VeloNews.com » Road http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:00:47 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Sky confirms Froome for Liege–Bastogne–Liege http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/sky-confirms-froome-liege-bastogne-liege_325131 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/sky-confirms-froome-liege-bastogne-liege_325131#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 21:03:08 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325131

Chris Froome will ride Liège–Bastogne–Liège on Sunday in Belgium. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Kenyan-born Briton will ride the spring's final classic, his Sky team confirms

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Chris Froome will ride Liège–Bastogne–Liège on Sunday in Belgium. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Tour de France champion Chris Froome will start Liège–Bastogne–Liège on Sunday, his Sky team confirmed Wednesday.

Froome was originally scheduled to skip the Ardennes classics, but will take the start of “La Doyenne,” according to a team spokesperson. The Kenyan-born Froome was originally scheduled to start Milano-Sanremo in March, but backed out when road conditions forced organizers to change the route weeks prior to the race.

The Sky captain’s top result in Liège is 26th, in 2013. Three months later, he rode away with Great Britain’s second consecutive Tour title.

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Tour of Alberta confirms Garmin, Belkin, host cities for 2014 edition http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/tour-alberta-confirms-garmin-belkin-host-cities-2014-edition_325115 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/tour-alberta-confirms-garmin-belkin-host-cities-2014-edition_325115#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:00:07 +0000 Brian Holcombe http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325115

Rohan Dennis won the inaugural edition of the Tour of Alberta in 2014. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Canadian stage race lands new title sponsor for its second edition

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Rohan Dennis won the inaugural edition of the Tour of Alberta in 2014. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Garmin-Sharp and Belkin will be among the teams to compete in the second Tour of Alberta in September. The race organization unveiled its host cities Wednesday and will kick off with a prologue in Calgary and finish six days later with a circuit race in Edmonton.

“I loved the Tour of Alberta last year. It had plenty of challenges throughout the whole race and I think the fact it was the inaugural Tour of Alberta made it all the more special to me,” 2013 winner Rohan Dennis (Garmin) said in a press release. “The race itself was organized perfectly. I am looking forward to being around the people of Alberta. I honestly could not believe how friendly everyone was. It’s an important race for me and the team this year.”

The tour will reverse course in 2014, starting in Calgary and finishing in the capital of Edmonton. New host cities include Lethbridge (stage 1), Innisfail (stage 2), and Wetaskiwin (stage 3).

“The commitment by our host communities is special,” said executive director Duane Vienneau. “They are true partners in every sense of the word. Through their commitment, we will be able to stage a second and successful race.”

Organizers also unveiled a new title sponsor in ATB Financial and will confirm the stage routes later this year.

2014 Tour of Alberta (Sept. 2-7)

Prologue: Calgary (ITT)
Stage 1: Lethbridge (Circuit Race)
Stage 2: Innisfail — Red Deer
Stage 3: Wetaskiwin — Edmonton
Stage 4: Edmonton — Strathcona County
Stage 5: Edmonton (Circuit Race)

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After third in Huy, young Kwiatkowski ready for the Liege finale http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/third-huy-young-kwiatkowski-ready-liege-finale_325127 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/third-huy-young-kwiatkowski-ready-liege-finale_325127#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:19:16 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325127

Michal Kwiatkowski finished fourth Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne and said he is confident for Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Polish champion says he is confident and tactically ready to contest the victory at Liège–Bastogne–Liège

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Michal Kwiatkowski finished fourth Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne and said he is confident for Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

HUY, Belgium (VN) — Michal Kwiatkowski walked quietly and confidently this afternoon to meet the press. After 199 kilometers and 4.5 hours, the 23-year-old rode to third place in the Flèche Wallonne — his best result so far in a big classic.

“I rode smartly,” Kwiatkowski said in a press conference. “If I began the Mur de Huy too far behind, then for sure, I wouldn’t have finished third.”

The sun lit up his white and red Polish national champion’s jersey with the name of his team’s sponsors, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, as he made his way to the press conference. A half hour prior and on the steep, 26-percent ramps up from Huy, he fought for the win with seasoned professional Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Valverde won and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp), the reigning Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion, slipped by for second place. Kwiatkowski, though, held off the rest of his rivals for third.

He rolled over the line four seconds after Valverde, who served a doping ban but has also won the Vuelta a España and two editions of Liège. The other riders were scattered much further down the road. The last placed rider, Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing), finished 10:22 back. Some, like Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), crashed and 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) abandoned.

The soft-spoken Kwiatkowski finished fifth last year behind winner Daniel Moreno (Katusha). Omega Pharma’s tactics, he explained, helped him move closer to the win on Wednesday.

“I lost position on two corners last year. I had good legs, but I couldn’t finish on the podium. It’s about tactics,” he said. “This time, I was relaxed in the peloton. I was just waiting for the last climb.”

Though he has yet to land a major classics victory, Kwiatkowski already knows what it’s like to win. This spring, he won the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and Strade Bianche one-day races. He also took two stages en route to the Volta ao Algarve title in February.

Tirreno-Adriatico went poorly for him in March, but he was able to back off and recover for the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) one month later, where he finished second behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

In the Amstel Gold Race three days ago, he placed fourth behind Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) and explained that his rest ahead of País Vasco, and his participation in that race instead of the cobbled classics, helped ahead of the Ardennes races.

“I took a different path,” he said. “Strade Bianche was the first check up before the Ardennes classics. I preformed well in Tirreno-Adriatico, but I didn’t finish it well.

“I knew, however, that I had two more weeks to train and I was back in form for País Vasco. The path that I decided on this year was way better than last year.”

Along with Gilbert, the top three from Flèche Wallonne — Valverde, Martin and Kwiatkowski — are considered the favorites to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. At just 23, Kwiatkowski is punching above his age, but the Omega Pharma man said Wednesday he would be ready come Sunday’s finale.

“It’s not as though my confidence is higher because of Amstel and Flèche,” he said. “I was confident last year, as well, but I couldn’t get a result because I was too tired in the end. Now, though, with the different path that I took, I’m going to be ready to win.

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Valverde marches toward Liege over boos in Huy http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/valverde-marches-toward-liege-boos-huy_325123 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/valverde-marches-toward-liege-boos-huy_325123#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:55:55 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325123

Alejandro Valverde won Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and hopes to take home his third Liège–Bastogne–Liège title Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Spaniard takes his second Flèche Wallonne and hopes to add a third Liège–Bastogne–Liège title in four days' time

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Alejandro Valverde won Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and hopes to take home his third Liège–Bastogne–Liège title Sunday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

HUY, Belgium (VN) — It seemed obvious from the start. The peloton stood relaxed in the warm morning, chatting and laughing. But Alejandro Valverde was down the road, alone, warming up and riding toward the finish.

Four hours and 36 minutes later, Valverde was alone again, this time at the end of the Wall of Huy. His arms were raised this time, a wide smile across his face. He’d won his second La Flèche Wallonne and set a record time up the Mur de Huy, and put his name atop the list of favorites, if it weren’t already there, for Sunday’s monument, Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“I was very, very — I wanted to win today. Winning is always very, very important for me. I won this race once. It’s important for me to win another one. I was very very motivated today,” Valverde, 33, said in his victor’s press conference.

His Movistar team, thin at times, did enough to put him in contention and keep the race bridled, with the help of BMC Racing and Katusha.

“I don’t think the team was working badly,” Valverde said. “Every rider worked in his moment, and I think that on Sunday in Liège the team will be strong enough to control.”

While BMC rode brilliantly last weekend at the Amstel Gold Race, delivering Philippe Gilbert to a dazzling win, the team and its star weren’t able to pull off something special today, and the Belgian finished 10th, 15 seconds back of Valverde. Katusha’s Daniel Moreno, last year’s winner, came in 11 seconds down, one place better than Gilbert. Joaquim Rodríguez, who crashed and abandoned in Amstel, finished in 70th place, more than four minutes back of Valverde.

The result sets up a quarrel of Ardennes darlings barreling into Liège. Gilbert has shown he’s on form, and Valverde noted that much, though doesn’t seem at all frightened.

“In Amstel Gold he was very, very strong. And today also. But I was better today. Gilbert wanted to win also, but I had better legs. In Liège, maybe Gilbert will be another strong rider. But there will also be more riders on form. It’s not only [me] the main favorite for the race. There will be me, Gilbert, and others.”

Now, Valverde has won Flèche twice, and he’s looking to make it three Liège wins come Sunday. The long, brutal course suits him well, and he’s shown he’s as explosive this season as he is fit for longer hauls. “I like all the classics here. But Liège-Bastogne-Liège is very special for me. It’s different because the climbs, they are longer than here,” he said.

Asked if a change in training was the reason for his sharp form this year — he’s won Roma Maxima, finished third at Strade Bianche, and won the Vuelta a Andalucía — he said there’s still no secret to going fast.

“It’s always the same. You have to train yourself very hard. You have to be careful. But there’s no mystery about training,” he said.

Perhaps he couldn’t hear them, though, the bit of boos that wafted up the finish line as he won, but they were there as Valverde rode across the line atop the Wall of Huy, arms up.

The cheers were louder, though the low yells certainly served as a tacit reminder of the Spaniard’s past, even in beautiful victory: he was linked to Operación Puerto in a doping scandal that dated back to 2006, and served a two-year ban in 2010, returning to the sport in 2012.

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Ferrand-Prevot rides out from the long shadow of Vos http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/ferrand-prevot-rides-long-shadow-vos_325119 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/ferrand-prevot-rides-long-shadow-vos_325119#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:44:55 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325119

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (left) embraced teammate Marianne Vos after the world champion helped her to victory at Flèche Wallonne Wednesday. Photo: David Stockman | AFP

Frenchwoman rides to victory at Flèche Wallonne with the support of the world champion

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Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (left) embraced teammate Marianne Vos after the world champion helped her to victory at Flèche Wallonne Wednesday. Photo: David Stockman | AFP

HUY, Belgium (VN) — When the world champion is in the wind all day, pulling for you, and she says to attack now, you’d better do it, then and there.

Thankfully, that’s just what Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo-Liv) was able to do at Flèche Wallonne Femmes Wednesday. It was a sort of victory that happened in slow motion for Ferrand-Prevon. She had enough of a gap to celebrate, but the sheer exhaustion and steepness of the Mur de Huy’s sharp finish reduced the sprint to something like survival. The pressure was on her heavy, with teammate Marianne Vos sacrificing herself, likely knowing full well that she — Vos — could win Flèche Wallonne for a sixth time.

“It was a great responsibility for me. … I was a bit afraid because I thought I may disappoint her. I was doing the whole race on her wheel and on the last climb she told me to attack. I’m very, very happy to have a world champion working for me,” said the effervescent 22-year-old. “Marainne told me I had to wait to see the finish line … if you attack too early it’s very difficult to maintain. So I did what she told me … it was a very close sprint. I’m very happy to win.”

Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) finished second and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) was third. American Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) finished fourth. Vos, in spite of her efforts, came in sixth, 13 seconds back.

It was just a day before the race that the team gave Ferrand-Prevot leadership and the win marked the first UCI Women’s Road World Cup victory for a French rider in 10 years. Ferrand-Prevot, the youngest rider in the 2012 Olympic road race (she finished eighth) is also an elite mountain bike racer and hopes to race both disciplines at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

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Results: 2014 Fleche Wallonne http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/results-2014-fleche-wallonne_325108 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/results-2014-fleche-wallonne_325108#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:20:06 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325108 Full results from the men's and women's editions of Flèche Wallonne

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  • 1. Pauline FERRAND PREVOT, Rabo-liv, in 3:26:43
  • 2. Elizabeth ARMITSTEAD, Boels Dolmans, at :01
  • 3. Elisa LONGO BORGHINI, HiTec Products, at :04
  • 4. Evelyn STEVENS, Specialized-lululemon, at :07
  • 5. Ashleigh MOOLMAN-PASIO, HiTec Products, at :11
  • 6. Marianne VOS, Rabo-liv, at :13
  • 7. Emma POOLEY, Lotto-Belisol Ladies, at :13
  • 8. Linda Melanie VILLUMSEN, Wiggle-Honda, at :21
  • 9. Claudia HÄUSLER, Giant-Shimano, at :24
  • 10. Eleonora VAN DIJK, Boels Dolmans, at :28
  • 11. Emma JOHANSSON, Orica-AIS, at :30
  • 12. Anna VAN DER BREGGEN, Rabo-liv, at :31
  • 13. Elena BERLATO, Ale Cipollini, at :31
  • 14. Joanne HOGAN, Bigla, at :31
  • 15. Katarzyna NIEWIADOMA, Rabo-liv, at :35
  • 16. Katrin GARFOOT, AUS, at :42
  • 17. Megan GUARNIER, Boels Dolmans, at :45
  • 18. Jessie DAAMS, Boels Dolmans, at :49
  • 19. Elena CECCHINI, Estado de Mexico Faren, at :50
  • 20. Lauren HALL, USA, at :57
  • 21. Alena AMIALIUSIK, Astana-BePink, at :59
  • 22. Shara GILLOW, Orica-AIS, at 1:11
  • 23. Karol-Ann CANUEL, Specialized-lululemon, at 1:12
  • 24. Liesbet DE VOCHT, Lotto-Belisol Ladies, at 1:48
  • 25. Lucie PADER, Vienne Futuroscope, at 2:27
  • 26. Ane SANTESTEBAN GONZALEZ, Ale Cipollini, at 2:29
  • 27. Leah KIRCHMANN, Cannondale, at 2:32
  • 28. Rossella RATTO, Estado de Mexico Faren, at 2:40
  • 29. Malgorzta JASINSKA, Ale Cipollini, at 3:29
  • 30. Alexandra BURCHENKOVA, RusVelo, at 3:31
  • 31. Audrey CORDON, HiTec Products, at 3:37
  • 32. Susanna ZORZI, Astana-BePink, at 3:46
  • 33. Valentina CARRETTA, Ale Cipollini, at 3:55
  • 34. Trixi WORRACK, Specialized-lululemon, at 4:16
  • 35. Maaike POLSPOEL, Giant-Shimano, at 4:16
  • 36. Lucinda BRAND, Rabo-liv, at 7:10
  • 37. Elke GEBHARDT, Bigla, at 9:19
  • 38. Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN, Rabo-liv, at 9:21
  • 39. Sari SAARELAINEN, Servetto Footon, at 9:24
  • 40. Lauren KOMANSKI, USA, at 9:25
  • 41. Pauliena ROOIJAKKERS, Parkhotel Valkenburg, at 9:30
  • 42. Dani KING, Wiggle-Honda, at 9:30
  • 43. Amy PIETERS, Giant-Shimano, at 9:32
  • 44. Francesca CAUZ, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo, at 9:32
  • 45. Edwige PITEL, FRA, at 9:35
  • 46. Mayuko HAGIWARA, Wiggle-Honda, at 9:35
  • 47. Mascha PIJNENBORG, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, at 9:37
  • 48. Anouska KOSTER, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, at 9:37
  • 49. Amy CURE, Lotto-Belisol Ladies, at 9:37
  • 50. Christine MAJERUS, Boels Dolmans, at 9:37
  • 51. Dalia MUCCIOLI, Astana-BePink, at 9:39
  • 52. Vera KOEDOODER, Bigla, at 9:45
  • 53. Laura TROTT, Wiggle-Honda, at 9:45
  • 54. Anna RAMIREZ BAUXEL, Bizkaia-Durango, at 9:47
  • 55. Floortje MACKAIJ, Giant-Shimano, at 9:48
  • 56. Stephanie ROORDA, Cannondale, at 9:51
  • 57. Tiffany CROMWELL, Specialized-lululemon, at 9:51
  • 58. Ally STACHER, Specialized-lululemon, at 9:51
  • 59. Irene SAN SEBASTIAN LASA, Bizkaia-Durango, at 9:51
  • 60. Marion SICOT, FRA, at 9:54
  • 61. Aizhan ZHAPAROVA, RusVelo, at 9:54
  • 62. Cecilie Gotaas JOHNSEN, HiTec Products, at 9:56
  • 63. Anna SANCHIS CHAFER, Wiggle-Honda, at 9:56
  • 64. Sheyla GUTIERREZ RUIZ, LKT Team Brandenburg, at 9:59
  • 65. Fanny BOURDON, FRA, at 9:59
  • 66. Gabrielle PILOTE-FORTIN, Vienne Futuroscope, at 9:59
  • 67. Sofie DE VUYST, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, at 9:59
  • 68. Tatiana ANTOSHINA, RusVelo, at 10:05
  • 69. Annelies VAN DOORSLAER, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, at 10:05
  • 70. Doris SCHWEIZER, Astana-BePink, at 10:05
  • 71. Rozanne SLIK, Parkhotel Valkenburg, at 10:08
  • 72. Chiara PIEROBON, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo, at 10:08
  • 73. Latoya BRULEE, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, at 10:10
  • 74. Melodie LESUEUR, LKT Team Brandenburg, at 10:11
  • 75. Taryn HEATHER, Bigla, at 10:11
  • 76. Katarzyna PAWLOWSKA, Boels Dolmans, at 10:25
  • 77. Julie LETH, HiTec Products, at 10:27
  • 78. Valentina SCANDOLARA, Orica-AIS, at 10:27
  • 79. Loes GUNNEWIJK, Orica-AIS, at 10:27
  • 80. Carlee TAYLOR, Orica-AIS, at 10:37
  • 81. Tayler WILES, Specialized-lululemon, at 10:54
  • 82. Aude BIANNIC, LKT Team Brandenburg, at 10:59
  • 83. Eugénie DUVAL, FRA, at 11:35
  • DNF Lauren KITCHEN, HiTec Products
  • DNF Annette EDMONDSON, Orica-AIS
  • DNF Alice Maria ARZUFFI, Astana-BePink
  • DNF Silvia VALSECCHI, Astana-BePink
  • DNF Marijn DE VRIES, Giant-Shimano
  • DNF Kyara STIJNS, Giant-Shimano
  • DNF Tatiana GUDERZO, Ale Cipollini
  • DNF Jolien D’HOORE, Lotto-Belisol Ladies
  • DNF Anisha VEKEMANS, Lotto-Belisol Ladies
  • DNF Lieselot DECROIX, Lotto-Belisol Ladies
  • DNF Joanna ROWSELL, Wiggle-Honda
  • DNF Fabiana LUPERINI, Estado de Mexico Faren
  • DNF Lucy MARTIN, Estado de Mexico Faren
  • DNF Dulce PLIEGO, Estado de Mexico Faren
  • DNF Anna TREVISI, Estado de Mexico Faren
  • DNF Elena KUCHINSKAYA, RusVelo
  • DNF Yulia BLINDYUK, RusVelo
  • DNF Sarah ROY, Vienne Futuroscope
  • DNF Oriane CHAUMET, Vienne Futuroscope
  • DNF Amélie RIVAT, Vienne Futuroscope
  • DNF Manon SOUYRIS, Vienne Futuroscope
  • DNF Jennifer FIORI, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
  • DNF Asja PALADIN, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
  • DNF Silvia CECCHINI, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
  • DNF Soraya PALADIN, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
  • DNF Annelies DOM, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata
  • DNF Kathryn DONOVAN, USA
  • DNF Maura KINSELLA, USA
  • DNF Ruth WINDER, USA
  • DNF Emilie AUBRY, Bigla
  • DNF Desiree EHRLER, Bigla
  • DNF Emily ROPER, AUS
  • DNF Rebecca WIASAK, AUS
  • DNF Felicity WARDLAW, AUS
  • DNF Mélanie BRAVARD, LKT Team Brandenburg
  • DNF Lucia GONZALEZ BLANCO, LKT Team Brandenburg
  • DNF Aida NUNO PALACIO, LKT Team Brandenburg
  • DNF Simona BORTOLOTTI, Servetto Footon
  • DNF Annalisa CUCINOTTA, Servetto Footon
  • DNF Marina LIKHANOVA, Servetto Footon
  • DNF Anna POTOKINA, Servetto Footon
  • DNF Maria Adele TUIA, Servetto Footon
  • DNF Manon BOURDIAUX, FRA
  • DNF Alna BURATO, FRA
  • DNF Dorleta ESKAMENDI GIL, Bizkaia-Durango
  • DNF Yulia ILINYKH, Bizkaia-Durango
  • DNF Lierni LEKUONA ETXEBESTE, Bizkaia-Durango
  • DNF Lourdes OYARBIDE JIMENEZ, Bizkaia-Durango
  • DNF Catherine DESSUREAULT, Cannondale
  • DNF Annie EWART, Cannondale
  • DNF Annie FOREMAN-MACKEY, Cannondale
  • DNF Kim DE BAAT, Parkhotel Valkenburg
  • DNF Riejanne MARKUS, Parkhotel Valkenburg
  • DNF Kirsten PEETOOM, Parkhotel Valkenburg
  • DNF Marissa OTTEN, Parkhotel Valkenburg
  • DNS Chloe MCCONVILLE, AUS

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Valverde wins Fleche Wallonne after late move on Mur de Huy http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/valverde-wins-fleche-wallonne-late-move-mur-de-huy_325102 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/valverde-wins-fleche-wallonne-late-move-mur-de-huy_325102#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:51:34 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325102

Alejandro Valverde surged late on the Mur de Huy to win Flèche Wallonne Wednesday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Spaniard attacks to win the midweek Ardennes classic ahead of reigning Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion Daniel Martin

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Alejandro Valverde surged late on the Mur de Huy to win Flèche Wallonne Wednesday. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

HUY, Belgium (AFP) — Spaniard Alejandro Valverde timed his attack to perfection on the grueling Mur de Huy to win La Flèche Wallonne for the second time on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Movistar team leader, who also won this race in 2006, passed Ireland’s Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) of Poland in the final 200 meters of the 199.5-kilometer ride to claim his fourth victory in an Ardennes classic.

Martin finished three seconds down, with Kwiatkowski another second back.

“More than revenge I simply wanted to win and I tried to win,” said Valverde. “On Sunday at Amstel I was happy (with fourth) because Gilbert was simply much stronger. But today I had good legs, I went for the win and I got it. I’m delighted for me, for my team, for my teammates, because everyone worked hard together.”

Last year’s winner Daniel Moreno (Katusha) could finish only ninth; Amstel Gold Race winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) was 10th.

Valverde had been pushed off the podium at Sunday’s Amstel race as Belgian Gilbert burst clear to win by five seconds over Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).

But this time, Gilbert failed to get himself into one of the leading positions at the foot of the final climb, the imposing Mur de Huy.

Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) attacked at the foot of the climb, which averages almost 10 percent and has a steepest section of 26 percent.

But Bardet could not make it stick and soon a host of other riders had come to the front.

Kwiatkowski seemed to have edged ahead but Martin, last year’s winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, came storming past with a brutal acceleration.

Yet he too slowed down as Valverde, also a two-time winner in Liege, made his move, which proved the winning effort.

“They say you have to learn how to race it, this last climb,” said Martin. “Every year I get a little bit better. … This year it was just flat out the whole way up. Alejandro was the strongest today. With 100 meters to go I definitely thought I had it, but he blew past.”

Kwiatkowski said he was satisfied with a podium in the midweek classic, which he said doesn’t suit him as well as the other two races of Ardennes week.

“I think I little bit surprised myself, you know? Flèche is the race that doesn’t really suit me,” said Kwiatkowski. “I think Amstel and Liège suit me well. I could recover well from Amstel. … I’m really happy with what I did today.”

Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Belkin) earned his best ever finish in a classics race with fourth, and compatriot Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin) was fifth.

Moreno’s Katusha team had looked to be controlling the peloton coming up to the final climb but suffered a crucial blow when 2012 champion Joaquim Rodríguez was brought down 3km from home by a crash involving Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida).

That seemed to affect several riders’ ability to position themselves at the front of the peloton for the crucial final 1.3km up the Mur.

The day had begun with a three-man breakaway involving Australian Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Belgian Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), and Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin) of Lithuania.

Clarke was dropped around 50km from home and the other two battled on until they were reeled in with just over 10km left, having spent around 170km in the lead.

At that point the racing was furious with BMC, Movistar, and Katusha sharing pace-making duties to ensure their leaders were in pole position once the Mur de Huy came into view.

But Gilbert’s hopes of matching the Ardennes treble he achieved in 2011 went up in smoke as he was caught well back down the field when the climb up the Mur began.

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Pauline Ferrand-Prevot wins Fleche Wallonne Feminine http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/pauline-ferrand-prevot-wins-fleche-wallonne-feminine_325098 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/pauline-ferrand-prevot-wins-fleche-wallonne-feminine_325098#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:29:35 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325098 American Evelyn Stevens, the 2012 champion, finishes fourth at the annual race in Belgium

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Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Women) prevailed in Wednesday’s La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, the biggest victory of her career.

Ferrand-Prevot is the two-time defending French time trial champion and placed eighth in the Olympic road race in 2012.

She finished one second ahead of Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) and was four seconds better than Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) Wednesday in Belgium.

American Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon), the 2012 champion, finished seven seconds back in fourth.

The race finished with a painful climb of the Mur de Huy, a 1.3-kilometer ascent that averages more than 9 percent. Its steepest section is 26 percent.

“It was me, Lizzie and Pauline battling each other,” Stevens said of the final climb. “I was probably a little too quick to go, and then Elisa Longo passed me right at the end.”

Stevens was asked about the steep pitches on the climb that can bring out the best — and worst — of bike racers.

“You think about your legs burning, and then just stab the knife six more times,” she said. “When you win it, it feels pretty good. When you don’t, it feels awful.”

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No ban for Rogers in clenbuterol case http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/ban-rogers-clenbuterol-case_325084 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/ban-rogers-clenbuterol-case_325084#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:04:33 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325084

Michael Rogers will not serve a racing ban for his clenbuterol positive, as the sport's governing body believed there was a high probability the traces of the banned substance came from eating contaminated meat in China. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Michael Rogers is "extremely pleased" after news that he will not receive racing ban for his clenbuterol positive in the 2013 Japan Cup

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Michael Rogers will not serve a racing ban for his clenbuterol positive, as the sport's governing body believed there was a high probability the traces of the banned substance came from eating contaminated meat in China. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) will not serve a racing ban for his clenbuterol positive after winning last year’s Japan Cup, avoiding a possible two-year disqualification that might have ended his career.

The 34-year-old Australian will be disqualified from the Japan Cup victory, but will not face a disciplinary ban, the UCI reported Wednesday.

“Upon careful analysis of Mr. Rogers’ explanations and the accompanying technical reports, the UCI found that that there was a significant probability that the presence of clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China, where he had taken part in a race before traveling to Japan,” the UCI said a press release.

“As a result, the UCI has proceeded with the automatic disqualification of Mr. Rogers’ results at the 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race (the competition during which the positive sample was taken) but, after consulting WADA, decided that he should not be sanctioned any further.”

Rogers has been inactive since last October, when he raced at the UCI-promoted Tour of Beijing, and then won the Japan Cup a week later.

Rogers insisted that he did not take clenbuterol, and suggested that it entered his system via contaminated meat that he ate during a week-long stay in China before racing in Japan.

Many riders swore off eating meat during the Beijing tour, and the UCI insisted that controls were being conducted for clenbuterol during the race.

The decision marks a first in cycling. The World Anti-Doping Agency has previously not pressed for disciplinary bans in other sports in clenbuterol positives, most notably cases involving soccer players attending a junior tournament in Mexico.

Rogers’ teammate Alberto Contador served a back-dated, two-year racing ban after testing for clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France. Like Rogers, Contador argued that minute traces of the banned substance entered his body during a rest-day dinner after consuming meat brought to France from nearby Spain.Unlike Rogers, a three-member tribunal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport did not buy into the argument that contaminated meat was the source of the clenbuterol, and handed down a two-year ban in 2012.

Contador has maintained that he never doped during his career, but was disqualified from his victories in the 2010 Tour and the 2011 Giro d’Italia, among other results.

There was no immediate reaction from Tinkoff, but Rogers said the news was “extremely pleasing,” and vowed to return to racing as soon as possible.

“Over the past four months, my family and I have endured a very difficult time,” Rogers said in a statement Wednesday. “The UCI’s decision means that I can return to racing immediately, and I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love.”

Here is the UCI announcement in full:

Following a report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Tokyo indicating an adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol in a urine sample collected during a test conducted at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race on 20 October 2013, the UCI provisionally suspended Mr Michael Rogers (see press release of 18 December 2013).

In accordance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules and the World Anti-Doping Code, Mr Rogers took the opportunity to explain to the UCI how the prohibited substance had entered his system, and to provide supporting information.

Upon careful analysis of Mr Rogers’ explanations and the accompanying technical reports the UCI found that that there was a significant probability that the presence of clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China – where he had taken part in a race before travelling to Japan.

As a result, the UCI has proceeded with the automatic disqualification of Mr Rogers’ results at the 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race (the competition during which the positive sample was taken) but, after consulting WADA, decided that he should not be sanctioned any further.

The UCI is monitoring very carefully the latest developments concerning clenbuterol, and will continue to take appropriate steps to ensure riders are properly informed.

However, the UCI reiterates that the presence of clenbuterol in a urine sample constitutes an anti-doping rule violation under the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules. It is generally acknowledged that in certain countries a risk of meat contaminated by clenbuterol can exist and produce, in specific conditions, a positive sample from an athlete. WADA has issued specific warnings about this problem in China and Mexico. Consequently, the UCI reiterates its recommendations to the athletes and teams concerned to avoid eating meat in these countries.

In line with WADA recommendations, the UCI will continue to assess the presence of clenbuterol on a case by case basis taking into account the country in which contamination may have taken place, as well as any scientific evidence supporting the likelihood of such contamination.

Rogers’ statement in full

Statement by Michael Rogers — Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Today, I received the extremely pleasing news that the UCI has decided that no period of ineligibility is to be imposed against me following my inadvertent adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol in October 2013.

As a consequence, my provisional suspension is lifted with immediate effect. The UCI acknowledged that the presence of Clenbuterol in my sample collected during the 2013 Japan Cup was due — as I always stated — to the consumption of contaminated meat during my stay in China for the Tour of Beijing. The UCI, in particular, confirmed the absence of any fault or negligence on my part.

Notwithstanding the above, and because the substance was found in my sample during the competition, my result obtained during the 2013 Japan Cup must be automatically disqualified in accordance with the UCI rules. Although this is unfortunate for me, the UCI is bound by its rules and must apply them consistently.

Over the past four months, my family and I have endured a very difficult time. The UCI’s decision means I can return to racing immediately, and I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love. I wish to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, teammates, colleagues, medical experts and fans who have showed continued support and understanding. Further, I wish to show my gratitude to the board of Tinkoff-Saxo for the professional manner with which this ambiguous ordeal has been handled. Thank you for having the perception of what is right, rather than following the path of least resistance.

Michael Rogers

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Sutherland Q&A: Riding with Contador, European life, and the Ardennes http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/sutherland-qa-riding-contador-european-life-ardennes_325080 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/sutherland-qa-riding-contador-european-life-ardennes_325080#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 21:30:50 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325080

Rory Sutherland (front, right) is hoping for a Tour de France nod come July. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Rory Sutherland is loving the Ardennes classics and hoping for a start at the Tour de France

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Rory Sutherland (front, right) is hoping for a Tour de France nod come July. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands (VN) — Rory Sutherland slithered between the Amstel Gold Race’s stage and the kilometers of fence, headed back toward his team bus. The fans pack into the square thick, and riders, journalists, and team managers can hardly move. Exuberance for Amstel is high on this morning. Sutherland, who signed with Tinkoff-Saxo last year after a long stint at UnitedHealthcare, took a few moments to chat with VeloNews about life on the road.

VeloNews: I haven’t seen you in a while. How’s it been going?
Rory Sutherland: Good. Really good this year. Good program with the team. Obviously Alberto [Contador] is riding pretty well; it’s pretty nice to be on that team.

VN: Yeah, what’s it like, riding with a star?
RS: It’s awesome. When your captain is so good, obviously the competition is also really strong. But when you have a captain like him, you ride better as well. You want to do the best job you can for him so he can do his job. You’re not going to screw him. The fact is he’s a super nice guy as well. Great guy, very thankful, very respectful, and knows that as long as everyone does their best then he responds really well to that.

VN: Seems like he’s just flying.
RS: He’s going pretty well.

VN: What about these Ardennes races do you like?
RS: love it. Of course the cobbled classics are really cool, for a different reason. But … you never go further than 20, 30 kilometers at the most away from Maastricht [in Amstel], and you’re doing 260K. It’s like back and forth and up and down. I crashed last year in one of the big crashes, and I still loved it. It’s just a really cool feeling and the people out there and the fact that the sun is shining — it’s a beautiful area to ride a bike.

VN: You obviously made a big shift, from domestic to full-on Euro-pro again. Was that the right call?
RS: Yeah. With Tinkoff-Saxo it’s been fantastic. It’s a year last year getting used to it and coming back into it a little bit and opening the eyes up again. And this year I feel with a year behind me from last year, just racing, racing, racing, I feel a lot stronger for it. And now the team’s kind of figured out a little bit more of what I can do and where I can be used and we’re aiming toward that, which makes it a bit easier. But look, my wife’s happy here. The kids are happy here. So it’s not like we’re living somewhere we don’t want to be.

VN: Where will you go from here?
RS: I do the next [races] to Liège, then I have a break after Liège. At home in May. And then I don’t know. Everything is kind of up in the air for what happens in June/July.

VN: You hope for the Tour de France, then?
RS: Yeah, I think everybody does. Especially with Alberto, the way he’s going, and I think I can do a good job in an area of the team that we don’t have people, you know? Kind of the middle mountains, the middle group. Not the end group, not first flat group, but it depends on, you know, so many different things coming into June and July. That’s why it was good to ride with Alberto the last couple races, because then he knows whether he wants you around or not. But we’ll see.

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Startlist: 2014 Fleche Wallonne http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/startlist-2014-fleche-wallonne_325052 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/startlist-2014-fleche-wallonne_325052#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:30:55 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325052

Daniel Moreno will wear the No. 1 dossard of defending champion on Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | VeloNews.com

Final startlist for the 2014 Flèche Wallonne

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Daniel Moreno will wear the No. 1 dossard of defending champion on Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | VeloNews.com


Rabo-Liv
1. Marianne VOS
2. Lucinda BRAND
3. Pauline FERRAND PREVOT
4. Katarzyna NIEWIADOMA
5. Anna VAN DER BREGGEN
6. Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN

Hitec Products
11. Elisa LONGO BORGHINI
12. Audrey CORDON
13. Cecilie Gotaas JOHNSEN
14. Lauren KITCHEN
15. Julie LETH
16. Ashleigh MOOLMAN PASIO

Boels Dolmans
21. Elizabeth ARMITSTEAD
22. Jessie DAAMS
23. Megan GUARNIER
24. Christine MAJERUS
25. Katarzyna PAWLOWSKA
26. Eleonora VAN DIJK

Orica-AIS
31. Emma JOHANSSON
32. Annette EDMONDSON
33. Shara GILLOW
34. Loes GUNNEWIJK
35. Valentina SCANDOLARA
36. Carlee TAYLOR

Astana-BePink
41. Alena AMIALIUSIK
42. Alice ARZUFFI
43. Dalia MUCCIOLI
44. Doris SCHWEIZER
45. Silvia VALSECCHI
46. Susanna ZORZI

Specialized-lululemon
51. Evelyn STEVENS
52. Karol-Ann CANUEL
53. Tiffany CROMWELL
54. Ally STACHER
55. Tayler WILES
56. Trixi WORRACK

Giant-Shimano
61. Marijn DE VRIES
62. Claudia HAUSLER
63. Floortje MACKAIJ
64. Amy PIETERS
65. Maaike POLSPOEL
66. Kyara STIJNS

Ale Cipollini
71. Ane SANTESTEBAN GONZALES
72. Elena BERLATO
73. Valentina CARRETTA
74. Tatiana GUDERZO
75. Malgorzata JASINSKA

Lotto-Belisol Ladies
81. Emma POOLEY
82. Amy CURE
83. Liesbeth DE VOCHT
84. Jolien D’HOORE
86. Anisha VEKEMANS
87. Lieselot DECROIX

Wiggle-Honda
91. Linda VILLUMSEN
94. Danielle KING
95. Anna SANCHIS CHAFER
96. Laura TROTT
98. Mayuko HAGIWARA
99. Joanna ROWSELL

Estado de Mexico-Faren
101. Fabiana LUPERINI
102. Elena CECCHINI
103. Lucy MARTIN
104. Dulce PLIEGO
105. Rossella RATTO
106. Anna TREVISI

RusVelo
112. Tatiana ANTOSHINA
113. Aleksandra BURCHENKOVA
115. Elena KUCHINSKAYA
116. Aizhan ZHAPAROVA
117. Yulia BLINDYUK

Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope.86
121. Sarah ROY
122. Oriane CHAUMET
123. Lucie PADER
124. Amélie RIVAT
125. Manon SOUYRIS
129. Gabrielle PILOTE-FORTIN

Top Girls Fassa Bortolo
131. Francesca CAUZ
133. Jennifer FIORI
135. Asja PALADIN
136. Chiara PIEROBON
137. Silvia CECCHINI
139. Soraya PALADIN

Futurumshop.nl-Zannata
141. Sofie DE VUYST
142. Annelies DOM
143. Anouska KOSTER
144. Mascha PIJNENBORG
145. Annelies VAN DOORSLAER
147. Latoya BRULEE

U.S. National Team
151. Lauren HALL
152. Kathryn DONONVAN
153. Maura KINSELLA
154. Lauren KOMANSKI
156. Ruth WINDER

Bigla
161. Joanne HOGAN
162. Emilie AUBRY
163. Désirée EHRLER
164. Elke GEBHARDT
165. Taryn HEATHER
166. Vera KOEDOODER

Australia
173. Katrin GARFOOT
174. Chloe MC CONVILLE
175. Emily ROPER
176. Rebecca WIASAK
177. Felicity WARDLAW

Lointek
181. Aude BIANNIC
182. Mélanie BRAVARD
183. Lucia GONZALEZ BLANCO
184. Sheyla GUTIERREZ RUIZ
185. Melodie LESUEUR
186. Aida NUNO PALACIO

Servetto Footon
191. Simona BORTOLOTTI
192. Annalisa CUCINOTTA
193. Marina LIKHANOVA
194. Anna POTOKINA
195. Sari SAARELAINEN
196. Maria Adele TUIA

France
201. Edwige PITEL
202. Manon BOURDIAUX
203. Fanny BOURDON
204. Alna BURATO
205. Eugénie DUVAL
206. Marion SICOT

Bizkaia-Durango
211. Dorleta ESKAMENDI
212. Yulia ILINYKH
213. Lierni LEKUONA ETXEBESTE
214. Lourdes OYARBIDE
215. Anna RAMIREZ
216. Irene SAN SEBASTIAN LASA

Canada
222. Catherine DESSUREAULT
223. Annie EWART
224. Annie FOREMAN-MACKEY
225. Leah KIRCHMANN
226. Stephanie ROORDA

Parkhotel Valkenburg
231. Kim DE BAAT
232. Riejanne MARKUS
233. Kirsten PEETOOM
234. Pauliena ROOIJAKKERS
235. Rozanne SLIK
237. Marissa OTTEN

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Nibali: ‘It’s about the Liege win, not places and points’ http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/nibali-liege-win-places-points_325049 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/nibali-liege-win-places-points_325049#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:07:48 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325049

Vincenzo Nibali attacked from long range at Milano-Sanremo last month and said this week he isn't afraid to do so again at Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Giro d'Italia champion vows to launch a long-range attack on Sunday if the situation is right

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Vincenzo Nibali attacked from long range at Milano-Sanremo last month and said this week he isn't afraid to do so again at Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

GENT, Belgium (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali will risk losing in a big attack in order to win Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He said that others are too afraid or think too much about WorldTour points to make a move like the one that nearly landed him a Milano-Sanremo victory in March.

“The teams don’t want to try these big and long moves because they are thinking of the WorldTour classification,” Nibali told VeloNews. “The riders all think about bringing in points because they are important for the teams and for their contracts.”

The Italian in Astana’s light blue made such a move at Liège in 2012 when he raced for Liquigas-Cannondale. He attacked on the Côte de La Roche aux Faucons and used his skills to break free on the descent with 19.5 kilometers left.

He held 45 seconds on the favorites group with Philippe Gilbert as he climbed the Saint Nicolas and closed in on the finish in Ans. Maxim Iglinsky followed more closely, however. At the foot of the 1.3km ramp to Ans, he caught Nibali and rode clear to the win. Nibali finished second.

“I’d do it again, too,” Nibali said. “I’m not bitter from two years ago, it was the right thing to do. I didn’t make any mistakes, only that Iglinsky had a great day and was able to pull me back. I lacked the energy at the end to do anything about him.”

Nibali showed his love for the long-range attack in Milano-Sanremo four weeks ago. He shot free on the Cipressa climb with 25km to race and lasted until the Poggio, with 9km remaining to his first monument victory.

“I can do it solo in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but Milano-Sanremo is another story. Sanremo is 300 kilometers, not 250, so any sort of extra effort you do … It’s difficult,” Nibali added. “For Milano-Sanremo, I could’ve used someone with me on my attack. I had many kilometers ahead of me. Ahead of my move on the Cipressa, I spoke with someone. I won’t say or name names of those who should’ve gone with me. Instead, I was on my own.”

Nibali named Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara after the race. This week, though, he complimented Cancellara’s racing tactics.

“Riders like me and Cancellara don’t think about the points, just the win,” he said. “That way of thinking, about placings and WorldTour points, it’s a big downward spiral. It’s a shame for cycling because it steals the show from the fans but that’s the way it is because many riders have contracts that are linked to points so they watch the classification closely.”

Nibali won the 2010 Vuelta a España and last year took top honors in the Giro d’Italia’s overall classification. His aim is trained on the Tour de France this year. He is ramping toward the Tour with specific training and spent two weeks at altitude in Tenerife prior to arriving in Belgium last week. He went over the border to France Thursday to ride the cobbled sectors of the Tour’s fifth stage.

Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, but more so Liège-Bastogne-Liège, remain his last goals this spring before taking a break and returning at June’s Critérium du Dauphiné ahead of the July 5 start for the Tour de France.

“Liège suits me with its long climbs,” he said. “I’ll have to see what the situation’s like on Sunday, but I’m not afraid to attack from far out.”

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Bruyneel gets 10-year ban for Armstrong doping scandal http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/bruyneel-gets-10-year-ban-armstrong-doping-scandal_325021 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/bruyneel-gets-10-year-ban-armstrong-doping-scandal_325021#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 08:38:59 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=325021

Belgian Johan Bruyneel was banned for 10 years from the sport for his role in the USPS doping ring. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Another chapter is filed in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, and this time it's his director who gets a hefty ban from the sport

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Belgian Johan Bruyneel was banned for 10 years from the sport for his role in the USPS doping ring. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SITTARD, Netherlands (VN) — Belgian Johan Bruyneel’s long fight with anti-doping authorities inched closer to an ending on Tuesday when he was handed a 10-year-ban from the sport by the American Arbitration Association.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency investigated the Belgian for his ties to what it called the United States Postal Service team’s doping “conspiracy” that helped Lance Armstrong win seven straight Tours de France. Those results were later stripped.

A three-person panel found that “the evidence establishes conclusively that Mr. Bruyneel was at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the USPS and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders. Similarly, Dr. [Pedro] Celaya and Mr. [Jose 'Pepe'] Martí were part of, or at least allowed themselves to be used as instruments of, that conspiracy.”

The Panel imposed a 10-year ban for Bruyneel and eight-year bans for Celaya and Martí. The panel found that Bruyneel trafficked performance-enhancing drugs and “was engaged in the allocation of team-related resources … causing a variety of prohibited doping substances and methods to be used expressly for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage for the teams and cyclists he managed in cycling events.” Bruyneel also “profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period,” according to a release from USADA. The full report from the AAA was released Tuesday.

Bruyneel responded on his personal website, taking aim at USADA’s jurisdiction over him but also admitting there were “elements” of his career he wished were different.

“I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different. Nor do I dispute that doping was a fact of life in the peloton for a considerable period of time. However, a very small minority of us has been used as scapegoats for an entire generation,” he wrote. “There is clearly something wrong with a system that allows only six individuals to be punished as retribution for the sins of an era.”

All told, USADA has now had a hand in stern punishments of six men from the USPS cycling dynasty and its later iterations, though several others received six-month bans. Armstrong was banned for life after his decision to not contest charges against him in 2012, while Italian Dr. Michele Ferrari and Spaniard Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral each received lifetime suspensions in addition to the news today on Bruyneel and the others.

According to the report, Bruyneel encouraged athletes to enhance their performance through the use of EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, and cortisone. Bruyneel, Armstrong’s longtime director on multiple teams (U.S. Postal, Discovery Channel, Astana, and RadioShack), attacked the USADA as self-serving.

“Did the US Postal team really operate ‘the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping program that sport has ever seen?’ This headline-grabber has helped create a staggering industry of books and movies, but reveals only USADA’s talent for self-aggrandizement,” he wrote. “The reality is very different. In due course, I will take the time to give a full account of events within my knowledge. In the meantime I would ask you to treat USADA’s partial and self-serving narrative of events with considerable circumspection.”

Bruyneel contests that the American anti-doping body has no authority over him, though it’s become somewhat common for national anti-doping agencies to suspend athletes outside its borders.

“I am a Belgian national and I reside in the United Kingdom. I have never been a member of USA Cycling, nor any other national governing body of sport based in the United States. I have never signed any document or agreement granting USADA or the AAA any authority over my livelihood or me,” he wrote. “None of the anti-doping rule violations alleged by USADA are said to have occurred on US soil. It simply cannot be correct or acceptable that USADA — a US organization — is freely able to determine the livelihood of any individual that it chooses to prosecute, without boundary and without oversight.”

The panel noted that, in accordance with the Code and the International Cycling Union Anti-Doping Rules, USADA had authority to bring these cases because USADA discovered the violations.

The cases of Bruyneel, Celaya, and Martí were heard by a panel of arbitrators in London last December at a four-day hearing. The three men were represented by seven lawyers collectively, and testimony was received by 17 witnesses in total, who were each subjected to cross examinations. Bruyneel and Martí both refused to testify but Dr. Celaya did, although the body found he was not a “credible” witness. Bruyneel is weighing his options at this point.

“I am currently debating what my next step should be. I could still challenge the decision of the AAA in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, although that would again require me to put my faith in arbitration,” he wrote. “I will shortly decide whether to keep up the fight or carry on and try to expose the hypocrisy of what USADA has put me and others through.”

As of now, Bruyneel’s sanction will end June 11, 2022; Celaya and Martí’s sanctions will end on June 11, 2020.

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Rodriguez expects to race Fleche Wallonne, Liege despite Amstel crash http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/rodriguez-expects-to-race-fleche-wallonne-liege-despite-amstel-crash_324938 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/rodriguez-expects-to-race-fleche-wallonne-liege-despite-amstel-crash_324938#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:54:14 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=324938

Joaquim Rodriguez abandoned the Amstel Gold Race but said he feels hopeful for a start in Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Andy Schleck and Joaquim Rodriguez both abandoned Sunday’s race after a hard fall

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Joaquim Rodriguez abandoned the Amstel Gold Race but said he feels hopeful for a start in Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

LIEGE, Belgium (AFP) — Specialist puncher Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is feeling positive for the remainder of the Ardennes classics despite crashing out of the Amstel Gold Race.

But it wasn’t such good news for former Tour de France winner Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), who hurt his knee in the same incident.

Spaniard Rodriguez, known as “Purito,” crashed out of Sunday’s race after going down about 80 kilometers into the first of the three Ardennes classics. The 34-year-old complained of feeling dizzy and was taken to hospital to have his chest X-rayed.

But Rodriguez took to Twitter to say he expects to race both the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège races this week and, more importantly, that he will be fully fit for next month’s Giro d’Italia.

“It seems that there is nothing broken,” he tweeted Sunday night. “Thank goodness, it will possibly be difficult these next few days in the Classics but I’ll definitely start the Giro!”

Rodriguez would be one of the favorites if he starts Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, which he won in 2012. The final climb of the Mur du Huy is tailor-made for his explosive capabilities.

Schleck, who won the Tour de France in 2010 after Alberto Contador was stripped of his win for doping, was less positive about his chances of competing at the Flèche Wallonne or Sunday’s Liège race.

“I did the work I had to do to start the classics on good form,” he told Luxemburger newspaper Wort.lu. “I hope to show it in Flèche Wallonne and in Liege but I have doubts.

“Our Trek Factory Racing Team has competent people so I hope that we manage to resolve this problem.”

The 28-year-old was brought down in the same incident that took down Rodriguez when Tinkoff-Saxo’s Niki Sorensen crashed.

Schleck gamely got back on his bike and caught up with the peloton but 40km later he abandoned due to the pain.

His is due to be Trek’s team leader for the Liege race, which he won in 2009.

Schleck is desperately searching for some confidence ahead of July’s Tour de France when he should lead Trek alongside brother Frank. However, his last top 10 finish in a grand tour was in 2011, when he finished second in the Tour.

Schleck missed the 2012 Tour due to a broken pelvis and has never since recaptured his earlier form.

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Orica satisfied with Gerrans’ Amstel Gold Race podium result http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/orica-satisfied-with-gerrans-amstel-gold-race-podium-result_324931 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/orica-satisfied-with-gerrans-amstel-gold-race-podium-result_324931#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:14:48 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=324931

Simon Gerrans has finished third in the past four years at the Amstel Gold Race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

For the third time in four years, Simon Gerrans finished third in the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday

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Simon Gerrans has finished third in the past four years at the Amstel Gold Race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — Orica-GreenEdge rode strongly in the final moments of the Amstel Gold Race Sunday and used its cards. It kept Michael Matthews for a small bunch kick and attacked with Simon Gerrans, who took third for the third time in four years.

“But no one could stop Philippe Gilbert,” general manager Shayne Bannan told VeloNews. “It’s hard to look at it another way, he just rode away from us and had a super day.”

A TV helicopter circled overhead to film the finishing straight where Gilbert (BMC Racing) just rode away from his rivals. He climbed the second half of the Cauberg solo and arrived five seconds ahead of Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol). Gerrans, this year’s Aussie road champion, placed a further second back ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Further down the hill, Orica rode impressively. Along with BMC and Omega Pharma, it put on one of the most united performances. The Australian team in white and blue strung out the group after the remnants of an escape were caught with 7 kilometers remaining.

Tall Dutchman Pieter Weening motored on the front with teammates Simon Clarke, Gerrans, and Matthews in tow. Omega took over at the foot of the Cauberg. And, as the helicopter TV shots showed, BMC won with Samuel Sánchez’s attack and Gilbert’s counter-attack.

“We couldn’t have done much more,” Bannan said. “The guys — Pieter Weening and Clarke — were exactly where they needed to be. They did what they needed to do earlier in the race. So the race panned out as we thought it was going to, but when Gilbert went on the climb, Gerrans could not react, not because he’s not a good rider but because Gilbert was having a super day.”

Gerrans looked like he might have had more in him than a third place. He and Kwiatkowski jumped to follow Sánchez’s wheel with 3km to race. They held an advantage but Gilbert quickly closed it and fired away solo. Bannan explained that Gerrans did not hesitate but chased and evaluated his situation.

“When you are on a climb you know your capabilities,” Bannan added. “I don’t think it was hesitation, just a matter of sussing the situation out and looking at who was behind. Was there a possibility to get a group together to minimize the distance? Which Gerro did.”

Belgium’s Vanendert gained some ground and took second. Gerrans placed third to match his 2011 and 2013 results. His 23-year-old teammate Matthews placed 12th. Matthews’ result, after earning two wins this season to go along with a runner-up to Gilbert in Brabantse Pijl (Brabant Arrow) on Wednesday, gave Bannan further reason to smile.

“Mike Matthews was behind Gerro coming into the climb. He backed off trying to get his own group going up the climb in anticipation of the group coming together for a sprint,” Bannan said. “He’s been progressing well and we are happy with the way he’s gone. He had a possibility to get a good result but if anything, it adds to his progression.”

Bannan walked the 500 meters to the finish line where the organizer rewarded Gerrans for his third place.

“I turn my back on this Amstel Gold Race pleased,” Bannan said. “We came with the goal to win, we didn’t do that, but we took third and rode well. I walk away pretty satisfied.”

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Degenkolb emerges from classics as a monuments contender http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/degenkolb-emerges-from-classics-as-a-monuments-contender_324921 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/degenkolb-emerges-from-classics-as-a-monuments-contender_324921#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:38:17 +0000 Andrew Hood http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=324921

John Degenkolb out-sprinted several riders to win Gent-Wevelgem. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The 25-year-old German racked up a win and a runner-up in Belgium and northern France

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John Degenkolb out-sprinted several riders to win Gent-Wevelgem. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) is cooling his jets after a breakout northern classics campaign that saw the 25-year-old German confirm his status as a contender for monuments season.

Victory at Gent-Wevelgem and a second at Paris-Roubaix proved to everyone that Degenkolb has the chops to battle for victory in the most grueling conditions.

“We are very content with John’s performances during the classics,” Giant sport director Marc Reef told VeloNews. “The whole team rode great throughout all the races. Even with some bad luck in a few races, we got the big results we were looking for. John is already at a high level, and will only improve in the coming years.

Coupled with Marcel Kittel’s emphatic victory at Scheldeprijs for a third consecutive time, Giant was one of the top performers across the northern classics.

The team hopes to continue its success across the Ardennes, but the success on the cobblestones of Belgium and France only fuel motivation for the future.

Reef said Degenkolb should only improve in the coming years.

“His strength and maturity will continue to evolve. Experience counts a lot for these races. And he took a big step forward this year,” he said. “These are the races that he is excited about. These performances will motivate him even more.”

After Roubaix, Degenkolb is taking a recovery break before resuming racing in May.

Giant officials confirmed he’s scheduled to race on home roads at the Rund um den Finanzplatz-Frankfurt on May 1, which he won in 2011, before heading to the United States for the Amgen Tour of California, where he will square off against the likes of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Of course, the California start means he won’t be riding to help teammate Marcel Kittel in his debut at the Giro d’Italia.

Degenkolb will likely race the Tour de Suisse in June before linking up again with Kittel for the Tour de France in July.

Degenkolb and Kittel form a formidable pairing for the Tour, when Degenkolb works to set up his big compatriot for the pure sprints. Degenkolb also has freedom to race for results in hillier, more challenging finales.

For Degenkolb, these cobblestone results only fuel his ambitions for the future.

“These monuments are the races I really love, and the ones that I want to focus on in the future,” Degenkolb said. “We can be really proud in second place. It’s the next step in growing to be on the podium of a monument. I hope someday to win these races.”

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Love hurts: The give and take of the Ardennes http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/give-take-ardennes_324912 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/give-take-ardennes_324912#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:00:37 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=324912

The Ardennes-week races are special and edgy, built for riders who can manage the left-right-left-up-down-up calculation for six hours at a stretch. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The Ardennes classics serve up the full package of thinking man's races, where it's game on from start to finish and one miscue ends it all

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The Ardennes-week races are special and edgy, built for riders who can manage the left-right-left-up-down-up calculation for six hours at a stretch. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — The soft morning light bounced off the city hall, into the main square in Maastricht, and Andy Schleck said in this moment these were his favorite races of the year.

It wasn’t hard to see why. The square was loud and the sun was shining and the roads the peloton would soon flow over dissected this tiny country in one-lane cuts across fields and through orderly and straight-walled Dutch towns.

And then, a short time later, Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) crashed and later pulled out of the Amstel Gold Race, a victim of a pileup that also drowned the hopes of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). It was an indication how quickly things can change in bike racing, no matter the rider or the route, though there’s a much greater chance of an incident in Amstel or even La Flèche Wallonne. One of his favorite races put him on the ground.

A broadcaster referred to Amstel Gold as an elimination race on Sunday, and he couldn’t have been more right. Rodriguez was a sure bet to factor in the late fight on the Cauberg. Geraint Thomas (Sky) also crashed out when “someone decided he wanted a wee and just turned 90 degrees right,” he said on Twitter. Tony Martin clipped wheels with an Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate and had a long and lonely chase back on, to finish in 72nd place, more than six minutes down.

They wasted no time at all, these cruel hilly classics, in their dream-ending. And though at first blush these don’t feel like the iconoclasts the classics to the north have become, these Ardennes week races are special and edgy, built for riders who manage the left-right-left-up-down-up calculation. For six hours.

“It’s like back and forth and up and down. I crashed last year in one of the big crashes, and I still loved it,” said Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rory Sutherland. “It’s just a really cool feeling and the people out there and the fact that the sun is shining — it’s a beautiful area to ride a bike.”

And, here’s this from the yet-to-crash Schleck:

“These are my three favorite races of the year. Many years I try to do good — I did good in Flèche, and I won Liège. Amstel I always came close but never really made it to the podium. So of course everybody wants to go to the podium, but I’m really motivated. Especially for today and next Sunday. I believe the team is ready. We did good races and good preparation before. We hope the best.”

They always do, though it seldom happens. That’s racing, but that’s also racing the thin and bendy Amstel. Up next is Flèche, on Wednesday — not as harrowing as Amstel, but still very much a racer’s race.

“They’re kind of nasty races. The sort of races that it really takes a full package,” said Garmin-Sharp’s Alex Howes.

“You’ve got to know how to drive your bike real well. You’ve got to be a pretty strong climber but also have to have a pretty sound understanding of how the tactics are going to work out. It takes a bit of luck — knowing how you’re going to play your cards. And very often the weather is not good.

“So it’s a full race, from beginning to the end you’ve got to be switched on. And each one is like six and half hours of full gas.”

BMC Racing showed Sunday it has brains and brawn. The team rode a clean, forceful race, using the right riders to reel in the break, and then playing its cards — cards most teams would call aces — to perfection late in the race. Greg Van Avermaet leapt into the Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) attack. Samuel Sanchez burnt his book of matches low on the Cauberg, making the race thin instantly. And then, pop, Philippe Gilbert reminded the sport he was still Philippe Gilbert. Being strong wouldn’t have been enough. At least according to the riders.

“You have to think. If all you’re thinking about is right turn left turn up down this that, you’re not going to get very far,” Howes said. “You’ve got to be thinking two steps ahead the whole time. ‘Okay. Who’s playing this, who’s playing that, where are we going, what’s coming up here, can I sag this climb if we’re coming on to a big road after that? Do I really need to put the effort in here? Is it going to save my ass 5k down the line?’”

And though he abandoned Sunday, Garmin’s Dan Martin will return to fight for the next two, in Flèche and Liège.

“I just love the one-day races. It’s same as Lombardia, also one of my favorite one-day races. I just love that. Starting completely fresh, everything you’ve done to prepare properly for it. The two or three days before you’re just tapering. You probably feel as good as you can possibly feel at the start line of these races. Especially Liège, after the four days. Flèche, you always feel Amstel a little bit, but Liège, it’s always you’re super fresh and it’s everything on the line. One tactical mistake, you lose the race.”

Or, one crash. But, ask any rider or director and, to a man, they will all tell you that it’s just part of the game.

“I will never say it’s too dangerous. … It’s dangerous, we know. We are professional,” said Sky director Nicolas Portal. “Maybe because I come from the mountain bike, you know, sometimes you take some risks. You have nothing on the right side, but if you want to win the race, you need to be strong on the climb, and technically strong, too. On the road it’s the same.”

Before he abandoned, Martin said the peloton was particularly well mannered. Asked if there’s a reprieve from the tension, he wasn’t sure. He’s crashed out of Flèche twice.

“The peloton showed a lot of respect today,” he said. “I wasn’t there for the final, so I don’t know how hectic it got then, but from what I saw it was a lot more relaxed than previous years.

“For sure there’s a lot of road furniture here in Holland. It’s the left right up down. It’s a lot more about positioning. It’s natural the guys are going to fight for position a lot harder. Whereas Flèche and Liège, it’s definitely more, the legs do the talking. Especially at Liège.

“Flèche is still a big fight for position at the bottom of the Mur, but even then, it’s not just that last steep part. It’s a hard climb into the bottom of the Mur. … At the same time, I’ve crashed two or three times in Flèche. I think I’ve crashed out of the race twice in Flèche.

“So it’s — it’s cycling. Accidents can happen anywhere, you know?”

 

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Gallery: Going for the gold at Amstel http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/gallery-going-gold-amstel_324876 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/gallery-going-gold-amstel_324876#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 23:56:21 +0000 VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=324876

The peloton ascends the Gulpenerberg. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Photos from the 49th running of the Amstel Gold Race

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The peloton ascends the Gulpenerberg. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

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Michal Kwiatkowski says he’s getting better, but still has much to learn http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/michal-kwiatkowski-says-hes-getting-better-still-much-learn_324869 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/michal-kwiatkowski-says-hes-getting-better-still-much-learn_324869#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 17:34:22 +0000 Gregor Brown http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=324869

Michal Kwiatkowski says he's happy with his performance, but still has much to learn. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

A different approach to the season is paying dividends for the young Polish champion, who says he's still learning his trade

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Michal Kwiatkowski says he's happy with his performance, but still has much to learn. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — Michal Kwiatkowski placed fifth in the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday but finished as the most promising rider. At 23, he is four years younger than his next youngest rival from the top 10, and shows potential for the Ardennes classics to come.

“There’s so much to learn and I’m still taking it all in,” Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Polish rider said. “Philippe Gilbert won the race with a solo move and was impressive, but I saw ways that I can do a little bit better. I’m happy about my condition and I’m going to keep on going into the season, which only just began.”

He could sit on the steps of the bus in his gray hooded sweatshirt without a worry. He has already won five times this season, including the Volta ao Algarve overall. In the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) last week, he won the points classification and placed second on GC.

País Vasco marked a different approach compared to last year, when he rode the cobbled classics ahead of the Ardennes. He said his fifth place on Sunday confirmed that the team was correct to re-schedule his calendar to include the traditional Ardennes lead-up.

In fact, Kwiatkowski could not find much to complain about. Though he finished one spot worse than last year — when he was one spot ahead of Gilbert — he said he felt better and the team rode strongly.

“We rode the whole course well, we stayed at the front and we had Zdenek Stybar in the break. Michal Golas was very impressive today, he was able to chase down the break, he was still with me at the bottom of the Cauberg,” Kwiatkowski said.

“I’m happy that I placed fifth because I improved from last year, I made a better start to the Cauberg and I could follow guys. Last year, I just stayed put and tried to sprint.”

An attack by Gilbert’s teammate Samuel Sánchez drew Kwiatkowski out. He was able to follow Sánchez, but had little left in his tank when Gilbert went with 2.5km remaining.

“It would’ve better to be on Gilbert’s wheel, he has so much experience. It would’ve been easier, but I started behind Golas on the Cauberg and was thinking, ‘Why wait? It’ll be just a couple of seconds and we’ll be on the top.’ Actually, though, it’s a long way to the top!”

Kwiatkowski paused and thought about what had happened on the road leading from Valkenburg. He began talking about his race plan for 2015.

“If you know the race better, you can save a lot of power,” he said. “I stayed the whole day in the front, but I think that you don’t have to do that. You can stay in the back a little more, but you have to know where and when you can do that.”

The young rider who races in the white-and-red Polish champion’s jersey could strike again in Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. The team’s performance director, Rolf Aldag, said that he could win Liège, considered the toughest of the three Ardennes classics.

Win or lose, Kwiatkowski is certain to gain more experience that will help him develop and deliver on his star potential.

 

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Hampered by knee pain, Dan Martin saves his strength for down the road http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/hampered-knee-pain-dan-martin-saves-strength-road_324863 http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/hampered-knee-pain-dan-martin-saves-strength-road_324863#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 17:16:18 +0000 Matthew Beaudin http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=324863

Dan Martin, shown after winning last year Liège-Bastogne-Liège, was forced by knee pain to abandon the 2014 Amstel Gold Race. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | VeloNews.com

The reigning Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion found himself sidelined by knee pain at the Amstel Gold Race

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Dan Martin, shown after winning last year Liège-Bastogne-Liège, was forced by knee pain to abandon the 2014 Amstel Gold Race. Photo: BrakeThrough Media | VeloNews.com

VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — It probably wasn’t the ending Dan Martin expected, this sitting in the door of the bus after abandoning the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. Martin, after all, is the defending Liège-Bastogne-Liège champ and a lover of these hilly classics.

But on this warm day in the Netherlands, Martin was forced to pull out of Amstel, citing knee pain. There was buzz that he’d crashed out of the race, though the team quickly put the clamps on that.

“I’m fine. I just had a pretty bad day. … My knee started to hurt a little bit and I just didn’t want to take any chances. I’ve got the Giro coming up and I’ve got Flèche on Wednesday and Liège on Sunday, you know? And it’s like — I’m a bit sad I couldn’t help the guys in the final, you know, but yeah, I’ve got to think big picture a bit more… and I just wasn’t on a good day,” Martin told VeloNews after the race unwound.

He’s expected to start La Flèche Wallonne Wednesday, and line up for La Doyenne Sunday.

“I’ve been having a bit of an issue with my knee the last week or so. It’s a case of every day it’s been improving. And we’ve got the best staff in the world here to look after at. Every day it’s been getting better and better, I just ran out of days,” he said. “It’s nothing serious at all.”

Rather than suffer on, the 27-year-old pulled the plug, electing to save his bullets — bullets Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) indicated everyone else will need to stall his attempt at Ardennes-week history.

“I just didn’t have any spark, you know? I think it’s also coming down from altitude. It’s the first time I’ve ever done altitude so I don’t know how my body reacts. I’ve only been down at sea level for five days so far, so, it’s obviously a bit of a learning experience,” he said.

“But again, we’re aiming for the Giro, and today we were riding for Tom [Jelte Slagter] as well. Tom and Fabian [Wegmann] were our leaders today. I was here to help them and unfortunately couldn’t do my job. I’m still pretty happy with how my legs are. Just rest up and try to be as fresh as possible for Wednesday.”

Asked if he was worried, he didn’t say he was, or seem so.

“Not at the moment, no. Should be — it’s a long time between now and then, you know? Hopefully we’ll be 100 percent.”

 

The post Hampered by knee pain, Dan Martin saves his strength for down the road appeared first on VeloNews.com.

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