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VN news ticker: Alejandro Valverde rides and crashes into Giro di Sicilia lead, track coach Heiko Salzwedel dies

Here's what's making headlines on Thursday, September 30.

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Alejandro Valverde rides into Giro di Sicilia lead

Just six weeks after crashing out of the 2021 Vuelta a España with a fractured clavicle, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) proved he’s back in good form.

The 41-year-old Spaniard won stage 3 of the Giro di Sicilia, and took control of the general classification.

“I want to thank the team because it is because of them that I achieved the victory. This win gives me a lot of peace of mind, knowing that I am well. These weeks I have been able to train well, I have recovered quickly, and here I have shown that I am doing well,” Valverde said.

Immediately after crossing the finish line, however, Valverde tangled with a taped cable and was thrown to the ground. He did not appear too fazed, and commented that he needs a night of sleep to see how he feels while racing stage 4.

“Let’s see how we sleep and see how we face tomorrow’s stage,” he said.

The finale of the stage saw Valverde ride to an uphill finish ahead of Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) and Jhonatan Restrepo (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec).

Distancing overnight race leader Juan Sebastián Molano — winner of the first two stages — on the 11.4km Pollina climb that averaged 5.7 percent with stretches pitched in excess of 10 percent, Movistar applied more pressure on the descent, with a careful eye on Vincenzo Nibali and his Trek-Segafredo squad.

Valverde came to the front of the race with 3.5km to go, with Romain Bardet, Brandon McNulty, and Nibali. McNulty was aggressive on the climb at 1.5km to go, but did not have the legs to seal the win.

McNulty, the 2019 Giro di Sicilia champion, now sits in 13th place just 13 seconds behind Valverde.

Ben King (Rally Cycling) was in the breakaway on stage 3, and scored enough points over the route’s two categorized climbs to take over the lead in the KOM classification. Valverde trails the American by 10 points.

“I’m really proud of the effort,” King said. “The break was eight riders, so the first sprint was tactical and the second was all guts since we started the 11km climb with only a minute advantage over the chase.”

The fourth and final stage Friday is 180km from Sant’Agata di Militello to Mascali, at the base of Mount Etna, after losing 2,500m elevation.

2021 Giro di Sicilia Stage 3 Results

  1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), 4:42:29
  2. Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), at s.t.
  3. Jhonatan Restrepo (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec), at s.t.

2021 Giro di Sicilia General Classification

  1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), 13:45:18
  2. Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), at :07
  3. Jhonatan Restrepo (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec), at :09

Track coach Heiko Salzwedel dies at 64

during Day Two of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships at Lee Valley Velopark Velodrome on March 3, 2016 in London, England.
Heiko Salzwedel, shown here with Bradley Wiggins in a 2016 track event, died Wednesday in Germany. He was 64. (Photo: Getty Images)

German track coach Heiko Salzwedel, who helped push Team GB onto prominence on the boards, died Wednesday. He was 64.

Salzwedel worked as a coach and trainer for decades after leaving the former East Germany, working for such nations as Great Britain, Australia, Denmark and others.

He was best known with his work with British Cycling, and worked with the team across three Olympic cycles. He was instrumental in building the men’s team pursuit squad, which included Bradley Wiggins winning gold in 2016.

News of his death was confirmed on Thursday by Lothar Heine, head of Germany’s federal cycling base in Cottbus, the BBC reported.

Several former riders and associates took to social media to express their condolences.

 

Remco Evenepoel rues missed chance at world championships

Emotions are still running high following Belgium’s performance during the elite men’s road race Sunday on home roads.

Speaking to Belgian TV, Remco Evenepoel rues a missed chance at the world championships and says he believes he had the legs to win the rainbow jersey.

“I knew in advance what my job was: I just had to jump everywhere,” Evenepoel told Extra Time Koers. “We had two leaders with Wout (van Aert) and Jasper (Stuyven) and I was a worker. On Friday afternoon we had a team meeting with everyone. But I felt that personally it was very unclear what was expected of me. Then on Saturday I went to national coach Sven Vanthourenhout and Serge Pauwels and I asked them: what do you actually expect from me? Because it is not clear to me.”

Also read: What went wrong? Belgian left with nothing

Evenepoel drew heat from the likes of Eddy Merckx before the race, who criticized the young rider’s ambitions, but now looking back in hindsight, with Belgium missing the podium with fourth with Stuyven, and van Aert unable to follow the winning moves, Evenepoel isn’t holding back his thoughts.

Evenepoel covered two important breakaways during the race, but had spent his matches before the final decisive laps.

“I had the feeling that there was a chance for me personally to drive away somewhere,” Evenepoel continued. “There was a certain scenario in which I could win the race. I told them that flatly and clearly asked: do I get the chance or not? There was a clear no to that.

“Wout van Aert’s card was drawn and I turned the switch and did everything I could to work. I would also do that work at Deceuninck-Quick-Step if I were asked,” he said. “I also told Sven afterwards that this was a missed opportunity for a world title.”