Former Jelly Belly manager finds sponsor to race on in 2019

Danny Van Haute, who ran the Jelly Belly cycling team for nearly two decades, is set to remain in the domestic peloton in 2019 after months of uncertainty.

His Continental team’s longtime sponsor ended its run with the team at the end of the 2018 season. Like several other domestic pro teams, Van Haute’s outfit was on the brink of closing up shop, leaving riders, staff, and Van Haute without jobs.

The former pro rider provided a few details of a new project for the coming season in a Facebook post on Friday.

“Danny Van Haute announces the formation of the 2019-2021 men’s continental professional cycling team Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling Team p/b Maxxis,” he wrote. “Danny’s leadership as a former professional rider, Olympian, then director sportif for Jelly Belly Cycling continues with this Specialized supported development team.”

Focusing on both developing talents and late bloomers, Jelly Belly produced numerous domestic stars over the course of its history. Alumni include Tyler Farrar, Kiel Reijnen, Lachlan Morton, and Gavin Mannion.

“I take pride in riders that move on to WorldTour or Pro Continental teams,” Van Haute told VeloNews at the Colorado Classic in August. “We’re development. So we need to take chances on some guys and sometimes you fail with those chances too.”

Van Haute helmed the project since its inception. Now, he is set to stay in the racing scene with a new sponsorship commitment that apparently spans a healthy three years.

Details on the new Wildlife Generation team’s roster and expectation schedule are as of yet unknown. It is unclear whether the team will look to add signings from the now-defunct Jelly Belly squad. A number of those riders remain unsigned, at least officially, for the coming season.

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Froome, Thomas optimistic about Sky’s future

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Losing its main sponsor does not necessarily signal the end of Team Sky, top stars Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas said in the wake of the shocking news.

Media giant Sky announced Wednesday that after 10 years it would no longer sponsor the British team it helped create in 2010. In that time, Froome won four Tour de France titles, the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a España, and Thomas followed by winning this year’s Tour de France.

“It’s a shock, disappointing to start with but when you sit back and look at it, 10 years is a long time as a main title sponsor in cycling,” Thomas told the BBC.

“It’s been an incredible nine years so far and we want to go out on a high and make 2019 the last and the best year yet.”

The 2019 season will be the last that Sky sponsors the team. The decision to quit leaves general manager David Brailsford in a rush to find a new financial backer.

“We’re still confident in Dave and the team that they can continue and keep the team together,” Thomas said.

“We see a lot of other teams have lost title sponsors but have continued — Movistar was with Banesto and Caisse d’Epargne and has been going for over 30 years with different sponsors.

“It’s certainly not the end, or at least hopefully it’s not the end, so it’s also kind of exciting at the same time. It just gives everyone a bit more motivation to keep pushing on.”

Froome helped Bradley Wiggins become Great Britain’s first Tour winner in 2012, which marked Sky’s first grand tour title. He followed in Wiggins’s steps with Tour wins in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Froome won the Giro this year and helped Thomas to his Tour title two months later.

“It came as surprise, but at the same time we are all grateful for the time we had with Sky as a sponsor. It’s not over yet, we still have next season to race for and hopefully over the course of the season we can find a sponsor to take over,” Froome told Sky Sports.

“The team has been incredibility successful and I have every confidence that if the team has another season that’s on par with the previous years, then we should be able to find a sponsor.

“Everyone would like a bit of security and we have a year to replace them. It’s not for the riders to be doing, it’ll be at the back of our mind and it’ll serve as extra motivation if anything for us when we go to the races.”

Brailsford said he will need to find a backer by the start of next summer’s Tour de France or let his riders under contract seek out new teams. Waiting too long without a sponsor for 2020 would put the riders and staff members — totaling around 100 — at risk of being left without work or poor deals with new teams.

Froome last year signed a contract through 2020. Thomas renewed this year through 2021. Other riders like Colombian talent Egan Bernal are signed through 2023.

Their contracts and the others’ come out of the massive budget on which Team Sky operates, believed to be north of $43 million. No cycling team has ever had a larger budget.

“Who knows?” Brailsford told ITV when asked if the team will continue. “I can’t give any guarantees but I’d like to think there are opportunities out there.

“My personal responsibility at the minute is to make sure there is a future for the team [and] the riders, and I take that very seriously.”

Brailsford said he considers it an “opportunity” and “it’s pretty exciting” to consider the team’s future. Already, he has “no regrets” about Team Sky’s journey.

“I think our record at the races and what we’ve achieved, the team that we’ve built, the way that we’ve raced, the way we’ve built the staffing team has been a fantastic journey, so we’ve got no regrets whatsoever and we look forward and to continue to build.”

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McLaren to sponsor Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida team

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Motorsport giant McLaren is entering cycling at the top level just as Sky is leaving.

The English Formula One group, the second most winning constructor in the sport, will sponsor Vincenzo Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida team starting in 2019.

The news comes just hours after Sky announced it will end its backing of the British super-team after 10 seasons.

“McLaren has been raising the bar for technological innovation and sport performance for decades,” said team general manager Brent Copeland. “The combination of our passion and vision for Team Bahrain-Merida to be a winning team, with McLaren’s expertise and dedication, is the perfect partnership.”

The name McLaren will appear around the sleeves of the team’s jerseys, but the deal is much larger than that. The squad called it a “50 percent joint venture.”

McLaren could become the title sponsor as early as 2020. However, it is understood that John Allert, McLaren’s chief marketing officer, and the Woking, England-based group wants an understated presence in the first year of the deal.

This is not McLaren’s first foray into cycling. It worked with California-based Specialized to make the S-Works McLaren Venge that Mark Cavendish rode in the 2011 Tour de France. Cavendish also used the bike to win that year’s world championship in Copenhagen. This was partly the reason why Cavendish was rumored to join Bahrain-Merida earlier this year.

“There were discussions with his agent but nothing went further than that,” Copeland said. “We had contact with his agent, we thought about bringing him on, but he worked out a deal that worked best for him and Dimension Data.”

Team Sky runs on more than $40 million a year. Bahrain-Merida had an estimated $17 million budget for 2018. McLaren, on the other hand, puts around $250 million into its F1 racing program.

No one on the cycling team that began with the push of Prince Nasser in Bahrain, a small island in the Persian Gulf, will put an exact dollar figure on the McLaren agreement. Certainly, it will expand Bahrain-Merida’s reach for 2019 and beyond.

It also means that Rohan Dennis, Nibali, and others on the roster could benefit from McLaren’s wind tunnel testing and technology center in Woking. Dennis and Nibali already used it. Just as with Specialized, McLaren will work with Merida to develop bikes.

“Racing, technology, and human performance are at the heart of everything we do at McLaren,” Allert said.

“Cycling is something we have been involved with in the past and have been looking at entering for some time. It is a completely natural fit for our skills and our ambitions and a perfect partnership with Team Bahrain-Merida, who have the right vision and approach for the future.

“We will be working tirelessly in the months ahead as we know the world of professional cycling is home to some of the best athletes and competitive teams in the world of sport.”

Australian Rohan Dennis joined the team from BMC Racing and brings an added focus of time trials. Nibali has won all three grand tours, including the 2014 Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia twice. He is expected to return to the Tour next summer.

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New Landis team signs McCabe, Tvetcov, Swirbul

Floyd Landis‘s professional cycling team has a name, a bike sponsor, and riders.

On Tuesday, Landis and former Canadian pro Gord Fraser unveiled initial details of the Floyd’s Pro Cycling team, the UCI Continental team backed by the former Phonak and U.S. Postal rider. The team will be built around veteran stage racer Serghei Tvetcov and sprinter Travis McCabe, both of whom join the squad from the now-defunct UnitedHealthcare team. Joining the two are veteran climber Jonathan Clarke and up-and-coming stage racer Keegan Swirbul, who raced for Jelly Belly-Maxxis in 2018.

The news comes two months after Landis unveiled his plans to fund the team. Landis had initially hoped to name the team after his Colorado-based cannabis business, Floyd’s of Leadville, however legal issues with the Canadian laws governing the marketing of cannabis forced Landis to abandon the brand name for the team.

“Canada is sorting out the legalities surrounding CBD and athletics,” Landis said in a release. “My commitment to the team remains unchanged regardless of what it needs to be called. After years of litigation, I have no desire to enter another lengthy legal battle over the name.”

The team’s 2019 racing season will be funded by Landis. Earlier this year, Landis was paid $1.65 million by Lance Armstrong as a settlement for Landis’s False Claims Act lawsuit against the former seven-time Tour champion. Landis said in an October interview that he planned to fund the team in part from the payout.

Landis’s team will utilize much of the infrastructure from the now-defunct Silber Pro Cycling team, which Fraser directed in 2017 and 2018. While Silber targeted primarily road events, Floyd’s Pro Cycling will race a blend of road, gravel, and mixed-terrain events. The team’s season will start with the Paris to Ancaster gravel race. The team will race on Van Dessel bicycles.

Rounding out the squad are Canadian riders Emile Jean and Nick Zukowsky, both of whom raced on Silber in 2018, and U23 riders Carson Miles and Robin Plamondon.

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Colorado Classic cancels men’s race, plans women’s UCI event for 2019

The Colorado Classic men’s race is dead.

In its place, organizers will now hold a stand-alone Colorado Classic women’s stage race, August 22-25. The four-day race will include live streaming, a sizable prize purse, and UCI standing. The news was announced Tuesday morning by race owner RPM Events Group at a media event at the Colorado State Capitol building in downtown Denver.

“Our ability to impact men’s cycling was minimal,” said RPM Chairman Ken Gart. “Our ability to impact women’s cycling around the globe is really dramatic.”

Gart said that the race will boost the women’s prize purse by 400 percent over its 2018 numbers, and also pay a travel stipend to each team. The race will then pay for a live stream of the four-day race that will be televised on Facebook.

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” Gart said. “Our race will be one of the most financially supportive for women in the world.”

The news comes nearly three years after RPM announced its plans to hold a UCI stage race for men’s in Colorado to replace the old USA Pro Challenge, which ended in 2015. RPM’s original business model blended a music festival with a bike race — the final two stages of the 2017 and 2018 event in Denver were held alongside the Velorama music festival. RPM also staged a women’s race alongside the men’s event.

In 2017, the women’s race was comprised of two road stages plus two criteriums. For 2018, the women’s race grew into a four-day race, which was comprised of two circuit races, a criterium, and an individual time trial. Katie Hall of UnitedHealthcare took the overall win.

“I am really excited to hear that the Colorado Classic women’s race is growing into a four-day UCI event,” said Hall in a release issued by the race. “Colorado is such a beautiful state and such a hotbed for American cycling that it seems like the perfect place to host a challenging UCI stage race that will feature the women.”

The new Colorado Classic women’s race will be part of the UCI calendar and USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour. The August 22-25 date places it as a potential warm-up event for the UCI world road championships in Yorkshire in  September.

Medalist Sports will produce the event. The experienced company has produced the first two editions of the Colorado Classic as well as the USA Pro Challenge. Organizers did not reveal the course, however, Gart said it will be “built for women, specifically.”

“It will be a more challenging route and better start times,” Gart said. “We hope it will be a game-changer.”

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VeloNews Awards 2018: Photos of the year

2018 Giro d'Italia - Stage 6
SIMON YATES (Mitchelton-Scott) celebrates taking the pink jersey as leader of the Giro d’Italia on stage 6 to Mount Etna. On stage 19, however, he cracked and fell off the final GC podium. Photo: Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media |
Cycling: 69th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2018 / Stage 5
THE PELOTON speeds through an underpass during stage 5 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February. Photo: Bryn Lennon/ Getty Images
2018 Strade Bianche
AFTER FALLING off his bike on the steep final climb, Wout van Aert (Veranda’s Willems) puts his cyclocross skills to use and runs toward the finish during Strade Bianche. Photo: Francesco Rachello / / BrakeThrough Media |
Cycling: 12th Strade Bianche 2018 / Men
GREG VAN AVERMAET (BMC Racing) shows the fatigue of a soggy Strade Bianche in March. Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images

98th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2018 - Stage 3
THOMAS DE GENDT (Lotto-Soudal) wins stage 3 of the 98th Volta a Catalunya in March. Photo: David Ramos/ Getty Images
Cycling: 61st E3 Harelbeke 2018
FLEMISH FANS catch a view of the peloton during E3 Harelbeke in March. Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images
Cycling: 7th Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields 2018 / Women
THE WOMEN’S peloton races through the Plugstreets of Gent- Wevelgem in late March.
Photo: Luc Claessen/ Getty Images
Cycling: 13th Amgen Tour of California 2018 /  Stage 1
FERNANDO GAVIRIA (Quick-Step Floors) celebrates after winning stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California in May. Photo: Chris Graythen/ Getty Images

Cycling: 4th Tour of Yorkshire 2018 / Stage 4
THE LEADING riders snake through the English countryside during stage 4 of the Tour de Yorkshire in early May. Photo: Michael Steele/ Getty Images
Cycling: 101th Tour of Italy 2018 / Stage 9
THE PELOTON soars above the city of Pettorano sul Gizio during stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia in May. Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images
Cycling: 101st Tour of Italy 2018 / Stage 14
CHRIS FROOME (Team Sky) leads Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), in the pink jersey, through the narrow tunnel near the summit of Monte Zoncolan, during stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia in May. Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images
Cycling: 101st Tour of Italy 2018 / Stage 19
CHRIS FROOME (Team Sky) looks down to see his chasing rivals after attacking on the Colle delle Finestre during stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia in May. Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images

Cycling: 82nd Tour of Switzerland 2018 / Stage 6
SNOWPACK and switchbacks greet riders on Switzerland’s Furkapass during stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse in June. Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images
PETER SAGAN (Bora-Hansgrohe) warms up with
his skinsuit rolled down before the stage 3 team time trial of the Tour de France. Photo: Brian Hodes
Cycling: 105th Tour de France 2018 / Stage 9
PETER SAGAN (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) battle during stage 9 of the Tour de France, which utilized pavé sectors near Roubaix. Photo: Chris Graythen/ Getty Images
Cycling: 105th Tour de France 2018 / Stage 9
MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI (Team Sky) crashes on a pavé sector during stage 9 of the Tour de France to Roubaix. Photo: Getty Images

Cycling: 105th Tour de France 2018 / Stage 10
AMID RISING dust clouds and team cars, riders jostle along a section of gravel road during stage 10 of the Tour de France.
Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images
Cycling: 105th Tour de France 2018 / Stage 12
GERAINT THOMAS (Team Sky), wearing the leader’s yellow jersey, leads teammate Chris Froome and Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) through throngs of fans on Alpe d’Huez during stage 12 of the Tour de France. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/ Getty Images
Cycling: 105th Tour de France 2018 / Stage 17
JULIAN ALAPHILIPPE (Quick-Step Floors), wearing the King of the Mountains polka-dot jersey, greets his teammate Bob Jungels after stage 17 of the Tour de France. Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images
2018 Tour de France - Stage 19
THE TOUR descends the Col d’Aubsique. Photo: Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media |

Cycling: 4th Ladies Tour of Norway 2018 / Stage 3
CHLOE HOSKING (Alé-Cipollini), Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM), and Anabelle Dreville (Lotto- Soudal) accelerate during stage 3 of the Ladies Tour of Norway in August. Photo: Luc Claessen/ Getty Images
Cycling: 73rd Tour of Spain 2018 / Stage 15
THIBAUT PINOT (Groupama-FDJ) sprints to victory atop Lagos de Covadonga during stage 15 of the Vuelta a España in September. Photo: Michael Steele/ Getty Images
Cycling: 15th Tour of Britain 2018 / Stage 3
THE PELOTON snakes through Cheddar Gorge during stage 3 of the Tour of Britain in September. Photo: Justin Setterfield/ Getty Images
99th Milano - Torino 2018
A SINGLE FILE line of riders weaves through farm fields during Milano-Torino in October. Photo: Tim De Waele/ Getty Images

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Dennis brings TT focus to Bahrain-Merida

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — World time trial champion Rohan Dennis and Bahrain-Merida begin a new chapter this week in Croatia at the team’s pre-season camp.

The Australian signed with the team sponsored by the small island state in the Persian Gulf. Fresh off his time trial championship, he will jump from BMC Racing for the 2019 season.

“Having Dennis come on board is huge,” team manager Brent Copeland told VeloNews.

“The team has never been focused on time trials because we have been building the team around Vincenzo Nibali, but we brought Dennis on board and trainer David Bailey as well.

“We want to start investing in that area as well, especially with [bike supplier] Merida, who’ve made the new time trial bikes. We are excited about that.”

The team saw the Izagirre bothers, Gorka and Ion, depart for Astana, but it takes on a much more international feel with Dennis, Belgian Dylan Teuns, German Phil Bauhaus, and Brit Stephen Williams.

The 28-year-old Dennis hails from Adelaide and has made huge leaps in the last five years. The progress has seen him wear the leader’s jersey in all three grand tours.

This 2018 season, he led the Giro d’Italia for four days and won the race’s long time trial. He wore the red jersey in the Vuelta a España and won both time trials there before going on to conquer the worlds TT ahead of defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).

With Dennis, Bahrain-Merida is giving more attention to time trials. They will help him push for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and beyond as a grand tour rider.

“It’s more and more important for all teams, if you want to win GC races, even if it’s one-week races, you have to invest a lot of time in TTs. If you don’t, you are not going to get those couple of seconds which are so important for the overall win,” Copeland added.

“We discussed with Rohan that we are open to support to him with what he wants to go for, and his request is to keep concentrating on the TT until after the Tokyo Olympics. After that, we will see in which direction we want to go.

“Our thoughts are to eventually move into the GC for three-week races. Whether it’s doable or not, I’m not sure, but on paper we are confident he can make huge improvements in those areas. Looking at his weight at the moment and the way he rode the Giro this year, he can do it once he starts losing weight, starts working more on climbing, without losing his TT strengths. I believe he can do it.”

BMC Racing had worked with Dennis to help lead him toward that ultimate goal. Now it is up to Copeland and his team.

Copeland read off the top four of the 2018 Tour de France: Geraint Thomas (Sky), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Chris Froome (Sky), and Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo).

“These types of riders have pretty similar characteristics to Rohan’s,” he continued. “Grand tours? That’s what we’d like to do and we are thinking of doing.”

Bahrain will put Dennis in races with time trials and team time trials. The latter is important with the push to get Nibali back to the Tour de France after a fan caused his early abandonment in 2018. The 2019 Tour features two races against the clock — the stage 13 TTT will be contested over 27km in Pau.

“He’ll probably race the 2019 Tour because there is the team time trial and it’s the best preparation toward the worlds,” said Copeland.

“We have to decide on Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice in March and some other one-week races. It depends on Vincenzo’s program, we’d like to have [Dennis] do some races with Vincenzo, especially if it involves a team time trial looking ahead to the Tour.”

The team will announce Dennis’s full schedule in the coming days after meetings at its camp in Croatia, which runs until December 21.

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Ruts ‘n’ Guts: Hecht, Runnels close out ProCX with wins

Samantha Runnels and Gage Hecht closed out USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) with victories in Oklahoma on Sunday.

Hecht continues streak


Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru) captured his fourth straight victory, as he won two races last weekend at the Resolution Cup and both events at Ruts ‘n’ Guts in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Racing under sunny skies with temperatures in the low 40s, Hecht and six others quickly formed a leading group on the opening lap of Sunday’s race. It grew to eight riders after two laps, and during the middle of the nine-lap race the composition of the groups ebbed and flowed as riders jockeyed for position.

With five laps left, just five riders remained at the sharp end of the race — Hecht, Lance Haidet (Donnelly Sports), Curtis White (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld), Michael van den Ham (Garneau-Easton-Transitions), and Eric Brunner (Full Cycle Cyclocross Team). From that point, the race was on as the smaller group battled it out.

White made a move two laps later after finishing second the previous day. He surged ahead of the leaders, which fractured the group and forced Hecht to go into chase mode. Hecht was able to catch White before he put too much real estate between them and then passed him.

Hecht would not relinquish his lead and eventually finished 10 seconds ahead of White for his sixth win of the 2018 ProCX. Van den Ham was an additional 37 seconds behind in third place.

Runnels does it alone


In the women’s race, four riders — Runnels (Squid Squad), Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX), Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru), and Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team) — found themselves at the front of the race halfway through the first lap. Runnels, however, was not content to sit in the group and bide her time. In the second half of the next lap, she pushed ahead of her competitors and began her solo ride to victory.

After three times around the course, Runnels had built a 25-second lead over Honsinger, Clouse, and Gilbert as the rest of the field behind them shattered into small groups.

As the laps ticked away, Clouse mounted a challenge and tried to catch Runnels. She pulled to within seven seconds at the start of the bell lap but was unable to reach Runnels and ultimately finished 11 seconds back. Honsinger placed third at 21 ticks behind the winner.

Runnels’s triumph was her third of the series.

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2019 Vuelta menu: Short stages, summit finishes

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Short stages and eight uphill finishes will mark the 2019 Vuelta a España, according to reports in the local Spanish press.

Race organizer Unipublic will unveil the route for the August 24-September 15 race next week in Alicante, Spain. The race will start in the southeastern Costa Blanca province.

The first week will get right to business. It should feature one of the eight summit finishes, half of which are new to the Vuelta a España, according to a report by AS. El Puig in Valencia should host the uphill stage and see the climbers show off their skills.

This year, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) won the Vuelta. At 26, he was the “veteran” on the podium, finishing ahead of climbers Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), 23, and Miguel Angel López (Astana), 24.

The 2019 Vuelta will kick off with a team time trial in Torrevieja. That and the Alicante stage start mark the race’s low point elevation-wise, as the 74th edition is not due to go to Spain’s southern areas like Andalusia and Murcia.

The organizer plans to end the first week in Andorra with a likely rest day in Pau, France, which often hosts Tour de France rest days.

Pau could also help balance the Vuelta route with a long time trial. It may be needed with short stages — none planned are over 200 kilometers — and the eight summit finishes.

The second week travels west out of the Basque Country through Cantabria and Asturias on the northern coast. The punchy Los Machucos finish, where Chris Froome (Sky) looked vulnerable in 2017, climbs 7.2km and reaches grades of 30 percent at points.

Local officials in Asturias already confirmed they will host three stages in 2019, a list that includes two new summit finishes.

The Alto del Acebo is often in the Vuelta a Asturias as the queen stage. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) conquered this pass — which is 10km with an 8.2 percent average and sections over 10 percent — in the snow during last year’s Asturias race.

La Cubilla is long and offers amazing views of the national park area. The first 9km ease into the final 20km at an average of around 7 percent and pitches of 10 percent to reach 1,683 meters above sea level and a second rest day around Burgos.

The Vuelta could also pass Toledo to pay tribute to Federico Bahamontes 60 years after his 1959 Tour de France victory. Given the race’s close race relationship with Tour organizer ASO, this seems likely.

The race should travel through Ávila to reach Madrid. Some local press say it could head into the Sierra de Gredos mountain range for a summit finish.

A summit finish on the penultimate stage appears likely before the traditional Madrid sprint stage to end the Vuelta. One theory is that the Vuelta caravan will head into the the Sierra de Guadarrama ahead of the Madrid finale.

The short stage/mountainous route formula is a success in the eyes of the organizer. Vuelta director Javier Guillén told local press last summer that the 2019 route will have “more of the same because it works, with new territories, new cities, [and] two to three new summit finishes.”

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Williams and Werner survive the snow to win at North Carolina GP

Storm Diego blew in just as the racing started at North Carolina GP Saturday. Snow fell and melted on the surfaces, making for slick, slippery racing that saw wins for Lily Williams (The Pony Shop) and Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano).

Williams goes solo as contenders slip up

NC GP 2018
Photo: Bruce Buckley

Williams took her first ProCX win of the season in the women’s, taking the lead early and having a clear run through the race.

Course conditions changed between the pre-ride and the start of the race due to falling snow, making the course greasy, and this was evident as several riders at the front crashed in the first lap, including Erica Zaveta (Renewed Cyclocross) and Hannah Arensman. This loss of rhythm allowed Williams to gain distance at the front by lap two.

Williams continued to extend her lead through the middle of the race. Meanwhile, behind her, Zaveta would work her way back into contention, passing Arensman and Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective).

Williams remained on the front until the end of the race, and took victory in 47:11. Zaveta took second, 30 seconds back. Third place was taken by Swartz, 57 seconds off the pace.

“I got out of the traffic pretty quickly. It was getting slippery as the race went on,” said Williams. “I think in the woods is where I got separation. I don’t really know how it happened, but I just kind of rolled with it. Just being able to go one speed the whole race is really good for me. And staying upright. I didn’t go down once! That was very nice. Not falling was definitely a plus.”

“I was hoping to win, because I live near here. I always wanted to win this race,” said Zaveta. “Mostly, I’m really happy that I feel like I’m competitive and I’m racing. I feel like I rode a good race, minus crashing. That’s always the best feeling, I had fun.”

Werner outlasts Willsey for the win

NC GP2018
Photo: Bruce Buckley

ProCX leader Werner gained his eighth ProCX victory of the year in the falling snow.

Werner and Cooper Willsey (Cyclocrossworld) went toe-to-toe down the start chute, starting the fight for the front straight away, though Werner took the holeshot. The pair continued shoulder to shoulder for the next four laps, with Willsey doing much of the work at the front.

Behind them, Gunnar Holmgren (Hardwood Next Wave) chased with Eric Thompson and Alex Ryan. With three laps to go, Thompson faded and Holmgrem moved up to third.

At the head of the race, Werner attacked on three laps remaining and Willsey was unable to match him, allowing Werner to go solo to the win, with Willsey following, 50 seconds back. Holmgrem finished third, seven seconds behind him.

“It wasn’t super soupy out there, just a constant spray from the snow melting in the tracks,” said Werner. “My body was good too, it was mostly just my hands. Every straightaway I was swinging them, trying to get the pendulum effect and get some blood down in them. It wasn’t too bad until the last two laps and then it got real cold.”

“I just didn’t want anybody in front of me with the conditions as they were,” Werner continued. “For the most part, I knew it was going to be slippery. I tried to be patient those first couple laps and just see how everybody else was riding.”

“I tried to put myself in a good position, trying not to be caught by anyone,” said Willsey. “I paid for it a bit in the end, and got pretty cold. The body shut down in the last two laps. But it was a fun race and I love conditions like this. It was a blast.”

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