VeloNews.com » News http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Sun, 26 Apr 2015 20:44:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Gallery: Liege-Bastogne-Liege http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/gallery-liege-bastogne-liege-2_367959 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/gallery-liege-bastogne-liege-2_367959#comments Sun, 26 Apr 2015 20:36:46 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367959

Across the line first for the third time. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Tim De Waele is on hand with his shutter snapping as Alejandro Valverde wins his third Liège-Bastogne-Liège

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Across the line first for the third time. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

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Simon Yates rides through ups and downs at Liege, aims for Tour http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/simon-yates-rides-through-ups-and-downs-at-liege-aims-for-tour_367950 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/simon-yates-rides-through-ups-and-downs-at-liege-aims-for-tour_367950#comments Sun, 26 Apr 2015 18:47:45 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367950

Simon Yates, shown in stage 14 of the 2014 Tour de France, hopes to get back to the big show this July. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

In his first run at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Yates fights his way through climbs, crashes, in what he says is one of his favorite races

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Simon Yates, shown in stage 14 of the 2014 Tour de France, hopes to get back to the big show this July. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

ANS, Belgium (VN) — It was a miserable day in Ans. Rain poured down on the Liège-Bastogne-Liège finish, but despite foul weather and a race marred by a late crash, Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) was still happy to be riding in a race he’d admired since childhood.

Perhaps the young man dreamed of winning – and he may have a shot one day – but on Sunday, the 22-year-old was occupied with working for teammates in his first go at “La Doyenne.”

“There was a bit of a danger move up the road so I ended up jumping across to that,” he said.

“Luckily, in the end, we had Esteban [Chaves] in the [next] move … I just sat back and tried to help Gerro [Simon Gerrans] as much as possible.”

Coming off of a fifth-place finish in Vuelta al Pais Vasco in early April, it was clear that Yates would be one of Orica’s go-to riders for the Ardennes. Unfortunately, Gerrans, his team leader, was caught in a crash with 40 kilometers to go, just before the decisive climb of La Redoute.

Then, the Australian captain abandoned after a second crash, only a few kilometers later.

Though Yates didn’t tumble, he was distanced by the peloton.

“I got held up behind it, I was chasing all the way to the top of La Redoute,” he said. “I’d been riding full biscuit – full gas – all the way to the top. By that point I think my race was already done by then.”

But despite finishing 39th, 2:41 behind winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Yates was happy to be part of cycling’s oldest monument.

“Sort of growing up watching them on TV this is like the big week of classics for the climbers,” he said of the Ardennes races. “You know you have your classic specialists, they all love the cobbles, Flanders, Roubaix and stuff.

“This is sort of our sort of week, and I always used to be pretty excited to watch my races, and still get that same feeling when I come to race.”

Yates was humble when asked about his improving form, saying he felt better suited for the Basque Country climbs, where he had happy hunting earlier this month. But even in the Ardennes, which he characterized as “a bit shorter and sharper,” he was a factor early in the day.

And perhaps, he’ll also be part of Orica’s plans for the Tour later this summer.

Again, Yates demurred, but it seems likely that, given his growing climbing prowess, the young Briton will return to France in July, hoping to improve on last year, when he abandoned after stage 15.

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Mark Cavendish takes opener at Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/mark-cavendish-takes-opener-at-presidential-cycling-tour-of-turkey_367946 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/mark-cavendish-takes-opener-at-presidential-cycling-tour-of-turkey_367946#comments Sun, 26 Apr 2015 16:04:11 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367946

Mark Cavendish wins the opener to the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Mark Cavendish repeats as winner of the opening stage in the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey

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Mark Cavendish wins the opener to the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) won the opener at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on Sunday.

A five-man break went clear early in the 145km stage, a circuit around Alanya, with Mario Costa (Lampre-Merida), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF), Luis Mas (Caja Rural), Adam Phelan (Drapac) and Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare).

Once they were brought back, the Etixx train delivered Cavendish to the victory and the first turquoise leader’s jersey ahead of Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF).

The Manxman, who won the same stage last year, said he was recovering from a virus and was happy “to stop and reset everything and to now get going again.”

“I don’t think I’m in as good of condition as I could have been without the interruption, but I am definitely happy where I am,” he said. “We’ll keep going and try to win more at this race.”

Ewan said it felt a bit “surreal” to be racing against Cavendish, but hoped to get another crack at beating him.

“It’s kind of weird racing him, I guess. I was always watching him growing up, and now actually racing him, and not just racing with him, but, you know, when you’re right up there sprinting against him, it’s a pretty surreal feeling,” he said. “I’m not happy with second, though. I think if I had a better run, I could almost beat him.”

Monday’s second stage is a 182.3km leg that likewise seems tailor-made from a bunch sprint.

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Results: 2015 Liege-Bastogne-Liege http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/results-2015-liege-bastogne-liege_367940 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/results-2015-liege-bastogne-liege_367940#comments Sun, 26 Apr 2015 15:22:59 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367940 Results from the 101st Liège-Bastogne-Liège

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  • 1. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, in 6:14:20
  • 2. Julian ALAPHILIPPE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :00
  • 3. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, TEAM KATUSHA, at :00
  • 4. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :00
  • 5. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :00
  • 6. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :00
  • 7. Sergio Luis HENAO MONTOYA, TEAM SKY, at :00
  • 8. Domenico POZZOVIVO, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :00
  • 9. Jakob FUGLSANG, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :00
  • 10. Daniel MORENO FERNANDEZ, TEAM KATUSHA, at :00
  • 11. Louis MEINTJES, MTN – QHUBEKA, at :10
  • 12. Lars Petter NORDHAUG, TEAM SKY, at :10
  • 13. Vincenzo NIBALI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :24
  • 14. Pieter WEENING, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :24
  • 15. Giampaolo CARUSO, TEAM KATUSHA, at :24
  • 16. Enrico GASPAROTTO, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :24
  • 17. Julien SIMON, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :32
  • 18. Robert KISERLOVSKI, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :44
  • 19. Vasil KIRYIENKA, TEAM SKY, at :52
  • 20. Tony GALLOPIN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :58
  • 21. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :58
  • 22. Jelle VANENDERT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:04
  • 23. José Joao PIMENTA COSTA MENDES, BORA-ARGON 18, at 1:04
  • 24. Sébastien REICHENBACH, IAM CYCLING, at 1:06
  • 25. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:06
  • 26. Stephen CUMMINGS, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 1:06
  • 27. Thomas VOECKLER, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 1:06
  • 28. Rudy MOLARD, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:06
  • 29. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:06
  • 30. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:06
  • 31. Dylan TEUNS, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:10
  • 32. Davide FORMOLO, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 1:10
  • 33. Rafal MAJKA, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 1:10
  • 34. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 1:10
  • 35. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 1:30
  • 36. Philippe GILBERT, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:41
  • 37. Wilco KELDERMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:41
  • 38. Kanstantsin SIUTSOU, TEAM SKY, at 2:03
  • 39. Simon YATES, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 2:41
  • 40. Giovanni VISCONTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 2:49
  • 41. Michele SCARPONI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 4:37
  • 42. Zdenek STYBAR, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 4:44
  • 43. Jarlinson PANTANO, IAM CYCLING, at 5:02
  • 44. Tom Jelte SLAGTER, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 5:31
  • 45. Huub DUYN, ROP, at 6:05
  • 46. Brent BOOKWALTER, BMC RACING TEAM, at 6:05
  • 47. Georg PREIDLER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 6:05
  • 48. Dominik NERZ, BORA-ARGON 18, at 6:05
  • 49. Maurits LAMMERTINK, ROP, at 6:05
  • 50. Tiago MACHADO, TEAM KATUSHA, at 6:05
  • 51. Merhawi KUDUS GHEBREMEDHIN, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 6:05
  • 52. Mikael CHEREL, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 6:05
  • 53. Björn LEUKEMANS, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 6:05
  • 54. Patrick KONRAD, BORA-ARGON 18, at 6:05
  • 55. Fabio FELLINE, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 6:05
  • 56. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 6:05
  • 57. Jan BAKELANTS, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 6:05
  • 58. Tanel KANGERT, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 6:05
  • 59. Anthony ROUX, FDJ, at 6:05
  • 60. Simon CLARKE, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 6:05
  • 61. Jacques JANSE VAN RENSBURG, MTN – QHUBEKA, at 6:05
  • 62. Laurens TEN DAM, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 6:22
  • 63. Simon GESCHKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 8:09
  • 64. Matteo BONO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 8:18
  • 65. Rafael VALLS FERRI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 8:18
  • 66. Alberto LOSADA ALGUACIL, TEAM KATUSHA, at 8:18
  • 67. Rein TAARAMAE, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 8:18
  • 68. Jhoan Esteban CHAVES RUBIO, ORICA GreenEDGE, at 8:18
  • 69. Carlos Alberto BETANCUR GOMEZ, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 8:18
  • 70. José HERRADA LOPEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 9:22
  • 71. Gorka IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 9:22
  • 72. Preben VAN HECKE, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 9:32
  • 73. Petr VAKOC, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 9:32
  • 74. Jan POLANC, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 9:32
  • 75. Jose Joaquin ROJAS GIL, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 9:32
  • 76. Matteo MONTAGUTI, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 9:32
  • 77. Rinaldo NOCENTINI, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 9:32
  • 78. Laurent PICHON, FDJ, at 9:32
  • 79. Joseph ROSSKOPF, BMC RACING TEAM, at 9:32
  • 80. Chris Anker SÖRENSEN, TINKOFF – SAXO, at 9:32
  • 81. Luis Angel MATE MARDONES, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 9:32
  • 82. Bob JUNGELS, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 9:32
  • 83. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 9:32
  • 84. Pierre ROLLAND, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 9:32
  • 85. Stéphane ROSSETTO, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 10:16
  • 86. Mike TERPSTRA, ROP, at 10:16
  • 87. Emanuel BUCHMANN, BORA-ARGON 18, at 10:16
  • 88. Rasmus GULDHAMMER, CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING, at 10:16
  • 89. Johnny HOOGERLAND, ROP, at 10:16
  • 90. Andriy GRIVKO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 11:28
  • 91. Arnold JEANNESSON, FDJ, at 11:39
  • 92. Jérôme BAUGNIES, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 12:02
  • 93. Tim WELLENS, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 13:04
  • 94. Sergey LAGUTIN, TEAM KATUSHA, at 15:04
  • 95. Manuele MORI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 16:43
  • 96. Paul MARTENS, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 16:43
  • 97. Sander ARMEE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 16:43
  • 98. Bjorn THURAU, BORA-ARGON 18, at 16:43
  • 99. Maxime MEDEREL, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 16:43
  • 100. Alex HOWES, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at 16:43
  • DNF Simon GERRANS, ORICA GreenEDGE
  • DNF Luke DURBRIDGE, ORICA GreenEDGE
  • DNF Daryl IMPEY, ORICA GreenEDGE
  • DNF Imanol ERVITI, MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Rory SUTHERLAND, MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Maxime BOUET, ETIXX – QUICK STEP
  • DNF Gianluca BRAMBILLA, ETIXX – QUICK STEP
  • DNF Michal GOLAS, ETIXX – QUICK STEP
  • DNF Julien VERMOTE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP
  • DNF Alessandro VANOTTI, ASTANA PRO TEAM
  • DNF Daniel MARTIN, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN
  • DNF Nathan HAAS, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN
  • DNF Benjamin KING, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN
  • DNF Sebastian LANGEVELD, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN
  • DNF Matej MOHORIC, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN
  • DNF Ben HERMANS, BMC RACING TEAM
  • DNF Klaas LODEWYCK, BMC RACING TEAM
  • DNF Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC RACING TEAM
  • DNF Dmitrii KOZONCHUK, TEAM KATUSHA
  • DNF Maxim BELKOV, TEAM KATUSHA
  • DNF Sébastien MINARD, AG2R LA MONDIALE
  • DNF Manuele BOARO, TINKOFF – SAXO
  • DNF Bruno PIRES, TINKOFF – SAXO
  • DNF Pawel POLJANSKI, TINKOFF – SAXO
  • DNF Michael VALGREN, TINKOFF – SAXO
  • DNF Valerio CONTI, LAMPRE – MERIDA
  • DNF Jose Rodolfo SERPA PEREZ, LAMPRE – MERIDA
  • DNF Diego ULISSI, LAMPRE – MERIDA
  • DNF Bart DE CLERCQ, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Tosh VAN DER SANDE, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Dennis VANENDERT, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Louis VERVAEKE, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Nicolas ROCHE, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Philip DEIGNAN, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Nathan EARLE, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Danny PATE, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Julian David ARREDONDO MORENO, TREK FACTORY RACING
  • DNF Fumiyuki BEPPU, TREK FACTORY RACING
  • DNF Laurent DIDIER, TREK FACTORY RACING
  • DNF Frank SCHLECK, TREK FACTORY RACING
  • DNF Calvin WATSON, TREK FACTORY RACING
  • DNF Yukiya ARASHIRO, TEAM EUROPCAR
  • DNF Fabrice JEANDESBOZ, TEAM EUROPCAR
  • DNF Bryan NAULLEAU, TEAM EUROPCAR
  • DNF Perrig QUEMENEUR, TEAM EUROPCAR
  • DNF Angelo TULIK, TEAM EUROPCAR
  • DNF Bertjan LINDEMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Bram TANKINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Mike TEUNISSEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Jos VAN EMDEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Moreno HOFLAND, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Lawson CRADDOCK, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN
  • DNF Caleb FAIRLY, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN
  • DNF Johannes FRÖHLINGER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN
  • DNF Thierry HUPOND, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN
  • DNF Floris DE TIER, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Tim DECLERCQ, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Sander HELVEN, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Thomas SPRENGERS, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Pieter VANSPEYBROUCK, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Arthur VAN OVERBERGHE, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Otto VERGAERDE, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Mathias FRANK, IAM CYCLING
  • DNF Clement CHEVRIER, IAM CYCLING
  • DNF Pirmin LANG, IAM CYCLING
  • DNF Patrick SCHELLING, IAM CYCLING
  • DNF David TANNER, IAM CYCLING
  • DNF Lawrence WARBASSE, IAM CYCLING
  • DNF Arthur VICHOT, FDJ
  • DNF Olivier LE GAC, FDJ
  • DNF Kévin REZA, FDJ
  • DNF Benoît VAUGRENARD, FDJ
  • DNF Jussi VEIKKANEN, FDJ
  • DNF Simone ANTONINI, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Francis DE GREEF, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Tim DE TROYER, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Yannick EIJSSEN, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Marinus Cornelis MINNAARD, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Matt BRAMMEIER, MTN – QHUBEKA
  • DNF Andreas STAUFF, MTN – QHUBEKA
  • DNF Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT, MTN – QHUBEKA
  • DNF Johann VAN ZYL, MTN – QHUBEKA
  • DNF Yohan BAGOT, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Nicolas EDET, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Romain HARDY, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Anthony TURGIS, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Cesare BENEDETTI, BORA-ARGON 18
  • DNF Bartosz HUZARSKI, BORA-ARGON 18
  • DNF Paul VOSS, BORA-ARGON 18
  • DNF Marc DEMAAR, ROP
  • DNF Reinier HONIG, ROP
  • DNF Sjoerd VAN GINNEKEN, ROP
  • DNF Jesper ASSELMAN, ROP
  • DNF Alex KIRSCH, CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING
  • DNF Romain LEMARCHAND, CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING
  • DNF Christian Mager, CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING
  • DNF Martin MORTENSEN, CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING
  • DNF Michael REIHS, CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING
  • DNF Fabian WEGMANN, CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING
  • DNF Rasmus Christian QUAADE, CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING

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Alejandro Valverde takes Liege-Bastogne-Liege http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/alejandro-valverde-takes-liege-bastogne-liege_367931 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/alejandro-valverde-takes-liege-bastogne-liege_367931#comments Sun, 26 Apr 2015 15:02:10 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367931

Alejandro Valverde celebrates after winning the 101st Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Photo: AFP

Alejandro Valverde holds his fire until the last moment, then blazes away to take the victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

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Alejandro Valverde celebrates after winning the 101st Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Photo: AFP

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) chased down a late breakaway and then prevailed in a rain-soaked dash to the line to win his third Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.

Dani Moreno (Katusha) had attacked a small lead group just ahead of the final kilometer, and as the favorites hesitated he opened a significant gap. Finally Valverde took the initiative to drag him back, and despite bringing most of the other hopefuls along with him the 35-year-old Spaniard found the legs to kick to the victory at the end.

Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick-Step) crossed second with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) third.

“Yes, it’s incredible,” Valverde said. “I think it was just getting away from me at the end. I had to attack to close down Moreno and sprint. Second in Amstel [Gold], first in Flèche [Wallonne], and then a win here — I’m very happy.”

The looping route around the Belgian Ardennes served up 10 major ascents in just under six and a half hours. The Col du Rosier at 194km was the longest at 4.4km, but there were other notable grinds, among them the Cote de Stockeu at 12 percent, and the Redoute, Roche-aux-Faucons, and Saint-Nicolas, all around 9 percent.

With 80km remaining in the 253km monument the peloton was in pursuit of a five-man break some 30 seconds up the road: Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida); Marco Minaard (Wanty-Group Gobert); Anthony Turgis (Cofidis); Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18); and Matteo Montaguti (AG2r La Mondiale).

Astana, on the sharp end for Vincenzo Nibali, sent Andriy Grivko off the front with 77km to go. Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar) followed to keep an eye on things for Valverde. And soon Orica-GreenEdge sent Simon Yates along to keep them company. Others followed and before long the small breakaway had become a large front group.

Next to try their luck were Michele Scarponi and Tanel Kangert (Astana), Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge), Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) and Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo). They took a couple dozen seconds over the bunch, led by Katusha on behalf of Rodriguez.

The two Astanas soon left the others behind, save Chaves. And with 60km to go they had built a gap of nearly a minute.

With 40km remaining their advantage had begun dropping steadily, until a big crash took down or blocked Nibali, defending champion Simon Gerrans (Orica), Dan Martin and Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Roche (Sky), Fränk Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) and a host of others with La Redoute on the horizon.

Etixx-Quick-Step took charge at the front of the chase and resumed hacking away at the gap. Incredibly, Gerrrans hit the deck again, and this time he limped to the side of the road and sat down, his race clearly done.

Ahead, Kangert lost contact, leaving Scarponi and Chaves out front. And with 30km to race, they clung to a half-minute’s advantage. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky) launched a solo pursuit, but it didn’t last long as the peloton paid close attention. And with just under 24km to go — and reports of heavy rain at the finish — the two leaders soon felt the chase breathing down their necks and with a quick look round they called it a day.

The Roche-aux-Faucons and Saint-Nicolas awaited. Katusha was on point as the bunch hit the penultimate climb. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) was first to shoot away, and Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) followed, just as the rain began to fall on the race.

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) slipped away and bridged to the leaders. A smallish chase emerged briefly only to be brought back, and with 10km remaining Zdenek Stybar (Etixx) drove the chase on the wet roads with Saint-Nicolas yet to come.

The three leaders had only 12 seconds as the final climb began. Behind, Valverde was parked on Stybar’s wheel. And then he took the point, dogged by Moreno. The escapees retrieved, Nibali was next to give it the gas, and riders began popping off the back, among them world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx), with Samuel Sanchez and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing).

Over the top of the Saint-Nicolas perhaps 15 riders remained in contention for the victory, with Caruso setting the pace. And as they hit the final kilometer it seemed anyone’s race to win.

Moreno went first, just ahead of the red kite, and he pried open a small gap. Valverde hesitated, waiting for someone else to do the work of chasing, but nobody did. Finally, Valverde launched, but Rodriguez followed, and the two dragged the others with them up to Moreno and into the final corner.

With 100 meters to go Valverde found that extra gear and took the victory.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s a monument of cycling and I think that winning here three times means I’ve entered a little bit into the history of this sport.”

Alaphilippe was delighted to have made the podium in his first try at Liège, especially after getting caught up in the crash that took down Martin, Roche and the others.

“I had to chase for a lot of kilometers and finally rejoined the peloton at the top of La Redoute, so you can imagine the effort it took on that kind of a climb to catch the group,” he said.

With team leader Kwiatkowski distanced, Alaphilippe was free to take his own chances, but he found himself poorly positioned in the finale.

“I was able to make it and contest the sprint, but in the last kilometer I was maybe a bit too far back,” he said. “But even if I was better positioned I think it would have been impossible to beat Valverde today. He was the strongest rider and he deserved the victory.”

Rodriguez, for his part, bitterly regretted what he saw as another lost opportunity.

“First of all, it’s really difficult, almost impossible to beat Valverde in a sprint finish,” he said.

“At Flèche we [Katusha] didn’t attack at the right time and we were disappointed about that. Today, when I saw Dani attack, I was delighted because I thought he had the legs to make it.”

Moreno was swept up before the line, a fate Rodriguez thinks he might have avoided.

“But if it had been me in Dani’s place, I might have been able to hold on,” he said. “I see the glass as totally empty. I was here in great form but I didn’t win. It’s the race I like the most but it’s very difficult to win and once again I’ve missed out on a possibility of winning it.

“It’s true that I worked well with the team but I leave bitter.”

Valverde now leads the UCI WorldTour with 338 points.

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Video: Cannondale-Garmin recons Liege course http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/video-cannondale-garmin-recons-liege-course_367925 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/video-cannondale-garmin-recons-liege-course_367925#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 21:47:00 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367925

On-bike video from Cannondale-Garmin's Liege-Bastogne-Liege recon ride

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Renshaw looks to launch “Missile” to Tour of Turkey success http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/renshaw-looks-to-launch-missile-to-tour-of-turkey-success_367919 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/renshaw-looks-to-launch-missile-to-tour-of-turkey-success_367919#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 21:27:39 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367919

Mark Renshaw has already piloted Mark Cavendish to several victories this season, including one in Spain at the Clasica de Almeria. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Veteran leadout man Mark Renshaw ready to pilot Mark Cavendish to further 2015 success in Turkey

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Mark Renshaw has already piloted Mark Cavendish to several victories this season, including one in Spain at the Clasica de Almeria. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

ALANYA, Turkey — Leadout specialist Mark Renshaw (Etixx-Quick-Step) is no stranger to the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey. A year after taking a stage win in 2012 while riding for Rabobank-turned-Blanco, the 32-year-old Australian returned the following year with Blanco-turned-Belkin only to suffer the “worst crash of his career” which resulted in a concussion, fractured collarbone, and broken tooth.

After his two years with the Dutch team, Renshaw joined Omega-Pharma-Quick-Step (now Etixx-Quick-Step) in 2014, reuniting with Mark Cavendish to reform a duo that had been one of cycling’s most successful partnerships a few years prior.

Renshaw piloted “Cav” to 14 Tour de France stage wins and a green jersey during an ultra successful three-year stint with the British sprinter at HTC-Highroad from 2009 to 2011, and has led Cavendish to 11 wins with Quick-Step, including four stage wins and a points classification at the Tour of Turkey alone.

“It’s always nice to come back here … and it seems to be a little bit better each year,” said Renshaw. “I’ve seen the good and bad here.”

“The crash was certainly the biggest crash I ever had, and it took a lot to recover from that. I lost the ability to ride in the [Tour de France] and a good half of the season was that crash – it affected a lot – and it took a long time to come back.”

Now another year on, Renshaw and Cav return to Turkey to face a loaded field that contains many of pro cycling’s top sprinters, including André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) and dual threats from Southeast’s Alessandro Petacchi and Jakub Mareczko and MTN-Qhubeka’s Theo Bos and Youcef Reguigui.

Success will not be easy for QuickStep. The team joins GreenEdge as the only two teams (out of 21) not fielding a full eight-man squad on the start of stage 1 after having been plagued by illness and injuries all season.

Martin Velits and Lukasz Wisniowski suffered injuries after both were involved in a crash at Gent-Wevelgem in March. Velits sustained a broken right collarbone, while Wisniowski suffered an injured right knee.

In April, Carlos Verona suffered a scaphoid fracture of the left hand as consequence of crash at País Vasco, and is expected to be out of action 10-12 weeks.

Of the seven Quick-Step riders scheduled to start on the 145-kilometer opening stage on Sunday, both Renshaw and Cavendish have overcome illness while Tom Boonen makes his return after undergoing surgery on a shoulder injury sustained during stage 1 at Paris-Nice.

“A lot of teams will be looking at us,” admitted Renshaw. “This is Tom’s first race after Paris-Nice so we can’t expect him to be riding on the front.

“There a lot of other sprinters here so we will expect Lotto and GreenEdge to help.

“In the final we’ve got a really strong team, and I think Cav is still one of the best sprinters here.

“Hopefully he wins three or four stages and it works out well, but it won’t be easy with the amount of top riders here.”

After Renshaw opened his season at the Tour Down Under and Cavendish raced the Tour de San Luis – taking a stage win and two second-place results – to start the season, the duo reunited in the Dubai Tour.

In Dubai, Cavendish took two stages and claimed both the general and points classifications. In total, Cavendish has racked up six wins this season, and while Renshaw acknowledges the evolution of the sport, he sees no signs of the “Manx Missile” slowing down.

“It’s changed a lot since HTC,” Renshaw said. “Back then we were the first team to perfect the leadout. We had a lot of big riders and a lot of strong riders and now if we look across the board, most teams are at the same caliber. Giant, GreeEdge, and Lotto all have big strong riders and most of them have an ex-rider from HTC.

“The last couple of years have evened out the sprint field. I don’t think Cav has gotten any slower, I think the other guys have gotten faster.

“He looks to me to be a lot more focused,” he added. “He’s always a good bike rider all year around, but this year it’s that little bit extra focus to win big races. He’s already won a lot and I thing the next block of racing with Turkey, California, and of course, finishing with the Tour will see him in better shape than last year.”

Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews.

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Martin hoping to recover from effects of Fleche Wallonne crash to contend in Liege http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/martin-hoping-to-recover-from-effects-of-fleche-wallonne-crash-to-contend-in-liege_367914 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/martin-hoping-to-recover-from-effects-of-fleche-wallonne-crash-to-contend-in-liege_367914#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 20:29:41 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367914

Dan Martin won the 2013 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez. A late crash derailed his chances in 2014. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

2013 Liege winner Dan Martin is hoping the effects of his Fleche Wallonne crash won't be too much of a roadblock to his Liege bid on Sunday

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Dan Martin won the 2013 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez. A late crash derailed his chances in 2014. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

LIEGE, Belgium (AFP) – Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) said Saturday he hopes his whiplash will have improved enough to allow him to challenge for victory at Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Martin, 28, won the prestigious monument two years ago and looked to have a strong chance of retaining his crown last year before crashing on the final bend as he attempted a break for the finish line.

But his preparations for Sunday’s 253km race hit a stumbling block on Wednesday when he crashed badly during the Flèche Wallonne.

“I’m definitely fit enough, it’s just seeing where this whiplash I’ve got is,” said Martin.

“It’s improving every day [but] I also don’t know what will happen during the race tomorrow.

“Six hours like that on a bike, it could make it worse and I’ll have to stop.

“At this point in time we’re optimistic that I can be competitive tomorrow.”

After Martin crashed at the finish in Ans, Australia’s Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) sped past to win a sprint finish ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep).

Valverde, who turned 35 on Saturday, won this year’s Flèche Wallonne Wednesday, while 25-year-old Kwiatkowski triumphed last Sunday at the Amstel Gold race.

Those two come into the race as favorites according to Spaniard Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), the Flèche Wallonne winner in 2012 who was second to Martin in Liège in 2013.

“Alejandro is going very well, Kwiatkowski is also going very well. I think they’re the two riders at the same level,” said the 35-year-old Catalan climber.

Fellow veteran Gerrans, 34, is ideally suited to the finish in Liège but hasn’t been able to prepare for the race as well as 12 months ago. He broke his collarbone in a training crash in January and then fractured his elbow in his first race back, Strade Bianche, in Italy in early March.

“I’m feeling good, I’m looking forward to getting back into some racing again,” said Gerrans.

“I haven’t done a lot of race days this year so I come into this period pretty fresh and ready to go.

“I think a few more race days would put me in a little bit better condition than where I’m at the moment but … I am feeling good and not tired.

“With not a lot of race days, I’m probably not at quite the level I was hoping to be, just through that lack of racing and missing a few crucial training rides. But, yes, it’s definitely coming along.”

Contrary to Martin, who wants a fast race that comes down to a few hopefuls, Gerrans said he was hoping for an easier day in the saddle, like last year, so that he can arrive at the finish as fresh as possible.

But he acknowledges that Valverde will be hard to beat.

“He’s always good, tell me a season where Valverde hasn’t been good! He’s such a consistent performer, you look at his track record in these races and he’s probably the most consistent performer in these last 10 years.

“So he never ceases to amaze me how good he is.”

Valverde won a record-equalling third Flèche Wallonne title on Wednesday and previously won Liège in 2006 and 2008. But his numerous near misses stand out as well—he’s had seven other podium finishes in the three Ardennes classics, as well as four more in the top 10.

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Craddock set to soak in experience at Liege http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/craddock-set-to-soak-in-experience-at-liege_367906 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/craddock-set-to-soak-in-experience-at-liege_367906#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:27:29 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367906

Lawson Craddock suffered several broken bones in a crash in January's Tour Down Under, but he has returned to racing and is looking to learn from his inaugural Liège-Bastogne-Liège start. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

American Lawson Craddock has bounced back from injury and is moving closer each race to a leadership role with his Giant-Alpecin team

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Lawson Craddock suffered several broken bones in a crash in January's Tour Down Under, but he has returned to racing and is looking to learn from his inaugural Liège-Bastogne-Liège start. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands (VN) — Lawson Craddock is an eager student of the sport. Whether it’s in the mountainous, week-long tours in Spain or the hilly Ardennes classics, the Giant-Alpecin rider is happy to be back in the classroom, in the WorldTour peloton.

His early season was blighted by a nasty crash at the Tour Down Under, but the 23-year-old American jumped back into racing, after many hours on the indoor trainer, at the Volta a Catalunya and then the Vuelta al País Vasco.

“I was really happy with how I was feeling in those two races,” he said. “Especially coming back from an injury, first race back, jumping pretty much into the deep end. Those two combined are no joke.

“Actually, I think I surprised a couple people.”

But it shouldn’t be that surprising to see a rider like Craddock, who finished third in last year’s Amgen Tour of California, perform in those one-week races. The young Texan is confident that he’s on track in the learning process toward becoming a team leader.

“Coming into the pro ranks you can’t really jump straight into [being] a grand tour contender.

“I had a pretty good race [Tour of California] last year, and I’d like to improve this year. I definitely get a chance to step into that leadership role, get a feel for how it is. It’s a huge learning process, going from domestique to leader.”

Craddock has been learning fast, and his crash in Australia seems to have strengthened his resolve. He recognizes that a good leader needs to approach racing with an open-mind, a mentality at ease with the sport’s cruel uncertainty.

“You could have a great winter, train really well, and then hit a pothole in Australia. It kind of throws everything off,” he said.

For tomorrow, in Liège-Bastogne-Liège – the oldest-running professional race – Craddock says he’ll aim to “soak up as much as I can” in his first Ardennes campaign, one that got off to a rocky start with an abandonment at Flèche Wallone.

“It’s definitely a great honor. Tomorrow’s race [Liège] is one of the most beautiful on the calendar, by far one of the most historic.

“Just to be able to be a part of it and start it, I’m really proud to do that especially seeing where I was three months ago.”

Craddock will work for teammates Warren Barguil and Tom Dumoulin, but he also hopes to add to his inventory of racing know-how, for whatever lies in the years ahead.

“It’s good to get the experience for the future. These races, you really see where the experience really helps out,” he said.

Craddock will toe the line at “La Doyenne” with optimism, mixed with a healthy dose of trepidation, however, and Sunday’s rainy forecast will only make the brutally hilly 253 kilometers that much harder.

“You don’t come to Liège as a training race or something. … These races, definitely, they’re no joke.”

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Drapac commemorates Anzac Day, Gallipoli centenary on Tour of Turkey trip http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/drapac-commemorates-anzac-day-gallipoli-centenary-on-tour-of-turkey-trip_367886 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/drapac-commemorates-anzac-day-gallipoli-centenary-on-tour-of-turkey-trip_367886#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 15:53:21 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367886

Drapac Pro Cycling commemorates Gallipoli centenary on Anzac Day during Tour of Turkey trip. Photo: Kei Tsuji | Tim de Waele

Australian Pro Continental squad Drapac pays tribute to World War I fallen on Anzac Day during Tour of Turkey trip

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Drapac Pro Cycling commemorates Gallipoli centenary on Anzac Day during Tour of Turkey trip. Photo: Kei Tsuji | Tim de Waele

ALANYA, Turkey (VN) — While Prince Charles led a pre-dawn commemorative service on the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli to mark the centenary of the fighting that claimed nearly 150,000 lives there during World War I, Drapac Pro Cycling held a tribute of their own.

The riders and crew of Australian Pro Continental team gathered on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea 1,100 kilometers southeast of Gallipoli in the coastal resort town of Alanya to pay their respects prior to the start of the 51st Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on Sunday.

Losses were heavy on both sides during the Gallipoli Campaign, eight months of fighting between Allied and Ottoman forces on the Gallipoli peninsula. More than 11,400 of the lives lost were those of troops from Australia and New Zealand, who were fighting under their own flags for the first time in the joint Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).

For Drapac’s seven Aussie riders in attendance, Adam Phelan, Bernard Sulzberger, Brenton Jones, Malcolm Rudolph, Samuel Spokes, Tim Roe, and Graeme Brown, along with Dutch teammate Peter Koning, the opportunity to conduct a moment of silence to honor the fallen was an emotional and memorable experience.

“Anzac Day is arguably the most important national occasion for Australia and New Zealand,” said Jones, a 23-year-old from Victoria.

“To think about the battles, and the sacrifice and determination to fight for your country is overwhelming. To come over as an Aussie team and be in Turkey during the centenary of Gallipoli means a lot.

“It means when I’m out racing this week I will hold on a bit tighter, dig a bit deeper, and push myself a little harder,” Jones continued. “Maybe in some way that’s how I can pay my own tribute to our Anzac heroes.”

Co-directeur sportif (DS) and former Australian pro Rob Tighello talked to the team on Friday about the importance of what Australians and New Zealanders know as the “Anzac spirit,” and how it can be applied to their careers and everyday life.

“We are not coming here for war, we are coming here just for a bike race and we are grateful for the sacrifices our brothers made 100 years ago,” said Tighello, a former Tour Down Under KOM winner who also serves as DS for Drapac development squad Pat’s Veg in Australia’s National Road Series.

“But I just wanted to share the six qualities of the Anzac spirit – endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humor, larrikinism, and mateship – because we can use those same qualities in a bike race.

“I told our guys be proud of where we come from and being an Australian team,” Tighello told VeloNews. “I told them don’t be intimidated by the bigger teams with the bigger names, and as we say in Australia: ‘Have a go.’”

For Drapac, the Tour of Turkey is the first of three major international races on the upcoming schedule, with the Tour d’Azerbaijan and the Tour of California to follow, where the Australian team will compete against a number of WorldTour-level squads.

Among the twenty-one teams participating in the Tour of Turkey are six WorldTour outfits, including Astana, Etixx-Quickstep, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Soudal, Orica-GreenEdge and Tinkoff-Saxo. For Jones, the opportunity to sprint against the likes of Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step), André Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Alessandro Petacchi (Southeast), Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) and Theo Bos (MTN-Qhubeka) is the perfect opportunity to ride with pride.

“Being a young neo-pro getting an opportunity to race against the big boys is priceless,” Jones told VeloNews. “If I’m in a position and I have the Anzac spirit inside, who knows what can happen? We have the talent and the depth and if it all comes together we can accomplish anything.”

“While you can’t compare what we do to what our brave soldiers endured a century ago, there are similarities,” said Graeme Brown, a 36-year-old, 15-year veteran who spent the past decade with the Rabobank and its various later incarnations before joining Drapac for 2015. “After all, we lose races and they lost their lives. But what we can take with us is that fighting spirit and the courage to do selfless acts for the good of our country and the good of our teammates.”

Despite a loaded sprint field, Brown told VeloNews he’s quite familiar with the competition and feels his teammate Jones has all the skills necessary to challenge for results during the eight-day stage race in Turkey.

“BJ is good sprinter,” said Brown. “Now it’s time to try to get him to rub shoulders with Cav.

“In sprinting terms, this is nearly as good as it’s going to get – only Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) is not here really. If he can get amongst it and show that Anzac spirit, I know what to do to get him in the right spot.

“If he follows me and punches out the numbers he does at training, and if I can take him to 200m to go, and I can’t see why he can’t be in the mix with a shot for a win.”

Other Australians racing in Turkey this week include Orica-GreenEdge riders Caleb Ewan, Cameron Meyer, Damien Howson, and Leigh Howard, along with Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) and Mark Renshaw (Etixx-Quick-Step), as well as a lone New Zealander in Scott Ambrose (Team Novo Nordisk).

Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews.

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Nibali focused on Liege as Astana license woes fade http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/nibali-focused-on-liege-as-astana-license-woes-fade_367888 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/nibali-focused-on-liege-as-astana-license-woes-fade_367888#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 14:21:25 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367888

Though unable to pick up a big result so far, Nibali has been aggressive in the hilly one-day classics in 2015. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

With the threat to Astana's WorldTour license lifted, Nibali is giving his full attention to his pursuit of a big one-day victory

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Though unable to pick up a big result so far, Nibali has been aggressive in the hilly one-day classics in 2015. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

LIEGE, Belgium (AFP) — Now that his Astana team has seen the threat of a WorldTour suspension lifted, Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali is focusing on Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

A series of doping scandals that saw five Kazakh riders from Astana’s WorldTour and subsidiary Continental teams banned for taking prohibited substances had spurred UCI leadership to recommend to the UCI License Commission that Astana’s right to race be revoked. Astana discovered on Thursday that their WorldTour license would not be withdrawn.

“The news [of the license] came, we didn’t celebrate but we were happy everything was resolved in the best way for Astana’s riders and staff until 2016,” said Nibali.

“For me and the team there was never any pressure, except from the media.”

With that weight off his shoulders, Nibali can now concentrate on landing a first monument success after years of trying.

While riding for Liquigas in 2012, Nibali took second place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It was the closest he’s come to victory in the race in his career. He was beaten by a surprisingly strong showing from future Astana teammate Maxim Iglinsky — one of the five Astana riders banned for doping last year — despite the Kazakh not being known for his one-day classic prowess. Nibali had attempted a solo attack from several kilometers out and maintained an advantage into the final two kilometers, but Iglinskiy overhauled him less than 1500 meters from the line to take the win.

Nibali knows another aggressive day of racing may be required this weekend if he is to beat the in-form pair of Michal Kwiatkowski and Alejandro Valverde, the respective winners of Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne over the last week. Both riders are more explosive finishers than Nibali.

Liège has 10 categorized climbs, not including the uphill finish in Ans, that range from the short (1km) but very steep (12.5% average gradient) Côte de Stockeu to the longer (4.4km) but less steep (5.9% average gradient) Col du Rosier.

In terms of the amount of climbing done and the total vertical distance tackled, it makes it similar to an Alpine stage on the Tour de France.

But Nibali needs a difficult race to give him a chance to break free from the specialist punchers before the end.

“We need to make the race tough unlike the race last year with 60-70 riders arriving together on Saint-Nicolas,” he said.

“This year the route has changed again. At the end there’s no longer Mont-Theux or the variety before the Roche-aux-Faucons.

“Many riders will be obliged to try their luck before (the end).”

Nibali is aware of the dangers his on-form rivals pose. “It’s clear a Valverde in the condition we’ve seen, who managed great results at Amstel and Flèche Wallonne, can wait until the end,” he said.

“The other [favorites] are Katusha. We’ve seen the Italian [Giampaolo] Caruso going well, and Daniel Moreno and Joaquim Rodríguez won’t be waiting.

“It’ll be a very different race to the first two [Ardennes classics]. It’s difficult to say how the others will be but I think overall Kwiatkowski will be in competition with Valverde.”

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Photo Essay: Women’s Fleche Wallonne http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/gallery-2015-womens-fleche-wallonne_367781 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/gallery-2015-womens-fleche-wallonne_367781#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:16:36 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367781

Anna van der Breggen's 2015 victory was another entry in the history books of a storied and scenic women's Fleche Wallonne

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Aru to pursue legal action over Henderson Tweets http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/aru-to-pursue-legal-action-over-henderson-tweets_367770 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/aru-to-pursue-legal-action-over-henderson-tweets_367770#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:57:15 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367770

Fabio Aru won stage 15 at the Giro d'Italia this year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Fabio Aru says he's hired a lawyer in the wake of Greg Henderson's Tweets that accused him of breaking anti-doping rules

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Fabio Aru won stage 15 at the Giro d'Italia this year. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Fabio Aru (Astana) will pursue legal action against Lotto-Soudal’s Greg Henderson for inflammatory and accusatory Tweets posted by the Kiwi rider late Thursday. The Tweets suggested that Aru’s recent virus was cover for a biological passport violation.

A statement on Aru’s website said, “Regarding the statements published on 23 April, 2015 on the Twitter profile of Greg Henderson, Fabio Aru has appointed a lawyer … in order to take legal action against the New Zealand rider to protect his image and his respectability.”

Henderson Tweeted twice, first implying that the stomach virus that took Aru out of the Giro del Trentino this week was used cover up a biological passport problem.

Henderson’s second Tweet expressed his exasperation with dopers, and suggested that news of violations spreads quickly within the pro peloton, even before it is released publicly.

Both Tweets have since been deleted from Henderson’s account.

Henderson apologized this morning, again on Twitter:

Vincenzo Nibali, Aru’s teammate, weighed in early Friday morning, following Henderson’s apology. It’s easy to apologize after, he said, but the image damages need to be considered as well.

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Tiralongo takes final Trentino stage, Porte wins overall http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/paolo-tiralongo-takes-final-trentino-stage-richie-porte-wins-overall_367764 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/paolo-tiralongo-takes-final-trentino-stage-richie-porte-wins-overall_367764#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:22:28 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367764

Paolo Tiralongo won the fourth stage of the Giro del Trentino from a breakaway. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Paolo Tiralongo wins Trentino stage 4 from breakaway, and Richie Porte finishes safely in the bunch to seal up the overall race victory

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Paolo Tiralongo won the fourth stage of the Giro del Trentino from a breakaway. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Astana’s Paolo Tiralongo led a breakaway group across the line to win stage 4 of the Giro del Trentino in the small town of Cles, Italy. Overall race leader Richie Porte (Sky) finished with the peloton to seal up the general classification title ahead of Mikel Landa (Astana), with Porte’s teammate Leopold König nabbing the final step on the podium.

A move of 15 riders got clear early on in the 161.5-kilometer stage from Malè, but after fringe GC threat Diego Rosa (Astana) made an effort to bridge into the group up the road, Sky spun up the pace in the pack and reeled in the breakaway. With around 80 kilometers to go, a new breakaway formed, consisting of Tiralongo and six other riders, none of whom posed a threat to Richie Porte’s overall race lead. Tiralongo, David Arroyo (Caja Rural), and Fabio Duarte (Team Colombia) left their companions behind as the finish line neared, and the 37-year-old Italian won the three-man sprint to take the stage.

The bunch finished 49 seconds behind, giving Richie Porte the overall race victory. Team Colombia’s Rodolfo Torres won the race’s king of the mountains competition, while MTN-Qhubeka’s Louis Meintjes, eighth on GC, was the winner of the Giro del Trentino young rider’s classification.

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Kristoff signs new contract with Katusha http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/kristoff-signs-new-contract-with-katusha_367757 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/kristoff-signs-new-contract-with-katusha_367757#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:01:04 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367757

Alexander Kristoff has a lot to celebrate after signing a new deal with Katusha. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

One report says the deal is potentially worth more than $5 million over two years

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Alexander Kristoff has a lot to celebrate after signing a new deal with Katusha. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Alexander Kristoff and Katusha will continue their relationship past 2015. The winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) on April 5 and much more re-signed with the Russian WorldTeam Friday.

Katusha announced the news via a press release. Kristoff has emerged as one of the top sprinters and one-day riders in the peloton.

In addition to Flanders this month, Kristoff won three stages and the overall of the Three Days of De Panne and Scheldeprijs. The results backed up 2014, when the 27-year-old made a significant step forward by winning Milano-Sanremo and two stages in the Tour de France.

“It is unbelievable how the team was going the last months. They all worked so hard for me. The teammates trust me and I trust them,” Kristoff said.

“For the first time I could work from a sprinter’s train. Our newly arrived riders all proved to be the right choices. I had a contract [until] the end of this year but my hope was to be able to stay with this winning team. It didn’t take us so long to reach a new agreement. I am very happy.”

Katusha management was equally pleased with the deal that will keep Kristoff on board.

“Alexander is happy with the deal we made, but we are more than exited as well,” general manager Viacheslav Ekimov said.

“We’ve built a strong relationship with him these last years and Alexander Kristoff proved to be the rider on which we can build further in the coming years. We can’t wait to see what we’ll be able to accomplish in the near and distant future.

“It was a pleasure as well to see that Alex’s victories were contagious to our other riders. In addition, Sergei Chernetckii, Luca Paolini, and Joaquím Rodríguez all won WorldTour races this season. We never had such a good spring as this one in 2015. It is the right moment to build further on the future of our team. Alexander Kristoff was the logical first rider to re-sign. More riders will follow.”

The team was unavailable when VeloNews asked for details on the contract. It is likely that he signed at least a two-year deal that would take him through the 2017 season.

Norway’s VG reports that Kristoff signed for 35 to 40m kroner, or $4.48-5.12 million, over two years, which fits well with the $2.5 million annual pay Kristoff was reportedly seeking.

Kristoff is leading a new era in Norwegian cycling after Thor Hushovd retired in 2014. He earned his “sprinter” title with wins in various stage races, including the Tour of Oman and the Tour de Suisse, and of course the sprinters’ monument Milano-Sanremo and two wins in the Tour de France.

Kristoff’s Flanders ride and a 10th-place result in Paris-Roubaix, however, show he is capable of much more than bunch kicks.

“Is this my evolution as a cyclist? I think this is where I can make it,” Kristoff said.

“At least when you get older, you get slower, and maybe sprinting will be more difficult for me. For the classics, you get even better sometimes because you can handle long distances and the hard racing better as you get older.”

He helped Katusha earn its 18 wins so far this season, the second highest total it shares with Sky. Etixx-Quick-Step leads the way with 19.

Katusha could re-sign Italian Luca Paolini in the coming days as well. He won the Ghent-Wevelgem classic March 29 and told VeloNews he wanted to continue with the team.

“I’m still at a good point in my career, I’m not going downhill,” Paolini said.

“When I can still be at the front, I’m having fun and it’s worth continuing.”

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Shelley Olds returns to racing after rib injury http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/shelley-olds-returns-to-racing-after-rib-injury_367749 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/shelley-olds-returns-to-racing-after-rib-injury_367749#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:18:28 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367749

Shelley Olds is motivated for the 2015 season with her new team Bigla. Photo: Gregor Brown | VeloNews.com (file)

The American sprinter will return to racing at Omloop van Borsele on Saturday, more than a month after crashing during Ronde van Drenthe

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Shelley Olds is motivated for the 2015 season with her new team Bigla. Photo: Gregor Brown | VeloNews.com (file)

Shelley Olds (Bigla) will return to racing at Omloop van Borsele on Saturday, following her recovery from a rib injury sustained at Ronde van Drenthe on March 14.

“From the first day that I knew I had a broken rib, I have focused on staying positive and moving forward,” Olds said. “As soon as I could start working, I did. The first days were difficult, but every day I saw progress and I felt better with each week that passed.”

Olds was forced to take time off the bike following the crash, which occurred on one of the cobbled sectors in Ronde van Drenthe and resulted in broken ribs for the American sprinter.

A fast finisher with a track racing background, Olds is a two-time stage winner at the Giro Rosa and was America’s top elite finisher at the world championship road race last fall, placing sixth. She is a likely candidate to lead the American team at the world championships in Richmond, Virginia later this year.

“I am taking it one day at a time still, but I am very excited to race and grateful that it is possible. The doctors told me it can take 6-12 weeks to recover, so to be able to come back this soon is great,” Olds said.

“However, the trauma of the crash affected me in more places than my rib, and my whole body is still working to recover. But I know that I have worked really hard in the last month, and I want to race more than anything now. I really want to rejoin my team and enjoy the races.”

Bigla will race Omloop van Borsele on Saturday and Dwars door Westhoek on Sunday. Olds is on the startlist for both events.

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Preview: Liege could close spring classics season in dramatic fashion http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/preview-liege-could-close-spring-classics-season-in-dramatic-fashion_367742 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/preview-liege-could-close-spring-classics-season-in-dramatic-fashion_367742#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:07:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367742

Alejandro Valverde, Michal Kwiatkowski, and Philippe Gilbert are three of several riders who could win Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège could cap the spring classics season in dramatic fashion, pitting young guns against experienced veterans

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Alejandro Valverde, Michal Kwiatkowski, and Philippe Gilbert are three of several riders who could win Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The 2015 spring classics season wraps up Sunday with what should be a dramatic exclamation point on a campaign full of aging warhorses and emerging stars.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) emerged as major forces in the northern cobbles, with huge wins at Flanders and Roubaix, respectively, while world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick-Step) scored a major coup at the Amstel Gold Race. All are young, talented, and poised to become the riders of reference across the spring classics.

Some aging veterans still had something to say, with Luca Paolini (Katusha) taking a win at Gent-Wevelgem and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) at Flèche Wallonne, to prove that experience and guile still have a place in the peloton.

Sunday’s 101st Liège-Bastogne-Liège should see a showdown between youth and experience in the hilliest of the northern classics. With its long distance — 253 kilometers — and series of ever-more-difficult climbs, the Ardennes monument tips a rider who can go the distance, have the nose to follow the moves, and then the legs to finish it off out of a reduced bunch.

A dozen or so favorites line up with realistic chances to win. Two-time winner Valverde is clearly on spectacular form, and will be the man to beat. Anything can happen in the final hour of racing, but if this year’s previous races are anything to go by, expect to see a fairly large group to hit the base of the final slog up to the finish line in Ans. A winning move could come just before the final right-hander. Last year, Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) looked to have another win in the bag, only to slip out, opening the door for Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).

The favorites: The Spanish armada

As a nation, Spain has won Liège just twice, both of them coming thanks to No. 1 favorite Valverde, but the Spanish armada will be out in force Sunday. Spain’s “Green Bullet” will see excellent support from Movistar, and is clearly on top form from his impressive win Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne. The Spanish mountain goats always fare better in the Ardennes than they do over the punishing pavé, so watch for Joaquim Rodríguez and Dani Moreno (Katusha), Luis León Sánchez (Astana), and Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing) to mash it up. Valverde and Rodríguez have the best chances to deliver another Spanish win.

“Liège is a beautiful race, and perhaps the one I like most and the one that suits me best, and I dream of being in the mix again Sunday,” Valverde said. “We have high morale, but we’re also going into the weekend with tranquility. We won one, and second in the other [Amstel Gold Race], that gives us confidence for Sunday.”

The other top favorites

World champ Kwiatkowski will be looking to forget his disappointing Flèche (33rd) and remember his winning ways from Amstel Gold Race. Zdenek Stybar (Etixx) will be making his Liège debut, and his teammate Julian Alaphilippe, the 22-year-old phenom who was second to Valverde up the Mur de Huy, will give the squad several cards to play.

Two former winners — Philippe Gilbert (BMC, 2011) and Martin (2013) — both hit the deck Wednesday at what was a very nervous Flèche. Both should be back for the fight Sunday, but could be a touch off their best. The added distance and demands of Liège require a potential winner to be at the top of his game, so it’s hard to say just how rattled they will be until they’re deep into the race Sunday.

Bolstered by the news that it will not lose its WorldTour license, Astana will likely be charged up for a big ride Sunday. Vincenzo Nibali has been close before, and he’s a prototypical rider who can go the distance and have the kick at the end to seriously challenge for victory. Fabio Aru, who pulled out of the Giro del Trentino due to a stomach bug, is also slated to start his first Liège.

Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing), Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) could all easily ride into contention if they can stay upright and save their legs for the final decisive moves.

Orica-GreenEdge returns as the defending champion, but Simon Gerrans will still likely be short of contending for a second consecutive win. Michael Albasini, third at Flèche, Daryl Impey, and Simon Yates give the team added depth.

Orica sport director Matt White said he expects another fairly large group to arrive to the final kilometer of the race.

“It’s the most demanding one-day classic of the lot as far as climbing is concerned,” White said. “I think the general trend at all of the classics is that you are seeing bigger and bigger groups closer to the finish. The style of racing in one-day racing has changed.”

A course for climbers

Of cycling’s five monuments, Liège is the one that’s best suited for pure climbers. GC riders stand a chance to win here, with the palmares including such names as Merckx and Hinault, but in modern cycling, a fast finishing kick is also needed to go along with the legs to go the 253km distance of the Belgian out-and-back.

There is no shortage of climbs in the looping route around the Belgian Ardennes, with 10 major ascents in the six-and-a-half-hour race. Though none are terribly long — Col du Rosier at 194km is the longest at 4.4km — what they lack in distance they make up for in punch. The famous Cote de Stockeu is 12 percent, while the final three climbs, including the Redoute, Roche-aux-Faucons, and Saint-Nicolas, all hover around nine percent. Ideal terrain for the puncheurs to pounce.

The race typically sees a fairly large breakaway form in the first hour of racing. Up to a dozen riders can pull clear, often building a sizable gap as the pack pushes south toward Bastogne at 107km, the turnaround point and when the real racing begins.

In today’s peloton, the Stockeu, at 175km, is way too far to make a Merckxian-style attack. The real action begins at the Redoute at 218km. Although the steep, narrow climb is no longer the launching pad for winning moves, it still serves to fracture the peloton and see the first real aggression of the race among the favorites. The relatively new climb at Roche-aux-Faucons at 234km is now the reference point for riders looking to make long, solo moves. The steep climb is followed by a false-flat that provides ideal terrain for riders such as Nibali to make long-distance forays.

The final major climb at Saint-Nicolas will see the front pack whittled down if it’s not already, but the final run up to the Ans is where the winning moves can be made. In today’s much more balanced and equal peloton, the winning surge might not come until 500m to go, and even then, it could be a reduced-bunch sprint.

Weather: Could be sloppy

The race could see some sloppy weather, with a 50 percent chance of showers, temperatures in the low 60s, and 10 mph southerly winds that pick up during the afternoon. If it’s rainy and windy, expect to see more selection in the final hour of racing, and crashes.

History lesson: The oldest of the old

Liège is called “la doyenne” for a reason. As far as bike races go, this is one of the oldest. Dating back to 1892, the race celebrates its 101st edition this year. Belgians, naturally, hog the record books, with 59 wins as a nation — which includes a record five victories courtesy of Eddy Merckx. Moreno Argentin won four times, helping to give Italy the second-most victories per nation with 12.

Valverde could match history

Valverde could match history if he wins Liège on Sunday. Coupled with his win Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne, he could become the second rider to win both races in the same year twice in their career. Ferdi Kubler is the only rider to pull off the Ardennes double twice, in 1951 and 1952. Valverde did it in 2006. Others who achieved the milestone include Stan Ockers (1955), Merckx (1972), Argentin (1991), Davide Rebellin (2004), and Philippe Gilbert (2011).

VeloNews’ pick: Valverde

When it’s long, hard, and a fast finish, there are few in the peloton who can match Valverde’s depth and speed. He’s twice mastered the finale into Ans with victories, and finished on the podium four additional times, including second last year and third in 2013. Valverde just keeps getting better with age and he’s hitting the Ardennes in even better condition than last year. With the backing of a strong Movistar squad, Valverde should be able to avoid trouble, let his team control late-race aggression, and then tee it up in the decisive final kilometers. After a second at Amstel Gold, and a victory at Flèche Wallonne, Valverde will be looking to close out his classics season with a huge ride Sunday.

Our outsider pick: Pozzovivo

Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) won’t bubble onto many favorite’s lists, but he’s been riding consistently over the past month, notching a stage win at the highly contested Volta a Catalunya in March, and giving Richie Porte (Sky) a run for his money Thursday with a stage win at the Giro del Trentino. Fifth last year in his Liège debut, Pozzovivo could surprise the favorites. To win, he will need to ride everyone off his wheel, because others are faster than he is in a reduced bunch sprint.

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Organizers unveil 2015 Tour of Utah route http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/organizers-unveil-2015-tour-of-utah-route_367723 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/organizers-unveil-2015-tour-of-utah-route_367723#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:35:25 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367723

The 2015 Tour of Utah will roll through the rural Heber Valley. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Organizers unveil a challenging route that features more than 51,000 feet of elevation gain and a swing through Idaho

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The 2015 Tour of Utah will roll through the rural Heber Valley. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Organizers of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah have revealed a race route for the 2015 edition of the event that will cover over 712 miles in total and make the race’s first visit to the state of Idaho.

The Tour of Utah will make the jump from a 2.1 ranking on the UCI America Tour to a 2.HC ranking this year, putting it on the same UCI race level as the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Challenge, and the newly promoted race will greet riders with 51,442 feet of elevation gain from start to finish.

The race will take place from August 3-9, starting with a stage in Logan, Utah. The “queen stage,” stage 6 on Saturday, August 8, will take the peloton over nearly 13,000 feet of elevation gain en route to a finish at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort before the final stage of the race on the following day in Park City.

“With the route for the Tour of Utah changing each year, we are proud to design courses that continue to challenge the best cyclists on the planet with the toughest mountain terrain,” said Jenn Andrs, executive director of the Tour of Utah. “The race route gives us an opportunity to showcase the diverse beauty of northern Utah, and a portion of Idaho for the first time, making it a win-win scenario for new communities and cycling fans.”

Details of the Tour of Utah Women’s Edition: Criterium Classic were also released, with two days of criterium racing planned for August 3 in Logan and August 4 in Ogden.

Men’s race

Stage 1: August 3, Logan, 132 miles
Stage 2: August 4, Tremonton to Ogden, 100.3 miles
Stage 3: August 5, Antelope Island State Park to Bountiful, 107.9 miles
Stage 4: August 6, Soldier Hollow in Heber Valley, 128.7 miles
Stage 5: August 7, Salt Lake City, 55 miles
Stage 6: August 8, Salt Lake City to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, 110.4 miles
Stage 7: August 9, Park City, 78 miles

Women’s race

Day 1: August 3, Logan
Day 2: August 4, Ogden

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Astana to keep its WorldTour license http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/report-astana-to-keep-its-worldtour-license_367710 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/report-astana-to-keep-its-worldtour-license_367710#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:23:34 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367710

It's been a rocky road for Astana this season. Photo: Iri Greco | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Astana will keep its WorldTour license, but under close observation

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It's been a rocky road for Astana this season. Photo: Iri Greco | BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Embattled pro team Astana, home of reigning Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, will keep its WorldTour license, but will continue to be closely monitored by the Institut des Sciences du Sport de l’Université de Lausanne (ISSUL).

UCI President Brian Cookson had pushed for the team to have its WorldTour license revoked, but the final decision lay in the hands of the UCI’s License Commission, and was largely dependent on the outcome of the ISSUL audit.

“The registration for the 2015 season remains in force. However, the Team’s licence is subject to strict monitoring of the conditions laid down. This monitoring will be carried out on the basis of reports transmitted by ISSUL to the Licence Commission,” a UCI statement reads.

ISSUL made a number of demands of Astana a requirement for the continuation of the team’s WorldTour license. The team committed to meeting those demands.

The UCI release, issued on Thursday, states: “On the initiative of the License Commission, ISSUL were asked to propose special measures which the Team will be obliged to put in place at specific times over the rest of this season. The team committed to respecting all the measures recommended by ISSUL. At the end of the hearing, the Licence Commission announced the suspension of the proceedings.

The UCI did not release a list of the demands placed upon the Astana team, noting only that a “full reasoned decision will be released in due course.”

The License Commmission retains the right to re-open proceedings if “Astana Pro Team fails to respect one or several of the conditions imposed, or if new elements arise,” according to the statement.

The ISSUL audit did not focus on specific anti-doping offenses, but rather on ethical and organizational standards within the Astana team. Astana will continue to race within the WorldTour, but will be under close observation of ISSUL using the methods developed by the body during its original audit of the team.

The UCI has been tight-lipped regarding the specific methods used by ISSUL, but an in-depth investigation by Italian cycling magazine CyclingPro showed that the body took the view that doping is a bi-product of a socio-economic condition, and centered its investigation around this understanding.

The UCI has previously stated that the audit “revealed a big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the Licence Commission in December and the reality on the ground.”

This story is developing. Check back for more.

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Photo Essay: Fleche Wallonne http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/photo-essay-2015-fleche-wallonne_367679 http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/road/photo-essay-2015-fleche-wallonne_367679#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:07:32 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=367679

Roadside photos from BrakeThrough Media tell the story of the 2015 Flèche Wallonne and another battle to the top of the iconic Mur de Huy

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