Is there about to be a big shift in professional cycling? EF Education First's new partnership with Rapha will see their riders take part in some very different events next year. The European season wraps up with Il Lombardia and the Tour of Turkey, there’s controversy in Hong Kong in the final of the Hammer series, and it’s a successful weekend of cyclocross for Mathieu Van Der Poel.
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Next year, we’ve been told, we can expect to see the likes of Taylor Phinney not only competing in the traditional WorldTour races, but also at gravel and fixed gear events, presumably meaning the Red Hook Crits and Dirty Kanza etc, and they’ll be documenting their journey through video along the way. Why? Because they believe this will gain the riders more attention and more fans, and therefore bring a bigger return on the investment from team sponsors than is achieved through competing in 2nd tier pro level races.
There’s a strong sense that cycling fans are crying out for something different, the Red Hook Crit series is a very good example of that. On the weekend of the first of this year’s event in Brooklyn at the end of April, there were a total of 10 UCI sanctioned road events in Europe alone. It’s safe to say that the protagonists in Brooklyn enjoyed as much worldwide exposure as the winner of stage 2 of the 61st edition of the Vuelta Asturias that same day.
Talking of historical and beautiful races - it was the 112th edition of arguably the most beautiful, Il Lombardia on Saturday. In an effort to spice things up 8 years ago, organisers RCS Sport added the Muro di Sormano, a cruelly steep climb with an eye-watering maximum gradient of 27%. This year, it was the pivotal point in the race. Double winner Vincenzo Nibali went on the attack, and only Thibaut Pinot was able to match. And it would ultimately be the Frenchman who would snatch victory from the jaws of, well the Shark himself.
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Photos: © Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images & © Bettiniphoto / http://www.bettiniphoto.net/
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What Next For Pro Cycling? | The Cycling Race News Show