Your Saturday Daily News Digest

In today’s Daily News Digest: Commissaire who disqualified Sagan from Tour calls for video judges in cycling; Cycling Australia introduces new transgender athlete policy; Lotto-Soudal chasing success after winless Tour de France; Bookwalter chasing home-soil success in Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah; Jungels back in action at Tour de Pologne; Movistar extends with Arcas, Oliveira and Pedrero; Four years on, McQuaid weighs in on pro cycling; Following the 2017 Transcontinental ultra-endurance race; Mark Cavendish Launches The Amstel Cold Tub Pub

Speaking almost a month after the controversial decision to eject Peter Sagan from the Tour de France, the chief UCI commissaire from the race, Philippe Marien, has called for changes in the sport. “There must be a video referee, just like in football,” the Belgian told Het Nieuwsblad. “They should be in front of the TV during the sprint and should concentrate only on the sprint itself, then we would not have to look at the images later and could make the decision immediately. The UCI has promised me that it is working on it.”

Marien’s and the other commissaires came under heavy criticism after Sagan was disqualified from the race. While initial videos appeared to show the Slovakian ushering Mark Cavendish into barriers with his elbow, later slow-motion footage showed that the Briton was already falling and that Sagan’s elbow may not have made contact.

Furthermore, some suggested that the reduced-speed footage showed his elbow movement was because Cavendish’s brake hood had become snagged under his elbow. Whether or not that interpretation was correct, Cavendish accepted that Sagan’s manoeuvre wasn’t malicious after speaking to the rider.

Marien’s reaction is interesting as the speed of the decision was not faulted. In fact, following Sagan’s expulsion, many said that the UCI shouldn’t have rushed to judgement and should have spoken to both riders concerned, as per its own regulations. When leaving the Tour, Sagan said that neither he nor anyone from Bora-hansgrohe had had the chance to give his side of the story.

He suggested the UCI had rushed its decision rather than giving time to ascertain the full facts.

Following the news of USA Cycling‘s new policy on transgender athletes, Cycling Australia told CyclingTips that they, too, are in the process of adopting a new policy for transgender athletes at both the club and professional levels.

Ever since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released its revised guidelines on transgender athletes in January 2016, sports governing bodies everywhere have been grappling with the balance of fair play and the sanctity of their sport.

The IOC guidelines were updated to allow biological women to compete as men without restriction, while biological men are eligible to compete as women without first undergoing a sex reassignment surgery upon meeting some strict rules set around testosterone levels.

Where the current language surrounding transgender athletes lends itself to potential misinterpretation, Cycling Australia’s Kipp Kaufmann told CyclingTips that they’ve been working with Pride in Sport and the IOC to ensure that the new policy is clear and protects both the athletes and the sanctity of fair play.

“For some time, we have had a member protection policy –which is put forward by the Australian Sports Commission –but it’s a wide ranging statement that is a bit unclear. We have been doing some work with the Pride in Sport, which in an index that looks at inclusivity in the sport, and as part of that, we are making some changes and one of that is in regards to transgender athletes,” said Kaufmann.

Having missed out on a win in this year’s Tour de France, the Lotto-Soudal team is looking to get back on track this weekend in either the Clásica San Sebastián or the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic.

The 2013 winner Tony Gallopin will lead the team in Saturday’s race, and will also be joined by strong riders such as Tiesj Benoot, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens. “The goal for Saturday will be to compete for victory,” said directeur sportif Frederik Willems. “We start with a strong team that consists of, on the one hand, riders who have ridden the Tour de France, and on the other hand, guys who just finished a good Tour de Wallonie.

“Tony Gallopin will be the team leader. He has proven in the past that this is a race that suits him very well. He has always set a nice result in the three times he has participated. He won in 2013, was fifth in 2014 and finished in second place last year. He has shown to be in great shape during the past Tour de France where he was in the attack a couple of times in the second and third week.”

Meanwhile the team will look to André Greipel as its leader in Sunday’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic. He was second on the final stage of the Tour de France and third on three other occasions.

“André Greipel has returned in good shape from the Tour de France. It’s true that he didn’t win a stage, but he came close a couple of times,” said directeur sportif Bart Leysen. “He has also put his mind onto this Prudential RideLondon. Next to that, Jasper De Buyst has shown to be in excellent shape in the Tour de Wallonie. He won the second stage and had a chance to win in the fourth stage as well.

Just as Lotto-Soudal is aiming to get back on track after a quieter-than-desired Tour de France, so too the BMC Racing Team. It is targeting success in next week’s Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

“Brent Bookwalter is our rider for the general classification, a role he deserves after some solid results in the first part of the year,” said directeur sportif Jackson Stewart. “Joey Rosskopf and Kilian Frankiny will also have freedom on the stage two summit finish and riders like Silvan Dillier will have the opportunity to jump in a good breakaway.

“We are ambitious but I would like to see us win the overall and the time trial, and I think we will be competitive and aggressive in all of the stages.”

Bookwalter is looking forward to racing on home soil, but says he needs to think outside the box if he is to win. “This year’s route has some of the classics sections which I’ve experienced in previous editions but also some exciting new sections like the long gravel sector on stage 4, the Big Cottonwood TT and a new summit finish at Snow Basin,” he stated. “Traditionally, this is a race that is won by a pure climber. My success here in the past has been more from versatility and tenacity than pure climbing strength, so I’ll look to race heads up and switched on this week, capitalizing on my strength in areas other than just the climbs.”

The team will be completed by Tom Bohli, Martin Elmiger, Patrick Müller and Manuel Senni.

Having won the best young rider award once again in the Giro d’Italia and then notching up victory in the Luxembourg road race championships, Bob Jungels will return to racing after a month-long break in the Tour de Pologne.

The 25 year old will join QuickStep Floors teammates in the race, which begins on July 29.

“I looked over the parcours and I can say it’s going to be a hard race,” he stated. “But it’s also a nice race that I like and I think it is a good option for us riders who didn’t do the Tour de France to try something over here.

“I am for sure keen to do my best in order to get a good result in my first race after this month’s two-week altitude camp in Livigno.”

The team will be completed by Rémi Cavagna, Laurens De Plus, Maximilian Schachmann, Niki Terpstra and former stage winners Davide Martinelli and Petr Vakoc.

Multiple Portuguese national champion Nelson Oliveira has inked a new deal with the Movistar team, extending a stint with the squad which began in 2016 and which has seen him take third on a Tour de France stage, fourth in the European TT championships and seventh in the Rio Olympics time trial.

Also extending are young Spanish riders Jorge Arcas and Antonio Pedrero. “Their new contracts are a reward to the progression of two talented, committed youngsters,” said the team on Friday. “Jorge has proven to be an excellent rouleur, with climbing abilities and decent TT skills, while Antonio’s recent WorldTour appearances, most notably at the Tour de Suisse, have confirmed his fine climbing abilities.”

All three riders have been shortlisted for the Vuelta a España, with the initial 12-man lineup to be shortened to nine before the race begins.

Former UCI President Pat McQuaid has largely been out of the spotlight since losing his position to Brian Cookson four years ago. With the next UCI election due to take place in September, and with Cookson facing a challenge from Frenchman David Lappartient, The Outer Line reached out to McQuaid to get his thoughts on the current state of the sport. The interview covers a broad range of topics, including cycling’s economic model, ASO’s dominant influence, the lack of strong team unity, doping, salary caps and more.

In this excerpt, McQuaid speaks about the rumoured interest of Wanda Sports in the Tour de France and whether he could see the Chinese company buying the race.

There have always been some rumours, but I don’t think that will ever happen. Why? Because ASO and the Tour de France are – through and through – so French! If ASO was ever sold, it could only be sold to another French entity. Look at the last few weeks – French Air Force fighter jets spreading red, blue and white streaks in the air on Bastille Day, or over Paris just the other day.

The Tour is the pride of France. The roads, the police, the support from the towns and villages and fans – all of that is an expression of what it is to be French, but it is also a hidden subsidy to the event. So no, I can’t see the company moving into foreign hands. The Amaury family would have to be exiled out of France!

We always hear about how the Amaury family will not change anything, but in a way, their hands are tied – it would be very difficult for them to sell their business to anyone else.

It’s time for the riders of the Transcontinental ultra-endurance race to head off on the famed cobbles of the Muur van Geraardsbergen in Belgium and work their way across Europe till they reach the gigantic rocks and monasteries of Meteora in Greece. It’s the biggest field yet, with close to 300 riders on the start list for the first running of the Transcontinental since its founder and organiser Mike Hall died.

The race, which is approximately 4,000 kilometres long and started 10pm Friday night, is certain to deliver a first-time winner this year as former victors Kristof Allegaert and Josh Ibbett are not in the mix. Of the names to look out for the biggest standout is James Hayden from the United Kingdom, who managed to come fourth last year even after having to sit tight at checkpoint 1 for over 30 hours to recover from a chest infection.

Then there is the group of starters who have proved their competitiveness by finishing in the top ten in the past couple of editions of the race – Nelson Trees, Geoffroy Dussault, Vincent Muhlethaler, Michael Wacker, Robert Carlier and Gareth Baines. We also shouldn’t forget Bjorn Lenhard who was further down the results list in the 2016 Transcontinental but last month won the 2,500 kilometre TransAtlanticWay. Additionally we will get to find out how Ian To fares with the longer distances, as he has a strong record in shorter events, including two wins at the Croation Hard Cro ultra-endurance race.

The women to watch in this fifth running of the Transcontinental include Emily Chappell, who was last year’s first female finisher and Paula Regener, who took third overall in the TransAtlanticWay in 2016. It’ll also be interesting to see how experienced bike packer Melissa Pritchard fares. She’s used to doing long distances on the bike, having ridden around the world, but is a rookie racer.

You can find out how all the competitors are faring by following the rider’s tracking dots as they move between the checkpoints on their way to Greece. The tracking map can be found here, plus there is also likely to be plenty more information and pictures flowing in on the race Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts plus YouTube channel. The hashtag for this fifth edition of the Transcontinental is #TCRNo5.

Of course, you’ll also be able to find more coverage on CyclingTips and in the Daily News Digest.

Cycling legend Mark Cavendish swaps gears for beers as he takes on the role of honorary publican at the Amstel Cold Tub Pub – the world’s first ‘ice-bath pub’ for cyclists.

Open to the public over the weekend of Saturday 29th – Sunday 30th July, the Cold Tub Pub has been created to mark Amstel’s partnership with Prudential RideLondon.