Is Colombia About To Dominate Pro Cycling? | The Cycling Race News Show

Is Colombia About To Dominate Pro Cycling? | The Cycling Race News Show


(beeping) – Welcome back to the
GCN Racing News Show. This week, is Colombia about
to dominate pro cycling? A quick glance at the Tour of Columbia suggests it might well be. Plus we’ve got the Tour
Provence, the Tour of Oman, Trofeo Laigueglia, the Vuelta Murcia, John Degenkolb’s crowdfunding campaign, and the obligatory Astana rap montage. First up though, is cycling
about to be ruled by Colombians? I mean, that’s a genuine question that I’ve started asking
myself while watching last weeks Tour Colombia. Firstly, when have you ever seen crowds like this at a
bike race in February? Or at any other time of
the year for that matter? The passion, the enthusiasm,
and the sheer volume of fans at the Tour Colombia was
impossible to ignore. For the most part it was fantastic, although there’s always somebody to spoil the party isn’t there? In this instance it was
a fan on the final stage who fell into Quintana, Bernal, and Sosa. Quite possibly effecting the outcome of the final overall. But, wow, the crowds last week really were something else. In fact Chris Froome even
told the Tour de Yorkshire they had some work to do. Now before I continue on this subject I should give due credit to those who performed during the race. A team time trial kicked things off on the opening day and it marked the first win in that discipline for EF Education First, since stage one of the Czech Cycling Tour back in 2016. Now you wonder whether that win was in part down to equipment. And by that I’m talking about the fact that the stage
was done on road bikes. And Cannondale’s System Six is certainly one of the fastest road bikes out there. But we have heard rumors
that some of the riders are not quite so happy with their time trial bikes in that team. Regardless, that win put Rigoberto Uran into the race lead which in turn threw up a couple of almost unbelievable stats about the Colombian. Firstly, from Cafe Roubaix, that that was only the third time in Uran’s career that he’s actually been
leading a stage race. And then secondly, this from Andy McGrath, that Uran has never won a
professional stage race. Now for a rider that’s finished twice, second at the Dura and once, second at the Tour de France that’s pretty incredible. Anyway Jose Alvaro Hodeg was the first Colombian to win a stage this year. He got the sprint win on stage two. While compatriot Juan Sebastian Molano UAE Team Emirates won the following day. Bob Jungels and Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck Quick-Step
won stages four and five. Both going into the leaders jersey after their respective stage wins. But there was nothing that they could do against the might of the home riders on the final stage. Which was so enthralling and so exciting, I
literally had goose bumps. Nairo Quintana nabbed the stage win there, his 37th pro win and in fact a new record for a Colombian pro rider. But as impressive as
that was the fact that Colombian riders filled 14 of the top 15 on that mountain top finish. And in the end 13 of the top
15 places overall in the GC. I mean it was the Tour
Colombia so you’d expect local riders to be motivated and do well. But that is next level dominance. And the overall top five of
Miguel Angel Superman Lopez, Sosa, Martinez, Bernal, and Quintana as a group of riders
you could envisage them one day filling out the
top five of a Grand Tour. However, it’s not just
the incredible performance of the Colombian climbers
that makes me think that this nation may well soon dominate our sport. Or the aforementioned volume and enthusiasm of the fans. But also the rumors
that team Sky could soon become a Colombian World Tour team. Now Sir Dave Brailsford
has remained tight lipped as you might expect
regarding his negotiations to find a replacement for team Sky in terms of its sponsor. But reports said that he met up with the Colombian President Ivan Duque. And that speculation has led to more speculation as to whether team Sky will soon become that
Colombian World Tour team. Which would make complete
sense when you think about it. Because Colombia has the talent,
not just in the climbers, but also in sprinters
like Gaviria and Hodeg. It very evidently has the fan base. And it also now has a race to showcase all of that talent to an
international audience. I mean you could make a good
argument for the creation of a fourth Grand Tour in Colombia. Anyway, food for thought. And we would love to hear
what your thoughts are. Is Colombia on the verge of being the dominant powerhouse of pro cycling? Or am I talking complete codswallop? Just let us know in the comments
section just down below. Meanwhile, over in the Middle East Alexander Kristoff of UAE Team Emirates won his first race since last June. He crossed the line first
on the opening stage of the Tour of Oman. There Nacer Bouhanni came third and hit 80 kilometers
per hour unbelievably. And it would have been
a second victory for Kristoff on stage two
had defending champion Alexander Lutsenko of Astana not managed to follow the sprinter through a well timed attack on the final climb. Kristoff though has now
competed in all 10 editions of this race and has nine
stage wins to his name. Impressive stuff. You can catch daily highlights of the race over on our Facebook page. A race which we had live in fact over on our Facebook page at the weekend was the Italian season
opener the Trofeo Laigueglia. There we saw a superb first pro victory for Simone Velasco of Neri Sottoli, The 23 year old Italian
attacked with 38 k’s to go and against all odds managed
to solo to the victory. If you didn’t catch it live, you can still catch up with all the action and watch his heroic efforts over on Facebook. Now down to Spain. And there was a one two three for Astana in the opening
day of the Vuelta Murcia. Pello Bilbao taking the win there. Third of the trio on that stage was Luis Leon Sanchez. And it would be he that went on to win the second and final stage. Upsetting another local favorite and current world champion,
Alejandro Valverde. The pair finished 13
seconds clear of the bunch, which was led home by European champion Matteo Trentin of Michelton-Scott. Sanchez and Valverde went onto finish one and two in the overall
with Bilbao in third. That though, means that Valverde has yet to win a race in the rainbow jersey. And this in fact will be the furthest that he’s gone through a season
without a win since 2009. When it took him until the end of March to pick up a win at the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Spare a thought though for Simon Geschke. In his first race day of the year, and first outing for CCC. He crashed in the closing kilometer of stage one and broke his elbow. Heal up quickly Simon. Now we’ve got the Clasica de Almeria. And there we had a German sprinting duel. With German champion Pascal
Ackermann of Bora-Hansgrohe ultimately pipping Marcel
Kittel to the post. A tough day for all though. So tough in fact ,that only 46 riders made it to the finish line in that race. In France we had the
Tour Provence which saw even more success for Deceuninck,
Quick-Step, and Astana. Filippo Ganna took the
first leaders jersey with Team Sky though
with a comfortable win in the opening time trial. Philippe Gilbert got his first win in his 17th season as
a pro on stage three. Whilst the following day John Degenkolb took the bunch sprint. In the end though it was Gorka Izagirre of team Astana who went home with the overall victory. winning by just 100ths of
a second from Simon Clarke. And proving that fighting for every second in every race is absolutely worthwhile. So that was quite the week for Astana who managed to nab five
wins in the space of two days, with four different riders. And if that isn’t worthy of an Astana rap, I don’t know what is. (rap music)` And now along with winning
races, John Degenkolb has also been busy saving them. Upon reading the news
that this years Junior Paris-Roubaix race wouldn’t go ahead due to a budget shortfall. Degenkolb quickly acted and launched a crowd funding campaign. The aim, to raise 10 thousand Euros, which is needed to save the race. But as we record this, it’s already closing in
on 15 thousand Euros. A proportion of that money will go to Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix,
a group of volunteers who take care of the maintenance of the Paris sectors throughout the year. Maybe if enough is raised, they might even consider bringing back the
Junior Women’s Paris-Roubaix. We can only hope. And regardless, hats off to Degenkolb for taking the initiative
and using his influence in such a positive way. If you’d like to contribute we have left a link for you in the description, which you’ll find just below this video. And now onto one of the longest races of the year, Melbourne to Warrnambool. This year marked the
103rd edition of the race with a new route shortening the distance slightly to 262 kilometers. 13 riders raced clear of
the bunch to fight it out for victory in the men’s race. With the win going to
Nicholas White who won the National Series in Australia last year. The race though is quite unique in that men and women race together. Peta Mullens won the women’s category in just under six and a half hours. In other news, Annemiek van Vleuten has stated that her return
to racing will be at the Omloop het Nieuwsblad
at the start of March. Her intention there is
to play a supporting role to her team mates and get some racing kilometers in her legs. And gauge her fitness to
see how long it will be until she’s back in
shape to be competitive in the finales of big races. That’s good news though
and a much quicker return than most people were
expecting after sustaining that fractured knee at the
World Championships last year. Now talking of the World
Championships, Aigle/Martigny are jointly hosting
the 2020 championships. And they’ve released a
few details of the course. It includes a 3.9 kilometer climb at 9% average on the finishing circuit. So next year looks once again
to be one for the climbers. Some sad news to emerge last week was that there are to be no more Red Hook Crits, at least not this year. Organizers have announced
that they are using 2019 as a hiatus with the aim
being to come back in 2020. And let’s hope they achieve that because that really was some
exciting and dynamic racing. We’ll finish this week with Cyclo-cross where it was business as usual
at the front of the races. Mathieu van der Poel took
back to back race victories in the Superprestige at Middelkerke and the Brico Cross in Hulst. Meaning that he’s now
won 32 of the 34 races that he’s entered this season. A frankly phenomenal statistic and a 94% success rate. He was pushed hard yesterday though by under 23 world champion Tom Pidcock. Giving us some hope that we could have a proper battle on our
hands in years to come. In the women’s it was a similar story as Denise Betsema of Marlux-Bingoal took back to back victories
in the same races. Bringing her win tally
up to 13 for the season. Right, that’s about all for this week. Don’t forget to get involved in the discussion about Colombian cycling in the comments section down below. Now if you haven’t seen
my races from last week you’ve got two choices. You can see me race up
the Col de la Madone against Steve Jones here, or down against Nico Vouilloz just here. Going down was a lot more fun.