellens attacked the escapees on the second climb. Behind, Movistar whittled down the peloton to a much more select lead group.

The chasing escapees rejoined Wellens on the run-in to the final climb, and then Bruno Armirail attacked, but the pack was closing in fast. Carapaz and Andrey Amador jumped out of the GC group shortly before the climb started and formed a group of four with Armirail and fellow breakaway rider Alex Aranburu, but the pack closed them down in short order.

Dumoulin was dropped early on the climb as the reduced peloton continued to shed riders on the steep gradient. Luis León Sánchez attacked about 4km into the 9.5km climb but was brought back. Soler set the pace, continuing the whittle down the lead group to an elite few, and then on the descent to the finish, he made his move. Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss and George Bennett tried to close down the gap but Soler would not be caught, soloing to the win with a comfortable 19-second gap on the chasers.

Top 10, stage 17

1 SOLER Marc (Movistar Team) 3:47:04
2 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 0:19
3 MARTIN Dan (Israel Start-Up Nation)
4 CARAPAZ Richard (INEOS Grenadiers)
5 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar Team)
6 MAS Enric (Movistar Team)
7 CHAVES Esteban (Mitchelton-Scott)
8 CARTHY Hugh (EF Pro Cycling)
9 KUSS Sepp (Team Jumbo-Visma)
10 BENNETT George (Team Jumbo-Visma)

Top 10, GC

1 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 8:09:41
2 MARTIN Dan (Israel Start-Up Nation) 0:09
3 CARAPAZ Richard (INEOS Grenadiers) 0:11
4 CHAVES Esteban (Mitchelton-Scott) 0:17
5 MAS Enric (Movistar Team)
6 CARTHY Hugh (EF Pro Cycling) 0:20
7 KUSS Sepp (Team Jumbo-Visma) 0:26
8 BENNETT George (Team Jumbo-Visma) 0:56
9 GROSSSCHARTNE Felix (BORA – hansgrohe) 0:59
10 SOLER Marc (Movistar Team) 1:04

| Lampaert takes Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne victory

Yves Lampaert powered to victory in the final WorldTour one-day race of the season on Wednesday, taking the win at Driedaage Brugge-De Panne.

Lampaert and a whopping three Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammates formed part of a lead group of seven riders late in the race after high winds forced big splits in the pack. With 7km to go, Lampaert made a powerful move off the front and then soloed to the line in De Panne to take his first win of the season.

His Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammate Tim Declercq jumped out of the chase group to nab runner-up honors with Tim Merlier sprinting to third place.

The 188.6km race was buffeted by wind and marred – probably in large part due to the wind – by crashes, with Michal Kwiatkowski, Sep Vanmarcke, and Mathieu van der Poel among those hitting the deck at various points in the race.

Splits formed in the crosswinds inside the first 15km of the day and that left a small lead group holding off chasers for most of the race before it became clear that the win would come from the select few at the front.

As the leaders neared De Panne, van der Poel rode off the road and into a ditch, leaving even fewer riders to contest the win. Lampaert made his move with 7km to go and despite a headwind, he soloed all the way to the line to close out his season and the 2020 Classics with a victory.

Top 10

1 LAMPAERT Yves (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 3:57:12
2 DECLERCQ Tim (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 0:21
3 MERLIER Tim (Alpecin-Fenix) 0:22
4 DEGENKOLB John (Lotto Soudal)
5 DRUCKER Jempy (BORA – hansgrohe)
6 TRENTIN Matteo (CCC Team)
7 VAN LERBERGHE Bert (Deceuninck – Quick Step)
8 KÜNG Stefan (Groupama – FDJ)
9 ASGREEN Kasper (Deceuninck – Quick Step)
10 RICKAERT Jonas (Alpecin-Fenix) 0:28

| Van der Poel sustains “mild concussion” in fall at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne

As Sporza reports, Mathieu van der Poel sustained a concussion when he crashed off the side of the road and into a ditch in the waning kilometers of Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne.

Van der Poel was riding with the lead group with a little more than 15km to go in a windy race when he went off the left side of the road and fell into a ditch.

“Mathieu was examined by the team doctors and a mild concussion was diagnosed,” Alpecin-Fenix manager Christoph Roodhooft said, according to Sporza. “The doctors will check his situation again in the morning.”

| McCabe retires

Travis McCabe is apparently hanging up the wheels. In a post on Instagram on Wednesday, the 31-year-old American said that Driedaagse-De Panne was the “last race of the year and career.”

McCabe rode at the WorldTour level with Israel Start-Up Nation this year, moving up to the top division after a successful career as one of the fastest finishers on the US domestic circuit. Over the course of his career, he racked up four stage wins at the Tour of Utah, three at the Tour de Langkawi, one at the Colorado Classic and one at the Herald Sun Tour to go with his one-day win at the Winston-Salem Classic in 2014.

| Moving Pictures

After their windy day at Driedaagse De Panne was done, Michal Kwiatkowski gave Caleb Ewan a ride on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, there were at least some roadside spectators at the Vuelta.

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