The Flèche Wallonne has passed, but Mathieu van der Poel’s name is still on everyone’s lips – Top Story. Race reports from the men’s and women’s Flèche Wallonne and the on-going Tour of the Alps with results and video. In other cycling news: Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Eschborn-Frankfurt 2019, Boels Dolmans and Santini supporting Pink Ribbon and Breast Cancer Research and registration for the Tour of America’s Dairyland. Thursday EUROTRASH news time.
TOP STORY: ‘Super Phenomenon’ Mathieu van der Poel Better than Merckx?
According to Het Nieuwsblad, Mathieu van der Poel is doing even better than Eddy Merckx did in its first spring campaign on the road. The Dutch road, mountain bike and World cross champion has taken wins in the GP de Denain, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Brabantse Pijl and the Amstel Gold Race, four WorldTour races. Add stage victories in the Tour of Antalya and the Circuit de la Sarthe and fourth in Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders.
The Belgian newspaper is making a comparison with the starts of the past. First of all, the greatest cyclist of all time, who raced his first professional spring at the age of twenty: “Eddy Merckx won Milan-Sanremo in 1966 and was third in the Omloop Het Volk.”
What about Roger De Vlaeminck? In his first spring on the road, 1969, De Vlaeminck took the victory in the Omloop Het Volk and was second in Milan-Sanremo, third in Ghent-Wevelgem, fifth in Paris-Roubaix, sixth in the Flèche Wallonne and third in the Zurich Championship. “Edwig Van Hooydonck, Rik Van Steenbergen and Rik Van Looy are also unable to present such grand results,” the Belgian paper summed up.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss, Patrick Lefevere, has also been talking to Het Nieuwsblad about Mathieu van der Poel: “We have not seen what Mathieu has just done for years. Don’t forget that we are dealing with a super phenomenon called Mathieu van der Poel.” In addition to Van der Poel, the other cyclo-cross rider, Wout van Aert, also has a very good spring, so should every rider start racing in ‘cross? Lefevere said: “We don’t have to change anything about our winter preparation. Because they are crossers, they have a specific approach. Today their road season ends. For the other boys, the season continues as usual.”
Very popular with the media:
Flèche Wallonne 2019
A year after overthrowing Alejandro Valverde from his throne, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) conquered the Mur de Huy again to take his second victory on La Flèche Wallonne. The race opened up much earlier than usual but the Frenchman was once again the strongest in the final climb to edge Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), one of his most intimate enemies. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) ahead of the youngsters Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe). Julian Alaphilippe is only the fourth rider to win Milan-Sanremo and La Flèche Wallonne the same year after Eddy Merckx, Maurizio Fondriest and Laurent Jalabert.
Oscar Rodriguez (Euskadi-Murias) quickly abandons due to illness and lets a nervous pack of 174 riders fight for the breakaway. Attacks fly and it takes 9 km for Joseph Rosskopf (CCC), Robin Carpenter (Rally-UHC) and Kenneth Van Rooy (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) to get away from the pack. Tom Wirgten (Wallonie Bruxelles) and then Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) successively join them at the front.
The gap goes up to 5:45 before Julian Alahilippe’s Deceuninck-Quick Step start pulling the peloton 25 km into the race. Their acceleration on wind-exposed roads briefly splits the bunch until things get back to normal after 35 km. The attackers’ margin then stabilizes between 4 and 5 minutes on the way to the first ascents of the day, the côte de Tancrémont (km 46) and the côte des Forges (km 57). Kenneth Van Rooy summits them first.
Lots of action far from the Mur
The situation heats up again with 95 km to go. Two successive crashes split the peloton and riders such as Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Enric Mas (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) participate setting a hard pace at the front. Things were back to normal when the race entered the final circuit, 118km away from the finish. The gap between the attackers and the peloton is down to 3:30.
Van Rooy is dropped in the côte d’Ereffe. Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis) accelerate from the bunch and are joined by Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida) in the côte de Cherave while Van Rooy is dropped from the leading group. Things also get too hard for Tom Wirtgen in the first ascent of the Mur de Huy and three riders remain at the front with 58 km to go.
Tom Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data) and Nathan Haas (Katusha Alpecin) join the chasing group in the valley, quickly followed by Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) and Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo) while Julian Alaphilippe sustains a bike change. The second ascent of the côte de Cherave is too much for Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). In the following downhill, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) suffer a hard crash.
Mas delivers for Alaphilippe
Joseph Rosskopf goes solo in the second ascent of the Mur de Huy, while all the chasers are caught by a peloton. Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) sets the pace in the climb and a split happens after the summit, with 20 riders joining Rosskopf. Julian Alaphilippe and Alejandro Valverde are absent from this move and their teammates bring them back to the leaders 23 km away from the finish.
Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) attacks two kilometers later. He is joined by Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) with 9km to go. Deceuninck-Quick Step and Bora-Hansgrohe set the pace in the bunch, 15 seconds behind them, and Enric Mas (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) closes the gap in the final ascent of the côte de Cherave, with 6.5km to go.
Things finally come down to the final ascent of the Mur de Huy: 1.3km at 9.6%. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) takes the front position with 600 meters to go. Then Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) attacks, only to see Julian Alaphilippe follow his move and edge him in the final 100 meters.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Last year, I notched up my first big victory here, so being able to repeat that success gives me a lot of joy, but it tastes differently, because this edition was far more difficult. I am extremely proud of our team, who rode a perfect race, protected me from kilometer zero, chased down all the moves and always kept me in position. Being able to repay their hard work makes me very happy. I can’t say there was any pressure on me today, but what’s certain is that all eyes were on me, and you could see several attempts coming from riders who tried to go clear before the Mur de Huy, but my team did a splendid job and controlled everything. The final 300 meters of the race were really hard, due to the headwind on the Mur, but I left it late and timed my acceleration perfectly. As I said, it was tough, and that’s why this victory gives me not just great satisfaction, but also a huge motivation for Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”
2nd, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana): “This time I’m more happy with my podium than after the Amstel Gold Race, as La Flèche Wallonne normally doesn’t suit me. It was a very nervous day with a lot of wind and crashes. We had the tactic that I had to try to stay as calm as possible until the final climb and to give it a try there. Not trying it in the final hundred meters, but right from halfway the climb to put the more explosive guys under pressure. That kind of succeeded, only thing was that Julian Alaphilippe couldn’t be stopped. When he passed me I thought I could still overtake him before the finish, but I had nothing left for the final meters. I want to thank my teammates for their great work today, but also our sponsors like Samruk who’s making this possible. I gave it all today and for this kind of finish, I can be happy with this result. It just shows that my shape is super good, that I can finish like this in a race that normally doesn’t suit me. I’m happy for that and I look forward to Sunday, hopefully, that will be another nice race for us.”
3rd, Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates): “Today I was very good, I moved on the last lap as planned, but then I saw that behind, they didn’t let us go free. When they brought me back, as our leader Daniel Martin was no longer in the game, I tried to save as much energy as possible and take on the last climb the best I could. I must say that I made a great final climb, very consistent. I was also a little surprised because the last 200 meters have always been a bit impossible for me, but not this time. We also moved very well as a team, first with Henao in the breakaway of the first lap, and then with Rui Costa, who tried to help me in the final. On Sunday, we have Liège-Bastogne-Liège, one of my favorite races. I head there with a good physical condition. We must continue like this!”
4th, Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal): “The strong winds caused a lot of nervousness in the peloton. That’s not my strongest suit and already after a few dozen kilometers, I ended up in a second group. For a while, I feared for the rest of my race. The legs did not feel great at first, maybe I still had to recover from the efforts on Sunday. As the race progressed, I felt better and better and on the second ascent of the Mur, I set the pace myself to not get in trouble during the part after the climb, where the wind could play its role. Meanwhile, the first group was reduced to around forty riders and then, it was mainly about choosing the best possible position. All three of us wanted to start the Mur de Huy in the best possible spot. I began the climb in around tenth position but I was able to move up on the first steep slopes. Then, I had to catch my breath for a moment, but I knew that I could still accelerate in the final 150 meters. Of course, I am very satisfied with this fourth place. You always want to be on the podium but I can’t be disappointed with a fifth place in the Brabantse Pijl, a sixth in Amstel Gold Race and a fourth in Flèche Wallonne. It is a fantastic feeling to take the next step. I am already looking forward to the future, in which these races will always be a main goal. Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday is again another kind of Classic. The predicted weather conditions won’t be to my advantage, contrary to for example Tim Wellens. For now, just let us enjoy this moment and then we’ll see what Sunday brings.”
7th, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe): “We rode pretty aggressively throughout the day and we were always present in the front, in many different groups. Patrick and I entered the final climb on Mur de Huy in the front but it was very chaotic at the bottom. I was able to find a gap and started my sprint in the final meters.”
Flèche Wallonne Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:55:15
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:06
4. Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:08
5. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
9. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:11
10. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Dimension Data.
La Fleche Wallonne Feminine 2019
Like on the four previous editions, but this time with the World Champion’s jersey on her shoulders, Anna van der Breggen conquered the Flèche Wallonne Femmes for a fifth time. The Dutch rider waited for the final climb up the Mur de Huy to produce her effort, catching Newiadoma and eventually beating to line her compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten while her Boels-Dolmans team mate Annika Langvad had to settle for third spot.
Under a beautiful sunshine, the 140 riders gathered for the very first time on the Grand-Place de Huy for the start of the 22nd edition of the Flèche Wallonne Femmes. The pack remained bunched all the way to kilometer five when Jasinska (MOV) was the first to take off, but her effort was eventually vain several kilometers later. Eventually at km 30, a group of 6 riders managed to pull away including Jasinska (MOV), Penuela (ALE), Blais (ASA), Stephens (TIB), Adegeet (PHV) and Riabchenko (DVE). At the top of the Côte de Warre, Riabchenko led the way while the pack was 2:30 adrift.
Teams Sunweb, Mitchelton-Scott and Trek-Segafredo moved to the front of the bunch and really started chasing. In the first climb up the Côte d’Ereffe, only two riders remained in the lead: Riabchenko and Jasinska. They were finally caught at km 75.
A second breakaway occurred at km 96 when four riders, Korevaar (CCC), Balsano (VAL), Winder (TFS) and Shekel (ASA), powered away. The front girls enjoyed a 42 second advantage at km 100 but as Balsamo reached the top of the Côte d’Ereffe, the lead had dropped to 20 seconds. The escapees were to be caught on the descent. In the penultimate climb of the day, Spratt (MTS) tried her luck and made it first at the summit of the Côte de Cherave but the pack of around 50 riders remained bunched heading towards the city of Huy.
With three kilometers to go, Mackaij (SUN) took off for a last solo effort. She still had a 15 second lead with one kilometer to go but was caught 500m before the top of the Mur de Huy.
The first of the favorites to try her luck was the recent winner of the Amstel Gold Race, Newiadoma (CSR). The Polish rider managed to create a gap but her slightly too anticipated attack proved to be vain as her rivals moved closer. After having caught Newiadoma in the final 150m, Anna van der Breggen produced her effort never to be caught. The World Champion captured a fifth consecutive victory at the Fléche Wallonne beating her Dutch compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten (MTS) to the line. Third place went to Denmark’s Annika Langvad (DLT).
La Fleche Wallonne Feminine Result:
1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans in 3:17:04
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:01
3. Annika Langvad (Den) Boels Dolmans at 0:04
4. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv at 0:14
5. Demi Vollering (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg at 0:16
6. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM at 0:17
7. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv at 0:20
8. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Bigla at 0:23
9. Brodie Chapman (Aus) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank at 0:26
10. Margarita Victo Garcia Cañellas (Spa) Movistar at 0:33.
Tour of the Alps 2019
Geoghegan Hart (Sky) sealed his maiden win in an exciting Tour of the Alps opening Stage 1. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) sparkled up the race in the finalé, also with Rafal Majka to the fore, but eventually it was the lanky brit who took a prestigious first career victory in Kufstein.
It didn’t take long for the Tour of the Alps to see the first breakaway. After just 3 kilometers from the official start in Kufstein, a 4-man group got clear, including Kuftein-born Maximilian Kuen (Vorarlberg-Santic), Patrick Gamper (Tirol Cycling Team), Matthias Krizek (Felbermayr-Simplon) and Emil Dima (Giotti Victoria-Palomar). The escapees managed to take a 5:40 lead on the first loop of the day, while Astana, Sky and Bahrain were sharing the burden behind them.
The peloton wisely controlled the gap, reducing the distance to less than 3 minutes as the race passed on the second circuit of the day, featuring the Hinterthiersee climb – 2 km with gradients up to 15%. Mathias Krizek remained solo at the front inside the last 20 km, whilst behind him Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Georg Zimmermann (Tirol Cycling Team) also got back on his chasers.
The second time up the Hinterthiersee climb brought everything back, and that’s where Vincenzo Nibali broke the stalemate and performed a swift attack. Only three riders managed to keep up with him: Team Sky’s Tao Geoghegan Hart and Pavel Sivakov and Bora-Hansgrohe’ Rafal Majka.
Nibali himself was the most determined in pushing the pace of the escapees, that held 10 seconds on a group of about 20 riders with 10 km to go. It didn’t prove enough, as the Astana Team’s work. For Pello Bilbao favored the regrouping of the leaders and the eventual sprint finish. There came the unexpected, as in spite of the previous efforts, Geoghean Hart managed to take a clear sprint win over Aranburu and Thalmann.
Reward for the day’s breakaway riders came on the finishing stage, as Emil Dima wore the best climber’s jersey and Matthias Krizek put the intermediate sprints’ red jersey on his shoulders.
Stage winner and overall leader, Tao Geoghegan Hart (Sky): “Indeed, many of the races I won as an amateur came out of restricted group finishes, so I guess it’s fitting that my first pro win came in this fashion. Team Sky was really strong today, with Leo Basso controlling the race from early on, and it showed as we had five riders in the top group. Nevertheless, today it really could have gone in any of our ways – could have been Pavel, or Froomey. It was good to claim one with the Team Sky jersey, as that’s my last opportunity to do that. Concerning what’s next, I am already looking forward to tomorrow: I am in the leader’s jersey and I would be more than happy to keep it, but you know how this race is: it’s open, punchy and unpredictable, as we saw today.”
Tour of the Alps Stage 1 Result:
1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky in 3:30:48
2. Alex Aranburu (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
3. Roland Thalmann (Swi) Team Vorarlberg Santic
4. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana
5. Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana
6. Chris Froome (GB) Sky
7. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom–RusVelo
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10. Dayer Quintana (Col) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM.
Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 1:
1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky in 3:30:38
2. Alex Aranburu (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:04
3. Roland Thalmann (Swi) Team Vorarlberg Santic at 0:06
4. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 0:10
5. Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana
6. Chris Froome (GB) Sky
7. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom–RusVelo
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10. Dayer Quintana (Col) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM.
The Passo Giovo/Jaufenpass descent lit up the Tour of the Alps Stage 2 from Reith im Alpbachtal to Scena/Schenna. For the second time in as many days; Team Sky celebrated on the podium with one of their prospect for the future. After Tao Geoghagan Hart in Kufstein, on Tuesday, it was Russian Pavel Sivakov who celebrated his first pro and took over the GC leader’s jersey. Sivakov won a duel with Czech Jan Hirt (Astana) on the gradients of Scena/Schenna’s Schlossweg.
The break of the day consisted of: Acosta Ospina (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Amador Castano (Manzana Postobon), Samitier (Euskadi-Murias), Visconti (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia), Zardini (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia) and Rocchetti (Team Colpack). Both the lead group and the peloton splintered on the tough Passo Giovo/Jaufenpass, whose roads were framed by snow in the final kilometers.
First to the top of the highest climb of the Tour of the Alps was Spaniard Sergio Samitier, who became the new KOM leader, followed by Zardini a few seconds behind. The peloton of around 20 riders, led by Bahrain-Merida, had closed the gap to 1 minute to the leaders on the final uphill kilometers. The demanding and technical descent made more oof a selection. Samitier stayed clear with a small margin, behind him Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) tried to break away twice, but was countered by Bora-Hansgrohe and Sky. The decisive move came with 10 km to go, when Sivakov, Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida), Stalnov and Hirt (Astana), Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Cattaneo and Masnada (Androni-Sidermec) broke away and caught Samitier, opening a 20-second gap on the Nibali and Froome’s group.
On the Scena/Schenna; Sivakov forced the pace followed by Hirt, to then distanced the Czech on the tough final ramp. After he took his first career pro win Sivakov received a hug from teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart, 8th on the day. Mattia Cattaneo came in 3rd, Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Nibali were 6th and 7th at 34 seconds, whilst Froome finished at 1.34. The two youngsters are due to share the Team Sky leader’s grades. Pavel Sivakov now leads Jan Hirt by 8 seconds overall from Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) at 23 seconds.
Stage winner and race leader, Pavel Sivakov (Sky): “It was a chaotic finale. The descent was very selective, and I did it at the front to avoid any risk. When I saw Stalnov, Poljanski and Pernsteiner were accelerating, I realized that hardly somebody would have taken charge of the chase. Nibali and Majka were watching Tao very closely, and I had more freedom to seize. I felt the strongest in the leading group and having Tao behind me I could sit up and wait. When I dug deep only Hirt held on, and then I distanced even him in the final meters. The first pro win is an amazing reward for all the efforts, and to take it here in front of so many champions is awesome. Italy is clearly my lucky place.”
5th on the stage and overall, 7Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida): “It was a hard stage with headwind all day. The pace climbing Passo Giovo was quite intense and I was near my limit. I managed the climb and after the race became a gamble and I felt not super. For the next days I will help Vincenzo try to support him the best that I can.”
7th on the stage and 6th overall, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida): “It was a 5-hour stage and the sensations are good. We did a good job uphill, then after the long descent I tried to stretch on my rivals in the standings but both Astana and Sky checked me. On the final wall together with Majka we made a forcing and I recovered several positions in the GC.”
Tour of the Alps Stage 2 Result:
1. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Sky in 4:58:17
2. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana at 0:04
3. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:17
4. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:22
5. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida at 0:29
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
8. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky at 0:43
9. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana
10. Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana at 0:52.
Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 2:
1. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Sky in 8:28:55
2. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana at 0:08
3. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:23
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:39
5. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky at 0:43
8. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 0:53
9. Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana at 1:02
10. Roland Thalmann (Swi) Team Vorarlberg Santic at 1:08.
Fausto Masnada (Androni-Sidermec) took a successful gamble inside the final kilometer for Stage 3, taking his first career win in his home Country. Pavel Sivakov (Sky) defended his overall lead from Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) attacks, with Chris Froome as his luxury domestique.
Wednesday’s short stage had a significant elevation gain (roughly 2.700 meters), and much feared by GC leader Pavel Sivakov, who expected plenty of attacks from his most dangerous rivals. The prediction proved spot-on, particularly on the final ascent to Baselga, but once again the Russian was supported by Team Sky at full strength, with Chris Froome shining in an unusual role as key domestique.
Vincenzo Nibali and Rafal Majka did their part in trying to put the leader on the back foot, but they always found Chris Froome’s pace bringing them back, with youngsters Sivakov and Geoghegan Hart on his wheel. In the control among the favorites, Fausto Masnada broke away from the select 10-man group inside the final kilometer: his swift attack proved to be the right one, opening just enough space to hold the others off and raise his arms. Behind him, Geoghegan Hart won the chasers’ sprint at 4 seconds, ahead of Majka and Nibali, whilst Sivakov’s 7th place meant he would live another day in the fuchsia leaders jersey. A generous Chris Froome was 13th at 12 seconds.
There was an early 12-man breakaway featuring Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Manuele Boaro (Astana), Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Elie Gesbert (Team Arkea Samsic), Nicola Bagioli (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizané), Carlos Julian Quintero (Manzana Postobon), Francesco Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Nicolau Beltran (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Fernando Barcelo Aragon (Euskadi-Murias), Simone Velasco (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM) Michele Corradini and Marco Tizza (Italian National Team). Their advantage was constantly kept under 3 minutes, but the final escapee – Gesbert – was caught only on the climb to Baselga, under the pace set by Bahrain-Merida and Sky.
Stage winner and 10th overall, Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec): “That’s a big win today and my first win in Italy, against rivals of this values, is pretty special. I knew my legs were good, today Mattia Cattaneo and I were supposed to sit up and play our cards in the finale, and so we did. Halfway through the final climb, I had lost a few meters under the attacks by Majka and Nibali, but I managed to come back with my pace, and find the perfect timing for the final kick. My dream now is winning a Giro d’Italia stage: now I broke the ice, I know that it’s feasible.”
Overall leader and 7th on the stage, Pavel Sivakov (Sky): “It’s quite crazy if I think of it. Not only I had a four-time Tour de France winner as domestique, but Chris has been a constant source for advice, also on how to handle myself in the race. In several occasions, he told me to keep calm, and not respond to the accelerations: my team did an amazing job, and even in the finale I never felt under too much pressure.”
3rd on the stage and 4th overall, Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I feel that my form is good. I want to particularly thank Pawel for his help on the last climb, and all my teammates who helped me earlier in the race to always be in a good position. We still have a few stages left with long climbs, and we’ll continue to fight for good results.”
Tour of the Alps Stage 3 Result:
1. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec in 2:58:08
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky at 0:05
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
5. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana
6. Alexandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
7. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Sky
8. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana
9. Roland Thalmann (Sui) Team Vorarlberg-Santic
10. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec.
Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 3:
1. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Sky in 11:27:08
2. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana at 0:08
3. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:23
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:35
5. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky at 0:37
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:39
7. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida at 1:01
8. Roland Thalmann (Sui) Team Vorarlberg-Santic at 1:08
9. Alexandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 1:24
10. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 1:35.
The oldest and one of the hardest Classics of the season, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, is this Sunday and like all the other Classics so far, ‘La Doyenne’ is a very open race with many possible winners.
More Liège team announcement will be added as the come in.
Bahrain Merida team to Liège-Bastogne-Liège
The Ardennes Classics week opened with the Amstel Gold Race and will continue with Liège-Bastogne-Liège (256km) on Sunday April 28th.
The tough courses of the Belgian Ardennes await a determined Bahrain-Merida team. The city of Ans will host this year’s start of La Flèche Wallonne, after having been used to welcome the riders at the end of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In fact, ‘La Doyenne’ – the oldest of the five Monuments – will bring it back to the heart of Liège, for a finish that should favor riders more suited to a fast finale. The soul of the race remains the same, with nine climbs within the final 100km, as the ‘The Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée triptych’ that comes back, preceded by with the Côte de Mont-le-Soie and a new final sequence, with the legendary La Redoute, the Côte des Forges and spectacular Roche-aux-faucons.
“Vincenzo Nibali will join our boys for the Liège” DS Verbrugghe explains “He will replace Haussler, coming directly from the Tour of the Alps, that will end on Friday. For this reason we will see on the next days if he can recover well, after a tough week. But he is big leader to be add to our squad and he will be motivated for sure.”
Bahrain Merida team’s line-up for the Liège-Bastogne-Liège:
Grega Bole, Damiano Caruso, Matej Mohorič, Vincenzo Nibali, Luka Pibernik, Domenico Pozzovivo and Dylan Teuns.
Sunweb team for Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Aike Visbeek – Team Sunweb coach: “The route has changed for this year and without the climb of Saint Nicolas close to the finish we should see a more open race. The new parcours will mean more riders will fancy their chances of getting a result so the race will be nervous early on, particularly coming onto the climb of Côte de la Redoute. With Michael and Tom we have two riders who can be in the mix after that climb, once the race has fractured. It will be important for the rest of the guys to position them well throughout the day so that they can save as much energy as possible, because we expect it to be an attacking finale. Tom, Jan and Robert have just returned from altitude camp so are in good shape to help us go for a top result. We have prepared for different scenarios and ride with an open mind to take the initiative if we see an opportunity.”
Jan Bakelants (BEL), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Chris Hamilton (AUS), Marc Hirschi (SWI), Michael Matthews (AUS), Robert Power (AUS), Louis Vervaeke (BEL).
AG2R-La Mondiale for Liège
In six participations at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Romain Bardet has never finished below 13th.
He finished 3rd in 2018, 6th in 2015 and 2017, 10th in 2014, 13th in 2013 and 2016.
Our riders riders (except Alexis Vuillermoz, 6th of the last stage of Tour of the Alps) recon the last 100 km of Liege-Bastogne-Liege this morning, starting from Cote de Mont-le-Soie.
Romain Bardet: “Liège-Bastogne-Liège is my favorite classic. My third place last year only added to my affection for this race. With the new finale, we all go into the unknown. It may be more tactical than in previous editions, where the selection was made based on the physical strength, especially on the côte de Saint-Nicolas. This time, we do not really know how it will unfold, whether the race will ignite far from the finish or if we will end up with a large group in the last kilometers. This new situation will be interesting to discover even if there are a lot of uncertainties because many scenarios are possible. My form was on point at the Amstel Gold Race (9th), though my legs were less good at the Flèche Wallonne (13th). I’m looking forward to fighting at la Doyenne.”
Lotto Soudal: Preview Liège-Bastogne-Liège
On Sunday 28 April, the 105th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will mark the conclusion of the spring Classics. After several years of absence, the iconic triptych Côte de Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée will again be included in the course. The most crucial change is situated in the very finale of La Doyenne; the uphill finish in Ans has been replaced by a flatter run-in to the city centre of Liège, which means that the steep Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, located at fifteen kilometres from the line, will be the last climb of this year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Lotto Soudal will start with the same seven riders as in the past Ardennes Classics. Also in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tim Wellens, Jelle Vanendert and Bjorg Lambrecht will spearhead the team.
Tim Wellens: “Liège-Bastogne-Liège means the last chance for a good result in the Ardennes Classics, only afterwards conclusions can be drawn. So far, I haven’t been able to show why I am taking part in the Walloon Classics. I had an off-day during the Amstel Gold Race and I could not convert the good sensations in Flèche Wallonne into a nice result. I think that I did not meet the expectations just yet. Last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège was not bad but I was struggling on the Roche-aux-Faucons. Then, I finished sixteenth, my best result in Liège to date. I do expect more coming Sunday. I can’t be satisfied with top ten, but I know that I can be judged for that afterwards.”
Jelle Vanendert: “Due to the course that was modified, I expect a more open race, similar to the Amstel Gold Race. The peloton will probably be heavily reduced between the Côte de Mont-le-Soie and Haute Levée. Bad weather conditions could cause more nervousness and if that’s the case, positioning will be more important. Seen the new route, some riders or teams will maybe take some more risks, to avoid a scenario in which a sizeable group starts the Roche-aux-Faucons. In the Amstel Gold Race, Alaphilippe and Fuglsang were by far the best riders. Behind them, some twenty guys were evenly matched. As for myself, I will need a bit of luck. I am not a fast finisher so I have to try something myself and hope for a tough race. The fact that we could be in the finale with three riders, gives us a tactical edge.”
Bjorg Lambrecht: “It will be my second Liège-Bastogne-Liège with the pros. So I don’t have enough experience to really feel the changes that have been made to the course. For riders who will be participating for the sixth or seventh time, it’s another story but I am not thinking about it too much. Last year, I was held up behind a crash on La Redoute. I finished the race but at the end, I was exhausted. Between the Côte de Mont-le-Soie and the Haute-Levée, the climbs follow in quick succession. The race can already be partly decided over there. I prefer nice weather, not that I am afraid of bad weather conditions but the cold is not really my ally. People maybe have higher expectations of me now, but I try to lower those, mainly for myself . Anyway, my first part of the year has been successful and much better than I could have dreamed, regardless of the result on Sunday. Of course, I hope to be up there during the finale but fortunately, I don’t need to do so as a leader because the pressure attached to being the leader of a team can’t be underestimated.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort, Bjorg Lambrecht, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Herman Frison.
Young hope, Bjorg Lambrecht:
Deceuninck – Quick-Step for Liège-Bastogne-Liège
The Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix winners will headline our team for Sunday’s appointment.
The oldest Monument in the world and last classic of the spring, Liège–Bastogne–Liège has several changes for its 105th edition, the most important of which is the finish being moved from the suburb of Ans to the center of Liège, after 28 years. This means that Côte de Saint-Nicolas, otherwise known as “the Italian hill”, is removed from the race, with Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons (1300 meters, 11%) set to feature as the last of the day’s eleven climbs.
The route is 256 kilometers in length, packs some 4500 vertical meters and will see the return of Côte de Wanne, the Côte de Stockeu and Côte de la Haut-Levée in the second part of the course, making it a real race of attrition and providing the climbers plenty of launch pads to split the peloton and make sure it doesn’t come down to a bunch sprint.
Fresh off his second consecutive victory at Flèche Wallonne, Julian Alaphilippe will start the race as one of the big favourites and he’ll be hoping to cap off in style what has been a tremendous first part of the year for him, with nine victories, including a maiden Monument (Milano-Sanremo).
“Regardless of the result I’ll get, these first months of my season have been incredible and I’m very happy with my achievements. But I won’t think of my previous victories on Sunday; I’ll remain focused and motivated, because I’m aware that it will be a very hard race, as many will be keen on racing aggressively in order to avoid a bunch gallop”, said Julian, who has finished on the podium at his “La Doyenne” debut, in 2015. “This race is a big goal for me, I dream of winning it and with the support of this strong team that we have, I hope I’ll be able to land a good result on Sunday.”
In 2011, Philippe Gilbert completed a rare Ardennes Triple, winning a three-man sprint in Ans and etching his name in the history book of Liège–Bastogne–Liège, a race which since then hasn’t been won by a Belgian rider. After skipping Flèche Wallonne, the 36-year-old Paris-Roubaix champion is ready to return to action, especially as the new finish brings an extra incentive.
“Liège will be different than in the past and many will try to kick off the festivities earlier than usual, but I have recovered and I’m ready to give it all in what I’m sure will be a very tough race that will whittle down the bunch. The redesigned finish is more beautiful and should be more spectacular for both riders and fans”, said Philippe ahead of his 52nd Monument start.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s squad for Liège–Bastogne–Liège will be rounded out by Rémi Cavagna, Dries Devenyns, Enric Mas, Pieter Serry and Petr Vakoc.
Eschborn-Frankfurt 2019: German Champions and International Stars Against Serial Winner Alexander Kristoff
With 22 teams, Eschborn-Frankfurt welcomes a top-class field on May 1. For the first time in the history of Germany’s most traditional one-day race 12 teams from the WorldTour will participate. Only three days after the Ardennes monument Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Eschborn-Frankfurt offers another challenge. 187.5 kilometers long and peppered with 3,222 meters of altitude, the classic is one for the specialists.
Nils Politt (Team Katusha-Alpecin) showed an outstanding performance at Paris-Roubaix and will line-up at Eschborn-Frankfurt: “I’m in the form of my life. It’s almost a pity that it’s still two more weeks to go until May 1. But after Roubaix, I’m also glad to take a short break and to recover. I’ll be fresh again on time for Eschborn-Frankfurt. It would be great to get my first classic victory in front of a German audience – after I scored a stage win already at the Deutschland Tour.” The German races are a successful springboard for the 25-year-old. It’s been 5 years between the second place in the U23 edition of Eschborn-Frankfurt and the second place at Paris-Roubaix. With his stage win in the Deutschland Tour last year, which was also his first pro win, Politt made another step towards a successful classic campaign.
Next to Nils Politt, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) will compete for a German home victory. After he had to take a break last year due to injury, Degenkolb is especially motivated for his home race on May 1: “Paris – Roubaix is not quite ticked off, but still my gaze moves forward. I’m looking forward to the cycling classic every year and luckily, I have some rest now and can prepare myself ideally. And no one would be happier than me if the German fans could celebrate a home victory this year. But it will not be easy, but of course I will do anything for it.” It was Degenkolb himself in 2011 who scored the last German win in Frankfurt. German champion Pascal Ackermann bets on a sprint finish where a victory should give him tailwind for his debut in the coming Grand Tour.
Not only the German champions, also the international classic stars will try to break the winning streak of Kristoff. Most of all the podium of last year is looking for revenge: Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale). So, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) will be under special observation. With four wins in a row at Eschborn-Frankfurt plus an impressive spring the Norwegian is self-confident: “My form is right in this classics campaign and it has been great weeks. I won Eschborn-Frankfurt four times and I am actually the most winning guy in this race in history. It’s cool because it’s a very historical race. I hope I can be first over the line again but it’s going to be hard to win a race five times in row. If it comes to the fifth victory, Kristoff secured his place in the history books: no other rider has ever managed to win a WorldTour classic five times in a row. Moreover, Kristoff follows the footsteps of a legend who was also a winner in Frankfurt (in 1971). With 7 wins at Milan-Sanremo, Eddy Merckx holds the absolute record of classic victories.
Ø Nils Politt, 2nd of Paris-Roubaix, John Degenkolb and German Champion Pascal Ackermann are top of the list of German riders aiming for the first home victory for 8 years
Ø Podium finishers Michael Matthews and Oliver Naesen looking for revanche for last year’s race
Ø All in the hunt to spoil the party of 4-times winner Alexander Kristoff on May 1st
22 Teams and key riders (provisional as of April 16):
AG2R La Mondiale: NAESEN Oliver, VANDENBERGH Stijn
Astana Pro Team: NIELSEN Magnus Cort
Bahrain-Merida: BAUHAUS Phil, HAUSSLER Heinrich, SIEBERG Marcel
Bora-hansgrohe: ACKERMANN Pascal, KONRAD Patrick, SELIG Rüdiger
CCC Team: TEN DAM Laurens, WISNIOWSKI Lukasz
Cofidis, Solutions Credits: HOFSTETTER Hugo
EF Education First: BRESCHEL Matti, CLARKE Simon
Gazprom-Rusvelo: PORSEV Alexander
Israel Cycling Academy: CIMOLAI Davide, VAN ASBROECK Tom
Lotto Soudal: KLUGE Roger, VANENDERT Jelle
Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM: VISCONTI Giovanni
Roompot-Charles: WEENING Pieter
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise: SPRENGERS Thomas
Team Arkea-Samsic: BARGUIL Warren, GREIPEL André
Team Dimension Data: BOASSEN HAGEN Edvald, VALGREN Michael
Team Katusha-Alpecin: BATTAGLIN Enrico, HALLER Marco, POLITT Nils
Team Sunweb: BAKELANTS Jan, MATTHEWS Michael
Total Direct Energie: BONIFAZIO Niccolò
Trek-Segafredo: DEGENKOLB John, THEUNS Edward
UAE Team Emirates: KRISTOFF Alexander
Wallonie Bruxelles: PLANCKAERT Baptiste
Wanty-Groupe Gobert: BAUGNIES Jérôme, VANSPEYBROUCK Pieter.
Boels Dolmans Team and Santini Supporting Pink Ribbon and Breast Cancer Research
Santini and the women’s World Tour Boels-Dolmans team are supporting Pink Ribbon and breast cancer research with a campaign that will culminate in the online auction of special kits and bikes used by the athletes during the Amstel Gold Race on April 21.
Santini has created the exclusive kits that the athletes will wear in the Dutch event: pink has been chosen to represent the fight against breast cancer.
The Boels-Dolmans women’s team and technical partner Santini Cycling Wear are supporting Pink Ribbon and breast cancer research with a special auction of the kits, accessories and bikes used by the team during the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, April 21. Proceeds from the auction, which will be online at the www.boelsdolmansforpinkribbon.com, and any money prizes won by the athletes during the Dutch race will be donated to Pink Ribbon, the international association that finances scientific research and projects focused on treatment, post-operative assistance and long-term effects of cancer.
“Of course we will do this! This was our first reaction when team manager Erwin Janssen explained to us the idea of this special Pink Ribbon campaign” – said reigning Dutch and former world champion Chantal Blaak – “We discussed the topic later with a couple of riders. Almost everyone knows somebody near, being family or friends, who is affected by breast cancer. All extra aid and help to beat this possibly deadly disease is a bonus. We are very determined to make this a success and attract as much attention as possible towards the Pink Ribbon campaign and eventually raise as much money as possible.”
All of the kit and gear provided to the women for the Amstel Gold Race will be very special indeed. Everything will be pink in honor of Pink Ribbon and breast cancer research: the bikes, the helmets, the shoes, the support cars and even the kit! The latter is being made especially for the occasion by Santini Cycling Wear, official technical partner to the Boels-Dolmans team, and also symbolizes the company’s commitment to providing personalized apparel for different needs and different contexts.
“We are honored to be able to support the team’s athletes and the campaign to help the battle against breast cancer,” said Paola Santini, marketing manager Santini Cycling Wear. “This is a particularly sensitive subject that is very close to our hearts and we want to make our own contribution by very quickly making up the special pink kits for the Amstel Gold Race.”
Six special jerseys worn by the Boels-Dolmans women during the Dutch event will go under the hammer at the end of the race and the proceeds will then be donated to Pink Ribbon.
For further information on the campaign and the team: www.boelsdolmanscyclingteam.com
It’s TIME for ToAD
Tour of America’s Dairyland p/b Kwik Trip early bird registration is open and we cannot wait to see you there.
Nowhere in the USA can you find 11 consecutive days of great quality crit races all within an average drive time of 30-45 minutes of each other. With ToAD largely centered in and around Milwaukee, America’s “Fresh Coast,” there is no shortage of things to do and see, made easy by clicking below.
ToAD has an 11 year history of also creating friendships, while offering a variety of racing options throughout our 11 days, including the new 6 day Masters 1/2/3 50+ Series p/b Ovation Hand Institute, a shortened to attract more 40+ guys Masters 1/2/3 40+ Series also presented by Ovation Hand Institute, our 5 day Milwaukee Cycling Center Junior Devo Series in memory of Judy McNamara, our 4 days of handcycling, including the Associated Bank Handcycle Classic omnium, and of course 7 race categories serving all licensed racers!
Back by popular demand our Cat 2/3 Race! Also new to 2019 our Lowlands Lion Prime Sprint Competition will take place all 11 Days!!
Rich in our tradition are copious amounts of Nature’s Touch Chocolate Milk served daily, overall leaders jersey competitions, our various PRIME-a-pa-MOO-za’s in several of our host cities, Waterford framesets, much sought after handcrafted trophies, lots of sponsor swag, generous prize purses equally shared between our women and men and of course, our coveted cheese ”wheels” for those who make it to that top step on the podium after 11 days of grueling battles!
Registration is open and easily found on our website at www.tourofamericasdairyland.com! Race dates are June 20-30 and we hope to see you THIS June at Tour of America’s Dairyland p/b Kwik Trip
The PEZ INSTAGRAM Take a look at our Instagram page for a live feed and giveaways straight from your phone: https://www.instagram.com/pezcyclingnews
The PEZ NEWSWIRE!
Don’t forget to check the “NEWSWIRE” section, you can find it on the homepage, just above the EuroTrash section. The bits of news that missed the EuroTrash deadline are in there, plus any news as-it-happens will be added there too.