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EUROTRASH Monday: More Dominance From Pogačar in Amstel & All the Cycling News

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All the action for the men’s and women’s Amstel Gold Race, plus the Giro di Sicilia. All the rider quotes, video, results and reports.

No more Strava for Remco Evenepoel – TOP STORY.

Rider news: Jay Vine will start the Giro d’Italia, Maxim Van Gils debut at Ardennes Classics, Thibaut Pinot on his final season, three more years for Sebastian Molano with UAE Team Emirates and Q36.5 extends contract with Walter Calzoni.

Team news: Marc Madiot argues for a budget cap, UAE Team Emirates wanted Mathieu van der Poel, Mareille Meijering and Elizabeth Stannard leave Zaaf.

Race news: Tour de France Femme teams and Flèche Wallonne men and women’s races.

Monday EUROTRASH coffee time.

 

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TOP STORY: No More Training Rides on Strava for Remco Evenepoel
The last update by Remco Evenepoel on Strava dates from April 2. The World Champion of Soudal Quick-Step is on Mount Teide at the moment in preparation for the Giro d’Italia and doesn’t want to show his form. “People already know enough,” sports director Klaas Lodewyck told Het Nieuwsblad.

“I don’t think you should show everything online either. The opposition reads it. If I were a rider now, I wouldn’t do it either,” said Lodewyck. In March, Evenepoel took several KOM’s on Tenerife in the run-up to the Tour of Catalonia. Lodewyk is in daily contact with Evenepoel in the run-up to Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro. “He has nothing to lose (Liège). Then he will return to Calpe to continue working towards the Giro start on May 6.”

Evenepoel will also be going on visits to Italy. “He is still exploring the mountain time trial to Monte Lussari,” the penultimate stage of the Giro. “Organizer RCS will open the course for three days. After that reconnaissance with sports director Davide Bramati, the Tour of Italy is really just around the corner.”

No more Strava for Remco:
evenepoel

 

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Amstel Gold Race – Men 2023
Tadej Pogačar was the top favourite before the start of the Amstel Gold Race and lived up to his No.1 billing. The Slovenian put in his final attack on the Keutenberg, 30 kilometres from the finish. He dropped Tom Pidcock and Ben Healy to solo to victory. Healy was second and Pidcock just held on for third.

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The biggest Dutch Classic passed through the hilly landscape of Limburg. The race was over narrow roads with 33 climbs. In the final the riders had the Eyserbosweg, Fromberg, Keutenberg, Cauberg, Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and the finish line was on the Rijksweg.

The break of the day came early. Mathias Vacek (Trek-Segafredo), Leon Heinschke (DSM), Mattéo Vercher (TotalEnergies), Ward Vanhoof (Team Flanders-Baloise), Tobias Ludvigsson & Alessandro Fedeli (Q36.5 Pro Cycling) and Marin Urianstad (Uno-X) got together and built up a lead of 5 minutes. It wasn’t long before UAE Team Emirates, for top favourite Tadej Pogačar, started chasing and cut the lead to 2:30. Vacek, Heinschke, Vercher, Vanhoof, Luvdigsson, Fedeli and Urianstad still had a lead when the started the Maasberg, Adsteeg, Korenweg and Nijswillerweg, the first main climbs of the day. Ninety kilometres from the finish, Alpecin-Deceuninck started the finalé. The Belgian team were without Mathieu van der Poel, but were not going to sit back and wait for Pogačar. Alpecin-Deceuninck sent Gianni Vermeersch ahead and the Belgian turned was the instigator of a very strong chasing group of 15 riders. Vermeersch was joined by top favourite Pogačar, Tom Pidcock, Magnus Sheffield, Tosh Van der Sande, Ben Healy, Lars van den Berg, Kevin Geniets, Quentin Pacher, Axel Zingle, Alexey Lutsenko, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Matteo Sobrero, Arjen Livyns and Andreas Kron. Bahrain Victorious had completely missed the move and had to chase.

The 7 early escapees had already been caught and dropped. In the peloton it was up to Bahrain Victorious and Jumbo-Visma, who also had to chase after Van der Sande dropped out. The two WorldTeams managed to hold the difference, but the Pogačar group’s lead fluctuated around 30 seconds. The nervousness in the peloton led to crashes. With 50 kilometres to go, there was a big crash in the peloton. With Valentin Madouas, Rémi Cavagna, Dorian Godon and Neilson Powless involved. The 10 remaining front riders raced on to the next climbs; the Gulperberg, Kruisberg and the tough Eyserbosweg. Just before the Kruisberg, Pogačar had to change bikes. The two-time Tour winner remained calm and was able to rejoin the front group in no time. With Pogačar back in the first group, the climb of the Eyserbosweg was getting closer. On the steepest sections of this climb, the big favourite decided to make a move for the first time. As a result, the leading group completely exploded and only Pidcock was able to follow the Slovenian. It was clearly too fast for all the others, although Ben Healy managed to return after the Eyserbosweg. Lutsenko and Kron also tried to pull back the leader, but Pogačar, Pidcock and Healy were not going to be caught.

On the particularly steep Keutenberg, with ramps above 20%, the race was put to the sword. Pogačar was clearly not finished yet and gave it another strong effort. Healy was the first rider to crack and then Pidcock lost hold just before the top. Pogačar was now solo with 28 kilometres to go – a long solo, but would it be too long? Pidcock and Healy were at 15 seconds, but on the flatter kilometres, Pogačar stretched his lead. The Slovenian started the Geulhemmerberg, the penultimate climb, with a lead of 30 seconds. On this climb the lights went out for Pidcock. The INEOS rider was unable to follow the strong Healy, who was 2nd in last week’s Brabantse Pijl. The Irishman of EF Education-EasyPost got closer to Pogačar on his own. Pogačar was also suffering in the final and Healy got within 20 seconds, but the Slovenian didn’t let him get any closer. He extended his lead in the last 10 kilometres and had plenty of time to enjoy his first Amstel Gold Race victory. The 22 year-old Healy finished second in his first Amstel participation. A very tired Pidcock just held Lutsenko and Kron off for 3rd place.

*** See the full ‘PEZ Race Report’ for more photos HERE. ***

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Race winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “I did not expect that we’d go in the breakaway so early, and I was on a sort of flat tyre for many kms in the front and I was doubting I could come to the finish solo. Mathieu van der Poel told me I should go on the Keutenberg. It is the hardest climb and it suits me the most. He told me that three days ago, he sent me a message. I will thank him for the advice.”

2nd Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost): “I’m second behind the best rider in the world, I can be happy with that. It was a wear and tear. If you weren’t constantly at the front, you missed the connection. You really had to stay alert all the time to be able to compete for the win. I’m always good in these circumstances. If you’re sharp all day you won’t get into trouble, but a lot of riders really suffered from it. I could benefit from that. I really found my place this year. I am very happy with that. The legs were good again today. I hope to take this form with me to the upcoming classics as well.”

3rd, Thomas Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers): “I had absolutely nothing left at the end there. I struggled a little bit with the distance. At the end the last 20km was a long way for me there. It was certainly a good situation. The idea was to get Magnus up the road. It was very strange with the break being caught so early and I just thought I’d go. I was feeling a bit blocked from the rain, so I thought I’d open myself up a bit and get warm. Then we found ourselves off the front. It was a long way out, at some point we thought we were going to get caught, and that made it hard for sure. [Pogacar] showed that he was strong. I think he changed his bike on one of the climbs and he came back very quick. Like I said before the race we knew he was the guy you can’t not watch. When he goes he goes hard and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. It was good today. I just lacked a little bit I think.”

4th, Andreas Kron (Lotto Dstny): “I am really proud of this team performance but of course it’s a pity to come so close to the podium. To be honest I didn’t feel great anymore in the final and due to maybe a moment of hesitation we could just not catch Pidcock. The race was opened really soon and together with teammate Arjen I could join the interesting move. I could not match the acceleration of Pogacar on the Eyserbosweg. I knew that I could not go over the limit and had to save some forces, so we could maybe return. We still rode really fast in the chase but Pogacar really is on another level. With a fourth and seventh place we can go into the next Ardennes Classics with confidence.”

7th, Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny): “It took a while before I got up to speed but eventually I felt really strong in the final. With Andreas Kron at the front we were in a good situation but that way I could maybe not empty myself completely. Maybe an even better result was possible, personally but a fourth and seventh place in Amstel is a really nice performance for Lotto Dstny. I’m a good duo with Andreas and hopefully we can show it again in the next races.”

Amstel Gold Race – Men Result:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 6:02:02
2. Ben Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost at 0:38
3. Thomas Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 2:14
4. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Dstny
5. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan
6. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Soudal Quick-Step at 3:14
7. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny
8. Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo
9. Alexander Kamp (Den) Tudor
10. Axel Zingle (Fra) Cofidis.

Amstel’23:

 

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Amstel Gold Race – Women 2023
Demi Vollering won the Amstel Gold Race for women on Sunday. The Dutch rider of SD Worx attacked at top of the Cauberg for the last time and soloed to victory. Lotte Kopecky completed the podium for SD Worx, as the Belgian won the sprint for second place, ahead of Shirin van Anrooij.

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The final of the Amstel Gold Race for women took place on a circuit with the Geulhemmerberg, the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg. The lap had to be ridden four times. Before that there was a long loop through the Heuvelland of South Limburg. In the first section there was the Kruisberg, Eyserbosweg, Fromberg and Keutenberg to be climbed. The total distance was 155.8 kilometres.

After an hour of racing there was still no break, but with just under a 100 kilometres to go, that changed. Sabrina Stultiens (Liv Racing TeqFind) started a move and was joined by Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo), Jelena Erić (Movistar), Marie Le Net (FDJ-SUEZ), Juliette Labous (DSM) and Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx). Erić had to let them go, so 6 riders started the Keutenberg together. There was an attack by Annemiek van Vleuten from the peloton, as Movistar now had no one at the front. With a small group of riders, the World Champion crossed to the front. Later a third group also joined, so there was now a large group with 80 kilometres to go. About 10 kilometres later, Brand attacked again. On the Geulhemmerberg she was joined by Stultiens, whom we also saw on the attack earlier. The two worked well together and extended their lead over the peloton to almost 2 minutes. Movistar saw the danger and put the pressure on, as did FDJ-SUEZ. At the start of the last two laps, with just over 35 kilometres to go, the difference had decreased to about 30 seconds.

Then the lead then decreased to 12 seconds, but they managed to take a little more time. It turned out to be a short effort, because with 23 kilometres to go, the two were finally caught. A few kilometres later, it was the penultimate ascent of the Cauberg. Immediately from the start, Lorena Wiebes went ‘full gas’, but after a few hundred metres the sprinter came to a standstill. The next to try was Kristen Faulkner. The American of Jayco AlUla continued on top of the Cauberg and made a nice gap. She crossed the line 7 seconds ahead, to the sound of the bell for the final lap. Wiebes, who apparently had recovered from her previous effort, made the jump in the run-up to the Geulhemmerberg, followed by the rest of the peloton. There was no escape in the following kilometres, although there was a wasted attempt by Soraya Paladin. On the flatter section between the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg there was another attack from Van Vleuten, but the attempt by the World Champion came to nothing. The accelerations of Katarzyna Niewiadoma and Mischa Bredewold were also quickly nipped in the bud. The next attack came from Paladin, who went on the Bemelerberg.

The Canyon-SRAM rider quickly took the lead and rode alone to the Cauberg. In the pursuit of Paladin, the others mainly looked at each other. Paladin also turned out to be an ideal target for counter-attackers. Grace Brown of FDJ-SUEZ, managed to get over to Paladin with 5 kilometres to go. At the foot of the climb, the difference was 10 seconds. Paladin came through and rode Brown off her wheel, but was joined by seven riders at the top of the Cauberg. Demi Vollering was one of these riders and had something left for one last attack. Vollering made a nice gap and this turned out to be the winning move and she soloed to victory. This is Vollering’s third classic victory of the season after the Strade Bianche and Dwars door Vlaanderen. The sprint for second place was won by SD Worx’s other leader, Kopecky, ahead of Van Anrooij, Niewiadoma and Paladin.

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Race winner, Demi Vollering (SD Worx): “I’m going to sleep very well tonight! I can’t quite believe it yet. We rode a really good race today as a team. This was really a course of dedication. Mischa (Bredewold) constantly burned herself out for us and Lorena (Wiebes) also did a great job. And now we also have Lotte (Kopecky) in this race. That’s ideal. Normally I rely on my sprint, but this time I was able to attack myself. I saw that it was completely apart on the Cauberg. I decided to ride my own pace and not blow myself up. I waited for the pace to slow down a bit. I actually thought I had gone a little too early, but that turned out not to be the case.”

2nd, Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx): “This was another great day for the team. Another one two this season is pretty special, we have done it more often this spring. Because we are so complementary, we can play the game. For Demi, it’s a luxury to know I’m still there to finish it off in the sprint. It’s nice that she kept it to the end. The fact that I finished second completes it for the team. I am therefore satisfied with my spring. I would give it a nine.”

3rd, Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo): “I’m generally not a sprinter, but I know I can finish well after a gruelling race. With three laps to go I had two flat tires. It took me a whole lap to come back. I was really empty after that and just tried to sit along and work for Elisa Longo Borghini, our leader for today. At the last time up the Cauberg, however, I was suddenly in the lead and I also suddenly come third in the sprint. No idea how! What else is in the barrel? No idea, I keep surprising myself. I’m just looking forward to the next two Classics and maybe there’s something nice in it, although my spring has already been more than successful. It is already much better than I could have ever dreamed.”

4th, Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM): “I’m unsure how I feel about today’s result. But I am sure with the way we rode as a team! It was cool to see us being aggressive and choosing the right moments to attack, like Soraya’s attack at the end. She did so well and was close to making it; I think she just needed 100m more to be at the point where the others hesitate and let her go. Having Soraya in the front made me hesitate on the final Cauberg as I didn’t want to close the gap by attacking, so I decided to stay in the wheels. Maybe my final was a bit too conservative. I felt comfortable having teammates around who created a hard race and stayed present in the front for practically the whole race. I wonder if there are other cyclists who have as many fourth, fifth or sixth places as me, but instead, I’m concentrating on how good the team performance was today. I’m honestly very happy with that.”

5th, Soraya Paladin (Canyon//SRAM): “It’s hard to know how to feel. I’m sad and happy at the same time. We deserved a podium with the way our team raced. It’s sad we didn’t get it, but I’m happy with my feelings and that we made a difference in the race. I used some energy in the earlier part of the race with going in the breakaway, but I enjoyed it and was happy to be active. I liked the Bemelerberg climb, and on the final lap, I saw a few sprinters were still there, so I said to myself that you have nothing to lose. It was a hard effort, so it was nice to have some cheering from the race car. I only thought about going as deep as I could and nothing else. I’m unhappy being so close to the podium and not on it. It’s one of my favourite races, and I dream of celebrating with the podium beer.”

Amstel Gold Race – Women Result:
1. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx in 4:06:54
2. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SD Worx at 0:08
3. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
4. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon//SRAM
5. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon//SRAM
6. Grace Brown (Aus) FDJ-SUEZ
7. Pfeiffer Georgi (GB) DSM
8. Ashleigh Moolman (SA) AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step
9. Silvia Persico (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
10. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-SUEZ.

Amstel’23:

 

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Giro di Sicilia 2023
Joel Suter won the Third Stage of the Giro di Sicilia. The Swiss of Tudor was in the early break, rode away 16 kilometres from the finish and held off the peloton in the difficult final. Filippo Fiorelli was second, Elia Viviani third.

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Stage 3 went from Enna to Termini Imerese on Thursday, 150 kilometres long with 1,600 metres of climbing. The hills were mainly in the first 70 kilometres of the stage. After that the course was downhill or flat. The finish was difficult again, as the last 1.2 kilometres had ramps of up to 6.3% to the Piazza Duomo in Termini Imerese.

Six riders broke away early. Pierelis Belletta (Biesse-Carrera), Michele Berasi (General Store-Essegibi-F.Lli Curia), Roberto Carlos González (Mg.K Vis – Colors for Peace), Giacomo Garavaglia (Work Service-Vitalcare-Dynatek), Edoardo Faresin (Zalf Euromobil Désirée Fior) and Joel Suter (Tudor) gained a 4 minute lead. In the peloton, the pace was set for a while by Astana Qazaqstan’s Mark Cavendish. Later Intermarché-Circus-Wanty took over with Jayco-AlUla. The difference to the leaders was reduced to under 1 minute with 16 kilometres to go. That was the signal for Suter to go solo.

The 24 year-old Swiss rider, who raced for UAE Team Emirates last year, went solo and held out. While the rest of the leading group was caught 9 kilometres from the finish, he still had a lead of 50 seconds. He still had about 10 seconds with the very steep last kilometre. Suter held on to his lead even as Filippo Fiorelli came very close. Elia Viviani, riding for the Italian national team, finished in third place. Damiano Caruso crashed in the final kilometre at the front of the peloton, which held them up. There were no big gaps, so overall leader, Finn Fisher-Black didn’t lose time.

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Stage winner, Joel Suter (Tudor): “On the flat, I had a pretty good pace. The gap wasn’t getting any smaller and I could hold it. Up the climb, I was just trying to stay on the bike in the corners and push as hard as I could. I also looked over my shoulder and realised the chasers weren’t there yet. I had good legs but it was quite hard till the end. This is the third win for our team Tudor, we’re getting better and better. Our manager Fabian Cancellara was my idol before. It’s super nice to get some good tips from him.”

Overall leader, Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates): “My legs felt good but it was crazy in the bunch with people shouting everywhere. We tried to have a well organised lead out with Ivo [Olveira] and Alvaro [Hodeg]. Luckily Diego [Ulissi] was there to contest the sprint but unfortunately I wasn’t but I’m happy to retain the jersey. I don’t know what to expect tomorrow. I’ll give it a shot. We have a strong team, probably the strongest team for the mountains. For sure we’ll use it and I think it’ll come down to the last climb and whoever comes over there with a gap will win. I prefer the short climbs. On paper tomorrow’s stage is pretty scary. I’m 69kg, it’s a bit heavy for being a climber but maybe I can keep up.”

Giro di Sicilia Stage 3 Result:
1. Joel Suter (Sui) Tudor in 3:33:14
2. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè at 0:04
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Italy
4. Giosuè Epis (Ita) Zalf Euromobil Désirée Fior
5. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa
6. Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Tudor
7. Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
8. Nikiforos Arvanitou (Gre) Sofer Savini Due OMZ
9. Kevin Colleoni (Ita) Jayco AlUla
10. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates.

Giro di Sicilia Overall After Stage 3:
1. Finn Fisher-Black (NZ) UAE Team Emirates in 11:25:52
2. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa at 0:06
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:14
4. Walter Calzoni (Ita) Q36.5 Pro Cycling at 0:18
5. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan
6. Kobe Goossens (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
7. Kevin Colleoni (Ita) Jayco AlUla
8. Valerio Conti (Ita) Team Corratec
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
10. Thomas Pesenti (Ita) Beltrami TSA-Tre Colli.

Sicilia’23 stage 3:

 

Alexey Lutsenko won the Final Stage 4 and the overall of the Giro di Sicilia. The Kazakh rider of Astana Qazaqstan attacked on the last climb of the day and then soloed to the finish-line. This was Lutsenko’s first win of the season.

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The last stage of the Giro di Sicilia was tough. From Barcellona Pozzo di Gotta to Giarre, a stage of 216 kilometres, with quite a few metres of climbing. At the start of the day, Finn Fisher-Black, the leader on GC, was not sure of the overall victory. The top-20 was within 18 seconds of Fisher-Black before the final stage.

Bart Lemmen (Human Powered Health), Alexis Guerin (Bingoal WB), Luc Wirtgen (Tudor), Erik Fetter (EOLO-Kometa), Martin Marcellusi & Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) and Negasi Haylu Abreha (Q36.5) were the early escapees. The seven escaped on the long climb of the Floresta (43.3km at 2.7%). They reached the top of the Floresta together, but on Mount Etna (17.6km at 6.1%) the leading group was split apart. Zoccarato and Guerin were the only two riders who managed to stay away from the peloton. The two were joined by Rainer Kepplinger of Bahrain Victorious had jumped to the first group on Etna. The climb of Etna had also thinned the peloton. A group of about 20 riders, including the main favourites, started the last 50 kilometres together. Kobe Goossens, 6th overall, crossed to the front on the descent. Next, Mark Donovan and Gianmarco Garofoli also joined them. Kepplinger, Zoccarato and Guerin were then dropped. On the long descent it was chaotic. Several riders attacked, but the differences remained very small. At the foot of the Culmine di Scorciavacca (10.2km at 6.3%), Goossens, Donovan and Garofoli had a lead of about 30 seconds over Damiano Caruso and Alexey Lutsenko, but they soon joined the front runners.

The UAE Team Emirates riders and leader Fisher-Black were in a tricky situation. They followed at 50 seconds behind the five leaders. Diego Ulissi didn’t have much left, so it was Rafel Majka who had to ride for the GC. Majka’s work had an effect. The Pole reduced the difference to 30 seconds. Lutsenko knew what was happening behind and attacked. Caruso was on the wheel of the Astana Qazaqstan rider, but was unable to follow. It was Goossens who closed the gap to Lutsenko. This didn’t last long, because a few seconds later Goossens had to let go of Lutsenko’s wheel. Lutsenko escaped with 25 kilometres to go. Goossens, Donovan and Caruso were then caught by the group with Fisher-Black. Louis Meintjes saw that the New Zealander was having a hard time and attacked. Meintjes rounded the top of the Culmine di Scorciavacca 30 seconds from Lutsenko, the chasing group followed at less than a minute. On the descent, Lutsenko only extended his lead and rode to his first win of the season. Due to his big lead, the Kazakh also grabbed the final overall of the Giro di Sicilia. Meintjes also held on and the Intermarché-Circus-Wanty rider finished second in the general classification. Vincenzo Albanese was third on the final stage. Fisher-Black was eighth and lost his overall lead.

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Stage winner and final overall winner, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan): “It was clear that the last stage would most likely be decisive for the fight for the General Classification. That’s why I was motivated for today. Although, I can’t said, that I did not try at the previous stages – I tried at the first stage and finished fifth, yesterday there was a chance, but the final was very tricky one with a lot of turns in the last kilometre, besides, there was a crash of Damiano Caruso. So, it all came down to the final stage, and together with the team we were going to give 100%. The plan was to try something on the last climb, so that’s where I accelerated, in the end I was left alone with Caruso. We caught up with the breakaway, and somewhere in the middle of the climb, on the steepest section, I launched a new attack. I saw that it turned out to open the gap and I decided to go to the finish line pushing as hard as possible. I am very happy with this victory, I know that it was important for the team to show the result, and today we all did it together – we won the stage and the overall standings. Many thanks to my team for their support, this is our team success.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty): “The programme that the team offered me in 2022 brought me a lot of success, that’s why we chose to almost copy paste my race calendar for 2023. Participating in the Tour of Sicily seemed a logical choice, in the middle of a demanding World Tour race block with the Tour of Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie. We knew a mountain stage was included in this stage race, so I focused on this queen stage to make the difference on the final day. I rapidly noticed that Alexey Lutsenko was making a good impression. I think second place was the best possible result, taking into account the profile with the long downhill to the finish. I was privileged to finish on the podium for a second consecutive year, but my teammates Kobe Goossens or Simone Petilli also could have achieved this result for the team. This were strong. We know our respective qualities, we communicate a lot and that’s why we can show an excellent cohesion in the race. Our two cyclocross specialists did a great job in their first race for the team and with his victory, Niccolo Bonifazio put a cherry on the cake. We had a really good week with the six of us and the staff.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa): “It was a very hard last stage. We tried to be good at the start and not to lose the race. I think it was a really hard day for me, but I tried to give everything because I wanted to get a great position. In the end, third in the stage and third overall, we didn’t win but if you told me a month ago that I was going to get this result I would have signed it, I’m really happy.”

Giro di Sicilia Stage 4 Result:
1. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan in 5:29:50
2. Louis Meintjes (SA) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:40
3. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa at 1:13
4. Yannis Voisard (Sui) Tudor
5. Kobe Goossens (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
6. Mark Donovan (GB) Q36.5 Pro Cycling
7. Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 1:15
8. Finn Fisher-Black (NZ) UAE Team Emirates
9. Rafał Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates at 1:24
10. Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè at 2:52.

Giro di Sicilia Final Overall Result:
1. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan in 16:55:50
2. Louis Meintjes (SA) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:44
3. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa at 1:07
4. Finn Fisher-Black (NZ) UAE Team Emirates
5. Mark Donovan (GB) Q36.5 Pro Cycling at 1:20
6. Kobe Goossens (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 1:21
7. Yannis Voisard (Sui) Tudor at 1:23
8. Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 1:25
9. Rafał Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates at 1:34
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 3:02.

Sicilia’23 stage 4:

 

uae
Jay Vine Will Start Giro d’Italia
The 2023 season started well for Jay Vine with the Australian time trial title and overall win in the Santos Tour Down Under. At the beginning of February, things went wrong. The UAE Team Emirates climber suffered a knee injury and left the UAE Tour because of the injury and has not raced since. Vine has managed to solve the knee problems and is looking forward to the Giro d’Italia, he told Cyclingnews.

Vine was unable to ride for a week and then limited herself to easy rides on the home trainer. “It was a long and tedious process to get the knee repaired, but the team wanted to make sure there was no chronic or long-term pain and that I could continue the season without surgery. Everything turned out fine now, so that’s encouraging.”

Vine found out the cause of the pain behind his right kneecap. “I changed a cleat after coming back from Australia,” said the 27 year-old, who returned to his European base in Andorra after the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. “Then I started training with six degrees below zero, so I didn’t feel it. But that was enough to cause the damage. I’ve had it before and normally it goes away after a day. When I went to the UAE Tour, we thought it would go better or it was possible to get through it.” This appeared to not be the case. Vine abandoned after stage two and then had to rest.

Now he has been on the bike for a month and is building up towards the Giro start on May 6. Prior to the Italian Grand Tour, he could ride the Tour de Romandie, but has decided to travel to Fossacesia Marina for La Grande Partenza without any racing. “I really like training and the process of preparing for an event. I can prepare myself very well for a race on my own during training.”

Instead of contesting the Tour de Romandie, Vine will go on an altitude training camp in the Sierra Nevada with João Almeida, the UAE Team Emirates leader for the Giro. The exact role for Vine is not yet known. But whatever role he gets, the Australian is confident that he will be there. “The form has come back very quickly after the injury, so that is a good sign. Although the other guys did have good races with the Tour of Catalonia and Tirreno-Adriatico.”

Vine fit for the Giro:
tdu23

 

movistar
Jumbo-Visma Interested in Matteo Jorgenson
Matteo Jorgenson has shown the Movistar jersey this spring, but it is possible that the Spanish team will lose the American at the end of this season. Jorgenson’s contract expires at the end of 2023 and according to Ciro Scognamiglio of La Gazzetta dello Sport, several teams have already shown interest in the 23-year-old rider.

Jumbo-Visma, EF Education-EasyPost are both interested in Jorgenson. “At the moment, the Dutch team seems to be the first option on the table,” Scognamiglio wrote on Twitter.

Jorgenson has been riding well in recent years, but this season has been his real breakthrough. In February he won a stage and the general classification in the Tour of Oman, before finishing eighth in Paris-Nice in March and fourth in the E3 Saxo Classic. At the beginning of April, a ninth place in the Tour of Flanders.

Jorgenson on the move?
tdf22st16

 

lotto
Maxim Van Gils Wants to Continue Strong Season Debut at Ardennes Classics
On Sunday 16 April, the Amstel Gold Race was the second of four in the list of Ardennes Classics. In the Dutch province of Limburg, the peloton faced 250 kilometres of racing, 33 hills included with amongst others the famous Cauberg, Eyserbosweg and Keutenberg. At less than ten kilometres from the line, the Bemelerberg is the final hurdle before the finish in Berg en Terblijt.

At Lotto Dstny, Dutch champion Pascal Eenkhoorn, Harry Sweeny, Jarrad Drizners and Rüdiger Selig are all making their debut at the Amstel. Andreas Kron, Arjen Livyns and Maxim Van Gils known the Dutch roads. The 23-year-old Maxim Van Gils had a strong start to the season and came close to victory at Volta Limburg Classic two weeks ago. Due to illness, he missed Brabantse Pijl but the young Belgian is fit again and ready.

“Unfortunately, I got ill after the Volta Limburg Classic, maybe the bad weather had something to do with it. After several good training rides and the recon together with the team, I feel ready to take on the Ardennes Classics,” starts Van Gils. “It doesn’t start in Belgium for me, but in the Amstel Gold Race. Last year, I participated for the first time and I learned that the Amstel is a race without too many moments of rest. Due to the toughness of the race, everyone ends up with an honest result.”

From the start of his season in Oman to the Volta Limburg Classic two weeks ago, Van Gils impressed and accumulated the good results. The rider from Wuustwezel, Belgium wants to continue on the same path in the races to come.

“I am really happy with the solid start to the season and I want to keep going this way in the hilly Classics. I started really strong in the Middle East, felt good at Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo and laid the foundations for the coming races in Catalunya. I realise that I’ve taken a step forward and feel more fresh to take on the final of a race. It is nice to see that all the hard work is paying off. I target a top ten spot in this Ardennes campaign. Maybe it’s most realistic to do so in the Amstel Gold Race, but also a race such as Flèche Wallonne should definitely suit me.”

Van Gils again expected a tough edition of the Amstel Gold Race. “Just like last year, the race is a real war of attrition, with its many hills and technical course. I expect that the trend of the past races will continue and it will split to pieces. The decision could be anywhere but the steep Keutenberg will for sure be a crucial point. At Lotto Dstny we have several strong riders within the team and we are keen on showing ourselves again,” concluded Van Gils.

Maxim Van Gils looking forward to the Ardennes:
strade

 

groupama
Pinot: “Everyone is Talking About my Farewell, but I Still Want to Show Myself”
Thibaut Pinot finished second to Kévin Vauquelin on Mont Poupet (10.6km at 4.8%) in the Tour du Jura. “It’s always a disappointment to finish second, we came to win,” the Frenchman told DirectVelo after the race. “We just came across someone who was stronger,” Pinot is honest. “Kévin was just a few steps above us. It was just like Friday (Pinot finished fifth in the Classic Grand Besançon Doubs). We just lack that little bit to compete for the victory, which is a pity. Still, I’m happy. It was a hellish day, a course that will long be remembered. In these conditions, with the cold, it really wasn’t easy. I would have loved to win to thank everyone. Groupama-FDJ really took its responsibility today! It was a dangerous situation, because Arkéa-Samsic sent a rider (Alessandro Verre) ahead who took three quarters of a minute. But our young riders again did an incredible job. Especially Lorenzo (Germani) was very strong. I would have loved to finish it for him, but I just missed that little bit extra.”

Pinot says he was ill after Tirreno-Adriatico. “It is difficult to be 100% at the moment, but I hope to be able to improve my form in the coming weeks. We must not forget that it is still three weeks before the start of the Giro, my big goal. The Tour de Romandie is also included. I am confident about it.”

Pinot is also confident that he will be even better in the Giro d’Italia for another reason. “There you have real mountain stages, with efforts of thirty to forty minutes. This is very different work. I prefer the long efforts, but it is still important to race in races like this and prepare for what is to come.”

“Everyone is talking about my farewell tour, but I still want to show myself in the race. I’m here not only to sign autographs and take pictures with fans, but also to win competitions. That’s what matters to me,” said the climber, who is working on his last season as a professional cyclist.

Thibaut Pinot on his final season:
Groupama-FDJ Pinot

 

uae
Molano Pens New 3-year deal to stay at UAE Team Emirates
Colombian commits long-term.

Sebastian Molano has inked a new three year deal to keep him at UAE Team Emirates until 2026.

The 28 year old Colombian has had his 2023 season derailed by injury though is undergoing rehabilitation and is expected to be back in action in the coming months, having already shown a strong start to the season with victories at the UAE Tour and the GP de Denain.

Mauro Gianetti (Team Principal & CEO) : “Molano is a rider we have seen progress steadily over the years and really find his place in the team. We trust that we will see many more great things to come from him in the future.”

Molano: “I’m extremely pleased to be staying here for the next three years. The team feels like a second family and there is a special atmosphere between everyone. I feel like I’ve grown a lot in this team and I want to continue that growth in the years to come.”

Three more years for Molano:
uae

 

alpecin-deceuninck
UAE Team Emirates Wanted Mathieu van der Poel
UAE Team Emirates showed interest in Mathieu van der Poel last season. Leo van Vliet, race director of the Amstel Gold Race, said in the WielerFlits Podcast. Mauro Gianetti, the team boss of Tadej Pogačar’s team, asked Van Vliet if he could pass a message to Van der Poel.

Van Vliet does not mind that big names such as Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert are not participating in the Amstel Gold Race this year. “I can’t do anything about that. If I can change something, I will do everything I can. But this makes no sense to go after it yourself. I called team leader, Mauro Gianetti…”

Because Gianetti is the manager of the top favourite for Sunday, Tour of Flanders winner Tadej Pogačar. “I say: ‘Pogačar will come, won’t he?’ Yes, he doesn’t come for the pies, he comes to win. I just wanted to know if he was motivated. But I think that guy is always motivated. And Gianetti is a winner here. He won the first Amstel Gold Race I did (in 1995, ed.), so I talk to him now and then. Last year in the Giro I spoke to him for a long time. Then he also said that he would like to have Van der Poel in his team.”

“Wouldn’t I be able to take care of that… I told him to call his father,” Adrie van der Poel. It was a serious comment, according to Van Vliet. “I did tell Adrie, because he did something for the Amstel Gold Race in the spring. But he shrugged his shoulders,” said Van Vliet. “I think Van der Poel is good where he is. It is special that he was the only crosser who became a road racer with that team, and if you see what that team is doing now…”

The Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix winner Mathieu van der Poel, who has been racing for the Roodhooft brothers all his life, has a contract with Alpecin-Deceuninck until the end of 2025.

Van der Poel and pogačar in the same team?
flanders23

 

Q36.5
Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team Extends Contract with Walter Calzoni
Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team is thrilled to announce the contract extension of Walter Calzoni, one of its most promising neo-pro cyclists, through 2026.

The 21-year-old Italian joined Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team as a young and talented cyclist with a promising future. A few months into the season Calzoni showcased his climbing and GC potential with an exceptional performance in the Tour du Rwanda where he claimed an impressive second place on the General Classification, securing the first stage-race overall podium for Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team.

If in Rwanda Calzoni proved himself as a promising climber and GC contender, his performance at the Jaén Paraiso Interior and Strade Bianche was equally impressive, as he demonstrated his versatility and technical acumen on the challenging gravel terrain.

At the Italian one-day race Per Sempre Alfredo, Calzoni came agonisingly close to his maiden victory as a pro, when a crash in the final descent when he was leading the race solo, thwarted his bid for glory.

Walter Calzoni once again showed his racing pedigree at the 2023 Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali where he made the podium on stage 3 and finish 9th on the Overall Classification.

“We are very excited to extend Walter’s contract with the team! He has shown incredible talent and work ethic during his time with us, and we believe that he has a bright future ahead of him. We are confident that he will continue to develop and contribute to the team’s success over the next few years,” said Doug Ryder, General Manager of Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team.

Calzoni is equally enthusiastic about the extension of his contract, saying, “I am very happy to continue my journey with Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team. The team has been incredibly supportive and has given me the opportunity to develop as a cyclist. I feel very comfortable in the team, and I see that everyone cares about my growth and wants to ensure that it happens gradually. I look forward to working with my teammates and the staff to achieve our goals and bring more success to the team.”

“I would say that the first racing experiences went very well, even if the victory was lacking but we will work hard with the team to try and get it already this year. In the future, I dream of being able to be a protagonist in both the Classics and Grand Tour WorldTour races,” concluded Calzoni.

With Calzoni’s extension, Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team reinforces its commitment to nurturing young talent and building a strong and successful team for years to come.

Calzoni extends with Q36.5:Walter Calzoni

 

groupama
Marc Madiot Argues for a Budget Cap
Marc Madiot has said he would like a budget cap for the WorldTour teams. The French manager of Groupama-FDJ was questioned about the dominance of a number of teams such as Jumbo-Visma and Alpecin-Deceuninck. “It is very difficult to change things.”

A study by La Dernière Heure showed that Jumbo-Visma, Alpecin-Deceuninck, UAE Team Emirates and Soudal Quick-Step account for no less than 73% of the victories in the WorldTour this season. The Belgian newspaper then asked some figures in cycling for their opinion. “Such teams can field six or seven leaders every race. Most teams can’t do that,” said Madiot.

“If we don’t limit the budgets, we will remain in a situation where the giant teams can control everything. But it is very difficult to change things. These teams can choose the day, time and place of the moment they will do some housework. And that’s what they do.” Madiot also expects that the differences between the larger and smaller teams will continue to increase. Ultimately, according to Madiot, this will ensure that several teams can no longer afford it.

“When you negotiate with a rider, you have to spend a lot more money than our competitors to offer him an equivalent income,” Madiot continued. “But I’m still at the point where I count every euro.”

Cap the team’s budget:
Tarare - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Marc Madiot dir sportif FdJ pictured during stage-3 of the Dauphine Libere 2013 - photo Wessel van Keuk/Cor Vos © 2013

 

zaaf
Mareille Meijering Leaves the Zaaf Team
Mareille Meijering has left Zaaf’s ailing women’s team. The 28 year-old Dutch raced for the Spanish team in the first months of this season, but the team is in financial trouble and hasn’t paid salaries. Now Meijering has decided to leave the team.

The Zaaf team applied for a UCI license for this year with big plans. They signed leader Audrey Cordon-Ragot, the French champion, but now riders are allowed to look for a new team. The UCI has approved the riders leaving, because many complaints have been received about non-payment of salaries. Normally, interim transfers are only allowed from June 1, but the UCI have allowed the riders to make a switch to another UCI team because of the reported problems.

Meijering, who finished 10th in the UAE Tour for women, has now also left, but not for another UCI team. She joins the Drenthe cycling club WV De Kannibaal. “Unfortunately, the adventure at Zaaf did not turn out as hoped and expected,” she announced. “Nevertheless, I am very grateful for all the opportunities I have been given and the wonderful people I have met.”

Mareille Meijering off to Kannibaal:
Mareille Meijering

 

israel roland
Elizabeth Stannard Leaves Zaaf and Moves to Israel-Premier Tech Roland
Elizabeth Stannard is the next rider to leave the Zaaf team. The Australian rider has moved to Israel-Premier Tech Roland. Stannard was at the start of the Amstel Gold Race for her new team on Sunday.

At the beginning of this week, the message came out that Zaaf’s riders were allowed to look for a new team. The Spanish team was facing financial problems. The French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot left Zaaf. She signed a contract with Human Powered Health.

“I am extremely grateful to Israel-Premier Tech Roland for giving me this opportunity after these difficult last months, and I can’t wait to start the rest of the season,” Stannard said on the new team’s website. “I’m excited to build on my experience from last year, and in particular I’m looking forward to racing well in the stage races coming a bit later in the season.”

Elizabeth Stannard to Israel-Premier Tech Roland:
stannard

 

amstel
Amstel Gold Race Has a New Photo-Finish
The Amstel Gold Race has teamed up with the same company that does the photo finishes for the Tour de France. Organiser Leo van Vliet said last week in the WielerFlits Podcast: “In addition, this year we also have the best jury members in the Netherlands.”

The photo finish in the Amstel Gold Race has been much-discussed and argued about after the last two editions of the Dutch Classic. Last year Benoît Cosnefroy was declared the winner after the sprint, but that was corrected a little later, saying Michal Kwiatkowski had crossed the finish line first. A year earlier, we only had a winner after a long time, as the judges decided that Wout van Aert had won by the smallest difference ahead of Tom Pidcock.

Organiser Van Vliet told WielerFlits: “We now have a partner who also does the photo finishes for the Tour de France. In addition, this year we also have the best jury members in the Netherlands.”

The Amstel Gold Race needed the photo-finish in 2021 and 2022:
amstel

 

ag soudal
AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step Receives Wildcard for Tour de France Femmes
Seven teams have received a wildcard for the Tour de France Femmes. The Belgian AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step is one of the teams that has received an invitation from ASO to participate. Ceratizit-WNT and Lifeplus Wahoo automatically received a wildcard for the Tour.

The fifteen Women’s WorldTeams all participate in the Tour de France Femmes. This means that we will see Fenix-Deceuninck, Liv Racing TeqFind, DSM, Jumbo-Visma and SD Worx in action in France. The Movistar team of defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten is also participating.

In addition to AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step, the continental teams of Arkéa, Cofidis, St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93 and Coop-Hitec Products also received a wildcard for the second edition.

The Tour de France for women is scheduled from July 23-30, and will start on the final day of the Tour for men, just like last year.

tdf23w

 

fleche wallonne
Tadej Ready to Po-Go-Go in the Ardenns
It feels like the dawn of a new era! Alejandro Valverde, Philippe Gilbert and Vincenzo Nibali all hung up their bicycles in 2022, dramatically changing the landscape of the Ardennes classics. The voracious appetite of Tadej Pogacar is set to shake it up even more in spring 2023, in which he will be tackling the Amstel-Flèche-Liège trilogy for the first time since 2019. Then 20 years old, had recently made his first blip on the radar with a triumph in the Volta ao Algarve. Fast forward four years and “Pogi” is the odds-on favourite in any race and on any terrain, a role he usually embraces with enthusiasm. He has already bagged 10 victories this season, including the Vuelta a Andalucía, Paris–Nice and the Tour of Flanders While the Slovenian has never finished higher than ninth (2022) in the Flèche Wallonne, he certainly has the punch to emerge victorious from the clash on the Mur de Huy, not least because of his experience, with four starts under his belt.

Yet the climber with a rebel streak is still only human. The main combatants in the battle royale on the slopes of the Mur de Huy appear evenly matched, as none has scored more than once on this daunting, exceptional climb. The reigning champion, Dylan Teuns, has been firing blank shots since the season got under way and, in general, his performances since joining Israel–Premier Tech have been nothing to write home about. The start list is full of riders on a roll. Tom Pidcock, in a league of his own in Strade Bianche, has what it takes to build on his sixth place from 2021 and could even add another prestigious classic to his tally if he carries on his stellar form from Italy. Ditto for David Gaudu, who showed in Paris–Nice (second) that he has the legs to improve on his seventh place from 2021. French prospects are not limited to the Groupama–FDJ climber, as the Flèche Wallonne could also set the stage for the long-awaited return in force of Benoît Cosnefroy (second in 2020), Warren Barguil (fourth in 2020 and fifth in 2021) or Romain Bardet (ninth in 2018).

A closer look also reveals a high probability of finding a Spanish-speaking rider trying —and even succeeding— to best Pogacar. Mikel Landa is at the helm of the Spanish Armada following his impressive run in the Tour of the Basque Country (second), where Enric Mas (fifth) and Ion Izagirre (third) were also a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, among the Colombians, Sergio Higuita also stole the show in the Tour of the Basque Country, winning a leg-breaking stage in a new flash of talent. The eye-watering gradients of the Chemin des Chapelles could play to the strengths of the Colombian national champion, Esteban Chaves, as they did last year for Dani Martínez (fifth), Ineos Grenadiers’s other ace. The map of pretenders to the crown now takes us to Canada, where Michael Woods (third in 2020) is a back-up option for Israel–Premier Tech, while Trek–Segafredo’s Italian Giulio Ciccone, who won the stage to the Vallter resort in the Volta a Catalunya and was one of the few riders to beat Primoz Roglič in the one-week race.

Whether or not his collection of silverware has grown in the meantime, Tadej Pogacar also intends to lock horns with Remco Evenepoel in Liège–Bastogne–Liège in a clash of titans between the last two winners. The world champion could put a smile back on the Soudal Quick-Step team’s faces by landing their first monument of the year, perhaps with the help of Julian Alaphilippe, who twice had to settle for second in Liège (2015 and 2021). The Olympic gold medallist, Richard Carapaz, will join the champions already present in Huy, along with Soren Kragh Andersen, Aleksandr Vlasov, Guillaume Martin, Ben O’Connor…

Key points:
Ø
The most prolific winner of this season, Tadej Pogacar, is lining up for all three Ardennes classics, including the 87th edition of the Flèche Wallonne, scheduled for Wednesday, 19 April.
Ø However, there is no shortage of challengers with a better track record than the Slovenian on the Mur de Huy who will do their best to either outgun him or outsmart him, including Tom Pidcock, David Gaudu and Benoît Cosnefroy. The Spaniards Enric Mas and Mikel Landa, as well as the Colombians Sergio Higuita and Dani Martinez, could also join the battle.
Ø After that, Tadej Pogacar will head to Liège–Bastogne–Liège to wrap up his spring classics campaign with a showdown with Remco Evenepoel.

25 teams, main contenders

Germany
Bora–Hansgrohe: Higuita (COL) and Hindley (AUS)

Australia
Jayco AlUla: Sobrero (ITA), Craddock (USA) and Grmay (ETH)

Bahrain
Bahrain Victorious: Landa, Bilbao (ESP), Mohorič (SLO) and Poels (NED)

Belgium
Soudal Quick-Step: Bagioli (ITA), Schmid (SUI) and Vervaeke (BEL)
Lotto Dstny: Van Gils (BEL), Eenkhoorn (NED) and Sweeny (AUS)
Intermarché–Circus–Wanty: Calmejane (FRA) and Costa (POR)
Alpecin–Deceuninck: Hermans (BEL) and Stannard (AUS)
Bingoal–WB: Teugels and Mertz (BEL)

United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: Pogačar (SLO), Hirschi (SUI), Ulissi (ITA) and Wellens (BEL)

Spain
Movistar Team: Mas and Aranburu (ESP)
Equipo Kern Pharma: Adrià and Arrieta (ESP)
Burgos BH: Bol (NED) and Sánchez (ESP)

United States
Trek–Segafredo: Mollema (NED), Ciccone (ITA) and López (ESP)
EF Education–EasyPost: Chaves (COL), Powless (USA) and Honoré (DEN)

France
AG2R Citroën Team: Cosnefroy and Bonnamour (FRA)
Groupama–FDJ: Madouas, Gaudu and Molard (FRA)
Cofidis: Jesús Herrada (ESP) and Lafay (FRA)
Team Arkéa–Samsic: Barguil and Champoussin (FRA)
TotalEnergies: Latour and Vuillermoz (FRA)

United Kingdom
Ineos Grenadiers: Pidcock (GBR), Kwiatkowski (POL) and Martínez (COL)

Israel
Israel–Premier Tech: Teuns (BEL), Woods (CAN) and Schultz (AUS)

Kazakhstan
Astana Qazaqstan Team: Lutsenko (KAZ) and De la Cruz (ESP)

Norway
Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: T. Johannessen (NOR) and Charmig (DEN)

Netherlands
Jumbo–Visma: Benoot (BEL) and Valter (HUN)
Team DSM: Bardet, Combaud (FRA) and Hamilton (AUS)

flèche wallonne

 

fleche wallonne
A Battle Royale to Dethrone Cavalli
How long can Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez) reign over the Mur de Huy? The Italian star is back in the Ardennes, a year after she won the 25th edition of the Flèche Wallonne Femmes, the first since 2014 to crown a champion who is not Anna van der Breggen (a 7-time winner from 2015 to 2021). To defend her victory, the revelation from the 2022 spring classics will benefit from the explosive support of Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (2nd in 2020), before Grace Brown joins them for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but they will also face some intense competition.

Cavalli’s first 15 pursuers last year are also on the list of entrants getting ready for new battles in Huy, starting with the Dutch stars Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Demi Vollering (SD Worx), who both stood on the podium of 2022. Van Vleuten has conquered every summit… with the notable exception of the Mur, where she finished 2nd on three occasions (2015, 2019 and 2022). With the rainbow jersey back on her shoulders, the “oranje” star has one last chance to claim the Flèche, before she retires at the end of the year. Unless she propels her new partner, the young (and brilliant) German puncher Liane Lippert, to success?

Vollering comes without Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (4th in 2022), who left the Dutch powerhouse SD Worx to support the young talents of AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step and in particular Belgium’s Justine Ghekiere. Another seasoned champion in the Ardennes, the Spaniard Mavi Garcia (5th in 2021 and 2022) now races with Liv Racing Teqfind. Her former squad UAE Team ADQ comes with the gifted Italian Silvia Persico, who discovers the Flèche Wallonne Femmes.

Brilliant on the road and in cyclo-cross, Persico will face familiar rivals: the Dutch wonderkids Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma) and Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo), who respectively won the Elite and Under 23 cyclo-cross world champion titles in February. Since then, Van Anrooij has achieved a first major success on the road at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

Already 13th last year, she is part of a Trek-Segafredo armada led by two riders who have already stood on the podium of Huy: Elisa Longo Borghini (2nd in 2013, 3rd in 2014 and 2021)… and Lizzie Deignan (2nd in 2014 and 2017). The British star, who won in Liège in 2020, returns to the Ardennes after giving birth to her second child at the end of last year and before turning for the first edition of La Vuelta Feminina by Carrefour.

The entry list includes another rider who already made it to the top 3 of the Flèche: Kasia Niewiadoma (2nd in 2021, 3rd in 2017), accompanied in particular by Switzerland’s Élise Chabbey for Canyon//Sram. The Polish puncher is a natural favourite after a strong start of the season. But the next generation is preparing to take over the Ardennes!

Key points:
Ø
After she succeeded Queen of the Ardennes Anna van der Breggen, Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez) returns with the support of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig to retain her crown in the 26th Flèche Wallonne Femmes, on Wednesday 19 April.
Ø From world road champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) to cyclo-cross wonderkids Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma) and Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo), Dutch stars gear up to storm Huy.
Ø The field of champions is notably completed by Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), returning to competition after giving birth to her second child.

24 teams, the main contenders

Australia
Team Jayco AlUla: Ane Santesteban (Esp), Ruby Roseman-Gannon (Aus)

Belgium
AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Rsa), Justine Ghekiere (Bel)
Duolar-Chevalmeire: Olha Kulynych (Ukr)
Fenix-Deceuninck: Yara Kastelijn (Ned)
Lotto Dstny Ladies: Mijntje Geurts (Ned)

France
Cofidis Women Team: Rachel Neylan (Aus)
FDJ-Suez: Marta Cavalli (Ita), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den)
St Michel-Mavic-Auber93: Dilyxine Miermont (Fra)

Germany
Canyon//Sram Racing: Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol), Élise Chabbey (Sui)

Great Britain
Lifeplus Wahoo: Margaux Vigié (Fra)

The Netherlands
Liv Racing Teqfind: Mavi Garcia (Esp), Katia Ragusa (Ita)
Parkhotel Valkenburg: Femke Gerritse (Ned)
Team DSM: Juliette Labous (Fra)
Team Jumbo-Visma: Fem van Empel (Ned)
Team SD Worx: Demi Vollering (Ned), Marlen Reusser (Sui)

Norway
Team Coop-Hitec Products: Josie Nelson (Gbr)
Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: Anouska Koster (Ned)

Spain
Movistar Team Women: Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned), Liane Lippert (Ger)
Zaaf Cycling Team: Danielle de Francesco (Aus)

Switzerland
Israel Premier Tech Roland: Claire Steels (Gbr)

The United Arab Emirates
UAE Team ADQ: Silvia Persico (Ita)

The United States of America
EF Education-Tibco-SVB: Krista Doebel-Hicock (Usa), Georgia Williams (Nzl)
Human Powered Health: Nina Buijsman (Hol)
Trek-Segafredo: Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita), Elizabeth Deignan (Gbr), Shirin van Anrooij (Hol)

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