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The Santos Tour Down Under, CX World Cup + The Gravel & Tar Race | The Cycling Race News Show

October 6, 2019


Welcome back to the GCN Racing News Show – this
week, soaring temperatures, crashes, disqualifications and retirements hit the Tour down Under in
Adelaide. The CycloCross season continues to build towards
the World Championships with the penultimate round of the World Cup in France, plus we
take a look at the Gravel and Tar race in New Zealand. The 2019 World Tour season began with the
Tour down Under last week, and, as seems to be the case most years, temperatures were
incredibly high, so high in fact that the first two stages of the race were cut in distance. The mercury hit 47 degrees centigrade, or
116 degrees fahrenheit in those early stages, although photographer Graham Watson couldn’t
figure out what all the fuss was about. On the flip side, this year’s race actually
had a touch of drizzle at the feed zone on stage 4, leading to speculation it would be
a hairy descent to the finish! Anyway, we’ll start with stage one, and
what a start it was for Elia Viviani, who sent an ominous message to any rivals who
thought he might not be able to back up his incredible 2018 season. Despite being right up against the barriers,
with little to no space, the Italian champion accelerated from way back to claim victory
in the first World Tour race of 2019! I mean it’s early days, but this could easily
go on to be one of the top 10 sprints of the season, it really was mightily impressive. It was another hectic run in on Stage 2, which
ended with a reduced bunch sprint. CCC’s Patrick Bevan benefited from this
with a tactical and well calculated sprint, a surprise but thoroughly deserved win, and
with it came the leader’s jersey. The finale had been marred, though, by a significant
crash involving a number of riders, with Marco Haller probably coming off worst. And that crash prompted an exchange of tweets
between Nathan Haas and Ryan Mullen, with the latter claiming that the breakaway only
have one testicle between them. Haas then tried to defend the breakaways actions,
leading Rohan Dennis to give him a little history lesson about how the race has been
won previously. It wasn’t long before we got the Sagan show,
though – he took the spoils on the slightly uphill finish of Stage 3 – his his first road
victory, in fact, without the rainbow jersey since 24th August 2015 – Stage 3 of la Vuelta. Having previously been quoted as saying his
form isn’t quite where it had been in the past he is certainly showing no signs he is
particularly far behind his normal standards. Stage 4 was always going to be the first chance
for a major shakeup on GC, taking in the climb of Corkscrew, normally a good indicator as
to who has the best legs in the bunch. Beforehand Richie Porte was quoted as saying
that Michael Woods would be the strongest, effectively putting the pressure on somebody
else. And there was a new Strava record set, but
not by Rusty, instead, it came from Kiwi George Bennett of Jumbo Visma, 6:21 at 427w, and
he must only weigh about 60kg. Luis Leon Sanchez was particularly aggressive
on that stage, as he was for the entire week in fact, whilst overall leader Patrick Bevin
was slightly distanced but chased back on the 2km run down to the finish. And it looked as though he might take a 2nd
stage win, but, he was foiled by a well timed sprint from last year’s overall winner Daryl
Impey. There was some controversy on stage 5 – there,
Caleb Ewan won the bunch sprint, getting Lotto Soudal’s first WorldTour win of the year,
only for that win to be rescinded after he penalised by the race jury for an irregular
sprint – they deemed that there had been too much physical contact with Jasper Philipsen
in the final 500m. The decision wasn’t a popular one, with
many riders arguing Ewan should not have been penalised, including ex sprinter Robbie Mcewen,
no stranger himself to a little bit of argy bargy at 65kph. However, the UCI Commissaires have long set
a precedent for disqualifying riders who use their head to either intimidate or physically
move another rider of their line. It’s one of the UCI’s more consistent
rulings, so it is good to see them actually adhere to it, even if not everyone agrees. The result was that Jasper Phillipsen was
given the victory, but this is no doubt not quite how he had imagined winning his first
race for UAE Team Emirates. That said, Phillipsen actually did look to
have the pace over Ewan, so that should be some consolation. The overall classification would once again
be decided on Willunga Hill, which this year would mark the final stage. And, in what is becoming a tradition, Richie
Porte took the stage win, but not the overall. Incredibly, that is his 6th win, in a row,
on that particular stage, which, according to our favourite cycling statistician, Cillian
Kelly, makes him the only rider in history to win the same stage of the same race 6 times
consecutively. However, as good as Portes acceleration was
in the final 600 meters was, it wasn’t quite enough to topple Daryl Impey, who became the
first rider to take back to back overall wins at the race. Unfortunately for Patrick Bevin, who had really
been man of the match over the week, he was suffering the after effects of nasty crash
the previous day, slipping to 41st in the final GC. A huge disappointment which we hope to make
up for ever so slightly by naming him as this week’s GCN Rider of the Week. Expect to see plenty more from him in 2019. If you’d like to catch up on any of the
racing, we have both highlights and as live video from every stage over on our Facebook
page, but before we finish with the race for this year, we’d also like to say a huge
congratulations from all of us to Mat Hayman. The race marked the end of a long and successful
career for the 40 year old, and it seemed particularly fitting that he got to hang up
his wheels after tirelessly helping teammate Daryl Impey to the win. Hayman will be best remembered for his win
at Paris Roubaix in 2016, where the bulk of his preparation had come from riding indoors
on Zwift whilst recovering from a broken arm. However, he was as well known within the peloton
for being a strong, dependable and loyal domestique, as well as for being a genuinely good guy
– I for one have never heard a bad word said about Hayman, and a quick scan of the congratulations
he received from his peers on social media reveals just how highly he was regarded. Congratulations for all you’ve achieved
Mat, and all the best for the future. A return to Cyclocross now for the 7th round
of the World Cup, in Pont Chateau, France. In the absence of Van Der Poel, we actually
had a tense battle in the men’s race – in fact, after 2 minutes, we still had no idea
who would win. The fast course saw a peloton of 35 riders
still together after lap 1, a rare sight in cyclocross, with the average speed close to
30kph early on. The first proper selection didn’t happen
until around the halfway point of the race – Lars van der Haar having a tumble which
effectively created the lead group of four. In it, Jens Adams, Toon Aerts, Michael Vanthourenhout
and reining world champion Wout van Aert. All of them made attempts to get clear towards
the finish, but in the sprint it was Van Aert who was strongest, picking up his first victory
in any of the big cyclocross series this winter. He is also now the leader of the world cup,
ahead of Aerts, but whoever finishes in front in the final round next week will take the
series. Where was Mathieu van der Poel I hear you
ask? Well, since he missed the first two rounds
of the World Cup in the US, he is out of the overall picture, and so he decided to skip
this penultimate round in order to prepare both for the road season, and the remaining
CX races, namely the world championships.. In the women’s it was Marianne Vos who won,
securing overall victory in the series in the process – amazingly, that’s the first
time she’s ever won the Cyclocross world cup, having often skipped the first part of
the season in previous years. Vos lead home Denise Betsema and Maud Kaptheijns
in 2nd and 3rd respectively, making it an all Dutch podium. In fact, out of the top 10, 7 were Dutch,
showing just how strong the women’s side of Dutch cycling is right now. Sticking with the theme of Dutch ladies for
a moment, Anna Van Der Breggen has announced she will be competing at the Cape Epic Mountain
Bike stage race together with Boels-Dolmans team mate Annika Langvad, and since Langvan
was the winner of last year’s event, they are likely to make quite a formidable duo. Meanwhile, down in New Zealand at the weekend,
we had the 4th running of the 1.2 ranked Gravel and Tar race in Palmerston North. Incorporating 40km’s of gravel roads and
some big climbs to boot, it’s quickly gained a reputation as being one of the hardest single
day races in the southern hemisphere. And it was a case of first race, first win,
for the newly formed Irish Continental team EVO Racing. 22 year old Luke Mudgway being the man responsible
for that win, with teammate Cyrus Monk in third. And in the women’s, Brodie Chapman was first
to cross the line. You may remember Chapman from last year, when
she won the Herald Suntour, in front of some top international pros, whilst still holding
down a full time job. She came to the line with Jenna Merrick, and
the two of them were in incredible 8 minutes ahead of the next group on the road. OK, That’s almost it for this week, but
before we finish, let me inform you as to what is coming up – the Australian season
continues this weekend with the men’s and women’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Races,
and if you can’t wait until next week’s Racing News Show to find out what happened,
then make sure you head over to our Facebook page, as we’ll have highlights of both races. Cyclocross continues too, with the final round
of the World Cup in Hoogerheide in the Netherlands, the final major race before the big one, the
World Championships up in Denmark in just under two weeks time. Stay tuned for the GCN Show tomorrow where
we’ll be having a look at what’s changed in cycling over the last decade. Before then, though, why not check out our
latest meet the presenters video, where you can find out all about Hank. You can find that just down here. well cycling has done over recent years to
improve a problem it once had!

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