Herald Sun Tour, Cyclo-Cross World Champs & Vuelta a San Juan | The Cycling Race News Show

It’s been the busiest week of racing by
far in 2019 – today, we’ve got the controversy at the Tour de San Juan, plus the Herald Suntour,
the Mallorca Challenge, the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise, the Namibian TT Champs, and
the World Cyclocross Championships from Bogense in Denmark.. And we shall start with the Tour de San Juan
– some really notable performances over the week, Julian Alaphilippe taking back to back
stages on days 2 and 3, the latter a time trial, in which his teammate, Remco Evenepoel,
finished 3rd, at just 19. There’s a lot of pressure on that young
man’s shoulders, but he’s already performing. Fernando Gaviria took his 2nd win on stage
4, but it was stage 5 that saw the GC decided, Winner Anacona taking his first win in 5 years,
and ultimately his first stage race win. Gérman Tivani won from the break on the penultimate
day, whilst the race was closed out with a popular win for Sam Bennett of Bora Hansgrohe. However, much of the publicity from the race
was due to an unfortunate incident that happened before the race had even started. I’m sure you’ve all seen it, but for those
that haven’t, Deceuninck Quickstep’s Iljo Keisse made an inappropriate sexual gesture
behind a waitress, who had asked for a photo with the team, and who then went to the police
after she saw it. It led on to a bizarre set of events which
spiralled out of control. First, Keisse was handed a small fine by the
local authorities, and he publicly apologised. So far, so good, particularly as it seemed
like a genuine, heartfelt apology. His team, though, kept him in the race, and
so the organisers took it upon themselves to withdraw him, which seems fair enough,
he hadn’t exactly brought the sort of publicity they were seeking. So then, team boss Patrick Lefevere weighed
in, saying he would like to pull the whole team out of the race, and that the waitress
was likely looking for money. Next, the team didn’t turn up to the podium
presentations to collect their leader’s jerseys, they denied it was a protest but
it quite clearly was, and then, Keisse’s dad also weighed in, suggesting that the waitress
was in part to blame for standing in the way that she did. The whole thing got so messy that Deceuninck
themselves, the company, understandably started demanding explanations as to the way it was
being handled, having received a fair amount of negative feedback after just one month
sponsoring the team, and then the team’s bike supplier Specialized, too, wanted some
answers, and released their own statement. And understandably so, I mean you can’t
help but think that this matter could have been resolved pretty quickly, after Keisse
apologised. If the team had removed him from the race
to make a clear statement, we probably wouldn’t be talking about it one week later. To be fair, they have now issued an apology
both to the lady in question and also for the way they handled it, but has it tainted
the Woldpack’s reputation? Looking at social media, for some, that answer
is yes, and for other’s, a mountain has been made out of a molehill. Either way, some big mistakes have been made
over the last week, and there are lots of lessons to be learned. Anyway, moving back to racing itself, the
Challenge Mallorca is a set of 4 single day races held over 4 consecutive days. It offers a chance for riders to dip in and
out as they choose. For Marcel Kittel, that meant the first day
and the last, and on that last day, he took his first win of the season. In fact it was his first win in close to 11
months. A sign that he’s back to his best? Only time will tell, but sprinters often feed
off confidence, so that win could well be a sign of things to come in 2019. Day 1 saw a crash which took out Mikel Landa
in his first race of the year, he has had a broken collarbone operated on already, not
exactly how you want to start your year. That day also marked the first pro race for
Danish talent Rasmus Byriel Iversen. And talk about a day of mixed fortunes, he’d
made the day’s break, won the King of the mountains and the combativity prize, and then
crash, hard, ending up in hospital with a broken collarbone. Expect to see plenty more of him later this
season, though. Talking of talents, there’s another Colombian
name to watch out for – 21 year old Sergio Higuita. He took 6th, 12th and 4th on the three hillier
days, the last of those just behind Alejandro Valverde. He will spend the first half of 2019 with
the Euskadi foundation, before moving to EF Education First in July. How long before we see the first all Colombian
Grand Tour podium? It seems imminent….. Tim Wellens showed his typical early season
form by winning the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana for the third year in a row. There, he had dropped former German Champion
Emanuel Buchmann, reversing the 1-2 from the previous day. World Champion Valverde was as consistent
as ever, finishing in the top 10 in all three races he took part in. He starts his season in Majorca almost every
year, but amazingly it’s been 4 years since he took a win there. Incidentally, day 2 had to be rerouted after
what looks like a major landslide near Lluc – hopefully that road will be repaired before
our first GCN event out there in March. Despite not being WorldTour, the The Herald
Suntour once again managed to attract an impressive line-up, with EF Education First, Trek Segafredo
and Mitchelton Scott amongst the teams competing, but in the end, it would be Team Sky who came
away with almost all the prizes. It hadn’t looked that way at the start – in
fact it had been EF who were on the front foot, with an opening stage sprint win for
Dan McLay, followed up by a stage 2 win for Mike Woods. The Canadian had got away on the final climb
with runner up Richie Porte, who wasn’t particularly happy that he’d got no help
from Woods in the final kilometre. Still, a win’s a win, and Woods also took
the overall race lead in the process. There was a first pro win for Owain Doull
on day three, ahead of his team mate Luke Rowe, but it would be the following day that
Team Sky would take control of the overall. A dangerous early move proved too strong for
EF to control. The break stayed away to the finish, 1st across
the line, Mitchelton Scott’s Nick Schultz, also taking his first pro win, but the gap
back to the bunch was big enough for runner up Dylan Van Baarle to take the race lead. And with an almost guaranteed sprint finish
the following day, the overall was almost guaranteed for Van Baarle and Team Sky too. And so it proved to be, but not only did they
take the GC, they also took the stage with Kristoffer Halvorsen, the mountains with Christian
Knees, the Youth with Pavel Sivakov, and the Team’s Classification too. Quite the haul. In fact the only thing they didn’t win was
the points, so well done to Ayden Toovery of Team Bridgelane for upsetting the applecart
there. In the women’s race, Lucy Kennedy took the
biggest win of her career – she soloed to victory on the 2nd and final stage of the
race, taking the jersey from Chloe Hosking who had won on day one. On to the World Cyclocross championships now
– the big one – up in Bogense, in Denmark. The weekend kicked off with an impressive
display for Team GB – Ben Tullett backing up his junior men’s win from 12 months ago
with another one this time around, the only rider apart from Mathieu Van Der Poel to have
ever achieved that. Later on that same day, Tom Pidcock put in
a dominant display in the U23 men’s, getting the better of Eli Iserbyt, the champion in
this category for the last two years. There was no junior women’s category, although
that will be coming in the near future, but there was an impressive junior display in
the U23’s, who finished 6th at just 16 years of age. The future’s clearly bright for the Netherlands,
who filled all of the podium places, Inge Van Der Heijden getting the better of Fleur
Nagengast, and pre race favourite Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado. On to the Elite women’s, then, and that
too, would have been dominated by the Dutch, had it not been for Sanne Cant. The ten time Belgian Elite champion and defending
World Champion hasn’t won a single world cup this season, but she got things right
on the day. Lucinda Brand had been supremely strong, and
arguably would have won the rainbow jersey had it not been for a few costly mistakes,
including a trip in the pits that was firstly attributed to her dad grabbing her bike too
early, but later there was speculation that she hadn’t unclipped in time. Either way, it was basically the nail in the
coffin of her chances, and her disappointment was clear as she stood on the podium with
the silver medal. Also disappointed was Marianne Vos, in 3rd. Not a surprise, really, given her Palmares,
she would never accept less than a win. Neal Rogers put it well on Twitter with this
“A telling statistic of just how talented Marianne Vos is, and how long she’s been
at the top of the sport: She’s won 7 cyclocross world titles, hasn’t been world champion
since 2014, and is only 31 years old. In the men’s, there was never really any
doubt, was there? Well actually there was a little bit, as it
took longer than usual for Mathieu Van Der Poel to pull clear of his rivals, but once
he did, on the third lap, it immediately became a battle for second place. Fair play to Van Der Poel, it’s easy, as
a neutral, to support the underdog, but having now won 27 of the 29 cyclocross races he’s
done this year, you have to say that he thoroughly deserves to be in the rainbow bands. 2nd and 3rd went to Wout Van Aert and Toon
Aerts respectively. Back to the road briefly – Anthony Turgis
won the traditional French season opener, the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise, in
a 2 up sprint, but in bad news for French, and indeed world cycling, it seems unfortunately
that the Bretagne Classic will not take place this year. Formerly known as the GP Plouay, the race
has had some illustrious winners over the years, Sean Kelly, Viviani, Gerrans, Voeckler,
Vos, Van Vlueten, Emma Pooley, but it appears that French television will not cover the
race live this year due to economic reasons, and so it won’t retain it’s worldtour
license. A real shame I’m sure you’ll agree, particularly
since it takes place in Brittany, the hotbed of French cycling. Let’s hope they can find some way of saving
the race. And finally, the Namibian time trial championships
was won by…………Victor Campenaerts, the European champion has been there training
at altitude, and as the championships is open, he decided to take part. Taking the jersey, though, for the 2nd year
in succession, was Drikus Coetzee. OK that’s all for this week, next week,
we’ll be back with the the Brico Cross in Maldegem, which you’ll be able to find live
on our facebook page on Tuesday – the DVV Trophy which we have live on Saturday, the
Volta Valenciana, the Etoile des Besseges, and a great event called the Rock Cobbler,
which you may remember last year for the following reason…..


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *