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EUROTRASH Thursday: Sicilia, Brabantse & All The Latest Talk from the Peloton

Cycling news round-up

All the race news from the Brabantse Pijl and the Giro di Sicilia with videos, reports, results and rider quotes.

Remco Evenepoel will NOT ride the Amstel Gold Race – TOP STORY.

Rider news: Mathieu van der Poel and teammates celebrate Paris-Roubaix victory in Kuurne disco, John Degenkolb happy with Mathieu Van der Poel’s apology, Wout van Aert took the Strava segment on Carrefour de l’Arbre, disk brake injury to Sanne Cant, Dylan Van Baarle talks of his Roubaix crash, out of time Benjamin Joshua Tarling made it to Roubaix, concussion, no fractures for Peter Sagan, no Amstel for Julian Alaphilippe and Fabio Mazzucco caught using EPO.

Team news: Nicolò Buratti joins Bahrain Victorious, Álvaro José Hodeg makes his comeback after two years, punctures in Roubaix were ‘bad luck’ according to Jumbo-Visma, Equipo Kern Pharma adds Mikel Nieve to technical staff, Zaaf riders can look for new teams and UAE Team Emirates, AG2R Citroën, Soudal Quick-Step and DSM to the Amstel Gold Race.

Race news: The countdown begins: La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es teaser video.

Plus Arnaud Démare becomes a father.

 

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TOP STORY: Remco Evenepoel Will Not Ride the Amstel Gold Race
On Tuesday evening the rumour was that Remco Evenepoel would ride the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. The World Champion was to make his debut in the Dutch Classic. Then Phil Lowe of Soudal Quick-Step made it clear that: “No, he will not ride that race!”

A Facebook account in the name of Patrick Lefevere, it was announced that Evenepoel would be on the Amstel Gold Race start-line on Sunday. Evenepoel rode the Tour of Catalonia at the end of March, where he finished second behind Primož Roglič and then left for a training camp in Tenerife in the run-up to the Giro d’Italia, his main goal for the season. He is still there with some teammates.

In the run-up to the Giro, which starts on May 6, Evenepoel will only ride one race: Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 23. This will be followed by a short period at altitude before the Tour of Italy. There is no question of the added participation in the Amstel Gold Race, according to his team.

No Amstel for the World Champion:
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Brabantse Pijl – Flèche Brabançonne 2023
A tough edition of the Brabantse Pijl was won by Dorian Godon. After a 205 kilometres, the Frenchman of AG2R Citroën out-sprinted Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) after a hilly final around Overijse. Benoît Cosnefroy took third place to finish off a great day for the AG2R Citroën team.

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The break of the day consisted of four riders: Johan Meens (Bingoal WB), Sander De Pestel (Team Flanders-Baloise), Rory Townsend (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) and Tord Gudmestad (Uno-X). They were never allowed more than a 7 minutes lead.

Heavy rain battered the peloton in the first hours. When entering the finish in Overijse, the lead had been reduced to 4 minutes. The first time on the Hertstraat, the race split open. There was a nervousness in the peloton, which caused crashes. The final really started 60 kilometres from the finish. Benoît Cosnefroy went on the Hagaard, after which Lotto Dstny and Alpecin-Deceuninck put the pressure on. The peloton was thinned out considerably and several groups got away. Michal Kwiatkowski and Søren Kragh Andersen were not among them, they dropped out earlier. Rémi Cavagna (Soudal Quick-Step) tried his luck and jumped to Meens, Townsend and Gudmestad, what was left of the early break, but the peloton was right behind him. Two circuits before the finish, a group of four escaped: Andreas Kron (Lotto Dstny), Dorian Godon (AG2R Citroën), Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) and Lucas Eriksson (Tudor). They joined Cavagna and Gudmestad with 45 kilometres to go, they had a lead of 30 seconds. Healy, who looked to be the strongest on the climbs, went solo, but was pulled back. The six were getting further away from the peloton, where the pursuit was not organised.

At the start of the last lap of 22 kilometres, which included the Hagaard, the Hertstraat, the cobblestones of the Moskesstraat, the Holstheide and the S-bocht, the gap was 55 seconds. Healy, Godon and Cavagna rode away on the Hagaard, but the Frenchman couldn’t hold them on the difficult Hertstraat. This left the two strongest; Healy and Godon. The Irishman and the Frenchman stayed together on the Moskesstraat and quickly took 20 seconds on Cavagna and 40 seconds on Kron and Eriksson. Those differences kept increasing, allowing Healy and Godon to think about the winning sprint. The EF rider decided to play poker, forcing Godon into the lead in the last two kilometres. Healy let it come down to a sprint, but Godon was the strongest and took the victory. Healy had to settle for second place, while Benoît Cosnefroy finished third. He had passed Cavagna to put two AG2R men on the podium. Axel Zingle won the sprint for fifth place from the peloton.

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Race winner, Dorian Godon (AG2R Citroën): “It’s the best win of my career. When you look at the winners of the Flèche Brabançonne. Only great riders have won. This success comes after a really difficult race due to the weather conditions. There were no moments of respite. The team rode all day to keep control of the race. Then, I followed the attacks 50 kilometres from the finish. I felt that I had very good legs and that a small group sprint finish could be to my advantage. That’s what happened. This victory is good for our morale. Even though I had some difficult moments, I never gave up. To share this podium with Benoît (Cosnefroy) is the icing on the cake. It doesn’t happen every day, so I want to savor it. This day perfectly launches our Ardennes classics campaign. We should continue with this same state of mind and take our responsibilities. We showed that today and it paid off!”

2nd, Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost): “I knew it would be full throttle on the local circuit here. I was in good position. Because I had seen that if you are always in the first fifteen, you can join a group that gets away. I also raced in the lead and made the race difficult. I tried everything I could, but it didn’t go as hoped. I played it tactically, only he was a bit too strong for me. Even though I started racing early. I was hoping to go solo, but Godon was the strongest. And this result also gives me a lot of confidence. I have settled at this level this year and hope to be able to ride more finals.”

3rd, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën): “It is an exceptional day for the AG2R CITROËN TEAM. Everyone did a great job taking our responsibility. It’s a real joy to see Dorian (Godon) win. He was very strong all day. For my part, I had average feelings when I told him to go for it. And he fully made the most of the situation. You had to be strong to win this edition of the Flèche Brabançonne given the weather conditions. I was cold all day; I couldn’t change my gears. In the final, I tried to anticipate the sprint by attacking 600 meters from the line. It worked and I finished third. This is a good thing. I am happy with the efforts made. Now moving forward, it’s time for the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, which we will approach with confidence.”

7th, Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny): “I tried to force something, but the two in front were really impressively strong, so they stayed out of our grip. I felt strong, but maybe I just missed that little bit to be able to go for the win, I have to be honest about that. Perhaps a seventh place is not the desired result, I think we can again speak of a strong collective performance. It’s nice to see that I’m still feeling really good at the end of this first race block. Little by little I’m getting stronger. But now there will be some rest before building towards the next objectives.”

Brabantse Pijl – Flèche Brabançonne Result:
1. Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën in 4:32:20
2. Ben Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost at 0:01
3. Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:21
4. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:24
5. Axel Zingle (Fra) Cofidis at 0:25
6. Alexander Kamp (Den) Tudor
7. Arnaud De Lie (Bel) Lotto Dstny
8. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Soudal Quick-Step
9. Toms Skujiņš (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
10. Kim Heiduk (Ger) INEOS Grenadiers.

Brabantse Pijl’23

 

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Giro di Sicilia 2023
The First Stage of the Giro di Sicilia, finishing in Agrigento, was won by Finn Fisher-Black. The young New Zealander of UAE Team Emirates was giving a lead-out for his leader Diego Ulissi on the final climb, but hit the front so hard that the rest couldn’t follow him. This is the first professional victory for the 21 year-old.

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The fifth edition of the Giro di Sicilia started on Tuesday with a stage from Marsala to Agrigento. After 160 kilometres, the finish was on a climb of 3.7 kilometres at an average of 5.3%. You need to be a strong climber to take the victory.

The seven man ‘break of the day’ came soon after the start. The Austrian, Sebastian Schönberger of Human Powered Health, was joined by five Italians: Michael Belleri (Biesse-Carrera), Niccolo Galli (Italian selection), Nicolas Milesi (Team Colpack Ballan), Umberto Poli (Team Novo Nordisk), Matteo Montefiori (Team Technipes #inEmiliaRomagna) and the Swiss rider Roland Thalmann of Tudor Pro Cycling. These seven escapees were allowed to go by the peloton and managed a maximum lead of 3 minutes, but they started to lose time after that. Belleri, Schönberger and Thalmann didn’t want to wait and pushed on to thin out the leading group. It was too fast for Milesi, Galli, Poli and Montefiori, leaving three riders at the front of the race. The peloton, led by UAE Team Emirates, for Diego Ulissi, was getting closer to the remaining riders.

With 25 kilometres to go, the lead had shrunk to less than 1 minute. In the peloton, UAE increased the pace. This led to a few crashes, but without any serious problems. Belleri, Schönberger and Thalmann worked well together, trying to stay out of the grip of the peloton. With 6 kilometres to go they were caught.

The battle for the win and the first leader’s jersey would come on the final climb of just under 4 kilometres at more than 5% to Agrigento. Jayco AlUla lifted the speed, but it was the Italian Emanuele Ansaloni who attacked. The 23 year-old rider of Team Technipes #inEmiliaRomagna took a small gap, but was quickly pulled back. UAE Team Emirates took control of the race again. The New Zealander Finn Fisher-Black took the lead, and set a high speed for Ulissi. But Fisher-Black rode so hard on the front that he had a good lead and was able to hold his effort to the finish. The former Jumbo-Visma rider was able to enjoy his first professional victory ahead of Vincenzo Albanese and teammate Ulissi. Fisher-Black is also the first leader in the Giro di Sicilia.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates): “This was not the plan at all. I was also expecting Diego to win. I got a gap at the bottom of the climb. I looked back and no one was behind. The sport director on the radio told me to keep going. I didn’t believe I’d win until I crossed the finish line. This is my first pro win and it’s very important for me as I broke my leg last year and coming back was the most difficult thing in my life so far.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Vincenzo Albanese: “It was difficult to fight against so many UAE riders, but I showed that I’m very good, beating the others in the sprint behind the stage winner. I felt good, very good, but that’s not enough in the race. First race this year, second place… It’s good, but I’m sure we will do better.”

Giro di Sicilia Stage 1 Result:
1. Finn Fisher-Black (NZ) UAE Team Emirates in 3:24:07
2. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa at 0:08
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
5. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan
6. Valerio Conti (Ita) Team Corratec
7. Thomas Pesenti (Ita) Beltrami TSA-Tre Colli
8. Lennert Teugels (Bel) Bingoal WB
9. George Bennett (NZ) UAE Team Emirates
10. Kobe Goossens (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty.

Giro di Sicilia Overall After Stage 1:
1. Finn Fisher-Black (NZ) UAE Team Emirates in 3:23:57
2. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa at 0:12
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:14
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 0:18
5. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan
6. Valerio Conti (Ita) Team Corratec
7. Thomas Pesenti (Ita) Beltrami TSA-Tre Colli
8. Lennert Teugels (Bel) Bingoal WB
9. George Bennett (NZ) UAE Team Emirates
10. Kobe Goossens (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty.

Sicilia’23 stage 1:

 

Niccolò Bonifazio won Stage 2 for his Intermarché-Circus-Wanty team on Wednesday. The Italian was the fastest at the end of the 193 kilometre stage in Vittoria. He held off Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa), who is in second place overall, and Australian Blake Quick (Jayco AlUla).

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The break of the day consisted of nine riders and escaped after 20 kilometres. Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk), Riccardo Ciuccarelli, Michael Belleri (Biesse-Carrera), Giannicola Di Nella (D’Amico-UM Tools), Tommaso Bergagna (General Store), Andrés Liber Mancipe (GW Shimano-Sidermec), Ben Gragner (Mg.K Vis-Colors for Peace), Luca Cretti (Colpack-Ballan) and Gabriele Petrelli (Technipes) made up the lead group.

The nine never got more than 3 minutes on the peloton, with Astana Qazaqstan and UAE Team Emirates taking the lead in the chase. The WorldTeams, got some help from Bingoal WB and Sofer Savini Due OMZ, and the difference fluctuate around 2 minutes for a long time. As the finish in Vittoria approached, the break’s lead quickly disappeared. The last attackers were caught around 8 kilometres from the finish and it looked like there would be a bunch sprint. British champion Mark Cavendish and Elia Viviani were expected to be at the front.

The peloton was stretched out and Cavendish was not well placed and didn’t competed for the win. Niccolò Bonifazio, who positioned himself well and benefited from the lead-out of EOLO-Kometa and UAE Team Emirates, took the win. Albanese and Quick finished second and third. The lead remains with Finn Fisher-Black, although Albanese is now at 6 seconds.

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Stage winner, Niccolò Bonifazio (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty): “I’m very happy with this victory because the Giro di Sicilia has a great turnout. It’s really fantastic with all these people on the road sides, also at the finish I’ve seen so many people. It included my girlfriend Agata who has made big sacrifices to be here today and finally I managed to get her experience the emotion of the victory. It feels good to have a bunch sprint today. The courses of races are getting harder and harder. Today as well there were 2300 metres of elevation. Now I hope I’m on the right track to gain my start at the Giro d’Italia.”

Overall leader, Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates): “It was definitely not a simple race today. It looked like a sprint day on TV but there was a lot of stress in the peloton for the turning of the wind. The route wasn’t easy. Tomorrow’s finish is similar to yesterday’s, although a bit shorter. It’ll be hard and the group will split for sure. I hope to be at the front and Diego Ulissi as well. My program after the Tour de Romandie is not confirmed yet but riding a Grand Tour is a goal for me. I haven’t raced with Tadej Pogacar yet but I get along well with him at training camps and he messaged last night to congratulate me, it was nice of him.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa): “It seems that every day there is a rider a little bit stronger than me. But I think the team did a spectacular job until the last 500 metres, trusting me and believing that I could win. Over the WorldTour riders and really putting me in the best position to fight for the sprint, even though it wasn’t the best finish for me. Tomorrow will be another great day to try to get the win.”

3rd on the stage, Blake Quick (Jayco AlUla): “I’m happy with the result today, it’s a really good start for me in my first leadership role with the team but of course I would have loved to win. I had really good legs in the final and the boys looked after me super well all day and then Campbell guided me perfectly through the final. Unfortunately, I got a bit stuck behind some slower guys in the last 300metres and didn’t get to open up my sprint in-time for the win, but I am really happy with how the team committed 100% for me today.”

Giro di Sicilia Stage 2 Result:
1. Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty in 4:28:37
2. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa
3. Blake Quick (Aus) Jayco AlUla
4. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè
5. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
6. Andrea D’Amato (Ita) Biesse-Carrera
7. Cameron Scott (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
8. Álvaro José Hodeg (Col) UAE Team Emirates
9. Alessandro Motta (Ita) Biesse-Carrera
10. Tom Portsmouth (GB) Bingoal WB.

Giro di Sicilia Overall After Stage 2:
1. Finn Fisher-Black (NZ) UAE Team Emirates in 7:52:34
2. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa at 0:06
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:14
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 0:18
5. Thomas Pesenti (Ita) Beltrami TSA-Tre Colli
6. Valerio Conti (Ita) Team Corratec
7. Kobe Goossens (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
8. Walter Calzoni (Ita) Q36.5 Pro Cycling
9. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan
10. Kevin Colleoni (Ita) Jayco AlUla.

Sicilia’23 stage 2:

 

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Van der Poel and Teammates Celebrate Paris-Roubaix Victory in Kuurne Disco
Mathieu van der Poel concluded an extremely successful spring campaign on Sunday with a victory in Paris-Roubaix. To celebrated, Van der Pole went to Kuurne with a few teammates, where they enjoyed themselves in the Diedjies disco.

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In photos that the discotheque shared on Instagram, we see that Jasper Philipsen, second in Roubaix, accompanied Van der Poel. The DJ duo Kobe Ilsen and Viktor Verhulst, who wore retro Alpecin-Fenix jerseys, to celebrated the success of the Dutchman.

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Degenkolb Happy with Van der Poel’s Apology
After Paris-Roubaix, a photo showing winner Mathieu van der Poel and runner-up Jasper Philipsen comforting John Degenkolb (see below). The latter has now also seen this photo himself. “It means a lot to me,” he said in a FloBikes video.

Degenkolb was part of the leading group of seven, but he crashed at the Carrefour de l’Arbre after coming into contact with Van der Poel. “If you come this far and are even in a position to fight for the win, then this fall is of course very disappointing. But that’s the race,” said Degenkolb.

“I think we all touched each other,” Degenkolb said of his crash. “I also saw the photo in which he (Van der Poel) came to me when I was crying on the floor. Honestly, I didn’t hear or see him apologise, but to see that picture means a lot to me. I’m glad he apologised. As I said, as long as something like that doesn’t happen on purpose, it’s a racing incident.”

Apologies from Mathieu van der Poel and Jasper Philipsen:
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Wout van Aert Took the Strava Segments on Carrefour de l’Arbre and Hem
Wout van Aert punctured on the Carrefour de l’Arbre and lost the contact with Mathieu van der Poel and probably the race, but the Jumbo-Visma leader took the Strava segment on the five-star section. He also clocked the fastest times on the Hem sector. Mathieu van der Poel has not made his Strava file public.

Carrefour de l’Arbre and Hem:
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The Strava segment of Carrefour de l’Arbre is 1.97 kilometres long. Van Aert covered this distance in 2:50. That was 19 seconds faster than Stefan Küng who took 3:19. The average speed at which Van Aert crossed the section was at 41.9kph. The Belgian attacked halfway through the section, but then punctured, so he might have been faster.

On the cobbles of Hem it was faster with an average of 45.3kph. Van Aert was 7 seconds faster than Filippo Ganna, who set the third best Strava time. Küng was fourth in exactly the same time.

Van Aert setting Strava records:
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Disk Brake Injury to Sanne Cant in Paris-Roubaix
Sanne Cant crashed hard in the women’s Paris-Roubaix on Saturday. The Fenix-Deceuninck rider has two head injuries as a result; one on her forehead, the other under her eye. “Her first reaction was to ask for an ambulance,” sports director Michel Cornelisse told Sporza.

Cant was in the group of favourites with 37 kilometres to go, but Elisa Longo Borghini crashed on one of the cobbled sections. Several riders went over her, including Cant. The fourteen-time Belgian cyclo-cross champion had to be taken to the hospital in Lille. There she was sutured for two head wounds. It was reported in some media that she needed 60 stitches in her head and face and is facing plastic surgery after disk brake rotor had hit her in the face.

“The only major flaw in a great day for the team,” said Cornelisse, who’s rider Marthe Truyen finish third. “The crash was severe and she has a major head injury. She also immediately realised that her race was over, because in her first reaction she asked for an ambulance. Then you know it’s not easy, Sanne usually always gets up after a fall. That was a downer for us, she was well into the race.”

Terrible injuries to Sanne Cant:
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Dylan Van Baarle Talks of His Roubaix Crash
With a win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Dylan van Baarle started his spring well, but after that it has gone down hill for the Jumbo-Visma rider. Physical problems in Tirreno-Adriatico, a crash in the E3 Saxo Classic and illness in the run-up to the Tour of Flanders. And to make matters worse, he crashed out of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

When the winner of the 2022 Paris-Roubaix started the Trouée d’Arenberg, he was in a group with many of the favourites, 20 seconds behind Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel. There was a crash and Van Baarle was one of the victims. He was taken to Valenciennes hospital with a wound to his forehead.

“I was tenth or eleventh into the Bos van Wallers (Trouée d’Arenberg), Fred Wright had a flat front tire in front of me. Then it’s hoping you stay upright, but his bike went to the right and his body to the left. I rode over his bike and was also on the ground,” Van Baarle looked back on his day in Hell in the podcast In Koers for the Algemeen Dagblad. “I immediately noticed that my whole body was aching and my face was bleeding profusely.”

“So I said to the mechanic: This is not going to be it anymore, dude. Then I was quickly in the ambulance and we drove to a crazy hospital in France. I was in the ER without a phone and there was no family, so I couldn’t reach anyone. So then I asked the French doctor if I could reach out to some people on his Instagram to let them know I’m okay. The 2.5 hours I lay there lasted so long. The French wanted to stitch up the three cuts on my face, but our team doctor said we could glue it. He took over and glued my face together.”

Van Baarle would normally end his spring in the Amstel Gold Race, but his crash decided otherwise. How does the Dutchman feel now, a day after his crash? “Given the circumstances, I am doing well, but I am quite bruised, scraped and broken. I have a fracture on the outside of my hand and a piece of my shoulder broken. Thursday I have a new scan in the Netherlands. For now I have to do as little as possible and wait it out. That will be fine, because there is not much I can do right now.”

Van Baarle crashed out of Paris-Roubaix:
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Out of Time Due to Bad Luck, But Benjamin Joshua Tarling Made it to Roubaix
Joshua Tarling was the youngest participant in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. The 19 year-old was the youngest participant in the Hell of the North since 1937. During the race he had to deal with bad luck, which left him on his own early in the race. But the young man of the peloton wanted to reach the finish line at all costs. In the end, he crossed the line after the time limit had expired, but “it was worth it,” he told Eurosport afterwards.

“I fell and punctured twice, so I’ve done Paris-Roubaix now,” said Tarling. “It was super cool. It was nice to lead the first sections with Luke (Rowe). Then we fell, so we had to chase to get back into the first group. In the following sections I got two flat tires.”

What was it like for Tarling to complete the final lap of the velodrome? “It was super cool, I’ve never seen so much crowd. It was worth coming here. I’m tired, but I can sleep again tonight, right?”

Tarling made it to Roubaix:
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Concussion for Sagan, But No Fractures
For Peter Sagan, his last Paris-Roubaix ended badly. On the second cobblestone section, his race was over. The three-time World champion crashed hard and had to abandon, but the damage is not too bad.

Sagan crashed halfway through the sector of Viesly à Quiévy, with more than 150 kilometres to go. Piet Allegaert and Sébastian Grignard were also among the fallers, but it was Sagan who seemed to be the worst off. He sat at the road-side for a long time and was finally taken to the hospital.

His TotalEnergies team announced that Sagan suffered from a mild concussion and some injuries, but the Slovak has no fractures from his crash. “I would have liked to say goodbye in a different way, but this is part of Paris-Roubaix,” the 2018 winner said on Instagram.

“I want to thank everyone for the support, that is very good for me. I also have to thank the medical team at Cambrai hospital for the support. I am very grateful to them. I will get back on the bike after a short rest, to get ready for the next races. See you back on track soon!”

Bad crash for Sagan, but nothing broken:
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Alaphilippe Still Struggling with Knee Problems
Julian Alaphilippe is still suffering with his knee after a crash in the Tour of Flanders. Patrick Lefevere, the team manager of Soudal Quick-Step, told Het Laatste Nieuws after Paris-Roubaix. In the same conversation, Lefevere looked back on a disappointing Paris-Roubaix for his team.

“Julian is still in trouble with his knee after his fall in the Tour of Flanders. He is out till the Amstel Gold Race anyway,” said Lefevere, who spoke of ‘all misery’ after Paris-Roubaix. “We thought we had seen the worst, but that was just foreplay. Couldn’t get much worse than today.”

“It looks like someone is playing voodoo with us,” said Lefevere, referring to the bad luck Soudal Quick-Step had to deal with in the Hell of the North. Kasper Asgreen and Davide Ballerini both crashed early in the race. “I feel bad. This was one of the races in which we always shined, but due to circumstances it has not been possible for two years now.”

According to Lefevere, spring can still be a success for Soudal Quick-Step, provided they can show well in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. “Of course, it’s the same as last year. We already have twenty wins and twenty second places. We may now be gaining a little more in territory that you are not used to, or following less, but winning is winning. But if I put on my Flemish glasses, it is not fun, of course.”

Patrick not wearing his Flemish glasses:
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Julian Alaphilippe will Not Start the Amstel Gold Race
A big loss for Soudal Quick-Step in the Amstel Gold Race. The Belgian team will be without Julian Alaphilippe on Sunday in the Limburg Classic. The Frenchman is still suffering from the after-effects of a crash in the Tour of Flanders.

The two-time World Champion won the Faun-Ardèche Classic earlier this season, but since then has had no luck and then crashed in the Tour of Flanders. The Frenchman has been struggling with knee problems since his crash and Patrick Lefevere, the team boss of Soudal Quick-Step, already feared for his participation in the Amstel Gold Race.

The Belgian team has now announced that Alaphilippe will not participate in the Dutch Classic on Sunday. The 30 year-old rider hopes to start Flèche Wallonne next Wednesday and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on the Sunday after. The Frenchman has finished in the top ten five times in Amstel.

No Amstel for Alaphilippe:
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Fabio Mazzucco Caught Using EPO
Fabio Mazzucco facing a long suspension. The Italian, who will celebrate his 24th birthday later this week, has been caught using EPO. The UCI have announced.

Mazzucco tested positive in an out-of-competition test on January 18. While waiting for his B-sample, the young rider rode a few races for the continental Mg.K Vis-Colors for Peace team. He was at the start of the one-day Per Semper Alfredo race and finished the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.

The UCI has now suspended him and hopes to settle the matter as soon as possible. Mazzucco risks a suspension for four years. He was a professional with Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè from 2020 to 2022. He didn’t have any wins, but did finish the Giro d’Italia in 2020. After three seasons with Bardiani, his contract was not renewed.

Fabio Mazzucco waiting for a suspension:
Fabio Mazzucco

 

bahrain
Nicolò Buratti Joins Bahrain Victorious
The young talent Nicolò Buratti whose signing for the 2024 season was announced by Bahrain Victorious a few months ago, will join the WorldTour team already this year, making his debut with the team in the upcoming Brabantse Pijl.

Buratti spent the last two seasons with CTF Victorious, our continental development team, with which jersey in the first months of 2023, he took some solid results and an outstanding second place at Gent-Wevelgem/Kattekoers-Ieper.

The 21-year-old Italian rider comments on this transfer: “I had already signed a contract for Bahrain Victorious for the seasons 2024-2025, and now I couldn’t be more excited to make this step to professionalism almost a year earlier than expected. Joining this team already in 2023 is a dream coming true. I’m hugely motivated and also curious about the new category. I will try to learn as much as possible and support the team.”

bahrain

 

uae
Álvaro José Hodeg Makes his Comeback After Almost Two Years
The fifth edition of the Giro di Sicilia started in Marsala on Tuesday. Álvaro José Hodeg will be on the start-line. The 26-year-old Colombian sprinter will put a race number on his back for the first time since October 3, 2021. The UAE Team Emirates rider had a very long and difficult rehabilitation after a bad training crash.

Hodeg is in his second season for UAE Team Emirates, but will only complete his first race with the WorldTour team on Tuesday. The Colombian moved from Deceuninck Quick-Step to the team of Tadej Pogačar and Matteo Trentin in the winter of 2021, but had a serious accident in Colombia at the end of 2021.

The rider was hit by a car while training and was taken to hospital with serious injuries. Hodeg underwent several operations on his ankle and wrist and due to several complications had a very difficult recovery. His career as a cyclist was in danger.

Hodeg has taken big steps in his rehabilitation in recent months and is now facing his return to the peloton. He is part of the UAE Team Emirates squad for the Giro di Sicilia (April 11-14). George Bennett, Finn Fisher-Black, Felix Groß, Rafal Majka, Ivo Oliveira and Diego Ulissi will also be there.

Hodeg back in the peloton:
sicilia23

 

jumbo
Punctures Were ‘Bad Luck’ According to Jumbo-Visma
Due to a slow puncture, Wout van Aert saw his chances of winning Paris-Roubaix disappear on Sunday. Earlier in the race his teammate Christophe Laporte dropped out of the favourites group due to a flat tyre. Was there a problem with Jumbo-Visma’s tyres? Not according to sports director Maarten Wynants.

Jumbo-Visma raced “with the same setting as Alpecin-Deceuninck” on Sunday, said Wynants in conversation with Sporza. Van Aert and his teammates had tubeless tyres with an anti-puncture fluid in side. “Wout was also able to ride on for a while, but at a certain point you have to make a difficult choice.”

In the end, the decision was made to switch, says Wynants. “I saw his rear wheel slip a bit on the corner and immediately feared the worst. When Wout called it into his earpiece, it was already too late. We knew there was another mechanic at the end of the sector, but replacing a rear wheel just takes a long time. Those few lost seconds were crucial.”

Last year, Van Aert and Laporte also had a puncture in Hell, but according to Wynants there is no question of an equipment problem. “We had a total of four punctures. That is much less than last year. Only now we had two at a crucial moment … Brutal bad luck. This was simply unavoidable.”

A very crucial puncture for Van Aert:
roubaix23

 

kern
Equipo Kern Pharma Adds Mikel Nieve to Technical Staff
The Spanish cycling team, Equipo Kern Pharma has added Mikel Nieve to its technical staff. It is hoped that the 38 year-old Spaniard, who ended his career at the end of last year, will take the riders to an even higher level as a coach.

Nieve is very happy with his new job. “It’s a very interesting role. As an athlete it is important to improve yourself every day, to give the best of yourself. I notice within this team that the will is there to become even better. My goal is to get the most out of it. I will serve as a kind of link between the team management and the riders. I will take care of the boys and try to guide them as best as possible.”

Juanjo Oroz, the team manager of Equipo Kern Pharma, has a lot of confidence in Nieve. “Mikel has experience at the highest level and knows what it takes to race at that level. He will help us towards the future, to become even better. We need Mikel to take the next step. He will take care of the athletes and guide them intensively.”

This is a new challenge for Nieve, after a professional career of fourteen years. The climber rode for Euskaltel-Euskadi (2009-2013), Team Sky (2014-2017), Mitchelton-Scott/Team BikeExchange (2018-2021) and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (2022).

Nieve won three stages and the KOM in the Giro d’Italia during his career. In 2010 he also won a stage in the Vuelta a España. The climber has ridden a total of 22 Grand Tours and he finished six times in the top ten. Nieve was also part of the winning Tour and Vuelta team several times with Team Sky.

New job for Nieve:
nieve

 

zaaf
Zaaf Riders Can Look for New Teams
The riders of the women’s Zaaf team may now look for new teams, according to the Spanish sports paper AS. The UCI has given approval, due to the many complaints that have been received about the non-payment of salaries. Audrey Cordon-Ragot left the team last week, before Paris-Roubaix.

The French champion started the year as the leader of the Zaaf team, but due to non-payments she switched to Human Powered Health. Normally, interim transfers are only allowed from June 1, but the UCI has given the green light to make a switch to another UCI team because of the reported complaints.

Zaaf’s continental women’s team did provide the mandatory bank guarantee to the UCI at the end of 2022, so that riders can still receive their salary for the first three months of 2023. Due to the financial problems, however, it is questionable whether the team will exist for much longer, although some of the salaries have been paid in recent days.

There is uncertainty about the team’s participation in the Vuelta a España for women, which starts on May 1. In addition, there is no place for riders with other UCI teams. For the time being, Zaaf will continue to race ‘normally’, as long as there are enough riders available.

How long will the Zaaf team last?
valencia23

 

uae
UAE Team Emirates Pogačar Returns to Lead for Amstel
After a highly successful campaign in the Flemish Classics, UAE Team Emirates will head to the Ardennes full of confidence for the Amstel Gold Race on 16 April.

Amstel will be the first race for Tadej Pogačar since his victory at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and only his second participation in the major Dutch Classic.

Pogačar: “The Spring has already been a big success for us but we’re hungry to come to the Ardennes classics and take home a big result, starting with Amstel. It’s a race I’ve only done once but I know it’s a long, hard parcours with lots of climbing so we need to be ready for a tough race.”

For Amstel the team will be led by Team Manager Joxean Matxin Fernandez (Spa) along with Sports Directors Marco Marcato (Ita) and Tomas Gil (Ven).

Amstel Gold Race [1.UWT] – 16-Apr-2023
Sjoerd Bax (Ned)
Ryan Gibbons (RSA)
Felix Grossschartner (Aus)
Marc Hirschi (Swi)
Rui Oliveira (Por)
Tadej Pogačar (Slo)
Matteo Trentin (Ita).

uae

 

ag2r cirtoen
Amstel Gold Race (April 16)
Benoît Cosnefroy: “My third place at the Flèche Brabançonne on Wednesday was the perfect start to my campaign for the Ardennes classics. I feel good and I’m very motivated for the three races ahead. This season, I still need a big result and I really want to get one now. It’s a time of the season that I love. I’m in good shape and I want to continue to prove it. I changed my program this season and I appreciated the experience of racing the Flandrien classics. These are unique races whose approach is different on all levels. I felt I had some things to improve in terms of placement and on the cobblestones, but my sixteenth place at the Ronde is a satisfaction. I have turned the page on this enriching series of races, and I have adjusted my focus towards the Ardennes. I have a little revenge to take on the Amstel Gold Race after my second place in 2022. It’s an open race, long but not very difficult. I hope to be able to compete again for the victory, but with a better outcome than last year. As always, I will approach the Flèche Wallonne with a lot of desire to do well. It’s the most beautiful race of the season for the puncheurs, a “lactic competition” and a pure confrontation where we know that the strongest wins. You have to give everything in a very short period of time. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is more complicated with its length and elevation gain. La Doyenne can smile as much at a climber as at a puncheur.”

Benoît Cosnefroy took 2nd place in the Amstel Gold Race in 2022. Mikaël Cherel, Michael Schär, and Greg Van Avermaet have 28 participations in the Dutch race between them. Valentin Retailleau will race the event for the very first time.

ag2r

 

soudal quick-step
Soudal Quick-Step to Amstel Gold Race
Sunday’s event is one of the longest of the season – 252.8 kilometers between Maastricht and Berg en Terblijt.

Amstel Gold Race is scheduled this Sunday, and will once again put on the table a tasty parcours comprising thirty climbs. The most iconic of these is the Cauberg, the 800m hill averaging 6.5% that was once the finish of the race, set to be tackled two times.

The last of the ascents comes inside 30 kilometers to go, but although Cauberg will play a huge role in the outcome, or at least is expected to do that, it won’t be the only climb that will have an impact on the race, as Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg – both featuring in the last 20 kilometers – promise to add plenty of salt and pepper to the fight for victory.

A top 10 finisher in five of his previous six participations, Julian Alaphilippe was initially on the team’s roster for Amstel Gold Race, but as he is not fully recovered after his crash in De Ronde, will skip the race. Nevertheless, Soudal Quick-Step will count on a solid squad for the 57th edition, consisting of Andrea Bagioli, Rémi Cavagna – whose impressive ride almost netted him a podium in Brabantse Pijl this week – Dries Devenyns, Mauro Schmid, Jannik Steimle, Martin Svrcek and Stan Van Tricht.

“Amstel is a hard and very demanding race. There’s a lot of climbing, narrow roads, left and right, and road furniture – that’s why it’s important to stay attentive the whole time. Many of our guys here come from the Basque Country and Brabantse Pijl, where they put in some strong displays, so we are confident in our chances of getting a good result. Andrea and Mauro can do something on this course supported by what’s a strong and motivated team”, said Soudal Quick-Step sports director Geert Van Bondt.

16.04 Amstel Gold Race (NED) 1.UWT
Riders:

Andrea Bagioli (ITA)
Rémi Cavagna (FRA)
Dries Devenyns (BEL)
Mauro Schmid (SUI)
Jannik Steimle (GER)
Martin Svrcek (SVK)
Stan Van Tricht (BEL)
Sports Directors: Davide Bramati (ITA), Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Geert Van Bondt (BEL).

Mauro Schmid is on form:
basque23 st2

 

dsm
Amstel Gold Race – APR 16
Christian Guiberteau – Team DSM coach: “Traditionally we will open our Ardennes classics campaign with the Amstel Gold Race. We will aim to be represented in the early breakaway and also ride actively and aggressively in the pre-final. With a versatile team that could create multiple scenarios, we are really motivated to take the race in our hands and create some action and look for our opportunities.”

Line-up:
Romain Combaud (FRA)
Matt Dinham (AUS)
Sean Flynn (GBR)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Oscar Onley (GBR)
Martijn Tusveld (NED)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA).

Amstel Gold Race Féminine – APR 16
Kelvin Dekker – Team DSM coach: “The Amstel Gold Race is a special race for us as a Dutch team but also because it is so close to the Aqua-Step Keep Challenging Center. All of our riders know the region and know all the roads we will race on. We want to go in again with an attacking mindset and use our strong team in the best way possible. Pfeiffer, Juliette and Elise all have good results in similar races this season so we will set them up to do the same here. We aim for the highest possible and see depending on race scenarios what strategy suits us the best to achieve that.”

Line-up:
Francesca Barale (ITA)
Léa Curinier (FRA)
Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)
Elise Uijen (NED).

Oscar Onley:
cro race 22

 

vuelta fem
The Countdown Begins: La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es Teaser Video
The countdown to La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es begins. The leading female cycling event in Spain warms up with the presentation of its teaser video.

The race, which will be distributed in 190 countries, will go down in history as the first edition of La Vuelta for the women’s peloton. Like its namesake, it will have four distinctive jerseys, including the general classification, the mountain classification, the points classification and the most combative cyclist of each stage.

 

groupama
Arnaud Démare – Father of Daughter Margaux
Arnaud Démare became father of a daughter last Sunday. The Groupama-FDJ rider announced it on via social media.

Démare announced on Instagram the birth of daughter Margaux. Mother and child are doing well. The 31-year-old Démare was racing last week in the French stage race Région Pays de la Loire Tour, but was present at birth.

The sprinter is still looking for his first victory of 2023, but has not yet achieved more than a few top places. Last year he recorded seven victories for the Groupama-FDJ team.

demare

 


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