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Tour of Slovenia stage 1 highlights - Video

The 2019 Tour of Slovenia opened with a blistering sprint in Rogaška Slatina, where Giro d'Italia double-stage winner Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) continued on his good form, taking the win ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Dimension Data) and Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates).

The 168.5km opening stage from Ljubljana to Rogaška Slatina included two mild KOMs, two intermediate sprints and a relatively flat run to the finish. Mark Cavendish lost contact with the field on the second category-3 climb of the day and finished more than 10 minutes down as he continues to comeback from Epstein-Barr virus.

A dangerous group of 11 formed off the front late in the race, but Ackermann's Bora-Hansgrohe team was able to corral the escapees with 6km to go, and the lead-out trains took over from there. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) launched a long-range sprint some 500 metres out, followed quickly by UAE team Emirates teammates Rui Oliveira and Simone Consonni, and then Ackermann. In the end, the German proved too much for the others as he added his sixth win of the season and took the overall race lead in the process.

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Posted on June 19th, 2019, 11:17 pm

Geraint Thomas: I'll need some big training rides before the Tour de France

Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) has confirmed on Twitter that he was left needing stitches above his right eye after a crash took him out of the Tour de Suisse on stage 4. The defending Tour de France champion crashed with just under 30km to go on the stage and was soon on his way to the hospital for checks after his head took the brunt of the fall. He passed the immediate roadside checks for a concussion, but doctors decided to remove the British rider from the race.

Hospital checks later revealed that Thomas came out of the fall without any fractures, but he will spend several days off the bike as he recovers from the head injury and loss of skin on his back and right side.

Thomas' early exit means that he misses the final and arguably most important stages of the Tour de Suisse, with the final block of stages set in the mountains. Thomas was looking to use the Tour de Suisse as his final stage race before his Tour de France defense, and he confirmed on Tuesday evening that he and coach Tim Kerrison would need to alter the rider's training programme ahead of next month's Grand Depart in Brussels.

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In a Tweet posted Wednesday morning, Thomas stated, "Thanks for all your messages!! Gutted to leave @tds but luckily I'm all ok. I hit my head and needed stitches above my eye, so the doctors stopped me getting back on my bike. It just means I'll need some big training rides next week now."

With Thomas out of the Tour de Suisse, the Team Ineos leadership lies solely with Egan Bernal. The Paris-Nice winner missed the Giro d'Italia in May after breaking his collarbone on the eve of the event. Team Ineos leadership at the Tour de France will be decided between Thomas and Bernal after last week's horrific crash for Chris Froome at the Critérium du Dauphiné ruled the British rider out for the rest of the season.

Froome suffered a number of fractures in the fall and remains in hospital after several days in intensive care and an eight-hour operation to repair compound fractures to his right elbow and right femur.

Thanks for all your messages!! Gutted to leave @tds but luckily I’m all ok. I hit my head and needed stitches above my eye, so the doctors stopped me getting back on my bike. It just means I’ll need some big training rides next week now

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 19th, 2019, 10:10 pm

Peter Sagan: Today was the last Tour de Suisse stage for the sprinters

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) is satisfied with one stage victory and three podium finishes achieved so far at this year's Tour de Suisse. The three-time world champion is leading the overall race after placing second on stage 5, but as the race heads into the mountains, he doesn't expect there to be any other opportunities for the sprinters. Nonetheless, his performances are a good indication of his rising form heading into the Tour de France on July 6.

"Today was the last stage of this year's Tour de Suisse with a finish for the sprinters and we would have liked to win it," said Sagan, who placed second to Italian champion Elia Viviani in Einsiedeln.

Deceuninck-QuickStep led Viviani into the final corner and Sagan was positioned on his wheel. When the Italian kicked for the finish line along the uphill and cobbled final few hundred metres, however, Sagan had no response. Viviani crossed the line with his second consecutive stage win followed by Sagan and then the rest of the sprinters, with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) taking third.

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"Once again, I'd like to thank all my teammates for the dedication and effort they put to control the race, protect me and place me for the sprint," Sagan said. "I was right behind Viviani in the last left corner, but he managed to stay ahead of me until the finish line.

"I think I can be satisfied with what I achieved so far in this Tour de Suisse and with the performance of our team."

Sagan is leading the overall classification by 14 seconds ahead of Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and by 21 seconds ahead of Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), but that is expected to change as the race heads into the mountains.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 19th, 2019, 9:05 pm

Demol's desire to build Katusha's future around Politt

With just three wins this season and their lead sprinter nullifying his contract in order to take a sabbatical from professional cycling, it's fair to say that 2019 has been a hugely disappointing season for Katusha-Alpecin.

With a number of riders unable to reach their full potential this season, it looks as though the squad will undergo a significant overhaul, and sports director Dirk Demol is planning on strengthening the team's Classics core around Nils Politt. The 25-year-old has been a rare beacon of hope for the team with second place in Paris-Roubaix capping an excellent spring. Although the German hasn't won a race in 2019, he has picked up top 10s consistently this year, and with the majority of Katusha riders out of contract, Demol is looking to build around Politt.

"We have a lot of space to change riders and not so many have contracts for next year. We have several riders who we want to carry on but what's clear is that we have Nils and with the steps that he made he deserves to have a classics team around him. That's my first priority. I already have some names in my head to hope to bring over," Demol recently told Cyclingnews.

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"We have some good riders but having two or three more that he can really use is really important."

Another area that Demol and his boss Jose Azevedo may wish to concentrate on in the market is the hunt for a bunch sprinter. With Marcel Kittel no longer on the squad, the management is left with sizeable funds and the building blocks of a lead-out that Kittel inherited from Alexander Kristoff two years ago.

"It's all open and for sure we can have a good lead-out train but we'll wait and see," Demol said without giving anything away.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 19th, 2019, 8:30 pm

Marcel Kittel offered path back to cycling by Jumbo-Visma

Could Marcel Kittel return to the WorldTour in 2020 with Jumbo-Visma? That is a question first posed by the Dutch press last week, with the team now confirming that they have held early talks with the German sprinter.

Kittel had his 2019 contract with Katusha-Alpecin terminated in May after a difficult 18 months that saw him fail to reach his potential. On the back of the Katusha split, the 14-time Tour de France stage winner announced he would take a break from professional cycling, but Jumbo-Visma have already talked to him about a possible return.

Kittel worked with Jumbo-Visma director Merijn Zeeman during their time together at Team Giant-Alpecin and recently began a dialogue with his former colleague.

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"I’ve always remained in contact with him over the last few years because we’ve always had a relationship," Zeeman told Cyclingnews.

"Most of the time the contact isn’t about cycling but about life. After it was clear he was going to be released by Katusha, we discussed the idea of him joining our team but the most important thing for Marcel is to be clear on what he wants for the future. Does he want to be in top sport or does he want a different direction for his life? That’s still the process for him and we’ve not discussed things further."

Zeeman is under no illusion at that the 31-year-old Kittel can return to his former glory. He had a difficult year in 2015 before moving to QuickStep and enjoying two of the best years of his career. For Zeeman, it all depends on Kittel’s level of motivation.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 19th, 2019, 1:55 pm

Egan Bernal: Geraint Thomas crash looked really scary

Colombian climber Egan Bernal has described teammate Geraint Thomas’ Tour de Suisse crash as 'really scary' after witnessing the Welshman crash out on stage 4. Thomas came away without any fractures or broken bones but because his head took most of the impact he was taken to hospital for immediate check-ups and abandoned the stage with roughly 30km to go.

Bernal finished the stage safely in the pack in 54th place, behind winner Elia Viviani, and the 22-year-old Paris-Nice champion has moved up to 13th overall with the difficult stages still to come.

"It was really scary because I saw that there was a really bad crash, but after, on the radio, the sports director said that he was ‘good’ so I was a bit calmer. But I was still a bit scared because the finish was dangerous," Bernal said in a post-stage video interview.

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"There were a lot of cars, and that can be improved. I was just thinking about the crash. An Astana guy crashed in front of him and he couldn’t do anything. I hope that he’s good."

Thomas will now leave Switzerland but Team Ineos will monitor his health over the coming days. The Welshman passed the initial concussion tests on the roadside and at the hospital but he is set to take a few days off the bike as he fully recovers. His other injuries are superficial, with a cut above his right eye and some skin loss on his back and right arm.

The incident is the second high-profile crash Team Ineos have suffered in the last couple of weeks. Ahead of stage 4 at the Critérium du Dauphiné, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome crashed during a recon of the individual time trial. He spent several hours on the roadside receiving medical attention before finally being airlifted to hospital. He suffered compound fractures to his right femur and elbow, as well as internal injuries, a fractured neck, and fractured ribs. He underwent an eight-hour operation and remains in hospital.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 19th, 2019, 12:05 pm

Zamora handed four-year ban for EPO positive at Vuelta a San Juan

Daniel Zmaora has been suspended for four years after testing positive for EPO at the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional. The Argentinian rider won the King of the Mountains competition in the eight-day race but returned a positive test for the blood-booster on January 30 in an doping control following the fourth stage. 

Zamora's ban will begin on the date he tested positive and he won't be eligible to compete again until January 29, 2023, according to the UCI's table of riders currently serving suspension located on its website.

Along with winning the KOM classification, Zamora also placed 12th and 1:39 down on the overall champion Winner Anacona (Movistar). 

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The UCI listed Zamora on its provisionally suspended rider list in March based on a sample that was taken on January 30, which would be following the fourth stage from San José de Jáchal to Villa San Agustín.

Cyclingnews reported that Zamora had also returned a ‘non-negative’ test during the 2014 Vuelta a San Juan but wasn't sanction on that occasion as it was not a UCI-registered event at the time.

 

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 19th, 2019, 11:15 am

Tour of Slovenia: Cavendish and Pogacar headline 2.HC race

The Tour of Slovenia is marking its jump to 2.HC level this year with a line up that includes five WorldTour teams and a roster that includes Mark Cavendish, recent Tour of California winner Tadej Pogacar, double Giro d'Italia stage winner Pascal Ackermann and Esteban Chaves, who also won a stage of the Giro last month as he continues to return from the Epstein-Barr virus.

Bora-Hansgrohe, Mitchelton-Scott, Bahrain-Merida, Dimension Data and UAE Team Emirates will represent the WorldTour ranks among the 19 teams that will take the start line in Ljubljana on Wednesday for five days of racing that conclude Sunday, June 23.

Cavendish will find this route more to his liking than the Tour of California courses, which included more than 20,000 metres of climbing and a high-altitude finish at South Lake Tahoe. The Manxman will have some talented competition to get past as well if he wants to nail down his first win of the season. Likely to be contesting the sprints this week are Ackermann, whose form could be high after his Giro exploits. Luka Mezgec will keep Mitchelton-Scott's hopes afloat on the sprint stages, while Bahrain-Merida has Phil Bauhaus and Henrich Haussler.

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UAE Team Emirate's Pogacar, coming off an impressive win in California, is one of the top favourites for the overall win at his home race this week. Chaves, depending on his form after the Giro, could also be a contender alongside Mitchelton-Scott teammate Lucas Hamilton. Bora-Hansgrohe have Jay McCarthy, while Pogacar's hand is also bolstered by Slovenian teammate Jan Polanc.

"Maybe it’s time that I change white jersey for the green one," Pogacar said of the race leader's green jersey in Slovenia. "Tour of Slovenia is my home race and big challenge for me. The race is very good and never easy. I want to show my best here. The third and fourth stages are where the gaps will be created. Each of us will do our best and then we’ll see what happens. All the riders on our team are in very good form, and I hope we’ll take some victories."

Pogacar's teammate Polanc, who finished 14th overall at the Giro last month, said he's aiming for a stage win this week.

The Route

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 19th, 2019, 2:10 am

Valverde comeback confirmed for La Route d'Occitanie

Alejandro Valverde will make his comeback this week at Route d’Occitanie after nearly two months away from racing, his Movistar team confirmed today.

The world champion crashed during a training ride in the build-up to Liège-Bastogne-Liège at the end of April and suffered a bone edema - a build-up of fluid in the bone marrow - in his sacrum.

He had been set to ride the Giro d’Italia in May but the injury forced him to change his calendar, and the Tour de France and Vuelta a España were added in.

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The Tour begins in Brussels on July 6 and, having not ridden the Critérium du Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse, Valverde’s preparation will come at the Route d’Occitanie, the four-day race in the south of France starting on Thursday.

It’s a path that has worked for him in the past, as he won the race overall last year, winning the summit finish on Les Monts d’Olmes.

Movistar announced their seven-man squad on Tuesday and supporting Valverde will be José Joaquín Rojas, Rafael Valls, Antonio Pedrero, Jaime Castrillo, Jorge Arcas and Eduard Prades.

— Movistar Team (@Movistar_Team) June 18, 2019

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 19th, 2019, 12:30 am

Geraint Thomas escapes serious injury in Tour de Suisse crash

Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) escaped serious injury in a crash during stage 4 at the Tour de Suisse Tuesday. Thomas was forced to abandon the race and was taken for m,edical check to a nearby hospital, where doctors confirmed he suffered abrasions on his shoulder and a cut above his right eye, but there were no other injuries.

"Geraint took a heavy fall," Team Ineos doctor Derick Macleod said in a team press release. "The main area of impact was to his head. He passed his initial concussion roadside test, but with the nature and severity of the impact, it was felt unsafe for him to continue in the race. He was taken to hospital and thankfully all the X-rays and scans have come back clear. He's now back in the team hotel and in good spirits.

"He's been given the all clear, which is great, but we will continue to monitor him over the next few days," Macleod said. "Knowing Geraint, it won’t take him long to get back on his bike, but we'll need to ensure he's symptom free in the next few days before he does so. We're optimistic he'll make a full recovery over the coming days, though, and all being well he'll be back on his bike very soon."

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Thomas crashed with 30km to go on stage 4's 163.9km route from Murten to Arlesheim. The crash occurred immediately after the intermediate sprint. Live TV footage showed Thomas sit up and move both of his shoulders as he talked to the medical staff by the roadside. He had visible cuts to his back and right side, as well as a cut just above his right eye.

"There was a lip in the road that came out of nowhere," Thomas said in a statement released by the team. "An Astana rider hit the lip and crashed, and I had nowhere to go. I landed on my shoulder and my face, and there was quite a bit of blood. You've always got to be cautious with a head injury, and whilst I was keen to carry on, the doctors made the right decision to pull me out of the race."

Thomas was in eighth place overall before the crash and was using the race as preparation for the upcoming Tour de France, where he will start as the defending champion. Team Ineos were initially headed to the Tour de France with co-leaders in Thomas and Chris Froome. Froome was forced to abandon the Criterium du Dauphine after a horrific crash that left him recovering from a fractures to his right femur, elbow, ribs, sternum and C7 neck vertebra. Froome will not be racing the Tour de France.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on June 18th, 2019, 11:50 pm

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