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Huy - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - ALAPHILIPPE Julian (FRA) of Quick - Step Floors pictured during La Flèche Wallonne (1.UWT) - world tour - a one day race for elite between Seraing and Huy in Belgium (198,5KM) - photo JdM/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

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No Flèche Wallonne win for Alejandro Valverde and Thibaut Pinot takes the lead in the Alps – Results and video. Patrick Lefevere unhappy with the race motos – Top Story. In other cycling news: Andy Rihs passing, team line-ups for Liège-Bastogne-Liège (more to come), Eschborn-Frankfurt 2018, Mark Cavendish for Yorkshire, Wahoo for British races and the Sunweb Keep Challenging Center. A full EUROTRASH Thursday.

TOP STORY: Motorbikes Decided Amstel Result?
Quick-Step Floor’s manager, Patrick Lefevere, declared after Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race that the TV motorbikes helped the break of Michael Valgren and Roman Kruziger stay away from the peloton behind. Quick-Step had Pieter Serry and Julian Alaphilippe in the chase group that couldn’t catch the duo up front and Alaphilippe finished 7th.

Lefevere told newspaper La Dernière Heure: “I don’t want to come across as a bad loser, but the role of motorbikes in the race is really scandalous, that applies to other races as well as this edition of Amstel. While Pieter Serry was making a maximum effort at the front of the group of favorites, the break was continuing to gain ground because of the slipstream of the motorbikes. When the gap drops under 20 seconds, they should drop behind the riders in front. I’m going to write a letter on this matter to the UCI president David Lappartient because that cannot continue. It’s the motorbikes that are deciding the race.” The Belgian added, “It’s the first time in a few weeks that we haven’t been on the podium of a Classic. Alaphilippe made an effort twice behind Valverde, and that emptied his legs. Philippe was just a bit short. As is often the case in this race, it comes down a little bit to who keeps their cool for the longest. It’s very difficult to escape the control that some teams put on the race.”

Lefevere might have a point about the Amstel race as it was one of the first times his Quick-Step Floors team didn’t dominate the finish.

The Amstel Gold Race finalè:

Flèche Wallonne 2018
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won’t make it five wins in a row atop the Mur de Huy! The Spanish veteran found a young rival finally able to overthrow him with Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) dominating everyone on the infamous climb. The Frenchman claimed his biggest win to date just before turning 26 years old… the same age Valverde was when he claimed the first of his nine victories in the Ardennes (5 at la Flèche, 4 at Liège). Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) finished third after an impressive outing on the Mur.

After an emotional moment of silence to pay tribute to Michael Goolaerts, Seraing enjoyed an animated start as the city welcomed la Flèche Wallonne for the first time in the race history. Attacks went from the gun and a group of six riders – Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Samsic), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Romain Combaud (Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM) and Patrick Müller (Vital Concept Cycling Club) – quickly got away. Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Antoine Warnier (VB Aqua Protect Veranclassic) joined them after 20km. The group enjoyed a maximum lead of 5:25 as they tackled the first climb.

Alejandro Valverde’s Movistar and Dan Martin’s UAE Team Emirates quickly took the front positions of the pack to control the gap. The attackers’ lead was down to 4:10 atop the Côte de la Redoute (km 82). The peloton maintained the gap around 4 minutes before accelerating on the way to Huy. The leaders summited the Mur for the first time (km 140.5) with an advantage down to 1:25, with Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) already featuring early moves. The Polish puncheur couldn’t get away from Movistar’s watch but attacks kept going until a group of six managed to go clear 37km away from the finish: Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors). Together, they extended their lead to 40 seconds as they faced the Mur de Huy for the penultimate and second climb while Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) dropped out of contention.

The gap even increased to 55 seconds with 17km to go, until Mikel Landa (Movistar) received some help with Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal). Roux and Benedetti were dropped on the Côte de Cherave while the peloton took back only 15 seconds behind. Kangert and Nibali were caught at the foot of the final climb, while Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) went on his own, only to be caught with 200m to go by his teammate Julian Alaphilippe, stronger than anyone on the Mur de Huy.

Huy - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Julian ALAPHILIPPE (France / Team Quick - Step Floors) pictured during La Flèche Wallonne (1.UWT) - world tour - a one day race for elite between Seraing and Huy in Belgium (198,5KM) - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2018

Flèche Wallonne winner, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors): “I have been on the podium of this race twice, and if the first time three years ago I was surprised, the second time I was frustrated, but I also took that result as a confirmation. I have always kept believing and worked hard to land a victory in a classic. The team was extraordinary, protected and kept me in a good position, so I want to thank them for their help! Everything was perfect today and now I want to celebrate this fantastic performance. I was the only leader of the team, but I couldn’t have made it without such a strong squad! In the end, after Pieter shut down every move on the Cherave and Bob and Philippe worked to bring me in the best position at the foot of the Mur de Huy, I let my legs do the talking. Things were heating up, but I remained calm and rode my own tempo before attacking at the right moment. For now, all that I want is to enjoy this incredible moment. It’s a beautiful victory and it makes me very happy. From tomorrow, we will start to think of Sunday. Liège–Bastogne–Liège is a race that suits me, I was on the podium at my debut there, in 2015, and I hope to have another strong display.”

2nd, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “I’m not disappointed by any means. Should I have won again, it would have seemed like it was easy for us, and people must know that it’s never easy to take a victory. I’m actually satisfied with this result. I proved again I’m once again up with the top guys in the hills. This second place in Huy and last Sunday’s fifth in the Amstel Gold – I think we stand a really good chance at Liège. The heat really made for a very different race. Plus, the new route before the last circuit made things harder for everyone. I feel like the team was where they should and worked all they could. There was lot of chaos in the finale with that big break, including Nibali and Kangert, and it was difficult for us to keep things sorted out. We had Rojas into the break, then we worked hard with Mikel – who was really superb – and also Imanol, Winner, Andrey… They did everything they could and I thank them for that, because everybody raced pretty much against us. I started climbing Huy a bit too far behind, and even though we knew that our main rival would be Alaphilippe, he attacked a bit earlier than expect, I was still gaining back positions and that effort to bring him back was too much in the end. Alaphilippe has always been an impressive contender, he had claimed a couple of second places here and it was his time to win. Hats off to Julian and his team for their efforts. I continue to enjoy this race and the hills trio, and there’s still a certain race remaining. We’ll do our best to try and win it!”

3rd, Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal): “Tim Wellens was our leader for today, while Tiesj Benoot and I had a free role; depending on how the race developed we would determine what to do. That could be anticipating or waiting for the Mur de Huy. The race turned out to be very different from previous years. Apparently it took five years till the peloton realized that it was necessary to make the race hard to make it more difficult for Alejandro Valverde to win. The first part of the course was already hillier than previous editions. The tempo in the bunch was raised on the first ascent of Mur de Huy and eventually Valverde got isolated. In the finale Tomasz Marczyński and Tosh Van der Sande bridged to the front, but when six riders were left in the front group there was no Lotto Soudal rider in it. The peloton almost came too late to catch the six escapees, but thanks to the work of among other Tiesj Benoot we had reeled them all in by the first steep parts of Mur de Huy. I wanted to set a high pace on the last ascent of Mur de Huy to tire the climbers out and to make sure they would be less explosive. That worked. I could maintain a steady pace right from the foot and when I looked behind me with two hundred meters to go, I looked straight in the eyes of Alaphilippe. At that moment Tim Wellens wasn’t riding on my wheel anymore and I just went full to set a good result. I am very happy with this third place. If I would have started my effort at the start of the climb a bit later, I might have become second but winning was impossible I think. On the other hand I was now able to ride up the climb on my own pace. This doesn’t change much for Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. We are with three riders who can end up high in the ranking; Tim, Tiesj and I. First we need to make sure to be in the finale together and then the legs will tell what to do.”

4th, Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott): “The team today was amazing all day around me and Jack had a really strong ride up in the break and then at least I could be a bit more relaxed in the bunch and wait for the finale. I knew the guys like Alaphilippe and Valverde were the to look at. I was in a perfect position with one kilometer to go on the wheel of Alaphilippe but just wasn’t able to follow him when he started to go full gas. I remembered the words from Albasini because he gave me some suggestions because he is really good on this climb. For me to be fourth on the Mur de Huy is a really good and it is the sign of really good shape and it is a confirmation that for Sunday I can be relaxed and keep the focus because the podium is in the region.”

5th, Michael Matthews (Sunweb): “Ouch! With Wilco missing we knew it would be hard to replace him. We had some other good climbers with Sam and Simon going with the early moves and that made it easier for me. Then in the last lap Laurens and Sam protected me good.”

7th, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “I felt very good today and all race long I felt a good result was achievable. An early break with eight riders was not a bad situation. Movistar got help from UAE to control the gap; we didn’t put any energy in the chase. We were attentive all day long. During the first ascent of Mur de Huy I was already riding at the front because I had the impression that teams with potential podium contenders would already make a move. Not much later a large front group with Van der Sande and Marczyński was established. Unfortunately we had nobody in the front group of six afterwards, because that would have made things easier for us. Maybe the front group would even have remained ahead. Thanks to the very strong effort of Tiesj Benoot the break was caught after all. I turned up the Mur de Huy in second position, on Jelle’s wheel. We had agreed that we would try to make the climb as hard as possible, so the punchers would be less explosive. Jelle was very strong. At one point Alaphilippe rode up to him. I could not join them and then I just tried to reach the finish as fast as possible. I can’t complain with this seventh place. I thought more was possible with the legs I had, but a third and seventh place is a nice result for the team. I won the Brabantse Pijl, got sixth at Amstel Gold Race and seventh at Flèche Wallonne today. That gives us confidence for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the most important race of the Ardennes Classics.”

10th, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I am satisfied with my result today, the team worked really great together and showed a strong performance. We could realize our plans and put some pressure on other teams due to our attacks. The new course made the race exciting and I think we showed a great teamwork but we focus now on Liege on Sunday.”

Flèche Wallonne Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors in 4:53:37
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:04
3. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:06
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:12.


Tour of the Alps 2018
It was a brave attack on the descent inside the last three kilometers, which brought a very beautiful victory to Pello Bilbao. The Astana Team rider made part of the leading group, which was formed on the final slopes of the Serrada, the last climb of the day. Coming into the descent it was Miguel Angel Lopez, who tried to attack first, but later it was Pello Bilbao, who was able to get a small gap, holding it until the finish line in Folgaria.

Stage 1 of the Tour of the Alps started in Arco and finished in Folgaria after 134,6 km and two difficult climbs. A break of 9 riders went away practically immediately after the start. But, the peloton did not give them too much space, keeping the gap under the full control.

A few attacks in front of the peloton on the climb of Serrada produced a huge selection in the group, but still five Astana Team riders have stayed well placed among the leaders. Despite the new attacks at the top of the climb, nobody could get an advantage until Pello Bilbao launched his attack on the descent to win this stage and to take the leader’s jersey.

Indeed, Astana Team did a very strong race, having 5 riders in the final and the most decisive part of this stage. As result, it was Luis Leon Sanchez, who led the group behind Pello Bilbao into the finish line, taking a nice second podium place ahead of Ivan Ramiro Sosa.

After the first stage Pello Bilbao leads the general classification of the race with 10 seconds to Luis Leon Sanchez and 12 seconds to Sosa.

More stage 1 photos in PeloPics HERE.

Folgaria - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Pello Bilbao (ESP - Astana Pro Team) pictured during Tour of the Alps 2018, stage-1 from Arco to Folgaria, 134,6 km - 16/04/2018 - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and overall leader, Pello Bilbao (Astana): “We were motivated to do something good today, and in the final, we had a very good situation with five riders of our team in the leading group. It was a perfect position to try. The last kilometers of the climb were quite difficult with several attacks and a small gap between the riders on the top. But, later we could return in front. On the descent I saw my chance and I made an attack, immediately getting a small gap. Yeah, I was not sure at all I could do it until the end, knowing about the final uphill of 500 meters. Anyway, I was able to recover a bit on the final short descent and did my best inside the last kilometer. I am so happy with this victory, I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. Also, I am happy with all our team, we did a very strong and smart stage. Exactly one year ago it was Michele Scarponi, who won the first stage and took this leader’s jersey. He is always in our minds and day by day we are racing remembering him. I am happy to take this jersey today and I want to dedicate it to Michele. This is a great opportunity for me and the whole team to do it.”

Tour of the Alps Stage 1 Result:
1. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana in 3:26:41
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:06
3. Ivan Ramiro Sosa Cuervo (Col) Androni-Sidermec
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:10
5. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNL-Jumbo
8. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
10. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE-Team Emirates at 0:14.

Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 1:
1. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana in 3:26:31
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:10
3. Ivan Ramiro Sosa Cuervo (Col) Androni-Sidermec at 0:12
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:20
5. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNL-Jumbo
8. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
10. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE-Team Emirates at 0:24.

Alps stage 1:

That Colombia is a land of great climbers, is a fact. That Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) would have been among the men to beat on the road to the Fuchsia jersey in Innsbruck, was at least a legitimate chance. But Stage 2 of the Tour of the Alps, Lavarone-Alpe di Pampeago/Fiemme (145,5 km), wasn’t certainly short of surprises. The winner was the Astana’s Colombian, who made it two on two for his team at the Tour of the Alps so far. Another success of the Kazakh team, another dedication to Michele Scarponi, who was raising his arms in Innsbruck right 365 days ago.

It was due to be the clash among the big favorites, and Tour of the Alps did not disappoint. The final climb revealed strengths and weaknesses of the GC contenders, providing quite a clear image: Lopez and Pinot, along with the surprising Sosa, are looking the most brilliant uphill, along with Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), a certainty at the Tour of the Alps year after year. And then, obviously, Chris Froome. Today, the leader of Team Sky looked on the back foot until halfway to the top of Pampeago, guarded by his trusted teammates in the rear position of the main group. Then, suddenly, it was vintage Team Sky again, pushing hard at the front and setting a frantic pace that proved unsustainable for many rivals. Fabio Aru was the most prestigious victim of the day, the UAE-Emirates leader lost the wake of the strongest with 3 km to go. He didn’t falter, as he eventually surrendered only 34 seconds, but whose condition probably needs some more fine tuning before his Giro bid starts.

In the last 2 km: after a monumental Kenny Elissonde had finished his effort for Chris Froome, only six riders were left upfront: Froome, Pinot, Sosa, Lopez, Pinot, Pozzovivo and Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF). Everything was decided in the final meters of a climb whose gradient really never gives a break. Froome was the first to launch his sprint, followed by Lopez, who barely anticipated Pinot and held just enough space on the Frenchman to enjoy his first stage win at the Tour of the Alps. Pinot was runner-up ahead of Ivan Sosa, who was almost surprised in discovering he had converted his white jersey into a fuchsia one.

Stage 2 photos.

Stage winner and 3rd overall, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana): “Our team did a good race as my teammates provided me a very strong support during the whole day. Also, on the final climb I had many teammates around me, so I felt safety in the leading group. The climb was super hard, and I am happy to win today. I know, this is a very famous climb with a huge cycling history, so, it is an honor for me to follow the way of the big champions. I was happy to see Jan Hirt attacking from the group, it was a good try for him. Later, I tried just to control the situation, preparing for the final kilometer. It looked like we were coming for an uphill sprint, so I saved some energy to do my best in the final meters. It was just my second day on this new bike and I can say I am in love with it. It is a very beautiful bike and for me it is a big pleasure to ride on it here at the Tour of the Alps. By my opinion, this bike is built for the real champions, for the winners.”

5th on the stage and overall, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida): “It was the stage that most suited me and I tried to make a difference on the last km. Too bad that my rivals did not hesitate to react and to catch me, otherwise I could have persisted more. But I’m happy with my condition and with the job of my teammates who worked to be at the front on the climb up to the finish.”

Tour of the Alps Stage 2 Result:
1. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana in 3:56:30
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
3. Ivan Sosa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
4. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 0:04
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:07
6. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 0:14
7. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana at 0:20
8. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Dimension Data at 0:27
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy at 0:31
10. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:34.

Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 2:
1. Ivan Sosa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec in 7:23:09
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:06
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana
4. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 0:16
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain – Merida at 0:19
6. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 0:26
7. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana at 0:36
8. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy at 0:43
9. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:50
10. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 1:17.

Stage 2:

Tour of the Alps continues in the name of spectacular racing, surprises and big champions who never surrender to predictable outcomes. Those who thought that the big guns, worn down by the battle on the Alpe di Pampeago, could leave the spotlights to their lieutenants on Stage 3 from Ora/Auer to Merano/Meran (138,3 km), were clearly and definitely contradicted. Long distance attacks, accelerations, twists of fate, a new leader and another youngster who comes up on the international scene on the roads of the Euroregion Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino.

Few people, maybe, knew the name of Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data) until the final kilometers of Tuesday’s stage, when his white jersey was standing out among those of the top favorites on the Pampeago climb. On Wednesday, the 21-year-old Australian attacked with Thibaut Pinot and Domenico Pozzovivo with 50 km to go, on the Passo Palade/Gampenpass climb, getting back and distancing on the four escapees – Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Manuel Senni (Bardiani-CSF) and Stephan Rabitsch (Felbermayr-Simplon).

Their attempt was reeled in by the main favorites’ group only in the final kilometers of descent towards Meran-o, particularly thanks to the solid work of Team Sky for leader Chris Froome. With 8 km to go, the young Australian went back on the attack, this time by himself, exploiting a moment of uncertainty of the 10-man leading group, left without the fuchsia jersey of Ivan Ramiro Sosa: a crash on the descent took the Androni-Sidermec’s Colombian out of contention, and he lost more than 4 minutes on the finishing line. O’Connor showed up in beautiful sunny Merano, raising his arms five seconds before the arrival of the top favorites, edged by his former fellow escapees – Thibaut Pinot and Domenico Pozzovivo.

Except for the unlucky Sosa, little has changed in the top favorites’ situation. Pinot is leading with 15 seconds on Pozzovivo and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), who lost some valuable seconds on the way down from the Gampenpass. One second behind is Chris Froome (Sky), who gave the impression once again of being willing to go the distance to win this Tour of the Alps. Fifth spot for Fabio Aru (at 50 seconds), looking much better than on the road to Pampeago.

Stage 3 PeloPics HERE.

Merano - Italia - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Ben O’ Connor (AUS - Dimension Data) pictured during Tour of the Alps 2018 - stage3 from Ora - Merano 138,3 km - 18/04/2018 - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and 8th overall, Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data): “It’s just great to now be able to race with the best and to manage to pull that off is surreal. I’ve gradually built up the form pretty well. In Catalunya I was alright, then to come here and be just another step further is super, super pleasing. I just want to be the best rider I can be. Our Dimension Data team came to the Tour of the Alps with a stage win as goal, and I am happy we have achieved it. After yesterday’s display, today I was focused on not missing a single opportunity for another good result, so I went on the wake of Pinot on the Passo Palade/Gampenpass. I like long climbs, today was a stage suited to me: last year I had been training in Val Gardena/Grödental, and it was an awesome experience. Clearly, I have a special feeling with Südtirol.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ): “Last year I lost the jersey and the race to Geraint Thomas for a matter of four seconds, this time I have managed to have it back, and I don’t want to leave it anymore. Our attack was not planned today, but when I saw other strong guys like Fabio Aru trying to move, I went on as well. This is my racing style, and I believe races like the Tour of the Alps, with short and tough stages, are the best possible way to propose a great show like today’s.”

3rd on the stage and 2nd overall, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida): “I knew the finish because I was training nearby on last week and I came here to see and to recon this route. I suffered on the climb and unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to recover before the next ascent. I had good feelings and I so I entered the breakaway that went clear after 20 km.”

Tour of the Alps Stage 3 Result:
1. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Dimension Data in 3:30:05
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:05
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana
6. Chris Froome (GB) Sky
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8. Manuel Senni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Michal Schlegel (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice.

Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 3:
1. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 10:52:19
2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain Merida) at 0:15
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana
4. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:16
5. Fabio Aru (Ita) Sky at 0:50
6. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:21
7. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 1:27
8. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Dimension Data) at 1:36
9. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 1:45
10. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana at 1:55.

Stage 3:

BMC Racing Team Mourns the Loss of Andy Rihs
It is with great sadness that BMC Racing Team announces the death of owner Andy Rihs. Andy Rihs died after a patient and valiantly endured illness at the age of 75 on Wednesday, 18 April in the Susenberg clinic in Zurich, Switzerland in the presence of his family.

Andy was not only an owner and main sponsor of BMC Racing Team, but also a friend who enjoyed life and loved sharing that joy. With him, an exemplary visionary, an avid sports fan, a passionate cyclist, and a great supporter of sport has left us. His generosity, his sense of humor, and his infectious laugh have shaped the man that has been by our side since the beginning of BMC Racing Team. Our grief is indescribable, but we will carry on his values.

Not least thanks to the great commitment from Andy, BMC Racing Team has been able to develop so well in both a sporting and economical sense. Andy has served as an inspiration to us all.

BMC Racing Team extends its sincere condolences to Andy’s family and friends at this time. We will keep Andy in everlasting memory and forever be grateful for his friendship and support.

Andy Rihs:

Sunweb to Liège
Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED): “Our goal for Liège is to bring Tom, Sam, Michael and Simon into the final to give us a variety of cards to play. A few changes to the parcours make the final 80 kilometers more demanding than in previous years which means that the final could start earlier and more riders will try their luck by attacking, ultimately making the race harder to control. The positioning in the last 80 kilometers will be important for us to save that little bit of extra energy that we will need to use when the race will be decided. This year, the weather conditions could also play an important role and our focus on nutrition and teamwork will be crucial. This race is close to Limburg and after the announcement of the Keep Challenging Center last week, we are really motivated to perform against the crowd there.”


Tom Dumoulin (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Chris Hamilton (AUS),Michael Matthews (AUS), Sam Oomen (NED).
Coach: Aike Visbeek (NED).

Tom Dumoulin:
Adnoc School - Abu Dhabi - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Tom DUMOULIN (Netherlands / Team Sunweb) pictured during the 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour stage 1 from Madinat Zaya to Adnoc School (189KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Direct Energie for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Lilian Calmejane, Fabien Grellier, Jonathan Hivert, Brian Nauleau, Paul Ourselin, Romain Sicard and Rein Taaramae.
Directeur Sportif: Thibault Mace.

Ulissi Dreaming of Success in Liège as Italian Eyes One of Cycling’s Most Prestigious Prizes
UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi is dreaming of success this coming Sunday as the Italian joins his team-mates in tackling one of cycling’s oldest and most challenging races, Liège–Bastogne–Liège (22 April). The Italian will be making his ninth appearance at the race and is looking to build on his top 30 finish in 2017, whilst team-mate Dan Martin will be hoping to go one better on his 2017 performance which saw the Irishman finish in second place.

Ulissi and Martin will be joined by the same team-mates who have competed in the recent Ardennes Classics: Rui Costa, Matteo Bono, Rory Sutherland, Manuele Mori and Alexandr Riabushenko. Going into the final race of the classics, the team are optimistic following a valiant ride from Matteo Bono at the Amstel Gold Race, where the Italian headed the break-away for over 220km. Both Ulissi and Costa can also take confidence from their rides at Flèche Wallonne, after snatching top 20 spots in a tough race with a gruelling finishing climb up the Mur de Huy. After 198.5kms of racing Costa placed 19th, with Ulissi’s effort earning him 14th, just 25 seconds behind winner Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors).

Commenting ahead of one of the most prestigious races in cycling, Diego Ulissi said: “Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the race that dreams are made of. I am highly motivated, the team is feeling competitive and we will have several options throughout the race to try and make our sponsors and fans happy.”

Liège–Bastogne–Liège, or ‘The Old Lady’ as it is known amongst the cycling community, is the final race of the Ardennes Classics and the oldest of the five Monuments – the most prestigious one day cycling races. Having first taken place in 1892, the 2018 race will be the 104th edition, played out on a route of 256km. The 11 punishing climbs that feature on this year’s route make it one of the toughest races on the UCI World Tour and riders will have to have the perfect combination of strength and stamina to combat them. In the past, weather conditions have wreaked havoc on the riders, but with perfect cycling conditions forecast, spectators could be set for one of the most thrilling ends to the Spring Classics in years.

UAE Team Emirates’ participation on the UCI World Tour gives the local community the opportunity to come together and support world-class athletes as they aim to become one of the top cycling teams on the tour. To find out more about UAE Team Emirates, visit UAETeamEmirates.com.

Teuns Aims for Top Ten Result at Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Dylan Teuns will lead BMC Racing Team at the fourth Monument of the season, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, this Sunday eyeing his first top ten result at the race.

Sports Director Valerio Piva expects a good performance from the team in support of Teuns at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which remains largely unchanged from La Flèche Wallonne with the exception of Joey Rosskopf in the place of Kilian Frankiny.

“There are two new climbs in this year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège but like La Flèche Wallonne, the finale is the same so I don’t think the change in parcours will have a big difference on the result. The selection will be made from La Roche aux Faucons to the final climb of Saint Nicolas and the best riders will be in front there. Dylan Teuns is ready, he is strong, and he is motivated. I am sure that Damiano Caruso and Alessandro De Marchi will also be up there in support, and we have a former winner in Simon Gerrans so he will play an important role in supporting Dylan,” Piva explained.

“We don’t have the top favorite but we have a team that is ready and can do a good result. I know that every one of our riders is motivated to do a good race in honour of Andy Rihs and no matter what the result is, I hope we can arrive at the finish line knowing we gave it everything we have.”

Teuns is looking to use his disappointment from La Flèche Wallonne as extra motivation when lining up this Sunday.

“I didn’t have the legs at La Flèche Wallonne but I can still be confident in my form as I was right up there until the last few hundred meters. My best result at Liège-Bastogne-Liège was 17th in 2016 and last year I did some good work for Greg Van Avermaet. Like La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège is also a race that suits me well. I’ve prepared as much as possible for this week so I will try to get the maximum out of the last race this Sunday, especially as I would like to do a good race for Andy Rihs,” Teuns said.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège (22 April)
Rider roster:

Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Dylan Teuns (BEL) and Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).

Dylan Teuns:
Arctic Race of Norway 2017 - 13/08/2017 - Tromsø / Tromsø (160,5 km) - Dylan TEUNS (BMC RACING TEAM) - Vainqueur de la 4eme étape

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Julian Alaphilippe and former winner Philippe Gilbert will headline our squad for the 104th edition of the race

The classics season will come to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest Monument of the calendar, whose history runs all the way back to 1892. One of the hardest one-day races in the world, the Belgian event will bring puncheurs, climbers and Grand Tour specialists alike to the fore, who’ll have the chance to shine and grab a prestigious victory at the end of a 258.5km-long race which will put on the table an undulating route containing eleven classified climbs, for a total of nearly 5000 vertical meters.

Côte de Bonnerue, Côte de Saint-Roch, Côte de Mont-le-Soie, Côte de Pont, Côte de Bellevaux, Côte de la Ferme Libert, Col du Rosier, Col du Maquisard, Côte de La Redoute, Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas are the steep hills sprinkled all over the course, most of them having double-digit gradients, which will thin out the peloton and make an important selection before the uphill drag to the finish in the suburb of Ans.

Quick-Step Floors have been a dominant force in this year’s one-day races, notching up ten victories with seven different riders, the latest to make his entry on the list being Julian Alaphilippe, who won in spectacular fashion the 82nd edition of Flèche Wallonne. The 25-year-old Frenchman, runner-up at his Liège-Bastogne-Liège debut in 2015, will return at the start of the Belgian Monument after an injury prevented him from taking part last year, and will be joined by fellow countryman Rémi Cavagna, 2011 winner Philippe Gilbert, Bob Jungels, Enric Mas, Maximilian Schachmann and Pieter Serry.

“Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of the hardest one-day races of the calendar and if you look over the course, you can see that is has everything needed to turn into a war of attrition. Up until this point, our classics campaign has been a sublime one, as we enjoyed success after success, and we won’t hide the fact we would like to draw the curtain on a high note. Everybody’s motivated for the final challenge of this spring, the confidence and enthusiasm in the team are huge after Flèche Wallonne and we are ready to let the legs do the talking on Sunday”, said sports director Davide Bramati ahead of the season’s fourth Monument.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège (BEL) 1.UWT

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Rémi Cavagna (FRA), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Bob Jungels (LUX), Enric Mas (ESP), Maximilian Schachmann (GER), Pieter Serry (BEL).
Sports Director: Davide Bramati (ITA) and Geert Van Bondt (BEL).

Julian Alaphilippe:
Huy - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Julian ALAPHILIPPE (France / Team Quick - Step Floors) pictured during La Flèche Wallonne (1.UWT) - world tour - a one day race for elite between Seraing and Huy in Belgium (198,5KM) - photo JdM/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Eschborn-Frankfurt 2018 – Made for Specialists!
On May 1 a field composed of international standouts will bring down the curtain to this season’s spring classics in Germany’s most venerated race. Eschborn-Frankfurt will welcome the 140 riders from 20 teams who will battle on a course chalk-full of challenges. Edition 57 of this cycling classic will feature more difficulties than ever before over the 212.5 kilometers and 3,500m of elevation gain. With the new route of the Taunus loop and an even more arduous finish, this year the race promises to make it a nail biting end to the spring classic season.

Last year’s podium finishers Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates), Rick Zabel (Team Katusha-Alpecin) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) head the notable entry list. “Eschborn-Frankfurt is a home race for me and like the major classics I have circled it on my calendar. Last year, I came up a bit short. I have stood on all the podium steps in a classic. The highest is always the best and if it was up to me, this is exactly the one I would like to be on again in two weeks”, said local star John Degenkolb in the run up to the race.

Following the transfer of three-time winner Alexander Kristoff, the cards have been shuffled at Katuscha-Alpecin. After a remarkable debut last year, Rick Zabel is also in it with a shot at the race win as is his team mate Nils Politt. The 24-year old rider capped of his strong start to the season with 7th place in Paris-Roubaix. Classics specialists like many time stage winner on the major tours Michael Matthews (Team-Sunweb) and Belgian national champion Oliver Naesen (AG2R-La Mondiale) also plan to be in the hunt this year for the win in this race that concludes in front of the old opera house.

On a revamped final stretch, the classics specialists will take on the best sprinters in the world. Marcel Kittel (Team Katusha-Alpecin) returns to the race after his first participation last year. “I can’t wait for the start on May 1. The race is an important supporter of German cycling. The fantastic atmosphere and the many spectators along the side of the road make this event an absolute highlight for us riders. For sure, the new route will make the race more difficult. But if I am honest, it is not a big deal for a sprinter like me. After a break, I would love to find my rhythm and support my team mates in the best possible manner. Depending on how the race unfolds, Katusha-Alpecin will be able to use different strategies and I will do whatever it takes for the team.”, says the 14-time Tour de France stage winner.

Kittel will face another world-class sprinter in none other than André Greipel who will make his return to Eschborn-Frankfurt after recovering from a broken clavicle, suffered on Milan-San Remo, which resulted in him passing on the spring classics. There will be plenty of other challengers such as multiple stage winner on the Giro d’Italia, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis Solutions Crédits) as well as the latest generation of German sprinters represented by Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe) and Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb). While Ackermann recently just missed out on taking his first victory at the pro level during three Belgian classics, Bauhaus has already showed his speed on winning stages on the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Abu Dhabi Tour, right under the very noses of the best sprinters on the planet.

In total, 16 German riders, or more than half of all the Germans pros on the WorldTour, are on the preliminary list of their teams for this edition. Accomplished climbers such as Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) and Simon Geschke (Team Sunweb) will be thrilled with the dizzying elevation gains and the return of some of those climbs that have marked the history of the race.

In addition to these cycling house-hold names, there will also be some young and burgeoning talents at the Eschborn-Frankfurt start line. 2017 Under 23 world champion, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale) will test his skills on the challenging German race. Last year, Fabio Jakobsen was in the final sprint of the Under 23 edition of Eschborn-Frankfurt but now he rides with the pros. At just the age of 21, he has joined the most successful team in the peloton this year and with his wins on the Nokere Koerse and the Grand Prix de L’Escaut; he has made quite an impression at Quick-Step Floors.

Ten WorldTour teams and 11 pro continental teams will participate this year in the race. Quick-Step Floors and BORA-hansgrohe are leading in the WorldTour standings and will try to consolidate their positions in adding extra points to their respective tallies on Eschborn-Frankfurt. With Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Cofidis Solution Credits and WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic three of the best teams of the UCI EuropeTour will start at Eschborn-Frankfurt.

“We are delighted by the great interest of the teams for this classic. The peloton is not only a dream entry but it also very well balanced. The biggest talents in pro cycling will line up for the start of Eschborn-Frankfurt: the best spring specialists will ride alongside some very young and talented riders and the climbers will look to make the most of the mountains surrounding the Taunus to give the elite sprinters food for thought. It promises to be full of suspense all the way to the end”, says Claude Rach, manager of Eschborn-Frankfurt.

20 teams, the main riders:
AG2R La Mondiale: Naesen, Vandenbergh, Cosnefroy
Aqua blue Sport: Fenn
Bahrain Merida: Bole, Garcia Cortina
Bora Hansgrohe: Ackermann, Bennett, Buchmann
CCC Sprandi Polkowice: Tratnik
Cofidis Solutions Credits: Bouhanni
Gazprom Rusvelo: Shilov
Lotto Soudal: Greipel, Hofland
Nippo Vini Fantini Europa Ovini: Canola
Quick-Step Floors: Gaviria, Jakobsen, Richeze
Roompot Nederlandse Loterij: Van Schip
Sport Vlaanderen Baloise: Van Hecke
Team Katusha Alpecin: Politt, Zabel, Kittel, Spilak
Team Sunweb: Matthews, Bauhaus, Geschke, Theuns
Trek Segafredo: Degenkolb, Van Poppel, Rast
UAE Team Emirates: Kristoff, Bystrøm
Verandas Willems Crelan: Duijn
Wanty Groupe Gobert: Backaert
WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic: Dehaes
Team Fortuneo Samsic: Feillu.

Final Kilometers Eschborn Frankfurt 2017:

Cavendish Back in Action at Tour de Yorkshire!
Tour de Yorkshire organizers Welcome to Yorkshire are delighted that Mark Cavendish has confirmed he will return to racing after injury at the 2018 edition of the race.

Cavendish suffered a dramatic crash at the Milan – San Remo race in Italy on Saturday 17 March, fracturing a rib and damaging his ankle after colliding with a traffic bollard, and reports had suggested that he would be back in action at the Tour of California (13-19 May).

His recovery has gone better than expected however, and Team Dimension Data have announced he will now be fit to compete in Yorkshire between 3-6 May.

The 32-year-old Manxman is one of the sport’s highest-profile figures having won no-less than 30 Tour de France stages in a glittering career that also includes the 2011 UCI World Road Race Championships title and a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity was pleased to hear the news and is looking forward to seeing Cavendish in action. He said: “Mark is a living legend in the world of cycling and we’re over the moon that he will be competing at the Tour de Yorkshire next month. His crash in Italy looked really serious but he’s such a tough, tenacious character and we’re thrilled he’s been able to make such a speedy recovery. I’m sure Mark will have his eyes on at least two of the stages on this year’s route and we can’t wait to see him launch his trademark sprint. It’s not every day you get to see a sportsman of his stature competing on home roads, and we’re certain he’ll receive a hero’s welcome.”

It has been a long-held ambition of Cavendish’s to ride the Tour de Yorkshire. He was the star attraction when the route was unveiled in Halifax last December, and he has a special affinity with the county as his mother lives in Harrogate. Mark Cavendish said: “I’m delighted to have recovered sufficiently from my injuries at Milan-San Remo to be back racing sooner than I initially thought and what better way to do that than at what could be described as a home race for me, the Tour de Yorkshire. My mother’s from Harrogate and obviously the last time I raced things didn’t go that great (for me) in the 2014 Tour de France; but one thing I do remember is the incredible crowds and I know that the Tour de Yorkshire always provides. It’s the first time that I’ve raced the Tour de Yorkshire and I’m extremely excited. Results-wise; I’m not sure where my form will be actually only having had a couple of weeks back on the bike but I’ll just be absorbing the atmosphere in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

Cavendish is the second big-name rider to confirm his attendance at the Tour de Yorkshire after his Team Dimension Data team-mate Serge Pauwels revealed last week he would be back to defend his title. Further star riders are set to be unveiled over the next two weeks before the race commences in Beverley on Thursday 3 May.

Full details on the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire and Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race can be found at http://letouryorkshire.com

Feeling fit? Then why not tackle parts of the 2018 route for yourself by taking part in the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride. The three routes on offer are suitable for all abilities and culminate on the same finish line as the pros. Find out more at https://letouryorkshire.com/maserati-tour-de-yorkshire-ride

And last but not least, the Tour de Yorkshire Land Art and Best Dressed Competitions have also been launched. Full details on how to enter those can be found at http://letouryorkshire.com/landart and https://letouryorkshire.com/bestdressed respectively.

Mark Cavendish:
Foto LaPresse - Fabio Ferrari 08/02/2018 Dubai (Emirati Arabi Uniti) Sport Ciclismo Dubai Tour 2018 - 5a edizione - Tappa 3 - Dubai Silicon Oasis Stage - da Skidive Dubai a Fujairah - 180 km (111,8 miglia) Nella foto: Photo LaPresse - Fabio Ferrari 08/02/2018 Dubai (United Arab Emirates) Sport Cycling Dubai Tour 2018 - 5th edition - Stage 3 - Dubai Silicon Oasis Stage - Skidive Dubai to Fujairah - 180 km (111,8 miles) In the pic:

Sweetspot Appoint Wahoo as Official Training and Cycle Computer Partner
Wahoo, the award winning tech-fitness company, have been appointed by SweetSpot as their Official Training and Cycle Computer Partner. This move will see the American brand significantly enhance the television and digital coverage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, OVO Energy Women’s Tour and OVO Energy Tour Series.

Wahoo will provide an insight into rider data from partner teams for use in TV coverage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain (2-9 September 2018), OVO Energy Women’s Tour (13-17 June 2018) and OVO Energy Tour Series (May 2018). Wahoo will also sponsor the final kilometer preview featured in the program highlights of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain and OVO Energy Women’s Tour.

The partnership will see Wahoo produce interactive footage of the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain, enabling fans with smart trainers to ride all stages with incredible realism thanks to the accurate gradient and resistance changes they will experience.

Today’s announcement adds another layer to their already impressive portfolio of partnerships which includes Team Sky, Katusha Alpecin, BORA-hansgrohe and Canyon//SRAM Racing.

SweetSpot CEO Heath Harvey commented: “It is incredibly important for cycle races to connect with their fan base, and SweetSpot’s partnership with Wahoo will bring the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, OVO Energy Women’s Tour and OVO Energy Tour Series even closer to our audience.

“We are thrilled to be working with Wahoo, whose innovation and commitment to performance have seen them quickly establish themselves as a key player within the cycling market. Data is something most modern day cyclists won’t consider riding without and our partnership with Wahoo will further immersify viewers by opening them up to the statistics and metrics of the pros as they compete.”

Chip Hawkins, CEO Wahoo, added: “We can’t wait to get started on changing the way viewers engage with televised cycling. The OVO Energy Tour of Britain, OVO Energy Women’s Tour and OVO Energy Tour Series are all premier UK events so we are honored and excited to be partnered with them in 2018.”

For more information on Wahoo’s ecosystem of connected fitness devices, visit: www.wahoofitness.com.

Tour of Britain:

Team Sunweb Proudly Introduce: The Keep Challenging Center
Team Sunweb’s long-sought wish becomes reality in 2019 with the introduction of the Keep Challenging Center; a campus combining a state-of-the-art elite sport living environment with high-end support to optimize athlete development, cooperation and ultimately progress cycling into a true team sport. Alongside preparing the world’s best talents for a career on the bike, focus also is put to their education, to ensure young athletes are given the tools needed for their life outside of cycling.

The Keep Challenging Center will be used by Development Team Sunweb’s riders, as well as some of Team Sunweb’s women’s program. Located in Sittard, in the middle of the “Euregio” region (Germany and the Netherlands), emphasis will be on the cross-border activities. This region offers excellent training routes with cycling-friendly infrastructure, beautiful nature, perfect logistics (seven nearby airports) and the knowledge of companies like Team Sunweb’s technology partner, DSM, as well as its high-performance nutrition specialist, Born.

Keep Challenging’s Team Work and Innovation
It’s no secret that Team Sunweb’s mission is to spearhead the movement of cycling to further professionalize and create a genuine team sport. The team takes team sports such as football and basketball as successful examples of their vision for cycling, with athlete development at its core. The Keep Challenging Center will be a place where athletes work together on a daily basis, offering excellent facilities to optimize training, coaching, nutrition, innovation projects and injury prevention, whilst being a part of everyday society in a location from where training camps in Southern Europe and altitude camps are initiated.

Team Sunweb CEO Iwan Spekenbrink said: “I’m really proud that finally the dream comes to fruition with the Keep Challenging Center. We want to make the next step to become a better team; and to optimize the daily cooperation between athletes, experts, coaches and staff who will contribute hugely in achieving that. Therefore, we want to create an elite sports environment for our athletes, with focus on utilizing state-of-the-art facilities.”

Team Sunweb’s road captain Roy Curvers added: “This is a very good development for the team. In some elements we’re a conservative sport where historically each rider and member of staff live and train across the world, only coming together at a race or training camp, where high level performance is expected without a real joint preparation. So far, everyone just accepts this status quo, without looking at what is actually the best setup for riders to really excel as a team. It will be very beneficial to work on a daily basis with each other on things like nutrition, equipment and team building, and to faster implement innovations on those fields into the team. This will ensure that when at a race, riders are able to fully focus on that race and execute the plan, without distraction.”

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