Bardet begins training block in lead-up to Tour de France

Romain Bardet heads to the start

Romain Bardet 's road to the Tour de France begins this week, with the French public's big hope for La Grande Boucle set to do a reconnaissance of the Tour's key Pyrenean mountain stages, followed by his annual training camp in Spain's Sierra Nevada mountains with a number of his AG2R La Mondiale teammates next week. According to L'Equipe , Bardet spent an entire week off the bike following Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which signalled the end of his spring campaign, but then returned to training this week, which included scouting out the last 30 kilometres of stage 9 of this year's Tour, which finishes in his hometown of Brioude in the Haute-Loire, south of Clermont-Ferrand. Keeping with the family theme, Bardet was then headed to recon some of this year's Tour stages in the Pyrenees with his father, before moving on to the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Spain for a high-altitude ...

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Alberto Contador proves he's still got it at Mallorca 312

Joe Robinson 2 May 2019 The Spaniard average 33.6kmh for the day and took a big KOM en route too Alberto Contador proved he is not getting slow in retirement setting an extremely respectable 9 hour 15 minute time at the Mallorca 312 sportive . The 36-year-old retired at the end of the 2017 season but has yet to fully give up on riding almost as well as he did during his career. Taking on the Mallorcan sportive, the former Tinkoff and Astana rider officially finished 73rd on the day in a time of 10 hours and 14 minutes although his Strava file tells of a much faster ride. To cover the mammoth 312km in just over nine hours, the seven-time Grand Tour winner's Strava post shows he averaged a solid 33.6kmh despite the 4,968m of elevation. The Spaniard also topped out at 83.9kmh on the descent of the Puig ...

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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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2019 Fleche Wallonne highlights - Video

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) triumphs atop Mur de Huy for the second year in a row.

For the second consecutive year, Julian Alaphilippe is king of the Mur de Huy, with the Deceuninck-Quickstep rider overhauling a promising surge by Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in the closing metres to win La Flèche Wallonne. Alaphilippe has now won three major one-day races this season: Strade Bianche, also over Fuglsang, and Milan-San Remo ahead of Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale). It seems that only young Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) has Alaphilippe's number when it comes to short, uphill finales, with the Dutch champion the only rider to best Alaphilippe in the Amstel Gold Race and in de Brabantse Pijl. One cannot help but notice the effort of Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), who climbed to third on the Mur de Huy, or that of Bjorn Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal), who made a career-best fourth on Wednesday after a sixth in Amstel and fifth in Brabantse Pijl. You can read more ...

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Bardet bounces back with top-10 Amstel Gold finish

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)

Romain Bardet continued his AG2R La Mondiale team's run of decent spring Classics finishes with ninth place at Amstel Gold on Sunday. The Frenchman only recently returned to racing having crashed out of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in late March, and must now be considered one of the favourites for Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège next weekend. Oliver Naesen has principally flown the flag for the French WorldTour team this spring, with second place at Milan-San Remo , third at Gent-Wevelgem and – in the Belgian's eyes, at least – a slightly disappointing seventh place at the Tour of Flanders and 13th at Paris-Roubaix. Naesen also took 28th at Amstel, which is a race that Bardet had said didn’t particularly suit him, either, and which he hadn't raced since 2014, when he finished 33rd. He then promptly rode to his top-10 finish there this weekend. "To tell the truth, ...

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In the velodrome: the final Power poll

It’s time to leave the cobbles behind and wrap things up with a final entry in our series of power polls of the cobbles season. People are always looking for narratives in the cycling season and for me the classics campaign, the cobbles bit in particular, is the most obvious example of a natural narrative there is. No one in ever Aigle sat down to set down rules and jerseys etc. for it, but the logic and progression from Omloop to Roubaix is undeniable and riveting to follow. For me even more so than a Grand Tour which has too many distractions and sideplots, plus it goes by too fast to really allow you to enjoy it to the full. Cobbles season is like following a good TV series with an episode every week and anticipation in between. Grand Tours is like binge watching the whole thing in one sleepless ...

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Christian Prudhomme: There are a dozen riders who can win Paris-Roubaix

Christian Prudhomme

Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix race director Christian Prudhomme says that he thinks that there are up to a dozen riders who have the ability to win Roubaix on Sunday, underlining that this weekend's 'Hell of the North' could be the most open race for some years. "There are a lot of favourites this year, and probably a dozen of riders who can actually win the race," Prudhomme told reporters on Saturday. "Among them is the Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff [UAE Team Emirates], who's a former winner of Milan-San Remo, and has shown great form this year. "There's also title defender Peter Sagan [Bora-Hansgrohe], Greg Van Avermaet [CCC] and also Oliver Naesen [AG2R], who's great in the wind and on the pavé ," he said. "Then you also have those who've come from a cyclo-cross background, and among them, most notably, is Wout van Aert [Jumbo-Visma], who is a three-time ...

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Belgium still chasing first Classics victory of 2019

Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale)

On the eve of Paris-Roubaix , the often-spoiled Belgian fans are still awaiting the first Belgian victory of the spring Classics season. That's quite remarkable, seeing as how many riders are often regarded as favourites. There's Greg Van Avermaet ( CCC ), Deceuninck-QuickStep 's Philippe Gilbert and his teammate and current Belgian road race champion Yves Lampaert , among others. As the riders are part of international teams, they're not as focused on the nationality of the winners, but their fans on home soil will think differently about that. During the teams presentation for Paris-Roubaix on Saturday afternoon in Compiègne, France, several Belgian riders expressed their hopes of taking victory at 'The Hell of the North'. Last year's Belgian road race champion Oliver Naesen was well aware of the expectation on him and his compatriots. "Sorry, Belgium, but it's not that easy, of course," he said. "I will try. I ...

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Hell’s Bells! The Paris-Roubaix Preview

The best race day of the season is upon us. I’m of course talking about the Hell on the Schelde [looks at calendar, then looks at assignment.] Oh, never mind, it looks like the best race day of the season is already behind us. So, I guess we’ll talk about Roubaix, instead. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating in calling Roubaix the most anticipated race day of the season. Sure, it might not have the prestige of the Tour de France or the beer-soaked reverence of Flanders, but what it does have is a penchant for bringing the pain to the peloton like no other race. Its currency is suffering, and we are the sadists that are buying. And the riders are the masochists that enjoy it. I don’t have to remind most of you about the interview that Theo de Rooij gave to John Tesh (who knows a thing ...

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Peloton prepares for dry and dusty Paris-Roubaix - Gallery

Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) gives a bottle hand-up to a young fan

Riders were out in force Thursday on the roads of the 2019 Paris-Roubaix and in press conferences around Belgium. Dry weather is expected for Sunday's 117th running of the 'Hell of the North', and riders who were testing their legs on the cobbles Thursday enjoyed clear blue skies and comfortable temperatures for their reconnaissance. After placing his winner's plaque in the outdoor shower of the Roubaix velodrome, defending champion Peter Sagan was out with his Bora-Hansgrohe team, joining other favourites like Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal), Andre Greipel (Area Samsic) and EF Education First with Sep Vanmarcke and Taylor Phinney. Nils Politt and Katusha-Alpecin shared a lap on the Roubaix velodrome with a group of local school-aged children, while Jumbo-Visma's Wout Van Aert pounded out some kilometres alone on the cobbles. Luke Rowe and Team Sky ventured onto the pavè for a day of training, as did Edvald Boasson Hagen and ...

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Preview: Your guide to the 2019 Paris-Roubaix

Paris-Roubaix. The Hell of the North. Arguably the biggest and most exciting one-day race of the year. The cobbles, the dust, the crashes, the legendary Roubaix velodrome — for the invested bike fan, Paris-Roubaix stands apart from all others. Ahead of Sunday’s 117th edition, we walk you through the Paris-Roubaix course, the cobbles, the contenders … The post Preview: Your guide to the 2019 Paris-Roubaix appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Gallery: The pain of the Tour of Flanders 2019

Joe Robinson 8 Apr 2019 A look back at De Ronde and how Alberto Bettiol took his surprise victory Alberto Bettiol had entered his sixth season as a professional yet to win a race. He'd been close with a second at the GP Plouay and third overall at the Tour of Poland in 2016 and even a fourth at E3-BinckBank just a week ago. Close but not close enough. That was until he raced the 2019 Tour of Flanders, the Education First's Italian Classics man's first victory as a professional . When the race hit the Oude Kwaremont for the final time of asking, the reduced peloton had been strung out by the tireless efforts of Bettiol's teammate Sep Vanmarcke. It was Bettiol's cut to go. With 18km left to run, he ramped up the pace on the cobbles of the Kwaremont riding the likes of Greg van Avermaet and ...

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Analysis: EF impeccable in Flanders, rival teams come up short

Supported by Considering how Deceuninck-Quick-Step has bossed the Classics so far this year with team-wide brilliance, it was hardly a surprise to see a team putting on a tactics masterclass en route to the victory at the 103rd Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday. It was a bit of a surprise that that triumphant team was not Quick-Step, … The post Analysis: EF impeccable in Flanders, rival teams come up short appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Tour of Flanders: Naesen pushes through sickness to take seventh place

Tour of Flanders - Oliver Naesen of Belgium and Team Ag2R La Mondiale on the Paterberg

AG2R La Mondiale 's Oliver Naesen defied illness to take seventh place at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, saying that he was happy enough with his performance given the circumstances. "I wasn't at my best. I really felt the effects of the antibiotics, and I still felt it in the lungs, for sure. I really raced on mental strength," Naesen told reporters at the finish in Oudenaarde, Belgium. "On paper, it was my best result at Flanders, but I would already have been on the podium if I hadn't have crashed on the Kwaremont in 2017. On paper it's my best result, but it wasn't my best race," he said. A healthy Naesen may well have been in better contention for the Ronde title, but he was nevertheless among the favourites in the group that was led home by 2015 winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), with none of ...

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Alberto Bettiol solos to victory at 2019 Tour of Flanders

It was his first pro victory. Let that sink in for a moment. Now in his sixth professional season, Italian Alberto Bettiol, Sunday’s winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, had never won a pro race. He’d come close. He’d finished second at the 2016 Bretagne Classic, behind Oliver Naesen, fourth at the 2016 GP Quebec, … The post Alberto Bettiol solos to victory at 2019 Tour of Flanders appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Naesen's Flanders hopes hang in the balance after champagne-inflicted illness

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) on the Gent-Wevelgem podium

The war on germs is very much a part of modern cycling and Oliver Naesen , like many of his peers, takes extensive measures to ward off the threat illness. Yet, as he acknowledged, when you’re in the form of your life, pushing your body every other day, your immune system can rest on a knife edge. So, now, do the Belgian's hopes for the Tour of Flanders . Despite all precautions, Naesen could never have imagined something so innocuous as the champagne sprayed during a podium ceremony might spoil his important rendezvous of the whole year. Gent-Wevelgem last Sunday should have been a celebratory occasion for the AG2R La Mondiale rider, with his second podium finish of the spring confirming him as one of the favourites for De Ronde. However, doused in cold bubbly by the winner Alexander Kristoff, he came down with a respiratory infection the next day ...

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Tour of Flanders Preview

A look at the big races on Sunday You can keep your Tours de France and your World Championships. For those of us in the know, there’s no better race than the Tour of Flanders. We’ve got a Sunday in the sun coming up, with two superb races over the cobbles to Oudenaarde. More detail and some predictions below. The Men’s Route There’s really very little I can add to what was outlined last year by Chris. The course is, insofar as it’ll matter, the same as last year. The gory details are here – 17 helligen and 5 sections of “flat” cobbles, 270km from Antwerp to Oudenaarde. What maters? Well, the first named obstacle is the Lippenhovestraat after 87km, and the first hellig is the initial passage of the Oude Kwaremont after 119km. We hit the Muur after 171km, and that’s always fun and is arguably where the race ...

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'Champagne celebration' gives Oliver Naesen bronchitis

'Champagne celebration' gives Oliver Naesen bronchitis

Joe Robinson 4 Apr 2019 Belgian now doubtful ahead of Tour of Flanders this weekend One of the pre-race favourites for this Sunday's Tour of Flanders could be out of the reckoning before the race has even begun due to a champagne celebration giving him bronchitis. AG2R La Mondiale's Oliver Naesen confirmed to TV Oost Nieuws in Belgium that he was suffering from a bout of bronchitis and is currently doubtful to start his home classic this Sunday. The former Belgian national champion confirmed that he has started a course of antibiotics and that he hopes to have recovered before the race. He also suspected that the cause of his sudden illness came as a result of the champagne soaking he received at Gent-Wevelgem last Sunday . The 28-year-old finished third in the sprint finish behind eventual winner Alexander Kristoff and John Degenkolb. When on the podium, as is customary, ...

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Blow for Belgium as Gilbert and Naesen come down with illness ahead of Tour of Flanders

Phlippe Gilbert put in a final attack before the sprinters took over at Paris-Nice

A Belgium team might have been winning nearly everything this spring, but not Belgian riders, and that's causing some concern. A worried headline in Het Laatste Nieuws pointed out that none of the 12 one-day races so far this spring, from Classics opener Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen , has been won by Belgians, something that hasn't happened since the Second World War. A 'home' victory at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday would see all that forgotten in the blink of an eye, but Belgium's hopes have taken further blows as two of its leading riders, Philippe Gilbert and Oliver Naesen , have come down with illness. Both are set to line up in Antwerp to start De Ronde on Sunday morning but their chances of standing on the podium in Oudenaarde six hours later might be diminished. Gilbert, who won Flanders in 2017, abandoned Dwars ...

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Preview: What you should know about the 2019 men’s Tour of Flanders

It’s time for the second Monument of the year and the biggest bike race in cycling-mad Belgium: the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Ahead of Sunday’s 103rd edition of the men’s Tour of Flanders, we bring you up to speed on the course, the climbs and the contenders for what is one of the world’s most important … The post Preview: What you should know about the 2019 men’s Tour of Flanders appeared first on CyclingTips .

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