VN news ticker: Christopher Blevins to race Tour of Britain, Stetina’s Paydirt gravel race postponed due to California fires

Here's the news making headlines for Tuesday, August 31.

Photo: Javier Martinez de la Puente/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Christopher Blevins to race on road in Tour of Britain

Recently crowned MTB short track world champion Christopher Blevins will make his 2021 debut on the road after an impressive mountain bike season. The American will line up at the Tour of Britain with Trinity Racing September 5-12.

“It’s been a busy couple of months, racing (MTB) in Tokyo and then straight into the world championships, but my form has been building and I was delighted with how everything went last week,” Blevins said. “I am hoping to carry some good legs into the Tour of Britain and am excited to be back racing on the road.”

Blevins will be joined by Trinity’s leading riders from the U23 Giro d’Italia, current Irish national champion Ben Healy, and British rider Thomas Gloag. British rider Max Walker and American rider Luke Lamperti, a stage winner at Tour d’Eure et Loir, add further strength to Trinity’s team. The roster will be completed by young Australian rider Rudy Porter.

“We are delighted to make our debut at the Tour of Britain next week and to be represented by a team that brings a truly international feel,” said Andrew McQuaid, founder of Trinity Sports Management, the UK based company behind Trinity Racing. “We are fortunate to have such an incredibly talented group of riders and it has been great to watch them develop throughout the season under the tutelage of Ian (Stannard) and Jurgen (Roelandts). We look forward to racing against some of the best riders in the world next week.”

Stetina’s Paydirt gravel race postponed due to California fires

Stetina’s Paydirt, a gravel race near Carson City, Nevada, has been postponed until May 21, 2022 due to the Caldor Fire.

The event, organized by former WorldTour pro turned gravel racer Pete Stetina, was scheduled for September 11, but has been canceled due to effects of the rapidly escalating fire around Lake Tahoe. It was also postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“It so happens that the evacuation center for large animals is none other than Fuji Park, where our event was scheduled to take place, and our partner hotels that would host you are now filling with evacuees,” Stetina wrote on the event website. “Together with Carson City and various partners who are all facing simultaneous uncertainty about their ability to support our gravel race in under twelve days, we need to bow-out and let everyone focus on what truly matters right now–protecting, serving and saving those affected by this incredible natural disaster.”

Remco Evenepoel rails at Gianni Vermeersch after Benelux crash

Remco Evenepoel lost both time and temper in the chaotic Tour of Benelux opener Monday.

Evenepoel dropped out of the lead echelon with a broken wheel in the final hour of racing and failed to make it back to the group, losing nearly one minute in the GC battle. The Belgian ace was first seen railing at neutral service staff as the mechanic botched the wheel change, and he didn’t cool off from there.

After crossing the line, race footage captured Evenepoel hitting out at Alpecin-Fenix leadout man Gianni Vermeersch. Evenepoel appeared to cite Vermeersch as the cause of his broken wheel, which appeared to have a number of broken spokes.

Although the incident wasn’t caught on camera, a crossing of wheels in the spinning echelon may have been the cause.

“I’m in the group and you came through diagonally,” Evenepoel said to Vermeersch.

When Vermeersch turned away, Evenepoel continued:

“Don’t run away but admit your mistake … Are you going to laugh in my face now? Oh, man.”

Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws reported that the two were later seen in discussion before shaking hands. Just as well Evenepoel and Vermeersch cleared the air, as they are set to be riding alongside each other in the Belgian team at the European championships in two week’s time.

Sarah Storey enters Paralympic history books with 16th gold medal

Sarah Storey won the Paralympic C5 time trial Tuesday and so claimed a British record-equalling 16th Paralympic gold medal.

Storey beat GB teammate Crystal Lane-Wright and German racer Kerstin Brachtendorf on the Fuji International Speedway, less than one week after winning gold in the 3,000m Pursuit.

“I’ve been preparing for this race for such a long time. The time trial is probably one of my favorite events,” Storey said. “You bring this enormity to the line with you each time, but that also means that your competitors know how prepared you are and how much work you’ve put in to perfect it.”

Storey, 43, is now tied on 16 golds with swimmer Mike Kenny, who competed from 1976 to 1988.

She will have her chance to make it 17 golds at the C4-5 road race later this week. Despite winning the event in both 2012 and 2016, Storey is not taking anything for granted ahead of Thursday’s event.

“Road races are so unpredictable, they really, really are,” she said. “So Thursday morning I’ll come out and try to have some fun and see which way the cookie crumbles.”

There were 19 time trial gold medals available across the multiple categories on the opening day of the road program. Darren Hicks (Australia) won gold in the men’s C2, Shawn Morelli (USA) won in the women’s C4, Mikhail Astashov (Russian Paralympic Committee) won in the men’s C1, Keiko Sugiura won in the women’s C1-3, Daniel Abraham Gebru (Netherlands), won in the men’s C5, Patrik Kuril (Slovakia) won the men’s C4, and Benjamin Watson (Great Britain) won the men’s C3.

In the handcycle categories, Mitch Valize (Netherlands) won in the men’s H5,  Jetze Plat won in the men’s H4, Walter Ablinger (Austria) won in the men’s H3, Oksana Masters (USA) won in the women’s H4-5, Sergio Garrote Munoz (Spain) won in the men’s H2, Nicolas Pieter du Preez won in the men’s H1, and Annika Zeyen (Germany) won in the women’s H1-3.

In the blind racing, Alexandre Lloveras (France) and his pilot Corentin Ermenault won the men’s event while Katie George Dunlevy (Ireland) and her pilot Eve McCrystal won the women’s. Meanwhile, Jianxin Chen (China) won the men’s T1-2 time trial, and Jana Majunke (Germany) won the women’s T1-2 time trial.

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