The weekly spin: Rating the winners and losers of the 2019 spring classics

It was late in the race, and Julian Alaphilippe, the most successful rider of the spring classics, knew he would not be defending his team’s title at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Though his Deceuninck–Quick-Step teammates had spent the day keeping him sheltered from the wind and setting pace at the front of the peloton, the inclement weather had adversely … The post The weekly spin: Rating the winners and losers of the 2019 spring classics appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Winners and Losers from the Ardennes

In which I form an opinion from highlight reels So, I’m going to try something here. For reasons outside of my control, I really enjoy the Ardennes classics. For reasons outside of my control, I wasn’t able to watch a single one of them this season (hey, keepers of pro cycling: I have shit to do on Wednesday mornings, get your scheduling together). But, unfortunately, I am tasked with writing a Winners and Losers column for a sequence of races that I didn’t get to watch. Now, this has the potential to be the easiest task in the world. The winners were indeed Mathieu Van Der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang and the losers were literally everyone else, and that should be the self-referential end of the column. But I do have to my advantage highlight reels, results sheets and a list of personal expectations and VDS-hopes-and-dreams that are ...

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Lessons learned from the 2019 Spring Classics

Joe Robinson 29 Apr 2019 Alaphilippe's the world's best rider not called Mathieu, Valverde's getting old and women's cycling coverage is still far behind the men's Jakob Fuglsang's solo victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege marked the end of the Spring Classics and closed the first chapter of the 2019 season. The men's peloton saw 17 races produce seven winning teams and 11 winning riders. Deceuninck-QuickStep dominated with nine of those wins with six different riders. Mathieu van der Poel took four victories to Julian Alaphilippe's four while Zdenek Stybar notched two wins of his own. Dimension Data managed only two top 10s all spring while the second most successful team of the entire period hailed from the ProContinental ranks, in the shape of Van der Poel's Corendon-Circus. The racing at times was thrilling and at other times quite boring, however, it all came together to tell some interesting stories ahead of the ...

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Poels takes top-10 finish in Liège at Team Sky last-ever race

Wout Poels (Team Sky)

Wout Poels finished tenth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège , giving the British WorldTour team a quiet farewell to sponsor Sky before the team assumes its new name and ownership as Team Ineos on May 1. Poels won Liège in 2016, and was at the head of affairs on the final climb of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, but Astana's Jakob Fuglsang who made the decisive move at the top of the climb, taking eventual runner-up Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Michael Woods (EF Education First) with him initially, before soloing to the victory in Liège. Poels finished alone as the 10th rider home, just ahead of Lotto Soudal's Tim Wellens and Team Sky teammate Michal Kwiatkowski. "I think we hoped as a team for at least a podium finish, but in the end this was the maximum we could do today," Poels said via Team Sky's website. "At the beginning, it was really ...

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Kwiatkowski: I've been waiting for Liege-Bastogne-Liege all winter

Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski during the Liege recon ride

Michał Kwiatkowski ( Team Sky ) is keen to pull down the curtain on his Classics campaign in style, with the former Milan-San Remo winner saying that Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the race he has been "waiting for all winter." Third in 2017 and in 2014 in Liège, the 28-year-old claimed a podium finish in Milan-San Remo this spring, as well as leading Paris-Nice. But whilst his Ardennes campaign in 2018 never really took flight, at Amstel Gold Race last Sunday, he came close to disputing the win. A week further on and Kwiatkowski is determined to go all out for the victory. "It's a day I've been waiting for so long, that now it's finally here, I'm pretty excited," Kwiatkowski told Cyclingnews early this week. "I've done the recon. and finally as the name says it's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, not Liège-Bastogne-Ans. "For me it's a more beautiful finale, maybe not as selective ...

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Geoghegan Hart to Liege-Bastogne-Liege after Tour of the Alps podium

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Sky) claimed his first professional victory on the opening day of the 2019

Tao Geoghegan Hart played the role of the consummate teammate at the Tour of the Alps , giving his all to help Pavel Sivakov defend his leader's cyclamen-coloured jersey on the final stage to Bolzano so that Team Sky could sign off with a final stage race victory, and will now head to Liege-Bastogne-Liege to support team leaders Michal Kwiatkowski and Wout Poels. The 24-year-old won two stages this week – the first professional victories of his career, but despite finishing second overall at 27 seconds, he measures his success more profoundly and is looking ahead to riding just as well at the Giro d'Italia and in the years to come. He is not even interested in payback from Sivakov for his hard work. "I don't believe in that, that's what teammates are for. At the end of the day, it was my job, if I was in the same ...

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Liege-Bastogne-Liege Preview

La Doyenne of all monument previews Well, it has been an interesting week to be more or less entirely away from the cycling world. I saw and enjoyed the last few minutes of the men’s Amstel Gold, which was special (and entirely bonkers). I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on the Tour of the Alps, which has done wonders to maintain my faith in the future stars of Team Sky/Ineos, and in Fausto Masnada. I didn’t see a minute of Fleche Wallone, which is fine by me. On Sunday, though, I’ll be back to paying attention. With the year’s fourth monument coming up, I’ve picked a good day. Let’s get right into it. Routes and practical information Easter weekend was spectacularly warm and sunny across the UK, and clearly across the Netherlands too. The forecast for Sunday is less good, both in Edinburgh (you don’t care) and Liege ...

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24 things you need to know about the 2019 Liege-Bastogne-Liege

The Spring Classics come to a close this Sunday with Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It’s one of the oldest and most prestigious one-day races on the planet, and a race that’s had quite a shake-up in 2019. In the following preview we tell you everything you need to know about both the men’s and women’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The men’s … The post 24 things you need to know about the 2019 Liege-Bastogne-Liege appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Ulissi left with 'no regrets' after Fleche Wallonne podium

Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) takes third at Fleche Wallonne.

Sometimes a third place feels like first, and for Diego Ulissi ( UAE Team Emirates ) - on a day when two riders were way ahead of the field - claiming his first Ardennes Classics podium at La Fleche Wallonne constituted a kind of victory in itself. In a now-lengthy career, the Italian allrounder has clinched victories in hilly classics as tough as the GP Montreal, but his best placing in the Ardennes so far was seventh in Amstel Gold back in 2017, as well as eighth in the Fleche Wallonne in the same year. He also placed ninth in the midweek Classic back in 2012. Albeit six seconds behind the leading duo, Ulissi stayed behind Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) as the Pole opened up the hostilities on the Mur de Huy then faded a little when Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) attacked, followed by winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step). But he ...

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Power analysis: Mathieu van der Poel’s insane Amstel Gold

A look at the incredible power figures pushed by Mathieu van der Poel on his way to one of the most stunning finishes ever witnessed in pro road cycling The post Power analysis: Mathieu van der Poel’s insane Amstel Gold appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Alaphilippe wins La Fleche Wallonne

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) attacked on Mur de Huy but had to give best to Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninc

Julian Alaphilippe ( Deceuninck-QuickStep ) claimed his second straight victory at La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, timing his effort perfectly on the Mur de Huy. For the third time this spring, the Frenchman was locked into a two-way battle with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) but managed to come around the Dane in the final 120 metres of the steep finishing climb. Alaphilippe and Fuglsang had gotten to know each other well over the course of their long-range breakaways at Strade Bianche and Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, and they emerged as the clear-cut strongest two on the iconic Mur. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) claimed the final podium spot, but that was a full six seconds back. While Michal Kwiatkowski took control on the 1.2km climb, his Sky teammate Wout Poels having set the tempo on the lower slopes, it was Fuglsang who launched his first acceleration through the middle of the ...

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The weekly spin: Deconstructing Mathieu van der Poel’s improbable Amstel Gold victory

It was one of the most thrilling finishes of a spring classic in modern history. After trailing by one minute with three kilometers remaining, cyclocross world champion Mathieu van der Poel, in his Amstel Gold Race debut, towed a chase group back into contention and improbably caught and passed the leaders with 125 meters remaining. … The post The weekly spin: Deconstructing Mathieu van der Poel’s improbable Amstel Gold victory appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Classics power play: The numbers needed to ride in the wake of Van der Poel

Joe Robinson 23 Apr 2019 It was a finish that will go down in history and here are the numbers to go along with it Mathieu van der Poel's Amstel Gold victory was extraordinary, to the point of it being almost unfathomable. With 3.5km left, he was a reported 67 seconds behind the race leading duo of Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang. With 500m left to ride, Van der Poel was leading an unstoppable train of six riders to the finish. He had managed to chase down the leading two ahead, catch up to a chasing Michal Kwiatkowski, launch a sprint lead out in the last kilometre and execute the winning sprint to become the first male Dutch winner of Amstel Gold since Erik Dekker in 2001. One of the few riders who jumped upon the Van der Poel train was Education First's Simon Clarke . Going on his own ...

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Lefevere highly impressed by Amstel Gold winner Van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) racing at the Tour of Flanders

Deceuninck-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere says that his riders don't need to change anything when it comes to preparing for the spring Classics – despite having been impressed by this year's Amstel Gold , Brabantse Pijl and Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Mathieu van der Poel , who he calls "a phenomenon". "We don't feel as though we need to do anything differently," Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad when asked if he and his riders needed a new approach to deal with the likes of Van der Poel and Jumbo-Visma star Wout van Aert, who both came to the spring Classics from a winter racing cyclo-cross at the highest level, and have been two of road cycling's biggest stars so far this season. "They're cyclo-cross riders, and have a specific approach. But today, their road season ends," he said after Amstel Gold on Sunday – although Van Aert is also scheduled to ...

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Fuglsang and Alaphilippe disagree over Amstel Gold Race finale

Jakob Fuglsang and Julian Alaphilippe made their move on the Eyserbosweg

For much of the final 30 kilometres of Amstel Gold Race , there looked to be only one outcome in Berg en Terblijt. With Julian Alaphilippe ( Deceuninck-Quick Step ) and Jakob Fuglsang ( Astana ), the finale was reminiscent of Strade Bianche, where the duo rode together for the last 20km before the Frenchman triumphed in Siena. While the script bore a resemblance to that of the Italian classic heading to the finish, it was torn up in extraordinary fashion in the closing kilometres. With Alaphilippe thought to have a better sprint, Fuglsang sat back as the duo neared the line. The result was a fatal slowing of the pace which let the chasing groups led by Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) make the catch in the final kilometre. Naturally, both Fuglsang and Alaphilippe had differing opinions on what went down. “I told him ...

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van der Poel in disbelief

First Dutch winner comes from nowhere to take sprint In the most shocking finish at a northern classic in ages, Corendon’s Mathieu van der Poel came from nearly a minute behind race leaders Jakob Fuglsang and Julian Alaphilippe with three kilometers remaining, only to regroup in the final 300 meters as the race leaders played cat-and-mouse, and then punishing them for their tactics with a powerful sprint to the line that sent the home crowd into complete delirium. Van der Poel and his small group came into sight of the leaders just as Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski had joined the Fuglsang-Alaphilippe break, which moments earlier seemed absolutely assured of victory. But two became three, and with everyone on his wheel at the 600 meter sign van der Poel simply pounded the pedals to close on the leaders, disregarding the group glued to his wheel, and powered his way to the line ...

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There’s gold in them there hills!

A look to Sunday’s first parts of the Ardennes trilogies Something that reliably winds me up is the very notion of a guilty pleasure. It is, as we say nowadays, signalling. The message is, “I like [x] but I consider myself better than the people who like [x]. I’m more of a [y] person, but by some fluke I just happen to like [x] more than [y].” Nope. You like what you like, and so long as you aren’t harming anyone, crack on. Me, I’ve got no guilt. I like watching property shows, listening to Kenny Rogers, and eating donner kebabs when sober ( though not for £60 ). I like other things, too, but I feel no guilt about any of those choices. In related news, I like the Ardennes races. I don’t think I’m supposed to, as a cycling fan. I think I’m supposed to have more sophisticated ...

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Going for gold: Where your money should be for the Amstel Gold Race

Joe Robinson 18 Apr 2019 Cyclist picks out the best bets for Amstel Gold Race this Sunday The Amstel Gold Race is a different beast these days to what it once was. Until 2017, the entire day centred around the Cauberg. For 260km, the peloton would tour the rolling Limburg countryside, heading up climbs, turning into narrow roads – left, right, left, before hitting the Cauberg. It's a climb that's less than a mile long, not overly steep either, but swamped with local support on race day – mostly Dutch fans packing the roadside, urging the day's strongest riders on to the summit in pursuit of ultimate victory. To win Amstel Gold required you to keep some bullets in the gun for the base of the Cauberg. If you had something left, you could wind it up, put down the hammer and sprint to victory. Just ask Philippe Gilbert, who ...

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Valverde back in action at Amstel Gold Race

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Alejandro Valverde ( Movistar Team ) will return to racing, following a brief break after his Tour of Flanders debut, at this weekend’s Amstel Gold Race . Valverde will lead the Movistar team’s ambitions at the one-day race on Sunday. Having tested out the cobbles a few times in recent years, primarily as preparation for the Tour de France, Valverde made his Tour of Flanders debut at the start of April and finished eighth. The world champion took a short break from racing after De Ronde as he prepared for the main goal of his spring, the Ardennes Classics. Since his first Ardennes campaign in 2005, Valverde has won Liege-Bastogne-Liege four times and Fleche Wallonne on five occasions. The Amstel Gold Race is one that has eluded him so far in his career, however. Valverde has finished on the podium three times in 10 appearances, once taking third and two ...

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28 things you need to know about the 2019 Amstel Gold Race

The cobbled classics are done and it’s time now for the Ardennes Classics, starting with the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday. Ahead of this Dutch one-day race, we bring you up to speed on all you need to know about both the men’s WorldTour event and the Women’s WorldTour event. The basics Amstel Gold is … The post 28 things you need to know about the 2019 Amstel Gold Race appeared first on CyclingTips .

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