The Toughest Race Of 2019? | The Cycling Race News Show

The Toughest Race Of 2019? | The Cycling Race News Show


Welcome back to the GCN Racing News Show,
this week, we take a look at the route of next year’s Giro d’Italia, which already
looks like it’s going to be the toughest race of 2019. We’ve got the European Cyclocross Championships,
the Koppenberg Cross, the Saitama exhibition race in Japan, and the stunning new kit for
Trek Segafredo. Last week, the Giro d’Italia route was announced,
and it is a brute. Gaps could already emerge on the very first
day of the 102nd edition of the race, in a short time trial which finishes up the steep
slopes of the San Luca climb, and in fact, there’s a distinct climbing flavour to all
three of the time trials – stage 9 is just under 35km’s, also in Bologna and features
a 10km climb at the end, and then the final day’s 15.6km time trial in Verona features
an ascent of Toricelle. Already a lot of climbing, then, in the time
trials, but they, of course, pale into insignificance when you look at the mountainous stages of
next year’s race. There are a number of opportunities for the
sprinters over the first 10 days, including this on day 10, a stage I think even I might
be able to finish – but then it’s at the end of that 2nd week when things start to
get very spicy indeed – stage 13 features three major climbs on it’s route from Pinerolo
to the finish on the Colle del Nivolet, which has gradients of over 15%. Stage 14 is a punchy 130km affair with another
3 major climbs, whilst the longest stage, at 237km’s, comes on day 15, which closely
resembles the route of Il Lombardia, and as such features that super steep Sormano climb
where Pinot and Nibali attacked this year. And then…..there is stage 16, a whopping
230km’s long with 5700m of climbing on it’s way to Ponte di Legno, including the Gavia
which peaks at over 2600m, and the Mortirolo, up it’s the steepest side. Coming after the final rest day this is going
to be some test as that is one of the hardest mountain stages I can remember in modern times
– it really is brutal. I have no doubt that that will be the single
hardest stage of the 2019 Grand Tours, and that there will be more than a few tired,
grumpy and disgruntled riders crossing the line that day. It will be an interesting watch, that’s
for sure – shorter, more explosive stages have been in vogue over recent years, so we’ll
see whether this stage delivers an epic performance, or if it’s so daunting that nothing happens
until the Mortirolo. In terms of participants, at the moment we
have no confirmation as to whether Froome and Dumoulin will be heading back to Italy,
but it does look as though Vincenzo Nibali will be there, possibly up against Egan Bernal,
which would be great to see, whilst there are also rumours that Peter Sagan could be
there for the first time in his career. I’m already looking forward to it – bring
on 2019! I would like you to get involved now, though
– we want to know what your favourite Grand Tour of the year is – let us know by taking
the poll on screen right now. The European Cyclo Cross championships were
held at the weekend in Rosmalen, with the home nation dominating, Dutch riders taking
home all but one of the gold medals. In fact they had a clean sweep of the medals
in the U23 and Elite women’s races, Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado taking the Gold in the
former, whilst 22 year old Annemarie Worst was best in the Elite, getting the better
of Marianne Vos. Sanne Cant couldn’t and finished just off
the podium in 4th place. Pim Ronhaar won the junior men’s event,
but 3rd in that category was 16 year old Thibau Nys – son of the cyclocross legend Sven. It’s not just his fitness, but his skills
that have caught the eye over this last week – in fact he basically won the internet when
this video emerged of him earlier in the week around the Sven Nys training centre in Baal. Not bad Thibau, not bad. Meanwhile in the Elite men’s, there was
some hope amongst the rest after Mathieu Van Der Poel’s sub par performance at the Koppenberg
Cross on Thursday. Hope that was rather short lived, unfortunately
for them. World Champion Van Aert led from the start,
but Van Der Poel got himself back on terms before the end of the first lap, and soon
after he rode away solo. And there was nothing anybody could do about
it – Van Aert was once again best of the rest in 2nd. Never has the Dutch and Belgian dominance
of this sport been more evident, with 8 Belgians and 5 Dutchman in the top 13 places. The only rider to break the stranglehold of
Dutch European titles was Tom Pidcock – it’s been a testing start to the season for the
young Brit, now riding for TP Racing, but at the weekend, he was back to his best, getting
the better of double world champion Eli Iserbyt in the U23 event to claim a convincing win. On the other side of the pond, we also had
the Pan American championships – with Steven Hyde crashing out and Jeremy Powers not starting,
Curtis White outsprinted Michael Van Dem Ham to take his first Pan-Am title. There was a surprise, too, in the Elite Women’s
race – Canadian Maghalie Rochette beat Ellen Noble and Katie Keogh into 2nd and 3rd respectively. Katie Compton did not make the trip back from
Europe to defend her title, as she recovers from a stomach virus. Last week also saw the 29th running of the
Koppenbergcross, which is based around the infamous cobbled Koppenberg climb which is
on the Tour of Flanders route each year. There was a major surprise in the men’s
event, in that Mathieu Van Der Poel *didn’t* win. His unexplained subpar performance opened
the door for Wout Van Aert, but the World Champion wasn’t able to capitalise. Instead, it was the winner of the first two
World Cup’s, Toon Aerts, who emerged victorious. In the women’s, there was a hugely impressive
performance once again from Kim Van Der Steene. She managed to recover from a big mistake
on the opening lap and clawed her way back to the front of the race, before blasting
past Annemarie Worst and Alice Arzuffi on the final lap to take her 2nd win of the season. Also trying his hand at cyclocross this week
was Andre Greipel – the German competed in this discipline as a junior, and fresh off
a four week break he decided to ride the Raiba Rad Cross in his hometown, getting that feeling
that we all know and hate, of having blood in your mouth. Fair play Andre. Meanwhile the who’s who of pro road racing
convened in Japan on Sunday for the Saitama criterium. Winning……the exhibition race was Alejandro
Valverde, his first…….win…..in the rainbow stripes. He managed to get the better of yellow jersey
wearer Geraint Thomas, with local favourite Yukiya Arashiro in 3rd. The combativity award went to European champion
Matteo Trentin, whilst Alexander Kristoff took the points classification. Marcel Kittel had won the separate sprint
competition earlier in the day, which meant that almost all the most famous riders came
away with something to celebrate, in what seemed like a very well organised race. Our very own Jon Cannings is over in Japan
right now, whilst Oli has been in Taiwan, there are already some very cool videos up
on GCN and GCN Tech but there are plenty more to come, so stay tuned for those. The first 2019 pro jerseys have been released,
with not just one but two from Trek Segafredo, who will have both a men’s and a women’s
team in 2019. Revealing the team strips were John Degenkolb
and Lizzie Deignan at the Rouleur Classic in London, and I have to say, I am a fan – very
smart on both sides, the men’s still red but with a little less than this year, and
the women’s a mixture of blue with white sleeves. Let us know your thoughts on the new kit in
the comments section below. Meanwhile EF Education First Drapac powered
by Cannondale have revealed the worst kept secret in cycling – the re-signing of Lachlan
Morton for 2019. He and his brother built quite a following
off the back of their thereabouts series of videos, and as such the Australian was the
perfect choice for the team’s new venture with Rapha clothing, which will involve some
of their riders competing in some as yet unspecified non-pro events, not to mention his incredible
climbing talent. Back to pro events, though, and fingers crossed
there could be a very important addition to the pro calendar in the not too distant future,
in the form of a women’s Paris Roubaix. This was from an interview that UCI President
David Lappartient gave last week, in which he revealed that ASO were working on the event
and hoping to get it off the ground in 2020. We’ve already been having an office discussion
on who would be the first winner – Si has gone for Anna Van Der Breggen to become all
conquering over every type of terrain, I’ve gone for Ellen Van Dijk, Katherine reckons
it’ll be Lucinda Brand whilst Emma has gone for Jolien d’Hoore. You can let us know who’d be your pick in
the comments section below. That’s almost all for this week, but before
we finish, a reminder that we have more live racing for you on facebook this coming weekend
with the DVV Trophy in Niel on Saturday and the Superprestige in Gavere on Sunday. I’ll also be back this time next week with
a report from those races and all the other news from the world of pro racing. If you’d like to see how a carbon frame
is made, Oli took a trip to Look cycles in a video that you can find just down here.