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News roundup: Sky brass defends Froome’s Giro win; Valverde out of Suisse

Brailsford and Kerrison talk Froome Giro victory on BBC; Valverde to miss Tour de Suisse; Lotto-Soudal may be courting Caleb Ewan

Here’s your News Roundup for Wednesday, June 6. This is our way of keeping you up to speed on all of the stories circulating in the world of pro cycling.

Sky’s Brailsford and Kerrison talk Froome’s Giro on BBC Radio

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford and coach Tim Kerrison appeared on BBC Radio’s BeSpoke this week, providing their takes on how Chris Froome won the Giro d’Italia and defending the win’s legitimacy.

Brailsford addressed the credibility of Froome’s performance — particularly during his dramatic ride in stage 19 — in the wake of his adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol at last year’s Vuelta a España.

“When you sit down and assess it, and certainly we’ve got the ability to look at the data, what power did he produce, it wasn’t out of the norm for what he can do,” Brailsford said.

“People are bound to ask questions. It’s only fair. People want to know, ‘That was spectacular, I want to believe in it, but can I believe in it?’ I think it’s our job then to sit here and explain why people should believe in it and be more open and transparent about it than potentially we’ve been criticized for not being in the past.”

The 55-minute broadcast also included details of the team’s approach to the race and strategy for targeting the overall title. According to Brailsford, Froome’s early time losses were partially a result of Sky’s broader approach to the race and this season, with a Tour de France bid on the horizon.

“The plan was always, with Tim and Chris in his training, to come into the Giro just a little bit undercooked, just not quite on top form,” Brailsford said. “Three weeks is a long time so you build your form up over the three weeks and then you try to keep on going and sustain that through the Tour de France.”

Valverde to miss Tour de Suisse

Alejandro Valverde put in a late race dig at the Amstel Gold Race that even the defending world champion struggled to cover. Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Movistar had planned to give its three-headed Tour de France monster a trial run at the upcoming Tour de Suisse, but a sick Alejandro Valverde will leave the team with a mere two-pronged approach in Switzerland instead.

According to tweets by the team and the rider, Valverde is recovering from a cold, and will therefore skip the one-week stage race. That leaves it up to Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa to lead Movistar in the final WorldTour event before the Tour de France. It will be just the second time they’ve raced together so far this season.

Behind leaders Landa and Quintana, Andrey Amador, Daniele Bennati, Victor de la Parte, Nelson Oliveira, and José Joaquín Rojas will comprise the rest of Movistar’s lineup for the Tour de Suisse.

Valverde, meanwhile, plans to make his return to competition next week at La Route d’Occitanie, where Sky up-and-comer Egan Bernal is also expected to make his final pre-Tour de France start.

Porte, van Garderen, Van Avermaet set for Tour de Suisse start

BMC Racing has announced a Tour de Suisse lineup that will feature most of the team’s heavy hitters for the Tour de France.

Richie Porte is set to lead the U.S.-based squad in Switzerland in what will be his debut in the one-week race. Just as will be the case next month in France, Porte will have Tejay van Garderen for company as he battles for the general classification, with Greg Van Avermaet also set to make the start hunting for stage victories.

“This year, with the change in calendar, the Tour de Suisse was a good fit for my Tour de France preparation and I think the nine stages will give us a good indication of my form,” Porte said via a team press release. “I like the look of the race and I think the team time trial will be a good way to get things started.”

Alessandro De Marchi, Simon Gerrans, Stefan Küng, and Michael Schär will round out the BMC roster for the Tour de Suisse.

Lotto-Soudal reportedly courting Caleb Ewan; De Gendt signs extension

According to Het Nieuwsblad, Lotto Soudal has been angling to bring Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) on board for next season.

Autralian Caleb Ewan was the fastest of the sprinters on the Via Roma and would likely have taken victory at Milano-Sanremo were it not for Vincenzo Nibali’s bold escape. Photo: Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media | www.brakethroughmedia.com

The Belgian WorldTour squad has enjoyed years of success in the sprints with André Greipel leading the way, but the German speedster is on the back slope of his career and out of contract after this year. Het Nieuwsblad reports that the squad offered to extend Greipel with a one-year contract, but that he was hoping for a longer-term deal.

At the same time, Ewan is reported to have turned down Mitchelton-Scott’s offer to extend his own contract. Lotto-Soudal has already offered him a deal, but he is waiting to make any commitments until after the Tour de France, where his price tag may go up should he snag any stage victories.

While Ewan and Greipel mull their futures, breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt has eschewed the waiting game to sign an extension of his own. The Belgian was already set to ride with Lotto-Soudal through the end of 2019, but the team announced Wednesday that he had signed a new deal to take him through the end of 2020.