EUROTRASH Enrico Monday!
Sunday saw a great and poignant win by Enrico Gasparotto in the Amstel Gold Race coming three weeks after the death of his Wanty-Groupe Gobert teammate, Antoine Demoitié. Race reports, results, rider quotes and video from Amstel, Denain and Castilla y León. Other cycling news: Flèche-Wallonne preview, Tour de Yorkshire, Movistar Giro shortlist, two more years for Robert Gesink, Peter Sagan to ride mountain bike, Adriano Malori up-date and the best moments of Peter Sagan’s spring season. Monday coffee time.
TOP STORY: Enrico Wins Amstel for Antoine
When Enrico Gasparotto crossed the finish line on the summit of the Cauberg in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, he pointed to the sky and everyone knew that this win was for his teammate, the late Antoine Demoitié. The way Gasparotto won showed the maturity and the cool head of the Italian, you don’t win a race like the Amstel Gold by chance and not twice, but there was something else in his win, and Garparotto touched on that after the race when he said that: “today, I had an angel on my shoulder. When I thought about Antoine, I went faster.” With the thoughts of his friend on his mind, the race could have gone the other way, but he took great strength and it obviously spurned him on. Gasparotto had said his form was good coming into the race and maybe the recent tragedy gave him that little bit extra.
Demoitié’s widow summed it up in a message to the Wanty-Groupe Gobert team via José Been (ex-team press officer) on Twitter: “Congratulations! Antoine is proud of you all!”
Amstel Gold Race 2016
2012 Amstel Gold Race winner, Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) made a strong attack on the final climb of the Cauberg, and then with Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) he held off the chase group and out-sprinted Valgren for the win. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) brought in the peloton for 3rd place ahead of Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) in 5th.
The first hour of the race was fast and it took until the 35 kilometer mark before the break of the day established its self: Laurens de Vreese (Astana), Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo), Alex Howes (Cannondale), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-La Mondiale), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Josef Cerny (CCC-Sprandi), Fabien Grellier (Direct Energy) and Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini Fantini), they nearly had 6 minutes by the time they crossed the finish line at the top of the Cauberg with 195 kilometers to go.
By the second time over the cauberg, with 87 kilometers to go, the leaders only had 3:30. A group of four riders: Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Niccolò Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo), Gianni Meersman (Etixx – Quick-Step) and Björn Thurau (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) rode away from the bunch and started to Hoover up the leaders as the break began to split and Sky led the peloton. LottoNl and BMC started to help with the work and the chase group were caught at the top of the Fromberg with 33 kilometers remaining. With 14 kilometers to go the break was pulled back by some strong work by Paris-Roubaix winner, Mat Hayman and his Orica-GreenEDGE teammate Albasini.
Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) attacked 8 kilometers out, but he was passed by Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), who soon had a lead of 20 second as he hit the corner at the bottom of the Cauberg for the last time. Orica’s Albasini put in a big effort to pull him back and this launched the move by Gasparotto who was soon joined by Valgren. The pair worked well together as the chasers were getting closer. With less than 1K to go; Valgren put in a long last pull on the front to make sure they would stay away to the line. Gasparotto jumped with the line in sight and Valgren couldn’t respond.
The first words from Gasparotto was to dedicate the win to his Wanty teammate Antoine Demoitié who lost his life in Gent-Wevelgem three weeks ago.
Race winner, Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I had incredible legs today. Everything went as we planned. It is the most beautiful victory for the team. The team did a really good job. We had a rider in the break and then Björn Thurau in a chase group. The rest of the team protected me very well. It was perfect. Nobody could follow I knew I had to attack because Orica-GreenEdge was controlling the race for Michael Matthews. If I had sprinted against him, I would have been beaten. I had to wait for the good moment because there was a huge headwind in the last meters. After the Volta a Catalunya I trained two weeks in Spain. I felt already good in Brabantse Pijl. This victory is for Antoine Demoitié’s family. Today, I had an angel on my shoulder. When I thought about Antoine, I went faster.”
2nd, Michael Valgren (Tinkoff): “I’m really happy. I’d have liked to have won the race – that’s what I was aiming for at the start, but the way it turned out, when it’s so close you’d like to win, but I am really happy. My big mistake this year was to try and stay in front and I used some energy on that, but in the end it turned out pretty well. When me and Gasparotto were away he wasn’t able to work with me, so I figured ok, if I just go to the left and try to pull a hard tempo and keep the peloton away, maybe I could beat him in the sprint, but I was dead in the end. The Cauberg is always really hard, but the last time the crowd helped me fly over it so that was pretty nice. The last 2.5km was really painful. I didn’t attack to go to Gasparotto – I just pulled a hard tempo and the other guys didn’t want to pull with me, so I closed the gap and just had to continue with him. I hope to win Amstel Gold in the future. Already at last year’s race I was feeling really, really good and this is a race that suits me very well, but it’s a really hard race – hectic all day and you have to be lucky not to have crashes, and if you have a puncture you’re also in the back. I was lucky today, and strong, but in the future I hope I can be even stronger.”
Late attacker, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “We decided before the race that we wanted to ride aggressively. Pim Ligthart and Tosh Van der Sande did a great job, Tosh eventually was in an escape. After that he did some useful work for myself and the other riders in the group of favorites. I knew I had to wait long enough to attack because there was a strong headwind in the finale. Nevertheless I decided to attack on the Bemelenberg but due to the strong wind and the fact I was alone, it was almost impossible to remain ahead. It was a pity that other riders from other teams didn’t join me. If we managed to get away with a few riders, perhaps we could obtain a nice gap. At the beginning of the Cauberg I was twelve seconds ahead but I needed about 30 seconds to remain in front. When the peloton accelerates you know it will be difficult. Eventually I was able to stay in the first chasing group, in that way I obtained a top ten place. In general I’m happy about my race today, I had a really good feeling. I tried to win the race by taking initiative but unfortunately that didn’t work out. I feel better compared to last year though, then I was unable to follow the better riders on the Cauberg. The way I raced today and the good feeling in my legs are two very positive things with the coming races in mind.”
Break rider, Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling): “I’m happy with my day, we worked really well up front. Though the peloton never gave us much rope, we were able to stay away quite a long time. I felt great. When the peloton finally caught us, I then even tried to make a small attack on my own. I have no regrets. In this race, it sometimes pays to be at the front, ahead of the bunch. You can avoid crashing much more easily that way. I’m really sorry for Stef Clement. Aside from being an excellent rider, he is a really great road captain.”
Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data): It was a tough race and the rain in the finale made it really hard. I actually felt pretty good all day, but lost my legs somehow in the end. I saw that a lot of other riders had the same problem, possibly from the wet and cold. I moved to the front of the peloton, hoping for a split in the crosswinds. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. That’s racing I guess, so let’s look forward Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.”
Broken right collarbone for Stef Clement (IAM Cycling): Having been caught up in a crash at the Amstel Gold Race, Stef Clement not only was forced to abandon the event, but subsequently rushed to the hospital in Maastricht. The Dutch rider suffered a fractured right clavicle, which will require surgery. The IAM Cycling sports management, in consultation with the team doctor, will discuss a possible date for Clement to return to competition based on his condition.
Felline injured in Amstel Gold Race: Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) was caught up in a freak solo crash in the neutral ahead of the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday and sustained a fracture at the base of the skull and broken nose. “Fabio crashed with his face directly into the ground,” explained team physician Jens Hinder. “He sustained a broken nose and cuts to his face and the radiologists also found a fracture at the base of the skull. He needs further examination to determine if it is stable or unstable and this will determine what treatment is required for recovery. It is too early to know until he undergoes further tests.” The recovery time from a skull fracture will be determined after Felline undergoes further examination and the team will send updates on his status when it is known. Felline will be sidelined for the Ardennes Classics, unfortunate news after he had recently returned to top form after a lengthy battle fighting a virus.
Amstel Gold Race Result:
1. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 6:18:02
2. Michael Valgren (Den) Tinkoff
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar
9. Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC
10. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal.
GP de Denain 2016
Dan McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) weaved his way through the bunch at top speed to take the French semi-Classic GP Denain on Thursday. This top result comes after his 10th place in the Schelderpijs behind Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish the previous week.
Race winner, Dan McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept): “It was a long straight line, false flat downhill, I was well protected by Florian Vachon and Vegard Breen. With just two teammates, it was not really a train but they positioned me so I could do my sprint. Many teams used their riders early to avoid the echelons. And then suddenly at one point it slowed down. The road was full of guys who sprinted. At 200-300 meters to go, I thought it was over. I just said that it was not necessary to brake and I had to continue my sprint. After that a gap opened in front of me and I sprinted for 20 meters. I managed to win in the end. With three riders in front, we did not have to do the work. Therefore we were able to save energy in the group. In the final, I had Vachon and Breen. We stayed in front and although we only had two men to do the train, we won. Obviously I’m happy with my first win of the season. This is also my first victory as a professional in Europe. I am a sprinter who could also be good in the classics. So I hope we can do well on the cobbles in the future.”
2nd, Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie): “I was a big fight for position because everyone wanted to have a go. You had to try to stay in the best possible position to have a chance to win but I was hoping. When I saw Daniel McLay pass me, I knew it was going to be difficult but it does not matter. It was only my fourth race since the World Championships on the track. It is good for the morale. It’s nice to finish in front.”
3rd, Kenny De Haes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): I’m happy with this result, but I’m also disappointed because I think that I could do better. Today, I was the dedicated leader. The team did a great job. That’s the first time of the season that I had a train especially for me. Danilo Napolitano was the lead-out man and delivered me in a great position. I was blocked on the left side of the road. I had to brake twice in the last 250 meters. That’s a shame because I think I could really get a better result.”
GP de Denain Result:
1. Daniel McLay (GB) Fortuneo-Vital Concept in 4:29:23
2. Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energie
3. Kenny De Haes (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles-Group Protect
5. Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ
6. Clément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis
7. Pawel Franczak (Pol) Verva ActiveJet
8. Chris Opie (GB) ONE Pro Cycling
9. Bryan Alaphilippe (Fra) Armee de Terre
10. Loïc Chetout (Fra) Cofidis.
A fantastic sprint at the end of the GP Denain:
Vuelta a Castilla y León 2016
Big surprise by the Colombian rider, Carlos Betancur (Movistar) in Bragança: first leader in Castilla y León after attacking into the Castillo (Cat-3), beating Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) into final sprint following rain-soaked Stage 1.
More than three hours under the rain, with temperatures under 10ºC: that was the scene under which Carlos Betancur claimed his first victory in Movistar Team colors. The opening stage of the Vuelta Castilla y León – 166.3km between Alcañices, Zamora, and Bragança, in Portugal – had some dreadful conditions in store to balance what seemingly was a gentle route, with only three Cat-3 climbs. And despite the rainstorm, a Colombian prevailed. ‘La Ronca’ is back!
The squad directed by José Luis Jaimerena and José Luis Laguía started pursuing the day’s seven-man break well before the Alto de Carmona. Before the Alto de Bragança, already on Portuguese soil, the Blues were pulling on full steam to ensure it was caught and creating some fireworks into the Alto do Castillo, the last climb of the day. That was Betancur’s time.
7km from the line, the man from Antioquia jumped off the front together with Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). Despite some nerves at the front, his rival asking for some extra turns, and a bit of a gap into the descent for Bilbao, the sprint was contested between the two, ultimately bringing the Eusebio Unzue-led squad its 9th success of the 2016 season – with seven different riders – and Betancur’s 13th since he turned pro, one largely awaited for after 760 days of drought since he conquered Paris-Nice in 2014.
The GC has offered some early gaps today, with Betancur and Bilbao 46 seconds ahead of a trio with Barbero (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Sokolov (Lokosphinx) and Winner Anacona (5th), the big bunch at 54 seconds as Alejandro Valverde took 8th. The Movistar riders, also leading the teams’ GC, will fight tomorrow to maintain the jersey atop the Alto de Fermoselle (Cat-2), 3km from a finishing line that will surely see another small group coming across.
Thanks to the Movistar team for the race info.
Stage winner and overall leader, Carlos Betancur (Movistar): “I’m really happy to win again after so long. Cold, rainy conditions suit me well – Alejandro and many team-mates and rivals struggled quite a bit during the race and I had to profit from that. Into the final 25km, the break still had two minutes, so I decided to come to the front and help my team-mates out since we were into a bit of disadvantage against Caja Rural – we had led the bunch during the whole stage. When you’ve got a big rider as Alejandro by your side, you must help him. Several attacks went before Bilbao’s; that’s when I decided to go after him. Despite him taking some meters into the descent, I could bridge back for the sprint… and that’s how I got the win! I’m of course excited about what’s to come after this success, but the roles within the team are clear and they won’t change. I didn’t come here to chase the GC, and our leader is Alejandro. We’ll see how these two stages will go, but Bala is in excellent condition – we remain committed to him. This victory is a tribute to Franco Gini, a man who helped me a lot to get on the right path agin, making me reflect on the keys to success and how to do things well. Now, I’ve got a strong squad supporting me, Movistar Team, which has relied on me – this is a reward to them, for believing in what I could do.”
2nd on the stage and 2nd overall, Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “We attacked with about 10 km left to go and we quickly got a good gap. Betancur didn’t collaborate so I tried to go solo. At the end, he caught me and even though I felt like I was the strongest, he still managed to pass me in the sprint. However, the team did very well and we are now in a good position to fight for the overall win.”
Vuelta a Castilla y León Stage 1 Result:
1. Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar in 4:27:02
2. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
3. Carlos Barbero (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:46
4. Dmitrii Sokolov (Rus) Lokosphinx
5. Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar
6. Alvaro Trueba Diego (Spa) Efapel at 0:49
7. Rafael Silva (Por) Efapel at 0:54
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
9. Diego Milan Jimenez (Dom) Inteja-MMR Dominican Cycling Team
10. Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Sporting-Tavira.
Vuelta a Castilla y León Overall After Stage 1:
1. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Movistar in 4:26:52
2. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:04
3. Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:52
4. Dmitrii Sokolov (Rus) Lokosphinx at 0:56
5. Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Movistar
6. Alvaro Trueba Diego (Spa) Efapel at 0:59
7. Rafael Silva (Por) Efapel at 1:04
8. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar
9. Diego Milan Jimenez (Dom) Inteja-MMR Dominican Cycling Team
10. Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Sporting-Tavira.
Spanish road race champion Alessandro Valverde (Movistar) dominated Stage 2 in Castilla y León, claims his third success of 2016 and Movistar Team’s so far this year. Bala is now 3 seconds behind team-mate Carlos Betancur on GC before Sunday’s Candelario mountain-top finish.
Controlling, pushing, attacking, winning. The race strategy went all to perfection for the Movistar Team and Alejandro Valverde on stage two of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. While successfully defending the leader’s jersey with Carlos Betancur, the squad directed by José Luis Jaimerena and José Luis Laguía worked hard to ensure Valverde had the best position to seek and claim his third win of the season. At the end, it was sheer domination for the Blues.
The start of the 170.6km trek from Bragança to Fermoselle was again soaked by rain, at least during the Portuguese stretch of Saturday’s racing. Ever since the first climb of Rosas (Cat-3), Jorge Arcas started pulling at the front to keep the early break on a leash. The Aragón-based rider’s work was crucial so the telephone squad could develop the pre-race strategy once winds picked up its intensity after the Alto de Vimioso. Into the plains, the Movistar Team profited from crosswinds to split the peloton twice, leaving only 30 riders ahead. The Blues’ strength was so definitive that the two main pelotons were two minutes apart at the 20-kilometer-to-go banner. No chance was left for those behind.
Valverde’s time came on the foot of the Alto de Fermoselle (Cat-2). ‘Bala’ jumped off the front with Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and later dropped his fellow countryman, opening a 30 seconds gap across the summit that increased to 51 seconds over the finishing line. Courage and class brought the Movistar Team their 10th win of the 2016 season, as they kept Carlos Betancur on top of the GC with three seconds over Valverde. The Blues’ sweep of the leader in the standings so far was complete with Winner Anacona, 5th overall, and José Joaquín Rojas, 3rd today and 6th on the overall classification. Still, anything is decided yet: the Alto de la Plataforma’s (Cat-1) slopes will still allow for major changes tomorrow. Will we succeed?
Thanks to the Movistar team for the race info.
Stage winner and 2nd overall, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “We could open some gaps again today, we remain in the lead with Carlos, I’m now second at 3 seconds… things couldn’t be better for us at this point of the race. Plus, tomorrow’s finish is a good one for me – but we mustn’t elaborate much on that, as we never know what could happen. I just hope that these two stages do well on me before Flèche and Liège, some racing form I needed. I also wish yesterday’s awful weather doesn’t bring any illness! Even more than the classics, I expect this to be a good preparation before the Giro. It will surely bring some morale up on me, so I can be afraid of none at the start. I’d love Carlos winning this race tomorrow – we’ll see what we can do about that tomorrow.”
2nd on the stage and 4th overall, Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “The race split up due to the wind, together with Movistar, we had the majority of riders in the front group and we played out the win between us on the final climb. Valverde attacked early and I went after him. I stayed with him for about two kilometers, but then I had to let go. Later, I managed to recover and win the sprint in the group behind.”
9th on the stage and overall leader, Carlos Betancur (Movistar): “The team was simply excellent; it makes one really happy to see how we controlled the race and won. We pushed for the entire stage, especially when those crosswinds formed up… and seeing Alejandro taking the stage win in such great style makes you happy to have spent the whole day at the front. I’m still in the lead and I hope I can do well on tomorrow’s Cat-1 finish. For the time being, our performance this weekend has been fantastic.”
Vuelta a Castilla y León Stage 2 Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 4:21:28
2. Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:51
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
4. Jóni Silva Brandão (Por) Efapel
5. Rafael Ferreira Reis (Por) W52/FC Porto
6. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Sporting-Tavira
7. Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Movistar
8. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Stölting Service Group
9. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Movistar
10. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.
Vuelta a Castilla y León Overall After Stage 2:
1. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Movistar in 8:49:11
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 0:03
3. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:15
4. Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:46
5. Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Movistar at 0:56
6. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar at 1:00
7. Jóni Silva Brandão (Por) Efapel at 1:04
8. Rafael Ferreira Reis (Por) W52/FC Porto
9. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Stölting Service Group
10. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.
Alessandro Valverde (Movistar) didn’t leave room for surprise and won on the summit atop the Alto de la Plataforma after team-mate Betancur struggled and claimed his first career Vuelta a Castilla y León GC to earn his 95th pro success.
The Movistar Team were infallible, committed in full and more successful than ever in the Final Stage 3 of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Alejandro Valverde and the Blues left the Spanish event with all four major victories at stake as the Spanish road race champion, always trying to keep team-mate and GC leader Carlos Betancur into contention for a well-deserved overall victory, ultimately had to go on his own after the Colombian struggled into the last climb of stage three. ‘El Imbatido’ showed his best form leading up to the Giro and got closer to the magic number of 100 pro victories – now at 95 – while taking Eusebio Unzué’s outfit up to fourth in the victory rankings with 12, seven of them in barely fifteen days.
The final day of racing in northwestern Spain – 161.4km between Salamanca and Candelario – always had the telephone squad at the front, with the likes of Arcas, Dowsett, Pedrero, Rojas or Winner keeping all attempts under control. With the Movistar Team not allowing the day’s main break to open gaps bigger than two minutes and a late move by Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) efficiently suffocated, the roster directed by José Luis Jaimerena and José Luis Laguía made sure it all came down to the 6km Alto de la Plataforma (Cat-1).
Without Betancur, dropped back halfway through the ascent after plenty of attacks, Valverde took the rains to chase down every other attempt and use his speed at the end to claim his fifth success of 2016. As a result of this victory, the Movistar Team has already conquered four races overall in 2016, all of them in style: San Luis, with Dayer Quintana with Nairo at his service; Andalucía, again with ‘Bala’ after an excellent Peñas Blancas climb; and Catalunya, where Quintana bested some of the world’s top stage-racers. Undoubtedly, a huge boost of morale for the whole squad, just three weeks ahead of the Giro start.
Thanks to the Movistar team for the race info.
Race winner, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “I’m leaving Castilla y León full of happiness. The race couldn’t have gone better – stage wins for Betancur and myself, the GC – and, above all, this is an excellent way to get the racing pace and start building up before the Giro, which I’m so excited about. I want to thank the whole team – they worked their heart out all weekend long and even more so today, from the very beginning. At the final climb, my main priority was keeping Carlos into contention; there were several moves into the first slopes of the ascent and we could control them more or less comfortably, without him losing the wheel of the group. However, at some point he started to suffer, and we had to keep going so we could still stand a chance. I managed well that group with Brandao and the Caja Rural riders before going for the sprint with 100 meters to go. Now it’s all about Flèche and Liège. Going for the win? Well, we will see. The field of contenders is completely different to what I had to face this weekend. Those are races I’ve really enjoyed for years, but my main goal at the moment is staying safe and keeping my form going up before the biggest goal of the early season for me, which is the Giro.”
4th on the stage and 2nd overall, Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “Today, we did everything we could trying to break Movistar’s winning streak but it didn’t work out. However, the overall balance is good. The team worked hard every day during this race and to finish second behind a top rider like Valverde is a good sign. I’m happy with my performance.”
10th overall, Linus Gerdemann (Stölting Service Group): “Movistar controlled the race, that’s why we didn’t go for the break. Rasmus Quaade had a mechanical towards the end, and Thomas Koep has only recently returned to racing; therefore I told the two of them to climb off. Linus did well on the climb and got new motivation when he saw the GC leader Betancur getting dropped. 10th overall is a great result, especially after the horrible weather on the first two stages.”
Vuelta a Castilla y León Stage 3 Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 4:15:51
2. Jóni Silva Brandão (Por) Efapel at 0:01
3. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:03
4. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:08
5. Jaime Roson Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:16
6. Frederico Figueiredo (Por) Radio Popular-Boavista at 0:20
7. Henrique Casimiro (Por) Efapel at 0:22
8. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Sporting-Tavira at 0:28
9. Heiner Rodrigo Parra Bustamente (Col) Boyaca-Raza de Campeones at 0:30
10. Rafael Ferreira Reis (Por) W52-FC Porto at 0:32.
Vuelta a Castilla y León Final Overall Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar in 13:04:55
2. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:30
3. Jóni Silva Brandão (Por) Efapel at 1:06
4. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:10
5. Jaime Roson Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:32
6. Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Movistar at 1:43
7. Rafael Ferreira Reis (Por) W52-FC Porto
8. Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias at 2:23
9. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Movistar at 2:51
10. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Stölting Service Group.
The Final Stage 3:
The Belgian Semi-Classic on Wednesday takes in eleven climbs including three ascents of the Mur de Huy with its 9.6% ramps. The finish is on the summit of Mur after 196 kilometers. The race is perfect for an explosive rider and had become a bit of a Spanish benefit with five wins in the last ten years, three of those coming from Alessandro Valverde.
Full race report on Wednesday.
2016 Fléche Wallonne Femmes: Women in Gold at the Foot of the “Mur”
They will (almost) all be there: the female stars of world cycling will be coming together in Huy for the 2016 edition of the Women’s Flèche Wallonne, which promises to be outstanding. Indeed, the winners of seven of the last nine editions will be taking starter’s orders next Wednesday, most notably title holder Anna Van der Breggen, but also the winner in 2014, Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prévot as well as the legendary Marianne Vos, five times winner of the event (in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013). In addition to each boasting a triumph at the top of the mythical wall-like climb that is the Mur de Huy, these three pretenders for victory will be racing in the same colours, those of the Rabo-Liv team. Against them, the other teams will have several cards to play, starting with Boels Dolmans, team of the current World Champion Lizzie Armitstead. The British rider, who since the start of the year has won 3 World Tour races out of 5, including the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche, will be supported by Megan Guarnier, 3rd last year at Huy and by Evelyn Stevens, winner of 2012 edition. As regards the Orica – AIS team, they will most likely be looking to Annemiek van Vleuten, 2nd last year, to triumph. She will be able to count on her team-mate Katrin Garfoot to help her climb onto the highest step of the podium on Wednesday. As for Wiggle High5, the threat could come from Emma Johansson, who has finished in the top 10 on all the World Tour events to date. She will be accompanied by Elisa Longo-Borghini especially, a regular finisher in the honourable positions on the Flèche in recent years (2nd in 2013, 3rd in 2014).
25 teams: the leading riders.
ORICA – AIS: Van Vleuten (NL), Garfoot (AUS)
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL TEAM: Crooks (AUS)
LARES-WAOWDEALS WOMEN CYCLING TEAM: Van de Ree (NL)
LENSWORLD-ZANNATA: Confalonieri (ITA)
LOTTO SOUDAL LADIES: Daams (BEL), Lichtenberg (GER)
TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – ETIXX: Demey (BEL)
POITOU-CHARENTES FUTUROSCOPE 86: Biannic (FRA)
FRENCH NATIONAL TEAM: Bazin (FRA)
CANYON SRAM RACING: Amialiusik (BLR), Cecchini (ITA), Cromwell (AUS)
CERVELO BIGLA PRO CYCLING TEAM: Moolman Pasio (RSA)
ALE CIPOLLINI: Bastianelli (ITA)
BEPINK: Neben (USA), Zabelinskaya (RUS)
INPA – BIANCHI: Riabchenko (UKR), Stricker (ITA)
SERVETTO FOOTON: Neff (SWI), Brandli (SWI)
ASTANA WOMEN’S TEAM: Antoshina (RUS), Fidanza (ITA)
BOELS DOLMANS CYCLING TEAM: Armitstead (GBR), Guarnier (USA), Stevens (USA)
PARKHOTEL VALKENBURG CONTINENTAL TEAM: Rooijakkers (NL), Buurman (NL)
RABOLIV WOMEN CYCLING TEAM: Van der Breggen (NL), Ferrand-Prévot (FRA), Vos (NL)
TEAM LIV-PLANTUR: Stultiens (NL), Kirchmann (CAN)
HITEC PRODUCTS: Kitchen (AUS)
BTC CITY LJUBLJANA: Bujak (POL)
BIZKAIA – DURANGO: Olivier (RSA), Garcia (SPA)
LOINTEK TEAM: Verhoeven (FRA), Lopez (SPA)
WIGGLE HIGH5: Johansson (SWE), King (GB), Longo Borghini (ITA)
CYLANCE PRO CYCLING: Ratto (ITA).
With the exception of Stefan Küng coming in to replace Marcus Burghardt, the team remains unchanged said Sports Director Valerio Piva.
“We are still going in with Philippe Gilbert as our leader but as we saw at Amstel Gold Race we have a strong and motivated team with our younger guys who will also have the chance to take any opportunities that they see at La Flèche Wallonne.”
Gilbert is eager to get back on the start line on Wednesday.
“Amstel Gold Race didn’t go as I would have liked but I’m taking things day by day with my fractured finger and now I have two days to recover before La Flèche Wallonne. I know the race well, I’ve won it before and I’m hoping to have a better race on Wednesday.” Gilbert said.
Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Stefan Küng (SUI), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).
La Flèche Wallonne – Cunning will be IAM Cycling’s Best Ally
THE ANALYSIS: “The Flèche Wallonne is not a race that just anyone can win,” Rik Verbrugghe explained. “You have to understand it in order to be able to take the victory. The Mur de Huy, at the top of which comes the finish line, is often decisive. For IAM Cycling, it will be difficult to make the difference in the last hundred meters. This is why we will want to ride at the front of the pack. We will need to take advantage of the weaknesses of our opponents. We need to be on the offensive.”
THE TECHNIQUE: Learned by Jarlinson Pantano. Though he found himself the victim of crashes last year, the Colombian rider has learned the lessons of the Walloon classic. “It is important to ride at the front. The end is very hard, and is often loaded with explosive riders. The last kilometer is ruthless. Maybe too much for me. It will be tricky. Many teams will try their luck before the Mur de Huy. It will take an extra dose of vigilance not to be trapped.”
THE NOVELTY: The Solières climb. To be climbed twice in the race, the last time with 40 kilometers to go to the finish, this difficult 4.3 kilometer hill that has some passages with gradients up to 8%, could prove tricky, though it comes relatively far from the finish. “In a race like this, every change to the course is important,” Dries Devenyns conceded. “We will take time to recon the last 40 kilometers of the race beforehand,” Rik Verbrugghe confirmed. “This will be an opportunity to discover and learn about this particular climb that we do not know yet. It may very well prove to be an interesting addition to the race.”
THE INEVITABLE: Le Mur de Huy. The peloton will scale this wall three times. A mythical finishing point for the Flèche Wallonne, this final ramp remains a sort of puzzle even to those who climb it. A real Wall, it is 1.3 kilometers long with a 9% average gradient and threatens with passages of 20%. It will provide the moment of truth even as it hassles the riders.
THE MEMORY: Rik Verbrugghe’s own success there. Solo. “It was a good win,” the IAM Cycling sports manager exclaims. “I broke away 30 kilometers from the finish. I caught the remainder of the breakaway, and when I arrived at the foot of the Mur de Huy, I had no more than 20 seconds on the peloton. It was a tiny amount. But it was enough for me to be able to raise my arms in victory. This success I owe to my then director, the now deceased Claude Criquielion. The Flèche Wallonne is the race where he gave me the most advice.”
Clément Chevrier (F), Jérôme Coppel (F), Stefan Denifl (Aut), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Jarlinson Pantano (Col), Vegard Stake-Laengen (Nor), Larry Warbasse (USA), Oliver Zaugg (S).
Manager sportif: Rik Verbrugghe. Directeur sportif: Kjell Carlström.
Team LottoNL-Jumbo wants to be rewarded in Flèche Wallonne
Wilco Kelderman and Robert Gesink will lead team LottoNL-Jumbo in La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday in Belgium. The goal is deliver a strong team performance and take home a top result.
“Enrico Battaglin, Bert-Jan Lindeman and Sep Vanmarcke stood out in the Amstel Gold Race,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “We were convincingly as a team, but didn’t reward ourselves with a top result. That has to be different on Wednesday and we’re expecting to be able to do better. Of course, we’re competing with the best riders in the world and on the Mur de Huy, there are many contenders. We’re confident Wilco Kelderman and Robert Gesink will be two of them. They can compete for top results.”
‘A top 10 result’
Wilco Kelderman gives himself more chances in La Flèche Wallonne than he had in the Amstel Gold Race. “First of all, you have to be strong enough for a classic race, but you need a little bit of luck as well,” the Dutch climber explained. “The Mur de Huy is a climb that suits me well. I’m aiming for a top 10 result.”
“Wilco finished 10th, last year,” Zeeman continued. “He is still a young rider, so I think that it’s too modest to aim for another 10th place. I’m expecting him to perform better than he did last year. The way we rode the Amstel Gold Race as a team was much better than we did in 2015. We’re developing ourselves and we want to take the next step now. We want to see Robert and Wilco approach the Mur de Huy convincingly.”
Enrico Battaglin, Victor Campenaerts, Koen Bouwman, Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens and Alexey Vermeulen.
Sports Directors: Frans Maassen and Merijn Zeeman.
La Flèche Wallonne
La Flèche Wallonne is the second of three Ardennes races in eight days for Team Giant-Alpecin. The parcours is littered with the short, sharp climbs that characterize the Ardennes, and it culminates with a mountain top finish, the Mur de Huy, 1.3km with an average gradient of 9.6%.
Looking ahead to the race, coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: “We head to Flèche Wallonne with a view to getting Warren in a good position at the foot of the steep finishing climb of the Mur de Huy, which suits his characteristics as a climber very well. He is in good shape at the moment and we will look to keep him protected throughout the day.
“The last 30km are very difficult and Simon’s experience and course knowledge will be very valuable. Last year it was a very nervous race with a lot of crashes, so teamwork will be very important for both positioning and saving energy, as anything can happen.”
Warren Barguil (FRA), Caleb Fairly (USA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Sam Oomen (NED), Georg Preidler (AUT).
Coach: Aike Visbeek.
La Flèche Wallonne Féminine
This Wednesday the UCI Women’s WorldTour continues with La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, a tough climbing test in the Ardennes suited to puncheurs and climbers. The 19th edition finishes atop the classic ascent of the Mur de Huy and features 11 other climbs along the 137km route.
Coach Dirk Reuling (NED) said: “La Flèche Wallonne Féminine is the sixth round of the UCI Women’s WorldTour and it is going to be a hard race, especially with two steep climbs in the finale. We did a recon last Saturday in dry conditions, which went very well and studied the parcours to know what to expect.
“It is essential to be at the front at the bottom of the final climb, the Mur de Huy. Riding as a team will be important to support Leah in the positioning before the key sections and to be able to contest the finish. Leah has shown this season that she can perform well at WorldTour level races and we will aim for a place among the top 15 with her.”
Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Riejanne Markus (NED), Rozanne Slik (NED), Kyara Stijns (NED), Carlee Taylor (AUS), Molly Weaver (GBR).
Coach: Dirk reuling.
Fleche Wallone Preview: Moolman-Pasio comments
Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling Team will take confidence from a good performance in Emakumeen Bira into Wednesday’s Fleche Wallonne. The iconic race forms part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour and will be another spectator friendly event as it finishes up the steep Muur de Huy.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has placed in the top five in the last four editions of the race. She’s had a tough start to the season but third place on the overall classification in Emakumeen Bira has helped her confidence along.
“I’ve known all along that I am on good form,” Moolman-Pasio said. “My numbers are good, I see it every day in training so that’s been the most frustrating part. You get to a race and something happens that stops you from building that confidence, it’s just great to get that reassurance that the numbers don’t lie and the legs are coming good.”
Fleche Wallonne is a favourite event of hers. “Every Fleche Wallonne I’ve started I have finished in the top five, minus my first one where I crashed 15 kilometres from the finish. It definitely is a race that I love and I am looking forward to Wednesday.”
Fleche Wallonne – 20 April 2016
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Carmen Small, Clara Koppenburg, Joelle Numainville, Lotta Lepistö, Stephanie Pohl.
Tour de Yorkshire 2016 the Climbers on Standby
From this coming 29 April – 1 May, sprinters like Caleb Ewan will take centre stage on the Tour de Yorkshire. But they could also be relegated to the wings on the final rolling stage, on which Nordhaugh, Barguil or A.Yates are capable of coming through for the win. For the Ladies, the world champion Lizzie Armitstead seems to be the favorite as the ASDA Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race will start from Otley, her hometown, on April 30th, to reach Doncaster on the very same route as the second stage of the Men race.
The routes of Yorkshire, which were first used on the 2014 Tour de France, continued to add a whiff of mystery to their personality in the maiden edition of the Tour de Yorkshire in 2015. The course is punctuated with more less steep ramps, which are ideal for possible attacks to take place, while at the same time, the sprinters can also drop the hammer on stages one and two this year. Defending race-winner Lars-Peter Nordhaug made the most of the rollers on day one last year, but he will have to demonstrate a certain level of patience for the eventual elevations changes. When the time comes to attack, he could very well be joined by Thomas Voeckler, who joined him last year on the podium (3rd), unless his young team mate Lilian Calmejane eventually carries the hopes of the Direct Energie team. Several explosive climbers could also surge on the up-hill Scarborough road, like Warren Barguil, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Ben Hermans, Adam Yates and Stephen Cummings, who saw an opportunity in Mende and seized it last July.
Road captain of his own team and the first English winner of the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins will make a rare race appearance, but Britain’s other chances might lie with Peter Kennaugh or Russel Downing. Before the contenders for the overall podium make themselves known, the first two finishes will be settled between some top-class sprinters. The discipline’s big hope for the future, Caleb Ewan, who will certainly be helped by Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman, will have to prove himself against the likes of fellow Australian Matt Goss, or Nikias Arndt and Jacques Janse van Rensburg.
Unless the many English (8 British teams, 18 riders) brought up on the velodrome, like Owain Doull and Andrew Tenant, use their top-speed to find their place in British cycling folklore.
The world champion returns to Yorkshire
Local native and world champion Lizzie Armistead, who just won the Tour of Flanders, will ride in the ASDA Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race, held on the same course and on the same day as stage 2 of the Men’s Race. (Otley-Doncaster, 135.5 km). The world champion, born in Otley, will have the luck to ride on her childhood roads and will be committed to shine in front of her fans. Facing her there will be several well-known contenders like Emma Pooley who will make her comeback to Road competition in Yorkshire. More than a year and a half after her official retirement, the 33 years old cyclist will ride with the Great Britain team, as she may will at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer. On the ASDA Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race, the two British champion will be, for sure, Yorkshire public’s darlings.
The lead riders in the women’s race: Lizzie Armitstead (Gbr), Kirsten Wild (Ned), Emma Pooley (Gbr), Shelley Olds (Usa), Danielle King (Gbr), Julien D’Hoore (Bel), Annalisa Cucinotta (Ita) and Marta Bastianelli (Ita)
18 teams, the leading riders:
Orica GreenEdge: A.Yates (GBR), Ewan, Hayman (AUS), Mezgec (SVN)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Van Hoecke (BEL)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Edet, Rosetto, Simon (FRA)
Direct Energie: Voeckler, Calmejane, Nauleau (FRA)
Team Giant-Alpecin: Barguil (FRA), Arndt (GER)
Team Sky: Kennaugh (GBR), Nordhaug (NOR)
Team Wiggins: Wiggins, Doull, Tennant (GBR)
Team Raleigh GAC: Kneisky (FRA), Mora, Torres (SPA)
NFTO: Edmondson, Bibby (GBR)
One Pro Cycling: Goss (AUS)
JLT Condor: Downing (GBR)
Madison Genesis: Gunman (NZL), Rowsell (GBR)
National Team: Cullaigh (GBR)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo: Kruijswijk (NL), Wynants (BEL)
Roompot Oranje Peloton: linenup not available
Team Katusha: Van den Broeck (BEL), Byström (NOR), Politt (GER)
Team Dimension Data: Cummings (GBR), Eisel (AUT), J.Janse van Rensburg (RSA)
BMC Racing Team: Dennis (AUS), Hermans (BEL)
2016 Maserati Tour de Yorkshire ride
On the final day, Sunday 1st May, the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride will give amateur cyclists the chance to ride many of the roads ridden by the pros in a newly designed sportive route, which will start and finish in Scarborough. The sportive route will follow parts of the Stage 3 men’s race whilst also taking in several alternative roads to allow for thousands of participants to finish in their own time. A highlight of the sportive will see amateur riders finishing with a 1km sea-front sprint finish and crossing the very same finish line as the professional riders, just few hours before them. There will be three distances for riders to choose from; 40km, 85km and 115km.
Eusebio Unzué has compiled a shortlist of eleven riders set to make up the Movistar Team’s official roster for the 99th Giro d’Italia (9-31 May). Alejandro Valverde will lead the squad, which will be announced after the Tour de Romandie and the Vuelta a Asturias. Andrey Amador (CRC), Giovanni Visconti (ITA), Alex Dowsett (GBR), Jasha Sütterlin (GER), Rory Sutherland (AUS), Antonio Pedrero, José Joaquín Rojas, José Herrada, Javi Moreno and Rubén Fernández (ESP) are also in for the remaining 8 spots.
Team LottoNL-Jumbo extends contract with Gesink
WorldTour cycling Team LottoNL-Jumbo extends its contract with star rider Robert Gesink for two more years. Gesink is confident with the team, which arose two years ago with the support of BrandLoyalty. The long term vision of the team linked to the innovative work of Bianchi and its Aquila, one of the quickest time trial bikes in the peloton, is decisive for Gesink.
Sports Director Verhoeven is very pleased with the contract extension of his experienced rider. “With Robert, we have a strong overall rider and a real captain in our team,” Verhoeven said. “He is a key factor in our team and a figurehead of Dutch cycling for several years. In fact, with Robert is the leader who’s been with our team the longest.
“We’re proud that he chose our plan towards 2018. This season, we established some clear goals for him, with the Ardennes Classics, the Vuelta al País Vasco, the Tour de Suisse, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.”
“I’m very glad to have this security through 2018,” explained Gesink, who’s preparing for the Ardennes classics at the moment. “The team made a good plan for the future, both on the sportive and business side. That gives me a lot of confidence. “It feels like my team, the one which has supported me well for years already. I hope to stay with the best riders in the word, as I did last year in the Tour de France. I want to show some beautiful things in the upcoming years.”
Peter Sagan to return to his mountain bike roots in Tinkoff colors
After a successful classics campaign, UCI World Road Race Champion Peter Sagan is looking to blow the cobwebs off his mountain biking skills. Sagan will make a brief return to off-road racing in Austria and the Czech Republic in his build up to the Amgen Tour of California next month.
Sagan, already a World Champion in the discipline as a junior in 2008, will race two mountain bike events, in Austria and the Czech Republic, in Tinkoff colors and aboard a Specialized S-Works Epic following his break after the classics campaign. Well known for his technical ability on any type of bike, Sagan will be hoping to pick up from where he left off a few years ago, with strong off-road performances before concentrating again on his road career.
“It’s going to be good fun returning to my roots, racing mountain bikes again and I look forward to seeing what shape I will be in at those races,” said Sagan when asked about what he expected. “I’m pleased with how my season has gone so far. My victories at Gent-Wevelgem and Ronde van Vlaanderen take the pressure off now, so I hope that I can go off-road and be able to compete at the front, like I do on the road. I’d like to thank the team and our sponsors for helping me make this opportunity possible.”
“Peter has shown this spring what a star he is on the road and with the public, so to have this opportunity to take this to mountain bike fans too will be really nice,” commented Stefano Feltrin, General Manager of Tinkoff, on Sagan’s return to the roots. “It’s a good opportunity for Tinkoff to race its colors and showcase its partners in another discipline and we have every confidence in Peter that he will take the racing seriously and perform to his best, even if these races are just part of his build to the all-important goals for the rest of the season.”
Tinkoff would like to thank Tinkoff Bank, Specialized, Sportful, Tacx, LOOK, Prologo and Karpos for their support in Peter Sagan’s new endeavor.
Two months after his serious crash in the Tour de San Luis, Movistar Team’s Adriano Malori keeps moving towards his full recovery at the Centro Neurológico de Atención Integral (CNAI) in Imarcoain, Navarra. The medical team of the center directed by Manuel Murie-Fernández, in charge of the 28-year-old Italian rider, remains very optimistic about the quick, steady evolution Malori has experienced ever since he was admitted.
Adriano is receiving specialised and intensive treatment for 6 hours a day, including hydrotherapy, virtual reality, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech teraphy and neuropsychology, among many others, thanks to the multidisciplinary team of the CNAI.
Few weeks ago, Adriano Malori announced on his Twitter account he was riding again on the trainer. “I felt really comfortable when I got on my bike for the first time after the accident, even if it wasn’t on the road; for me, this is like starting over again – the second part of my professional career. My recovery is going quickly: just thinking how I was one and a half months ago and at this moment… it gives me goosebumps,” explains Malori.
The Italian rider’s neurorehabilitation process is still active, as these treatments take from 6 to 12 months to complete. However, this schedule could be shortened depending on Adriano’s evolution. “And he’s been able to reduce the length of some phases,” says Murie-Fernández.
Malori sustained serious injuries as a result of his crash on 22 January, during stage five of the Tour de San Luis.
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