VN news ticker: Kate Courtney announces Sparkle On scholars, Zdeněk Štybar breaks finger in crash

Here's the news making the headlines on Monday, June 7.

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Kate Courtney announces Sparkle On scholars

Darcie Bushee, Toby Hassett, Justin Peck, and Gwendolyn Sepp are the four NICA student-athletes selected to receive the Sparkle On scholarship.

This is the inaugural year of the award, which is presented by Kate Courtney, NICA, Scott, Syncros, SRAM, and RockShox. The recipients, who hail from Colorado, Idaho, California, and Utah, will receive a monetary award of $10,000, mentoring with Kate Courtney during their first year of college, and career mentoring through SRAM. The Sparkle On Scholars will also receive a Scott mountain bike.

The Sparkle On Scholarship recognizes graduating NICA student-athletes who have demonstrated academic and athletic excellence and plan to attend college and continue racing mountain bikes.

”For me, reading the nearly 150 applications from students across the country was truly inspiring and reinforced the transformative power of mountain biking,” Courtney said. “The students shared the ways they have been impacted by their participation in NICA, the crucial role cycling played in dealing with the isolation caused by the pandemic, and how cycling has helped them connect with and contribute to their communities. I have no doubt each and every one of these individuals will remain a meaningful member of the cycling community and continue to contribute through their academic and athletic excellence.”


Zdeněk Štybar breaks finger and cracks elbow in crash

Zdeněk Štybar was left with a broken finger and a crack in his elbow – both on his left side – following a crash at the one-day Dwars door het Hageland. Štybar crashed heavily in the middle of the bunch after appearing to touch wheels with another rider.

Dwars door het Hageland was his first race since Gent-Wevelgem in March after he was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia. The Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider had to undergo surgery to address the problem and was ruled out of the remainder of the classics season.

“Following the crash that forced him to abandon Saturday’s race, Štybar was taken to hospital for examination. There it was revealed that he had suffered a small avulsion fracture to his 4th finger, and a small fissure to his elbow, both on his right side,” Deceuninck-Quick-Step said in an update on Štybar’s condition.

It’s not yet known when he will be able to race again.

Tim Merlier beats Mark Cavendish to win Elfstedenronde

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) sprinted to his sixth victory of the season, edging out Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) by half a wheel to win Elfstedenronde.

It was an aggressive race that saw multiple attacks going off the front late on into the day. In the end, it would come down to a bunch sprint with Merlier launching his dive for the line first with about 150 meters to go.

Cavendish had to come from a way back after losing the wheel of his leadout man Michael Mørkøv. It looked as though the Manxman might have enough gas in the tank to overhaul Merlier, but the Belgian held on for the win.

“We decided yesterday in mutual agreement that if everything happened as planned, I would do the sprint. So, first of all, I want to thank my teammates, especially David and Jasper,” Merlier said. “About 40 km before the finish, we got a bit nervous as we were in the second split, but we managed to not panic. Of course, we had to spend quite a lot of energy, but luckily we could close the gap.

“In the final straight, I had to start my sprint early, and I even thought Mark Cavendish passed me. I was waiting and waiting to see the finish line and actually thought: did I already cross the line? I am happy with this victory.”

Lorena Wiebes wins Dwars door de Westhoek

Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) took a convincing victory at the Dwars door de Westhoek, beating Jolien d’Hoore (SD Worx) to the line.

The race began with a hilly circuit — where a six-rider group went up the road — before finishing with several laps of a pan-flat 12-kilometer loop. The breakaway was never given much room off the front of the peloton and it was finally reeled in inside the final 10 kilometers.

A frenetic finale saw Wiebes lose her leadout train briefly, but the young Dutchwoman still had the legs to power to the line ahead of the rest of the pack. D’hoore claimed second while Movistar’s Barbara Guarischi rounded out the podium.

“When the break went, we kept it well under control with Franzi [Koch] and Esmée [Peperkamp],” Wiebes said. “The gap to the break was closed in the last 10 kilometers and we did well, keeping the pace high. The final three kilometers were pretty chaotic, and we lost each other a little bit but Pfeiffer [Georgi], Susanne [Andersen], and I were able to stay together.

“They put me in the perfect position before the cobbles started and I was able to do my sprint exactly as I wanted. Once again it was a really strong team effort and I’m super happy to get the win for the girls.”

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.