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Roadies at Leadville, Viviani wins Continental Championships: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Elia Viviani and Amy Pieters nabbed European Continental Championships wins, on a windy, technical course in the Netherlands. WorldTour pros made their mark on the prestigious Leadville MTB marathon event. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Mathieu van der Poel continued their winning ways at the Mountain Bike World Cup. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Elia Viviani wins European Continental Championships from a breakaway

The UEC Road Championships concluded on Sunday, with Elia Viviani claiming the win in the Men’s Road Race. Raced on a completely flat course in the northern Netherlands, the race seemed on paper to be destined for a sprint finish – but that wasn’t how it turned out.

The peloton was shredded by crosswinds on the opening 45km loop out from Alkmaar, before returning to 11 laps of an 11.5km circuit through the city. The Italian national team played the echelon game well, reducing the front group to 60 riders before Matteo Trentin – the 2018 European champ – pushed the pace on the front and split the group again, to just 13 riders.

At two laps to go, the leading group splintered again, with Elia Viviani, Yves Lampaert (Belgium) and Pascal Ackermann (Germany) slipping off the front and pushing on to the line. At 3.5km, Lampaert made a solo bid for victory, needing to play a different hand against two stronger sprinters. Viviani jumped across to join his Deceuninck-Quickstep trade teammate, sitting on his wheel before sprinting past for the win. Ackermann trailed in third, followed 30 seconds later by a chase group led by Alexander Kristoff (Norway).

“It’s one of my best wins, because it’s totally different from a bunch sprint,” said Viviani after the finish.

“We did a completely different tactic from what we were thinking this morning. This morning we were thinking about the sprint, but then we wanted to make the race hard… The race had a lot of corners, that cobbled section, then the wind makes the difference.

“With five or six laps to go we decided to go, and we split that group. That was the right move. We knew in the last few laps it would be about all about tactics and whoever had something in the legs. Luckily we had still something in the legs.”

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Home victory for Amy Pieters at Continental Championships

The women’s European Continental championships, held on Saturday over 10 laps of the same finishing circuit as the men’s race, saw Amy Pieters (Netherlands) claim a popular win from a three-rider breakaway ahead of Elina Cecchini (Italy) and Lisa Klein (Germany).

With a dominant Dutch Women’s road team competing for the spoils in front of a home crowd, it wasn’t a surprise to see an orange-clad rider on the top step of the podium. The Dutch team led out the race from the starting line, pushing a fierce pace in the opening lap and pounding the field with a flurry of attacks. The move that stuck was, ultimately, the winning trio, who built a lead as great as two minutes before being slowly reigned in by the Dutch and Belgian teams. At a lap to go, however, the Dutch sat up again, putting their faith in Pieters to deliver the win. A tense cat-and-mouse finale saw Klein lead into the final 500m, with Pieters opening the sprint at 200m to go to beat Cecchini to the line.

“This is really special, because it’s close to my home. It’s a good win,” Pieters said.

WorldTour pros at Leadville 100 mountain bike marathon

The high-altitude mountain bike marathon classic, Leadville, is a fixture of the US MTB calendar, and this year, it produced a number of stirring plot-lines.

First across the line, American Olympian Howard Grotts who outpaced a strong field to win his third consecutive Leadville 100 title, days after announcing his plans to step back from the sport to pursue graduate studies.

Just behind, in second place, 18-year old Quinn Simmons became Leadville’s major talking point. In his debut outing – he was too young to compete last year – Simmons started mid-pack, passed hundreds of riders to ride up to the leading pack early in the race, encountered sabotage on the course riding over tacks, lost more than 10 minutes dealing with the mechanical aftermath and then rode on anger for several hours, solo, to rejoin the front of the race.

Dropped by Simmons on the final climb was a trio of WorldTour pros continuing to explore a world of racing off the road. Lachlan Morton (EF-Education First), Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and Alex Howes (EF-Education First) – each of whom finished top five at Dirty Kanza in late May – took third, fourth and fifth respectively.

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Something was wrong. Very, very wrong. On a cellular level there was a molecular deficiency. O2 was out to lunch and there was a melt down in the engine room. My fingers were numb, tunnel vision had become the new norm long ago and despite the red alarms and pulling in more air than an old V8 engine, it didn’t matter, there was no juice in the ether. I was stuck to the side of the mountain watching the front four (with @lachlanmorton in it! What can’t that man do?!?!) crawl away, struggling to simply sit upright on the bike. Alas, this is more or less the summery of anyone and everyone’s Leadville. 6+ hours (closer to 12 for most) of digging deep within to battle an invisible foe, a near vacuum high in the sky right on the edge of space and the great abyss. For those that dare to play Icarus and make it back to Leadville to tell the tale, the rewards are great. Colorado’s finest vistas, a town with a heart that is beyond comparison (perhaps the low pressure at 10000ft has caused it to expand to otherworldly proportions?) and a belt buckle that is, aesthetically speaking, the perfect inverse to the pain face made when finishing. Thank you @ltraceseries for having us out, thank you @ef & @ef.educationfirst.procycling for the support from the WorldTour to the Leadville feed zone, thank you to everyone that said hi, cheered, and gave us advice on how the heck to stay atop our ????@ridecannondale???? steeds. Thanks to @skratchlabs for fueling us with love. Thanks @tqhopper for keeping the magic flowing & thanks @drkevinsprouse for being our over qualified chauffeur to the @thetourofutah. Thanks to my family for coming out and putting a giant smile on my face that lasted almost all the way to the finish. And thank you Colorado for being so damn beautiful. ????’s from @ashleygruber @jeredgruber & @gregerwinphoto & and instagram story pic stolen from @reveloonline ?????? Stay tuned for the EF gone racing video from @rapha shot, assembled &. created with love by the legendary trio of @harrydowdney @samuel4eyes @jevgenirepponen

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In the women’s, it was Rose Grant who won on her Leadville 100 debut – and indeed, her first race at this distance. Grant finished almost twenty minutes ahead of Sarah Sturm and Angela Parra.

Leah Thomas wins Women’s Tour of Scotland

The inaugural edition of the Women’s Tour of Scotland concluded over the weekend, with Leah Thomas (Bigla) taking the final stage win, and in so doing, claiming enough bonus seconds to overtake stage 2 winner Alison Jackson (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) in the GC.

The race was heavily weather-affected, with stage one abandoned due to flooding on course. Stage three was also raced in rainy conditions around Edinburgh. The race concluded with three laps of a hilly 5.3km circuit around Holyrood Park, with Thomas’ Bigla teammate Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig making a move that lasted almost all three laps. Ludwig was caught on the final lap, her effort having whittled the peloton down to just 15 riders.

From that select group, it was the American, Leah Thomas that would take the win, followed by Bigla team-mate Elise Chabbey and Stine Borgli (Norway) in third.

Mountain bike World Cup – Lenzerheide, Switzerland
The short track opened the weekend in dramatic fashion, with Germany’s Elisabeth Brandau mistakingly assuming the win with a lap to go. A lap later, it came down to a sprint finish between Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Jolanda Neff, with Ferrand-Prévot holding off the Swiss rider. Jenny Rissveds followed in third place.

Nino Schurter animated the men’s short track with multiple attacks, but once again it was Mathieu van der Poel who rode away for the win. Brazilian Henrique Avancini finish second ahead of Schurter.

In the cross country, Jenny Rissveds proved that she’s back to form, riding away with Anne Terpstra on the bell lap. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot held onto third. Further back, an ill-timed flat (after recovering from an earlier mechanical) for local Jolanda Neff saw her drop from fourth to eight in the final lap, and as a result Kate Courtney (7th) narrowed the points gap for the overall title.

In the men’s, it was a race of Nino Schurter and Mathieu van der Poel tearing shreds from each other. That was until van der Poel broke away for the win, leaving Schurter with a silver on his home turf. Mathias Flückiger finished in third.

Tech News

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Happy Birthday to …

Colombian Movistar rider Winner Anacona, who lived up to his name at this year’s Vuelta a San Juan and on a stage at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.

Kristin Armstrong, two time World time trial champion and three time Olympic gold medalist for the USA in the women’s ITT.

In case you missed it …

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Feature Image: The men’s peloton battles the windy conditions of the European Continental Road Race Championships, Alkmaar, Netherlands. Image: Cor Vos.

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