EuroTrash Wallonne Thursday!
Alejandro Valverde did it again on the Mur de Huy and we have the video, race report, result and rider quotes. Add in the women’s Wallonne the Giro del Trentino, Liege & Yorkshire previews and Spartacus returns and it’s a full EuroTrash Thursday. Feet up – coffee.
TOP STORY: Spartacus on the way Back
Fabian Cancellara has got back on the saddle of his Trek with “no pain” after the fall where he fractured two vertebrae last March the 27th in the E3 Harelbeke. A lost spring campaign, no: Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix; his major objective of a fourth victory in both.
“After the medical examination and the green light to train. Happy with my first run today without pain,” he Tweeted after 25 days without training.
Cancellara had been coming into form after winning a stage in the Tour of Oman and the final time trial in Tirreno-Adriatico, plus 7th in the Milan-San Remo behind John Degenkolb. His comeback is expected to be the Tour of Bavaria (23-27 May) and the Tour of Luxembourg (May 30-June 3).
That crash in the E3:
Despite the appearance of a new climb in the closing moments of the Flèche Wallonne, the decision was made in the last 200m of the race and there wasn’t much anyone could do against flying Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). The new course however proved to make the Grande Finale extremely lively with several attacks occurring including that of rising star Tim Wellens. Calm and composed, Valverde finally made the best of his experience to claim the race for the second consecutive time, adding a third win in Huy to his record. The soon to be 35-year-old beat the promising young Frenchman of the Etixx – Quick-Step team; Julian Alaphilippe (only 22) and Switzerland’s Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE). For the fourth year, a Spaniard wins the Fleche Wallonne.
After a fairly fast start, five men eventually managed to pull away from the pack after only 8 kilometers: Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Pieter Van Speybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Jerome Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Reinier Honig (Roompot) and Daniele Ratto (UHC). Five kilometers later, they were joined by two other riders: Mike Teunissen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement). With the peloton showing no interest, the lead went to 8 minutes by the Côte des 36 Tournants, but it dropped to 6:40 at the summit of the Côte de Bohissau after 100 kilometers.
Just before the first climb up the Mur, a crash brought down Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), who finished second in the 2014 edition. The leaders had a lead of 5:50 lead at the top of the Mur. As the leaders moved closer to the Côte de Bellaire, the pack really started chasing and the gap dropped rapidly. On the climb, five men remained in the lead as Theunissen and Honig were dropped. The leaders reached the top with a 3:05 advantage. Real drama struck several kilometers later when local hero and 2011 champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was caught in a crash. Despite getting back on his bike, the Belgian rapidly decided to quit the race.
On the second climb up the Mur de Huy, Jerome Baugnies powered away reaching the top with a slim 10 second advantage over De Gendt. Both men bunched together again shortly after, soon to be caught by three other riders: Ratto, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana). With 25 kilometers to go, the front men had 20 seconds lead over a Etixx – Quick-Step led peloton. Eventually all of the break were caught and dropped leaving Visconti and Sanchez out front with 15 kilometers to go. As the pack continued the chase, another crash happened sending 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky) and Samuel Sanchez (BMC) to the ground.
10 to go, and Roompot’s Huub Dujn jumped away to be pulled back by Etixx – Quick-Step and AG2R-La Mondiale. Sanchez and Visconti managed to stay out front on the run-in to the Côte de Cherave, but Nibali attacked with Kreuziger and Alaphillipe which ended the hopes of Sanchez and Visconti. Next to go was Lotto-Soudal’s Tim Wellens just before the summit. At the base of the Mur; about 35 riders pull Wellens back. At 250 meters to go Valverde goes and no one could match him. Alaphillipe takes second and Michael Albasini holds on for third.
Flèche Wallonne winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “At the end of the day, Huy is a climb that suits me perfectly well and I can only come for the win here – I’m super happy this happened again today. It was an extremely hard day, with a lot of nerves out there, loads of crashes… it is some time since I’ve raced on such a tense field as today’s. There were crashes already with 130km to go, some of them happening within the first 30 places of the bunch… just dangerous. I felt really willing to fight for it, the team is doing splendid these days and we could only do our best to win. It was always under control today – ever since we started controlling the pace into the bunch, then with Giovanni Visconti into the break. With the climb of Cherave, everyone was more tired at the foot of the Mur and that really had an impact. I came into the final climb in a great position and decided to lead the pace so I didn’t get boxed in – I could also control all moves from the front and still save some energy for the finish. With 200 meters to go, It already seemed clear to me I could win this one, because I was keeping the position and had the legs to push and contest the sprint with everything until the finish line. Winning here three times is something I’m really happy about, and even more being so regular: second in Amstel the other day, now winning Flèche… we’ll see what happens in Liège on Sunday. It’s a really beautiful race, maybe the one I like the most and the one that suits me best, and I dream of being again in the mix there. We’re in high morale but also really calm: having won this one and always staying on the podium, we are confident we can fight again on Sunday.”
2nd Julian Alanphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step): “This is my first time racing Flèche and I had never done the Mur de Huy before. I’m surprised and happy about my 2nd place after a strong team performance today. My goal was to help Michal Kwiatkowski be in the top positions before the Mur de Huy. The Côte de Cherave created a tense finale. A lot of riders wanted to attack there. My job was to follow the attacks in support of Michal. A big bunch showed up on the Mur de Huy, which was a different scenario compared to previous years. As a team we did a great job surrounding Michal and controlling the attacks of the day. On the Mur de Huy I found myself very well positioned at the front. I had great legs on the climb and the nature of the Mur de Huy makes it difficult to contest the finale if you are not in front. So my Sport Director told me to just go for the victory as I was in great position with good condition. I did everything I could, but I saw Alejandro Valverde was in front and on this steep climb there was just no way to close the gap. He deserved the victory today. I’m still a young rider trying to gain experience and I am happy that I can be there to both help my teammate, and also try if there is an opportunity for myself in the finale. One day I’d like to try and win these kinds of races, which I love. I will carry on and keep learning from both my teammates and the peloton around me. Now we will focus on Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It’s another race I’ve never done before, so I am curious about it. I will see the parcours for the first time on Friday during recon and I am super excited. I hope to play an important role in the team strategy to help Michal in the front so the team can be able to contest the finish.”
10th Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo): “Short and steep climbs suit me, It’s nice to have them racing again after some injuries. They’ve had some setbacks, but they’re fit again. I think we’re heading in the right direction with the team. Everything will fall into place again. Unfortunately, Tom Leezer crashed hard. That was quite a shock.”
11th Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo): “You might not feel as exhausted after Flèche Wallonne as you do in the other Ardennes races but in the minutes after the finish up Mur de Huy, you have lactic acid in the entire body and especially arms, since we pull the handlebars so hard. We rode at a hard pace until the last 200 meters, where the moves came. The very explosive riders really have an advantage here but, like in Amstel, today is a confirmation that my shape is good. It’s a hard climb [Côte de Cherave] especially the first part and today we also saw that several riders used it to launch attacks. I followed to some degree, but decided to stay in the favorites group, as it’s vital to arrive as fresh as possible at the bottom of Mur de Huy. It’s a matter of recovering and optimizing ahead of Liège. It’s different than Flèche since it’s longer and more tiring. After 200 kilometers many riders start to drop off, which means that it’s not a race that comes down to positioning but pure legs. I look forward to Sunday as my main objective during the Ardennes Classics.
15th Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “It was tough on the parts with the steepest gradients but I felt good throughout the day. Maybe I spent a little bit too much energy during the day to avoid the crashes but in the end I’d rather be 15th in Flèche Wallonne than on the ground in a crash. I am happy with my shape and ready for Liège.”
Break rider Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal): “I was one of the riders in the team who had to try to join a breakaway, so the teams of the favorites had to work. The composition of the front group was good. I was happy Jérôme Baugnies was one of the escapees as well, he goes all the way. The cooperation went smoothly and we had a maximal lead of eight minutes. On the climbs it was obvious which riders were the strongest in front. We were left with five after the second ascent of the Côte de Bellaire. Later, that group fell apart and Sánchez and Visconti bridged to the front. When I noticed Louis had jumped away from the peloton I decided to wait and help him.”
late attacker Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): “The plan was that I should attack on the Côte de Cherave or just before and Jelle Vanendert would wait until the last ascent of the Mur de Huy. It was a pity that Jelle had to leave the race. I decided to stick to the plan because I can’t compete with the explosive riders in the peloton. I know the course really well, the descent of the Côte de Cherave suits me. It went well until the first part of the Mur de Huy, but with 900 meters to go I felt my legs got weaker; 300 meters further I was reeled in. This attempt wasn’t intended to show myself, but I aimed for the victory. It gives me confidence for Liège-Bastogne-Liège that I was in a position in which it was possible to win. I often train on the course of the Flèche Wallonne and it’s no far from my home town Sint-Truiden. Many fans came to support me along the route, that was great.”
Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida): “I was aware of the fact that the Mur de Huy is more suitable for riders that are smaller and heavier than me and that can exploit explosive actions, these are not my characteristics. Despite this, I started this morning with the will of being competitive as usual and during the race I really wanted to finalize the perfect support my team mates, as an example Ulissi, Bono and Valls, who help me in avoiding the crashes and in approaching the hills in the best possible position. On the final passage of the Mur de Huy, I tried to be in the front of the Group, setting a pace that was suitable for me, hoping it could be incisive, but it was not enough.”
Clément Chevrier (IAM Cycling): “It was really weird, everyone wanted at all cost to be at the head of the peloton. So naturally since the roads are very narrow, we were bumping around all the time. I’ve never seen that before. Sometimes there would be a big slowdown in the pack, but then that would also cause big crashes.”
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 5:08:22
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step
3. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEDGE
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
5. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
6. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:04
7. Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Sky
8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
9. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo.
The final 10K of Flèche Wallonne:
Flèche Wallonne Féminine 2015
Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) capitalized on the absence of teammate and five-time winner Marianne Vos to claim the 18th edition of the Women’s La Flèche Wallonne atop the Mur de Huy. The 25-year-old Dutch rider crossed the line solo, beating Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) by 12″ and Megan Guarnier (Boels) by 20″ to take a win that also catapulted her to first place in the UCI World Cup rankings. Last year’s winner, World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, finished in eighth place, trailing her teammate by 57″. It was Rabo-Liv’s seventh La Flèche Wallonne win in nine years.
A sunny start
The 143 riders on the start list of the eighteenth edition of the Women’s La Flèche Wallonne set off at 11:42 am under the sunny skies covering Wallonia, in Huy. The course featured two loops for a total of 121 km and nine climbs: the Côte d’Éreffe (km 12 and 70), the Côte de Bellaire (km 31 and 89.5), the Côte de Bohissau (km 39.5 and 97.5) and the fearsome Mur de Huy (km 57.5 and 121), as well as the Côte de Cherave, a new addition to the race that came a mere 5.5 km before the finish atop the second climb up the Mur de Huy.
No breakaways, lots of speed
The bunch cruised at a high pace from the start of the race, foiling all breakaway attempts during the first hour (38 km). Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) had her teammates set the tempo, providing a launch pad for Luxembourger Christine Majerus to claim the sprints on the Éreffe (km 12) and Bohissau (km 39.5) climbs. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot was forced to chase after a tangle left her with mechanical problems (km 49), but the World champion was back in the peloton 5 kilometers before the first climb up the Mur de Huy. A relatively large (over 80 riders) peloton crossed the finish line atop the Chemin des Chapelles for the first time in single file, with Australia’s Carlee Taylor (Lotto Soudal) leading the way ahead of 2012 champion Evelyn Stevens (Boels). The big favorites, including “PFP”, stayed near the front ready to pounce.
The opening salvoes
The first major offensive came after 81 km of racing, when American Lauren Komanski (Team USA) launched an attack and was quickly joined by Australian Lizzie Williams (Orica). The duo’s lead never went beyond 20″ and they were finally caught in Andenne (km 92.5). The frenetic pace up the Côte de Bohissau (km 97.5) split the peloton in half, leaving a 25-strong lead group with the big favorites (Ferrand-Prévot flanked by four teammates, Armitstead, Stevens, Longo Borghini, Moolman, Johansson…) but without Jolien D’Hoore (Wiggle), riding in the UCI World Cup leader’s white jersey.
Van der Breggen does not de-Mur as Rabo-Liv takes control
Roxanne Knetemann (Rabo) and Annemiek van Vleuten rocketed off the front of the group with 20 km to go and soon opened up a decent gap. The two riders held a 1′10″ margin over their chasers with 17 km to go, which had dwindled to one minute 10 km before the line and a mere 40″ by the time they reached the bottom of the Côte de Cherave (1.3 km at 9.6%), as the Wiggle and Boels squads drove the chasing group. Five riders (Van der Breggen, Ferrand-Prévot, Moolman, Stevens and Guarnier) used the steepest sections of the climb to inch within striking distance of the two breakaways, but only Anna van der Breggen managed to catch them before the summit. The 25-year-old Dutch rider took advantage of her teammate’s presence to launch her own attack on the Mur with 450 m to go and solo to the win. Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) and Megan Guarnier (Boels) took the remaining steps on the podium, while Ferrand-Prévot finished eighth, 57″ back.
Thanks to ASO for the race report.
Flèche Wallonne Féminine Result:
1. Anna Van Der Breggen (Ned) Rabo Liv Women in 3:18:46
2. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Bigla at 0:12
3. Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans at 0:20
4. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Bigla at 0:32
5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Rabo Liv Women at 0:40
6. Evelyn Stevens (USA) Boels Dolmans at 0:44
7. Roxane Knetemann (Ned) Rabo Liv Women at 0:46
8. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabo Liv Women at 0:57
9. Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Velocio-SRAM at 1:07
10. Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS.
2015 Fleche Wallonne Race Report by Voxwomen:
Giro del Trentino 2015
The Giro del Trentino Melinda opening team time trial Stage 1 clearly means good luck for the riders from Trentino. German Bora-Argon 18 upset every prediction and gave Cesare Benedetti from Rovereto, a whole career racing in Germany with no huge satisfactions thus far, the first leader’s jersey of the race. Sky and Astana took the other two steps of the podium. It was a tough defeat for Sky, since the British line-up clocked the same time as the winners, only surrendering the lead for a matter of hundredths of a second. It was still a good display for the Australian Richie Porte, who gained 4 seconds on Diego Rosa, seven on Pozzovivo-Bardet-Peraud, the AG2R-La Mondiale trio, and 24 seconds on Meintjes and Hesjedal.
Porte targets the Giro del Trentino Melinda to get to the Giro in great swing. Tomorrow’s stage, Dro-Brentonico (168,2 km, official start at 10) will give him a huge opportunity with the Monte Velo, a hors category, 15 km long climb, with 1000 meters altitude difference and 8,6% average gradient, before the final climb to Brentonico, in the Mount Baldo Natural Park.
The second stage will be run on streets Cesare Benedetti knows by heart, so he knows how hard it will be for him to defend the lead. The hope of the local fans (and Italian National Team Coach Davide Cassani’s as well) is to see some promising Italian names come to the fore, filling the void of Fabio Aru’s absence.
First overall leader Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18): “We made a sprint for the line, but my teammates were happy that I eventually won it. I always put my best effort to the team’s service, and this jersey is a great reward for many tough moments. It is great for me to take the start from Dro – where I started racing – tomorrow in the leader’s jersey, and wear it on my training roads…”
8th overall Richie Porte (Sky): “I am sorry that the duel with Aru will not take place, it would have been an interesting test. But it won’t make winning this race any easier. In the meantime, I am enjoying this wonderful land in Garda Trentino: I want to come back on vacation.“
Johann van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka): “What a busy day for just a 13km TTT. We started the day by going for a 90min morning cruise. Loosening the legs and seeing the course. We came back and had our pre-race meeting followed by lunch. Shortly after, we were back in our chamois for a full circuit at high pace recon to get the feeling of every corner. I think we rode well and strong as a team improving by quite a few seconds on our time from last year. This is good for our GC riders as they stay in close contention. We are privileged to have the fastest equipment as every detail counts during these short efforts against the clock. I am happy with how my legs felt during the TTT and with the contribution I could make. From now on it’s literally only uphill so I’m hoping for a bit of luck.”
Giro del Trentino Stage 1 Result:
1. Bora-Argon 18 in 14:05
3. Astana at 0:04
4. AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:07
5. Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:19
6. Southeast at 0:22
7. MTN-Qhubeka at 0:24
9. Nippo-Vini Fantini at 0:31
10. Bardiani-CSF at 0:36.
Giro del Trentino Overall After Stage 1:
1. Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Argon 18 in 14:05
2. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18
3. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
4. José Mendes (Por) Bora-Argon 18
5. Dominik Nerz (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
6. Paul Voss (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
7. David Lopez (Spa) Sky
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky
9. Ian Boswell (USA) Sky
10. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky.
Giro del Trentino Melinda found a new overall leader in Stage 2, the Aussie and current World Tour leader, Richie Porte (Sky) who took the stage on the Brentonico uphill finish, preceding Mikel Landa (Astana) and Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini).
After Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya, Richie Porte looks destined to seal a Giro del Trentino win, on the way to a very serious bid for the Giro d’Italia. He does not have the trophy in his pocket yet, as gaps weren’t huge on Brentonico ascent, but the Australian gave an impressive demonstration of strength, controlling the race on the Monte Velo, siting on his teammates’ wheels on the early ramps to Brentonico, and finally unleashing his kick, only one, strong attack that found no one able to respond.
Mikel Landa was the last man to give up, but that was worth nothing more than second place. In third, Damiano Cunego seems rejuvenated and he was followed by Leopold Konig (Sky) and Colombian Rodolfo Torres. Richie now has 24 seconds on Landa and 42 on Konig. The Giro del Trentino Melinda is not a race you can win in only one day. On Thursday, the race will light up again from Ala To Fierozzo (183,8 km), with the Redebus Pass set to provide a great show on both sides, in fact, the descent is at least as tough as the ascent. Porte is the man to beat, but he certainly won’t be easily.
Stage winner and overall leader Richie Porte (Sky): “It will be a hard job and Landa will be a very dangerous opponent even though my teammate Siutsou was the strongest man of the field to day. I feel good, I have a very solid condition, and this win gives me a further boost: I know the Giro will be a different story, but I have already beaten both Contador and Uran this season. I have stepped up a level in 2015, probably because I am paying more attention to alimentation: one more victory tastes so much better than one more beer…”
KOM leader Rodolfo Torres (Colombia-Coldeportes): “I think we have a chance to make it better, as tomorrow we are up for another tough stage, and legs keep spinning very good. Today, two hard climbs tested the overall contenders, and I seized the chance to wear the best climber’s jersey: that’s always a very important symbol, even more in Colombia. I clearly felt the confidence from my team, that made a good job in supporting me, and I hope it will play an important role tomorrow too. Defending the jersey while targeting the GC won’t be easy, as the first KOM come quite a long way to the finish, but we will make evaluations with the team and try to reach our targets.”
Giro del Trentino Stage 2 Result:
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 4:36:37
2. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 0:16
3. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini at 0:32
4. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky
5. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Colombia
6. Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 0:43
8. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
10. José Mendes (Por) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:49.
Giro del Trentino Overall After Stage 2:
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky in 4:50:32
2. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 0:24
3. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 0:42
4. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 0:57
5. José Mendes (Por) Bora-Argon 18 at 0:59
6. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini at 1:09
7. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 1:17
8. Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 1:18
9. David Lopez (Spa) Sky at 1:23
10. Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 1:29.
People sometimes refer to Liège–Bastogne–Liège as “The Old Lady”, but it takes on its big role as the climax of the spring classics. La Doyenne may have celebrated its 100th edition in 2014, but both the race and its trophy are as appealing as ever. This time round, the war of attrition will stretch over 253 kilometers, particularly in the return trip from Bastogne, which will feature the lion’s share of the climbs. The fearsome Wanne-Stockeu-Haute-Levée sequence, followed by the climbs of Rosier, Maquisard and La Redoute, will break some legs and could even produce the final selection. One thing is for sure: those who shine in the last few kilometers owe nothing to luck. The top three riders in the hundredth edition, Gerrans, Valverde and Kwiatkowski, also monopolized the World Championship podium a few months later.
Race website: https://www.letour.com/indexLBL_us.html
***More team news will be added as we receive it.***
Valverde Eyeing Ardennes Double
Thirty-five candles on a birthday cake on Saturday will perhaps remind Alejandro Valverde that he has entered the autumn of his career, but a second consecutive victory in Flèche Wallonne this week represented the latest bloom in an Indian summer….and an extraordinary sequence of results in the Spring Classics.
In the Flèche-Liège double header, Valverde has now notched four straight podium finishes since Flèche in 2013. Already a winner in Liège in 2006 and 2008, the evergreen Murcian looks ideally placed to strike yet again on Sunday – and has certainly now emerged as the outstanding favourite for “La Doyenne”.
Lining up to battle the Spaniard is a star-studded cast of characters, some of whom will have to overcome not only Valverde but some bruised bodies and egos after Flèche Wallonne. Philippe Gilbert and Daniel Martin both crashed heavily in Flèche, and it remains to be seen whether either can recover in time to challenge on Sunday. “There are five days to go until Sunday. It’s not the best preparation for Liège but it’s not the worst, either,” said Gilbert, somewhat obliquely, after his abandonment on Wednesday. Martin, the Liège champion in 2013, who last year tumbled as he led into the final corner, will also have to tend to his cuts and scratches before his latest bid.
For another strong contender, Vincenzo Nibali, the main worry is perhaps not physical but mental, given that his Astana team managers were due to meet the UCI Licence Commission for a second disciplinary hearing on Thursday afternoon. Fruitless but nonetheless impressive attacks in the closing kilometres of both the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne at least indicated that the reigning Tour de France champion’s fitness is building nicely. The same could be said of Joaquim Rodriguez, a Liège runner-up to Martin in 2013 and to Andy Schleck in 2009. Another rider who can boast form and strong Ardennes pedigree is the winner of last weekend’s Amstel Gold Race, Michał Kwiatkowski. And should the Pole misfire, as he did at Flèche, Etixx-Quickstep appear to have an able and prodigiously talented deputy in Julian Alaphilippe, the runner-up to Valverde on Wednesday.
One thing is guaranteed: the man standing atop the podium in Ans on Sunday afternoon, after 253 gruelling kilometres, will be a rider of the finest cru. Twelve months ago, Simon Gerrans prevailed ahead of Valverde and Kwiatkowski. A few months after that, the same three riders, in a different order, took gold, silver and bronze in the world championship road race in Ponferrada…
25 teams: The leaders
Orica-GreenEdge: Gerrans (Aus), Albasini (Swi), Yates (Gbr)
Lotto Soudal: Vanendert, Wellens (Bel), Gallopin (Fra)
Etixx-Quickstep: Kwiatkowski (Pol), Alaphilippe (Fra)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise: De Tier, Campenaerts (Bel)
Wanty – Groupe Gobert: Gasparotto (Ita)
Cult Energy Pro Cycling: Gerdemann, Wegmann (Ger)
AG2R La Mondiale: Betancur (Col), Nocentini, Pozzovivo (Ita), Bardet (Fra)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Simon, Edet (Fra), Maté (Spa)
FDJ: Vichot, Jeannesson (Fra),
Team Europcar: Rolland, Voeckler (Fra), Arashiro (Jap)
Bora – Argon 18: Nerz (Ger), Mendes (Por)
Giant-Alpecin: Barguil (Fra), Dumoulin (Hol)
Team Sky: Nordhaug (Nor), Roche (Irl)
Lampre – Merida: Costa (Por), Ulissi (Ita)
Astana Pro Team: Nibali (Ita), Fuglsang (Den)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo: Kelderman, Ten Dam (Hol)
Roompot Oranje Peloton: Hoogerland, Kreder (Hol)
Katusha Team: Rodriguez, Moreno (Spa)
Tinkoff-Saxo: Majka (Pol), Kreuziger (Cze)
Movistar Team: Valverde, Herrada, Izaguirre (Spa),
MTN – Qhubeka: Van Rensburg, Meintjes (SA), Cummings (Gbr)
IAM Cycling: Frank, Reichenbach (Swi)
BMC Racing Team: Gilbert, Hermans (Bel), Sanchez (Spa), Van Garderen (USA)
Team Cannondale-Garmin: Martin (Irl), Slagter (Hol), Formolo (Ita)
Trek Factory Racing : Mollema (Hol), Arredondo (Col), Felline (Ita), Schleck (Lux)
Europcar for Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Yukiya Arashiro, Cyril Gautier, Maxime Mederel, Brian Nauleau, Perrig Quemeneur, Pierre Rolland, Angélo Tulik and Thomas Voeckler.
Directeur Sportif: Andy Flickinger.
Preview of Liège-Bastogne-Liège by the three leaders
The day after tomorrow, Sunday 26th April, it’s the third of the Ardennes classics: Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The victory of La Doyenne is contested for the 101st time. At half past ten the WorldTour peloton starts in Liège for a race of 253 kilometres with ten climbs. There’s an uphill finish in Ans. The Lotto Soudal team has three leaders: Tony Gallopin, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens. Jelle was tenth in 2012. All three of them give their thoughts on the last part of the Ardennes triptych.
Tony Gallopin: “Of course I will aim for the best possible result on Sunday. It would be fantastic to do better than my sixth place in the Amstel. The shape is good, I did everything I could to be top in this period of the year. The fact that I could sprint with the first last Sunday gives me confidence. I deliberately skipped the Flèche Wallonne because that race suits me least. This week I specifically prepared myself for Liège-Bastogne-Liège by taking enough rest and do one long training.”
“Although the Amstel and La Doyenne have their specific features, the favourites are the same. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a race that actually should suit me even better, with a more relaxed first part of the race and longer but less explosive climbs than the Amstel. Also the finish is more my cup of tea. I hope for a lot of action in the last 50 kilometres. We are with three to play a part in the final.”
Jelle Vanendert: “My thigh still feels a bit stiff after the crash on Wednesday, but luckily I am a cyclist and not a runner. I undergo treatments to stimulate the blood circulation to optimize the feeling in that thigh. I’ll see how I react on the recon, but actually I don’t expect any problems for Sunday. It’s not good physically and mentally to crash in two races that you had marked, certainly because I am convinced I would have played a role.”
“If the weather gets worse, I expect an elimination race. On the Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée a first selection will be made. Mostly the situation stabilizes on the Rosier and Maquisard to get into the finale on La Redoute and definitely on the Roche-aux-Faucons. A smaller group is an advantage I think, because there can be a battle then. As long as the strongest teams have many riders, they can save the day for their leaders. If the race is closed, it’s more difficult.”
“With our team we can react on different situations; attack, join others who attack, wait until Ans. When a small group gets away the composition in terms of teams is decisive. If the race is made hard, we might get rid of riders like Gerrans, which would be an advantage for Tony, who is fast at the finish line. Kwiatkowski wins the sprint in the Amstel, Tony can do that as well if the situation is good.”
Tim Wellens: “Before the Ardennes classics I said I would be disappointed if I didn’t get a top ten place in one of the three races. It didn’t happen in the Amstel or Flèche Wallonne, so now only Sunday is left. I will consider my classics spring to be unsuccessful if I don’t set a high result in Liège. I am really motivated. La Doyenne is a monument, a mythic race, the longest and toughest of the three. On paper there are only eleven climbs, but those are all pretty long, with many altitude metres and lots of hilly parts which aren’t regarded as an official climb. In theory those longer climbs should suit me.”
“I hope it will be wet. That way the peloton gets reduced and a breakaway has more chance to stay in front. Wednesday I deliberately did an all-or-nothing attempt because I wanted to win and I knew it would be very difficult for me to be better than someone like Alejandro Valverde on the Mur de Huy. I’m still convinced that if I had riders with me we would have had a chance. For Sunday we’ll have to analyze again what the possibilities are to get the best chance to win. In Liège the finish is a bit less specific than in the Amstel or Flèche Wallonne. The past has shown that it’s possible to go to the finish solo or with a small group.”
Selection Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Bart De Clercq, Tony Gallopin, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.
Line-up Wanty-Groupe Gobert for Liège-Bastogne-Liège
This Sunday the last race of the so-called Ardennes Triptyque takes place: Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The parcours of “La Doyenne” has changed this year and according to many will be tougher than the previous two editions.
Enrico Gasparotto, Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s team captain on Sunday, looks forward to his favourite of the three Ardennes WorldTour Classics.
“Today I trained in fantastic circumstances but this will be different on Sunday if the weather predictions are right. There is a serious chance of rain which would make this race even harder than it already is.”
In 2012, when Gasparotto finished third, the weather circumstances were bad with rain, wind and a tough course. Even though the race is ten kilometres shorter this year, the climbs are more closely packed together which will lead to a smaller group on La Redoute and in the final stretch to the finish in Ans.
“If you are good, you are good. There is no excuse. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a very hard race under any circumstances,” Gasparotto said. The Italian finished 6th in 2013 and 12th in 2014.
In the Amstel Gold Race he came in 8th this year and he was number 15 up the Mur de Huy. In Liège-Bastogne-Liège he will be joined by Bjorn Leukemans, Marco Minnaard, Yannick Eijssen, Francis De Greef, Simone Antonini, Tim De Troyer and Jérôme Baugnies. Sports director is Hilaire Van Der Schueren.
LAMPRE-MERIDA spent half day in the traditional recon on the course of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege
All the 8 riders who will take part on Sunday in the Doyenne, namely Bono, Conti, Rui Costa, Mori, Polanc, Serpa, Ulissi and Valls, pedaled on the course of the Belgian classic, controlled by the sport directors Mauduit and Pedrazzini and by the team manager Copeland.
The recon started before the Cote de Wanne and ended on the arrival in Ans, for a total lenght of 97,5 km and of 8 cotes covered.
In the special ranking of the most experienced riders of LAMPRE-MERIDA in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Mori is the leader (8 participations) and he’s chased by Bono (6) and Rui Costa (5). Four Doyennes for Ulissi, two for Valls and one for Serpa. Conti and Polanc (both 22 years old) are at their first appearance.
“Day-by-day, Philippe seems a little bit better,” Sport Director Valerio Piva said Friday at the BMC Racing Team’s pre-race press conference. “Of course this is not the best preparation and the best approach to a race like Liège. We will see in the next days and in the race what Philippe will be able to do. He is a fighter.”
Gilbert, who won the Belgian WorldTour race in 2011, thanked BMC Racing Team staff for helping get him and his equipment ready for Sunday’s 253-kilometer race.
“When everything is right, you don’t see so much of the work they are doing,” Gilbert said. “But now you really appreciate the help and the support you get. Every hard day it is getting better because we work well together. I know I will not be on my best on Sunday because I don’t think it is possible. But at least I will be at the start and then we will see.”
Piva said Tejay van Garderen will also enjoyed protected status. Winner of a stage of the Volta a Catalunya last month, van Garderen is making his first appearance in Liège-Bastogne-Liège since 2012.
“I feel good, I feel prepared and motivated,” van Garderen said. “It was a bit of a blow to see so many crashes on Wednesday from a lot of our stronger guys, especially Philippe. I still have faith that he is going to have a good ride on Sunday. For sure we will be there in the final. When you have all of this adrenaline and when he (Gilbert) is on his home roads going by the house he grew up in, he is not even going to feel the pain. I think he will be able to push through it.”
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA).
President/General Manager: Jim Ochowicz (USA).
Sport Director: Valerio Piva (ITA).
Mathias Frank: “What is challenging is the combination of a very hilly profile and the distance”
Every good party has to come to an end, and so it is that Liège-Bastogne-Liège represents the final round of the spring classics. The scene of a struggle between puncheurs and rouleurs over a course of 253 kilometers, La Doyenne is a monument all its own, and approached by the riders with a touch of apprehension and an air of distrust. “I’m not saying it is the most complicated classic,” Mathias Frank explained. “It’s even a little easier technically than some others. But what is really hard is the combination of a very hilly profile and the extreme distance. And if we then add the high speed that the pack can adopt in this event to the other difficulties, then yes, it is really hard, and that’s what distinguishes it from all other races.”
For the oldest race still being held, IAM Cycling will be fielding a team which will be able to compete on any terrain. A mixture of qualities is essential for any rider who has been successful enough to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. “It’s easy to say, maybe, but it is always the strongest rider who lifts his arms in victory in Liège,” the 28 year old Frank said. “The winner must be able to climb, but also must have the punch needed to explode the short, hard hills. Being completely objective, I don’t think this is a race that really suits me perfectly. I very much like the Ardennes classics, and Liège is an event that I love, but I find that my engine is a little small for this type of effort. I always raced to help a teammate in the past, but that also allowed me to learn a lot about the tactical aspect of this race.”
Clément Chevrier (F), Mathias Frank (S), Patrick Schelling (S), David Tanner (Aus), Pirmin Lang (S), Jarlinson Pantano (Col), Sébastien Reichenbach (S), Larry Warbasse (USA).
Manager sportif: Rik Verbrugghe.
LottoNL-Jumbo aims to keep progressing in Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Team LottoNL-Jumbo wants to keep the upward trend going in Sunday’s 101st edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Sports Director Merijn Zeeman is counting on a strong team spirit and leaders Wilco Kelderman and Paul Martens in Wallonia, Belgium.
Kelderman feels stronger after improving over the past week. After illness and a 59th place in Brabantse Pijl, he was able to attack in the final kilometres of Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. On Wednesday, he finished tenth in La Flèche Wallonne.
“Liège is a great race and I think it suits me with those longer climbs,” said the Dutchman.
“I hope to repeat my performance of Wednesday, but Liège is a long race and for me, it’s the first time. I’m curious and excited.”
Kelderman will appear at the start in Liège well-prepared, despite the fact that he will make his debut in La Doyenne.
“I’m going to watch last year’s race and on Friday, we’ll recon the final kilometres and climbs. Merijn Zeeman always gives us a fair amount of homework, as well: some videos and a Google Maps version of the course.”
Paul Martens ready
Paul Martens hit the tarmac in the final kilometres of La Flèche Wallonne, but doesn’t expect that his spill will affect him in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“The damage is not too bad. I had some pain, but I was able to shake it off during the remainder of the race,” Martens said.
“The real damage was the fact that I wasn’t able to get in the mix for a result.”
Martens hopes to bounce back on Sunday, but knows that Liège doesn’t really suit his characteristics.
“The past few classics fit my chances better. For a good result in Liège, I need to have a good day and race at my limit,” Martens explained.
“Liège is an honest race, it’s mainly about having good legs. It’s crucial for me to digest the long climbs properly if I want to bag a result. If I’m fit in the final, I know I can count on my sprint. The last few races, my kick wasn’t there, but that was understandable because of illness and injuries.
“I’m on the right track, though. I assume that I’ll be on my good level. Where I’m going to end up is difficult to estimate.”
Sports Director Merijn Zeeman saw encouraging signs in La Flèche Wallonne. “Wilco is on the right path. He has improved greatly since the Brabantse Pijl. Paul is doing well and in fact, the whole team in starting to do better.”
“Liege is perhaps the toughest classic of the season with all its climbing metres,” Zeeman said.
“It’s going to be a difficult task. We have to make sure that we’re up there again. We want to show ourselves in the final kilometres. We’re going to do that with aggression and race smarts. It all starts with spirit and motivation. The task for the team is to support our leaders for as long as possible.”
Zeeman was pleasantly surprised by Laurens ten Dam in La Flèche Wallonne. “Laurens hasn’t really been able to train intensively because of his broken ribs, but despite that he was able to drop off Robert Gesink and Wilco at the front of the pack at the foot of the penultimate climb on Wednesday in Flèche.”
Jos van Emden, Laurens ten Dam, Wilco Kelderman, Nick van der Lijke, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Paul Martens, Bram Tankink & Mike Teunissen.
Sports Director: Frans Maassen & Merijn Zeeman.
Etixx – Quick-Step to Liège – Bastogne – Liège
Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in Liège – Bastogne – Liège, a 253km race that concludes the Ardennes Classics, on Sunday, April 26th.
The one-day race, from Liège to Ans, is known for its challenging categorized climbs along the parcours. There are a total of 10 in the 2015 edition: Cote de St Roche, (800m, 12% average gradient), Cote de Wanne (2.7km, 7% average gradient), Cote De Stockeu (1.1km, 10.5% average gradient), Cote de la Haute Levee (3.4km, 6% average gradient), Cote du Rosier (5.4km 5.9% average gradient), Cote de la Vecquee (3.1km, 5.9% average gradient), La Redoute (2.1km, 8.1% average gradient), Cote de Sprimont (1.4km, 4.7% average gradient), Cote de la Roche Aux Falcons (1.5km, 9.9% average gradient), and finally Cote de St Nicholas (1km, 11.1% average gradient). The parcours is known for its up-and-down nature, including uncategorized ascents such as the uphill to the finish line.
The Etixx – Quick-Step riders that will ride Liège – Bastogne – Liège are Michal Kwiatkowski, Zdenek Stybar, Julian Alaphilippe, Michal Golas, Julien Vermote, Petr Vakoc, Gianluca Brambilla and Maxime Bouet. Kwiatkowski, the UCI World Road Champion and winner of Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, was 3rd in the 2014 edition of the race. This will also be the first time Alaphilippe, Vakoc, and Stybar have participated in Liège – Bastogne – Liège.
“After two good performances at the Ardennes Classics we want to finish well also at Liège – Bastogne – Liège,” Sport Director Davide Bramati said. “The team is ready, and is built up around Kwiatkowski. We have a team with good riders able to pass the climbs, and also be there in the final kilometers to support Michal.”
Etixx – Quick-Step will perform recon of the parcours starting at 10 in the morning on Friday, starting at Trois Ponts and ending in Ans.
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Maxime Bouet (FRA), Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Michal Golas (POL), Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Petr Vakoc (CZE), Julien Vermote (BEL).
Sports Director Davide Bramati (ITA) & Wilfried Peeters (BEL).
Roman Kreuziger captains Tinkoff-Saxo at target race Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Tinkoff-Saxo takes on La Doyenne with a squad centered around team captain Roman Kreuziger, who reaches his target race poised and with a good feeling prior to the 253km monument.
Marked by an undulating route, Liège-Bastogne-Liège differs from its more explosive Ardennes counterparts by presenting the riders with longer climbs and a lengthy race finale, where endurance pays dividends. According to team leader Kreuziger, the sustained effort suits him well.
“Liège is my big goal during the Ardennes classics. I’ve been looking forward to this race, as it matches my qualities as a rider better than Amstel and Flèche. I felt pretty well in these races and my ambition is to be there in the finale on Sunday. I have trust in my teammates and I believe that we can be competitive”, says Roman Kreuziger and adds:
“It’s different from Amstel and Flèche. It’s less about positioning and an explosive sprint at the end and more about simply having the legs and handling the longer climbs and distance. For sure, after 200 kilometers riders will start to drop off and it will be a fight between those who can cope with the distance”.
Roman Kreuizger will be accompanied into action by Rafal Majka, Chris Anker Sørensen, Michael Valgren, Robert Kiserlovski, Pawel Poljanski, Manuele Boaro and Bruno Pires.
According to Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Sean Yates, Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a race of trial by elimination and the 253km route demands superior stamina, if one is to be competitive. He underlines that the squad will ride in support of Roman Kreuziger.
“For us it’s all for Roman in what concerns the leadership and then we got a good backup team to support him. Roman has targeted Liège out of the three and it’s the race that he’s psyched for after the training camp in Teide and some good performances in Amstel and Fleche. Overall as a team right now, we are maybe lacking a couple of percent to be equal to the best performing teams. But I believe that a top result for Roman in Liège is feasible”, says Sean Yates.
“Liège is a matter of timing your effort right, as you can’t go over your threshold, certainly not in a race like this. Roman is a real pro, the kind of rider that does everything in the right way, he leads by example and he’s always in the right position and allocates his energy wisely, so I know he is capable”.
The sports director notes that Tinkoff-Saxo won’t be favorites come Sunday at the start in Liège, but that the 11th place from Flèche Wallonne could likely be improved.
“We face tough competition but we want to do a proper job. Roman is a powerful rider, who produces a lot of watts but he’s also bigger than the light guys that are very capable up a climb like Mur de Huy. So the parcours and the climbs of Liège are obviously much more suited for him as the kind of rider that can keep going forever”, explains Sean Yates about this year’s, slightly altered, race with an elevation gain of more than 4000 meters.
Although the race is decided amongst the main protagonists in the final run into Liège, a strong team is needed in order for the captains to preserve energy.
“We are kind of on the up as a team. We had some bad luck Wednesday, which put a few of our guys out of the race. A guy like Valgren has showed that he can be there after 250k, Kiserlovski is well and Chris Anker has been a strong and very valuable support. Rafal had his mechanical in Flèche and his form is a bit uncertain but I think that the lack of pressure will help him at Liège to go further and hopefully he can be a wildcard, since he got nothing to lose”, adds Sean Yates.
For Rafal Majka, Liège-Bastogne-Liège will revolve around supporting the team objectives, he says. “I want to do well in Liège and I will do my best to support Roman. For sure, he’s in good shape and he’s both the team leader and road captain on Sunday, since he knows this race really well. We will try to win the race with him but it’s never easy especially not in Liège, which is one of the hardest classics”, says Rafal Majka before adding: “I didn’t feel super strong in Flèche Wallonne but then I also had a mechanical at a very bad time. I hope that my legs respond well on Sunday and that I can help Roman for as long as possible”.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will head to the final of the spring classics this weekend as they take on the Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The 253km monument will be a stern test for our team but one in which we hope our young African stars will shine in.
While last year may have seen a 4 rider sprint off for the victory, La Doyenne is the classic which suits the pure climbers more than any of the others. The longer climbs at lower gradients, than the 20% roads we have seen in recent weeks, see a number of Grand Tour contenders lining up at Liege-Bastogne-Liege each year. It is no wonder Team MTN-Qhubeka’s young African climbers are looking forward to Sunday’s challenge.
At last year’s edition of the race, Louis Meintjes had done well to make it to the business end of the race only to have a crash hold him up, leaving us all wondering what the young African champion was truly capable of. This year Louis returns to the race in which he one day hopes to win with a strong team of riders around him.
South African champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Daniel Teklehaimanot were also part of last year’s team that raced Liege-Bastogne-Liege, both riders start on Sunday again. Merhawi Kudus will also get his first crack at the race this year. Completing our roster will be Steve Cummings, Matt Brammeier, Andy Stauff and Johann van Zyl.
African fans will be able to watch the Liege-Bastogne-Liege live on SuperSport SS5 from 14:00.
Jens Zemke – Head of Performance
La Doyenne, the 101st edition is a great opportunity for our climbers. We will change the composition of our team by 5 spots from who started at Fleche Wallonne with half the team for Sunday coming directly from Giro del Trentino. The 253km distance is a very tough challenge for our young boys but we will show that riders from the African continent are able to compete at the highest level of cycling.
Giant-Alpecin for Liége
The Ardennes campaign is rounded off by Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The 253km race faces 10 ranked climbs including the legendary Redoute. Team Giant-Alpecin aims for a good result with Tom Dumoulin (NED) and Warren Barguil (FRA).
Best finisher for the team in last’s year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège was Simon Geschke (GER) as 24th. The German rider will return to competition in this year’s race after recovering from a broken collarbone. His objective will be to regain his racing rhythm and to support the team wherever possible.
Coach Aike Visbeek on Sunday’s classic: “It is obvious that we will continue to aim for a good result with Dumoulin and Barguil. I am very happy to have Geschke back onboard as his experience in those kind of races is very valuable for us.
“I expect a difficult race. Both Dumoulin and Barguil will aim for the finale and then we will see who has the better legs. Georg Preidler (AUT) is doing very well and I hope he will be able to support the guys until the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.”
Warren Barguil (FRA), Lawson Craddock (USA), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Caleb Fairly (USA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Georg Preidler (AUT).
Coach: Aike Visbeek (NED).
Team Sky has confirmed its rider line-up for Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Philip Deignan, Nathan Earle, Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Danny Pate, Nicholas Roche and Kanstantsin Siutsou.
*rider line-ups subject to change.
CULT Energy Pro Cycling in Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Sunday 26th of April, CULT Energy Pro Cycling follow up on the Amstel Gold Race participation last week with another highly prestigious and final spring classic, La Doyenne – Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Covering 253 hilly kilometers kicking off in Liege going south to Bastogne only to return north to finish in Ans, the peloton will be scattered along the way cresting climbs like Cote de Stockeu, Cote de la Redoute and Cote de Saint-Nicolas. This edition is the 101st version of the World Tour race, which history dates back to 1892.
The race suits the punchy climbers in the peloton well and historically, the race has been dominated by the Belgian home turf favorites but in recent years, riders like Alejandro Valverde, Michal Kwiatkowski, Andy Schleck and Simon Gerrans have dominated the race. Philippe Gilbert is probably Belgium’s biggest favorite while Wednesday’s winner of Fleche Wallone, Alejandro Valverde and Amstel Gold Race victor, Michal Kwiatkowski are the names to watch Sunday.
CULT Energy Pro Cycling are joining the race on a wildcard and are naturally far from being contenders to win the race. However, with riders like experienced Linus Gerdemann and rookie Rasmus Guldhammer in the race, it would be wrong not to have ambitions now and for the future in this race.
DS, Michael Skelde says: “After a satisfying World Tour debut in Amstel, we now look forward to one of the largest and most prestigious one-day races on the calendar. Liege-Bastogne-Liege will offer an amazing experience for the team and we’re participating to both enjoy it but hopefully make our mark on it as well. As for Amstel, Linus, Fabian and Rasmus are the riders aiming for a result. The race has been a major target for Linus but unfortunately and just like Fabian, he has struggled with illness prior to Amstel, which lower our expectations but I still hope he’ll be in the select group of riders cresting La Redoute,” says Skelde and adds: “Rasmus delivered a promising effort in Amstel but there is no reason to expect the impossible on Sunday. I think Rasmus will be in the top-50, which should be his goal. I hope Linus will return from Giro del Trentino stronger than before and that he will be able to be in the finale in Ans.”
The CULT Energy Pro Cycling line-up: Linus Gerdemann, Fabian Wegmann, Rasmus Guldhammer, Christian Mager, Romain Lemarchand, Michael Reihs, Martin Mortensen and Alex Kirsch.
Team Katusha for Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Team Katusha will close its “Ardennes week” taking part in the monumental classic race Liège – Bastogne – Liège, which will be held in Belgium on Sunday, April 26th. The race traditionally starts in the centre of Liège and after 253 km of racing and 10 categorized climbs it will end in Ans. Joaquim Rodriguez, two times runner-up of Liège – Bastogne – Liège, will lead Team Katusha.
The full team’s roster:
Giampaolo Caruso, Dmitriy Kozonchuk, Sergey Lagutin, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Tiago Machado, Joaquim Rodriguez and Maxim Belkov.
Sports director is José Azevedo.
Tour de Yorkshire: Wiggins, Swift & Kittel top the bill for “Grand Retour”
A fortnight ahead of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, an all-star cast has assembled for what promises to be much more than a ceremonial send-off for Bradley Wiggins.
Fifteen years ago, when a callow 20-year-old named Bradley Wiggins prepared to embark on a career as a professional road cyclist, the idea that he would end that journey with a race in Yorkshire would have surprised no one. Until that point, only a handful of British cyclists had possessed the talent and endeavour to outgrow the domestic goldfish bowl and make a splash in Europe’s biggest races, so why would Wiggins be any different? If Yorkshire in 2015 was going to be his end of the line – and he would have done well to stick around that long – his final competitive outing would no doubt be in some local time trial, for years the bread and butter of the British racing scene.
How times have changed – and changed because of Wiggins. If the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire is to welcome some of the world’s top riders over three days this May, it is in large part thanks to Sir Brad’s Tour de France victory in 2012 – the big bang in a wider explosion for cycling in Great Britain. The scale of that boom will be evident in Yorkshire, as Wiggins makes his debut for his very own, eponymous team, Team Wiggins. Seven other British squads will take their place on the starting grid, including, of course, Wiggins’s alma mater, Team Sky. In Ben Swift, Sky also possess a Yorkshire native and one of the favorites for both stage victories and overall honors on an undulating, unpredictable route borrowing many of the roads and climbs showcased in last year’s Tour de France Grand Départ.
Wiggins, Swift and Sky’s other headline acts apart, the star attraction is a rider who reveled in the Tour’s visit to Yorkshire last year, German sprinter Marcel Kittel. The Giant-Alpecin powerhouse will be hotly tipped to win stages 1 and 2, but faces a stern test on the hillier terrain heading into Leeds on the final afternoon. The course that day may be more suited to Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing Team), to Steven Kruijswijk of Team Lotto NL-Jumbo, or to British rider Steve Cummings of MTN-Qhubeka and his team-mate Gerald Ciolek. A pair of Frenchmen with king of the mountains titles in major tours to their name, Nicolas Edet of Cofidis and Thomas Voeckler of Europcar, can also be expected to come alive as the race climbs up into the Moors.
What Wiggins, the returning, departing prodigal son definitely won’t get is an easy ride. Which, after an odyssey as long and testing as his, is no doubt just the way he would have wanted it.
18 teams: The main attractions:
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Capiot (Bel)
Cult Energy Pro Cycling: Downing (Gbr), Gerdemann (Ger)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Edet, Simon, Hardy (Fra)
Team Europcar: Gautier, Voeckler (Fra), Craven (Nab)
Team Giant-Alpecin: Kittel (Ger), Sinkeldam (Ned)
Great Britain: Gibson (Gbr)
JLT Condor: House, Clancy (Gbr)
Madison Genesis: Rowsell (Gbr), Scully (Nz)
ONE Pro Cycling: Barker, Williams (Gbr)
NFTO: Von Hoff, Bibby (Gbr)
Team Raleigh GAC: Domagalski (Pol), Wilkinson (Gbr)
Team Sky: Swift, Fenn (Gbr), Sebastian Henao (Col)
Team Wiggins: Wiggins, Doull, Dibben (Gbr)
Roompot Oranje Peloton: Kreder, Duijn (Ned)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo: Hofland, Kruijswijk, Tjallingii (Ned)
MTN-Qhubeka: Cummings (Gbr), Ciolek (Ger), Kudus (Eri), Brammeier (Irl)
IAM Cycling: Pelucchi (Ita)
BMC Racing Team: Sanchez (Spa), Burghardt (Ger), Van Avermaet (Bel)
The stages of the Tour de Yorkshire 2015:
Ø Friday 1st May, stage 1 : Bridlington – Scarborough, 174 km.
Ø Saturday 2nd May, stage 2 : Selby – York, 174 km.
Ø Sunday 3rd May, stage 3 : Wakefield – Leeds, 167 km.
The PEZ INSTAGRAM
Take a look at our new Instagram page for a live feed of #PeloPics, #DailyDistractions, and giveaways straight from your phone: https://www.instagram.com/pezcyclingnews
The PEZ NEWSWIRE!
Don’t forget to check the “NEWSWIRE” section, you can find it on the homepage, just above the EuroTrash section. The bits of news that missed the EuroTrash deadline are in there, plus any news as-it-happens will be added there too.