Cavendish chasing Merckx’s Tour record; New team coming in 2019: Daily News Digest

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Astana, UAE Team Emirates, and Dimension Data all announced their Tour de France line-ups on Friday, leaving just six squads that have yet to reveal their riders for the Grande Boucle. Not surprisingly, Mark Cavendish is the centrepiece of Dimension Data’s ambitions in France. The Briton is a 30-time stage winner at the Tour and is just four wins away from tying the legend Eddy Marckx’s longstanding Tour stage win record of 34. But, will Cavendish be able to break the record? He is 33-years-old, so Father Time is no longer on his side, and he has an injury-riddled 2018 season so far.


Quote of the day

”You break that bike your paying for it.” — Bradley Wiggins commenting on an Instagram video posted by Tom Pidcock, where the young sensation is performing a stunt on his team issue Pinarello.

@gabzcullaigh phone puts music over videos ????

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Cavendish wants Merckx’s Tour stage win record

“I’m excited to be part of a strong team and I’ll be looking at getting closer to that record of Eddy Merckx,” Mark Cavendish stated in a Dimension Data release about the team’s Tour squad.

Previously, Cavendish had shied away from speaking about Eddy Merckx’s Tour stage win record. However, now that his time as a professional cyclist is waning, Cavendish has made it a goal to become the Tour’s King of stage wins.

Cavendish sits at 30 Tour stage wins with Merckx tantalizingly close at 34. The days of the Manx missile winning four, five, or even six stages at the Tour seem to be over, so it appears he will have to race the Tour a few more times to have a shot at surpassing the record.

Eight stages at this year’s Tour are classified as flat, but it will be interesting to see how Cavendish fares. His season has not gone accordingly to plan so far. He’s crashed out of multiple events, and suffered a concussion back in February. At his latest race, Adriatica Ionica, Cavendish only contested one sprint stage, and finished second on that day to Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) crashed out the 2017 Tour de France, after controversially tangling with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) at the end of race’s fourth stage.

Furthermore, Cavendish is 33-years-old, and now one of the older sprinters in the peloton. He’ll be facing a new Tour rival this year, as Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) makes his Tour debut. Gaviria came to fame a few years ago when he beat Cavendish on two occasions at the early season Tour de San Luis back in 2015. Gaviria joined Quick-Step the following year, as Cavendish left the squad for Dimension Data.

“The Tour de France is not only the biggest cycling event on the planet, but it’s one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, and it’s the best platform to get across what we as Team Dimension Data do for our charity Qhubeka, to get people in rural parts of Africa on bicycles,” Cavendish said.

Dimension Data announced its Tour squad in a unique video with beneficiaries of the Qhubeka Foundation revealing the riders who are going to the Grande Boucle.

Dimension Data Tour de France roster
Mark Cavendish
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Mark Renshaw
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg
Serge Pauwels
Julien Vermote
Tom-Jelte Slagter
Jay Thomson


Race Radio

Biver to form new team in 2019

Marc Biver, who was a team manager at Astana during the 2007 season that saw Alexander Vinokourov test positive at the Tour de France, confirmed to Luxembourg newspaper Wort he is forming a new cycling team for 2019.

“I can only confirm that I am setting up a new team, but not following BMC,” Biver said. “I do not know what BMC will become and it is not or more my problem. I do not want to reveal too much information. I can not announce riders, the rules forbid me before August 1st. This team will be without TAG Heuer and will have nothing to do with the current BMC team. ”

Biver’s brother Jean-Claude is the CEO of TAG Heuer, a main sponsor of BMC Racing.

BMC Racing’s future is very much in doubt with the team struggling to find a sponsor for next season. Furthermore, multiple rumours are swirling that key riders are already moving to other squads for 2019.

UAE Team Emirates will have two-pronged objective in July

Irishman Dan Martin and European champion Alexander Kristoff will lead UAE Team Emirates at the Tour de France, as the team will chase a high GC placing and stage wins in the sprint stages.

Martin finished seventh overall at the 2017 Tour while riding for Quick-Step. He rode the second half of the race with a broken vertebrae, which occurred when he crashed alongside Richie Porte on stage nine.

“This is the biggest race in the world,” Kristoff said. “The event where you get all the best cyclists, the best sprinters. I am going to France determined to get the best result possible and, if possible, a stage victory.”

UAE Team Emirates Tour de France roster
Darwin Atapuma
Kristijan Durasek
Roberto Ferrari
Alexander Kristoff
Marco Marcato
Dan Martin
Rory Sutherland
Oliviero Troia

Fuglsang to lead Astana’s GC objective at Tour

Tour de Suisse runner-up Jakob Fuglsang will lead Astana’s hopes in the general classification when the Tour de France kicks off on July 7. After starting the season slowly, the Dane has come into form in the last month, as he also rode to a top-five overall placing at the Tour de Romandie.

Fuglsang will also have three other Danes alongside him in France. Amstel Gold Race winner Michael Valgren will start his fourth consecutive Tour, while Jesper Hansen and Magnus Cort will make their Tour debuts.

Spaniard’s Omar Fralie and Luis Leon Sanchez, recently third and fourth at the Spanish national road race championships, will be key supporters when road tips upward.

Astana Pro Team Tour de France roster
Magnus Cort
Dmitriy Gruzdev
Jakob Fuglsang
Omar Fraile
Jesper Hansen
Tanel Kangert
Luis Leon Sanchez
Michael Valgren


Happy Birthday to …

George Hincapie (45), the American is well-known for helping Lance Armstrong to his now unofficial seven Tour de France titles. Hincapie was the only rider to be alongside Armstrong for all of his Tour victories. Hincapie wrote a tell-all book, “The Loyal Lieutenant: Leading Out Lance and Pushing Through the Pain on the Rocky Road to Paris,” describing his doping practices, and how he worked to help clean-up the sport later in his career.

In terms of results, Hincapie won Gent-Wevelgem in 2001, and wore the yellow jersey at the Tour for a stage in 2006. He tried year-after-year to win Paris-Roubaix, but was never able to claim the top step at the “Hell of the North.” His best result in the race was second in 2005, behind Tom Boonen. Hincapie also claimed the U.S. national road race title on three occasions.

George Hincapie sits by the roadside in 2006 after his steerer tube broke and he fell off, injuring his collarbone. It was Hincapie’s race to win that year, but if he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all …

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