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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, December 20, 2018

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An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations. - Montesquieu

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2019 Vuelta a España route presented

Here's the organizer's news:

The official route for La Vuelta 19 was today announced at the ADDA auditorium in Alicante. The 74th edition of the Spanish race will take place between August 24th and September 15th 2019, setting out from Salinas de Torrevieja and ending in Madrid. With a distance of 3,272.2 km, the competition includes eight uphill finishes, five of which are new. The presentation was attended by representatives from the international peloton, including last year’s podium: Simon Yates, Enric Mas and Miguel Ángel López; but also national cycling stars such as Alejandro Valverde, the new world champion.

2019 Vuelta

Map of the 2019 Vuelta a España

On Wednesday December 19th Unipublic announced the route for La Vuelta 19, which will be held between August 24th and September 15th 2019. The Spanish race will start at Salinas de Torrevieja with a team time trial, the first of three stages to take place on the Costa Blanca. Once on its way, the peloton will depart the province of Alicante and head to Valencia, Teruel, Castellón, Tarragona and Barcelona. The general classification will start to take shape during these initial stages, which include several sprints and new uphill finishes that will begin to set the top riders apart.

La Vuelta 19 will experience an initial turning before the first rest day, during one of its queen stages. The spectacular mountain stage in the Principality of Andorra includes a chain of some of the harshest mountain passes in Andorra and a new ascent to Coll d’Engolasters with a 4 km sterrato track link section. The race then crosses the border to France, returning to the Peninsula via Navarre, the Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias, where it will visit some familiar peaks and also some new ones for this year, such as Santuario del Acebo or Alto de La Cubilla, to the delight of mountain climbers.

During its final week, the race moves to the Central System, alternating between Castile–La Mancha, Castile and León and the Community of Madrid. With a ‘leg-breaking’ final in the Gredos and Guadarrama mountains, traversing La Vuelta’s mythical mountain passes such as La Morcuera, which brought us a heart-stopping finish during La Vuelta 15 when Fabio Aru took the red jersey from Tom Dumoulin during stage 20.

“It’s going to be a hard but very interesting Vuelta, with surprises, intrigue and emotion guaranteed. Short but intense stages, including innovation and new and unprecedented ascents. The Vuelta brand is what it is, and we will never give it up, to the contrary, we seek to strengthen it”, stated Javier Guillén, La Vuelta’s General Manager.

The leader’s red jersey celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. In 2010 Vincenzo Nibali became the first winner of the Spanish grand tour to wear the red jersey, which replaced the gold jersey last worn by Alejandro Valverde. “Red is associated with success, passion, and Spain and is now firmly associated with the unparalleled spectacle that is our race”, explained Javier Guillén. The list of riders to have worn the red jersey atop the final podium of La Vuelta includes names such as Fabio Aru, Vicenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador, Chris Froome or Simon Yates, the last to join this select club.

Running from Saturday August 24th to Sunday September 15th 2019, the Vuelta will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,272.2 kilometers.

6 flat stages
4 hilly stages
9 mountain stages
1 individual time-trial stage
1 team time-trial stage
2 rest days

The stages:

1 TTT Saturday, August 24 Salinas de Torrevieja > Torrevieja 18 km
2 Hilly Sunday, August 25 Benidorm > Calpe 193 km
3 Flat Monday, August 26 Ibi. Ciudad del Juguete > Alicante 186 km
4 Flat Tuesday, August 27 Cullera > El Puig 177 km
5 Hilly Wednesday, August 28 L' Eliana > Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre 165.6 km
6 Hilly Thursday, August 29 Mora de Rubielos > Ares del Maestrat 196.6 km
7 Mountain Friday, August 30 Onda > Mas de la Costa 182.4 km
8 Hilly Saturday, August 31 Valls > Igualada 168 km
9 Mountain Sunday, September 1 Andorra la Vella > Cortals d'Encamp 96.6 km
- Rest Day Monday, September 2 Cortals d'Encamp
10 ITT Tuesday, September 3 Jurançon > Pau 36.1 km
11 Mountain Wednesday, September 4 Saint Palais > Urdax-Dantxarinea 169 km
12 Mountain Thursday, September 5 Circuito de Navarra > Bilbao 175 km
13 Mountain Friday, September 6 Bilbao > Los Machucos. Monumento Vaca Pasiega 167.3 km
14 Flat Saturday, September 7 San Vicente de la Barquera > Oviedo 189 km
15 Mountain Sunday, September 8 Tineo > Santuario del Acebo 159 km
16 Mountain Monday, September 9 Pravia > Alto de La Cubilla. Lena 155 km
- Rest Day Tuesday, September 10 Alto de La Cubilla. Lena
17 Flat Wednesday, September 11 Aranda de Duero > Guadalajara 199.7 km
18 Mountain Thursday, September 12 Madrid > Becerril de la Sierra 180.9 km
19 Flat Friday, September 13 Ávila > Toledo 163.4 km
20 Mountain Saturday, September 14 Arenas de San Pedro > Plataforma de Gredos 189 km
21 Flat Sunday, September 15 Fuenlabrada > Madrid 105.6 km

Tosh Van der Sande had positive dope test at Ghent Six-Day

Here's the note the team sent me:

Today, Lotto Soudal was notified by its rider Tosh Van der Sande of a positive doping test during the Six Days of Ghent where he took part in between 12 and 18 November 2018.

Tosh Van der Sande

Tosh van der Sande. Sirotti photo

The substance is a permitted one and occurs in the nasal spray Sofrasolone, that is freely available and allowed to be used in competition if mentioned during a control. 

After a meeting with the rider, the Board has decided to suspend the rider, in expectation of the investigation executed by the UCI and to allow the rider to underpin his defense in the best possible way.

Lotto Soudal will give no further explanations until the UCI procedure has terminated.

EF Education First Appoints Mary Wittenberg President of EF Pro Cycling 

The team sent me this release:

EF Education First (EF), the world leader in international education, today announced that experienced sport and fitness executive Mary Wittenberg has  joined EF as president of EF Pro Cycling. Wittenberg will help position the team for future success and promote EF’s mission of opening the world through education by encouraging people to step outside of their comfort zones and explore the world.

Mary Wittenberg

Mary Wittenberg

Wittenberg recently served as the founding CEO of Virgin Sport and prior to that was the long time CEO of New York Road Runners and race director for the TCS New York City Marathon. Her experience in the running and endurance space spans 20 years, and her ability to think creatively in promoting athletes and partners dovetails with EF’s adventurous company spirit and bold goals for EF Pro Cycling in 2019 and beyond. 

“EF’s commitment is to bring different cultures together, to spark mutual understanding around the ways people and communities approach and see life. The goal is to promote empathy among people of diverse backgrounds, and inspire new ways of thinking which together can help make the world a little better,” said EF CEO North America Edward Hult. “EF Pro Cycling is a platform that embodies this spirit, and which helps show how positive things happen when people explore the world. Having Mary join the team is an exciting step in continuing to spread this message.”

Wittenberg will focus on creating fun new ways for the team and EF’s global workforce of 46,500 to interact, identifying new, compelling partnership opportunities, and exploring resources to further benefit the team. She will also liaise between EF senior leadership and EF Pro Cycling staff.

“I am excited to join EF and our pro cycling team at this formative stage and to be part of a purpose-driven company that brings people together through exploring the world,” Wittenberg said. “I am inspired by the sport of cycling and this team, in particular; as riders from different countries and cultures come together to bring their dreams to life. EF and Jonathan Vaughters have set a great foundation that marry the transformative power of travel, education and sport. We have a chance to bring a fresh approach to cycling and recruit similarly inspired partners to join us.”

In Wittenberg, team CEO, founder, and former pro cyclist Jonathan Vaughters has a partner who can help the team reach new audiences.

“Mary brings a fresh perspective to the sport. Mary’s vision, passion, and expertise make her uniquely qualified to lead our efforts as we seek to expand our reach,” Vaughters said. “We’re working toward creating a more sustainable financial model for the team, and we’ll be leaning heavily on her business and brand background, and also her experience in growing one of the world’s great sporting events.”

The addition of Wittenberg comes as the team looks toward next season with a new perspective. EF Pro Cycling recently announced its partnership with apparel brand Rapha to collaborate on all-access content and bold new team kit, and the team will also put some of its riders in alternative-style events, from gravel races in the US to multi-day endurance races in far-flung locales. The aim? Reach more people, and tell more compelling stories.

As the first female CEO of New York Road Runners and Race Director for the New York City Marathon, Wittenberg and her team drove unprecedented growth with initiatives that touched the five boroughs of New York, the nation, and the world. Wittenberg also co-founded the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a strategic alliance of the world’s major marathons of Boston, Chicago, New York, London, Berlin and Tokyo, created in 2006 to grow the sport of marathon running globally.

Wittenberg's start with the team is effective immediately.

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