Flanders Friday: Looking for Clues

Dylan Groenewegen wins in Paris-Nice

Are we learning anything about what’s to come in a couple weeks? Was there any news of the Cobbled Classics this week? I didn’t see any. Most of the reporters are in France or Italy, fussing over the events in front of them. You can read Sporza and get your daily update on Wout Van Aert (was his Strade Bianche ok? Will he owe his old team a bunch of money?) but even I have my limits there. No, there’s nothing. Les Amis are scrubbing the horrible pavé in France and that’s about it. So now is a moment to poke around and see what there is to learn about the individual riders who will contest the great classics around the corner. Does Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico tell us anything about what’s to come? Backing up, the two early spring stage races are must-rides for all the classics guys, from Milano-Sanremo ...

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Tirreno-Adriatico: Alaphilippe wins stage 2 in Pomarance

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico

It had to be him. Julian Alaphilippe ( Deceuninck-QuickStep ) has seemingly forgotten how to lose in these opening weeks of the season and the Frenchman duly chalked up his fifth win of the campaign when he claimed the uphill sprint in Pomarance on stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico . Alaphilippe was well-positioned throughout a breathless finale that saw a volley of attacks, most notably from Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), and he produced a powerful sprint to take the spoils ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) and Alberto Bettiol (EF-Education First). Adam Yates ( Mitchelton-Scott ) placed fifth in the reduced group sprint, just behind Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal), and the Briton inherits the blue jersey of race leader from his teammate Michael Hepburn. All eyes were on a different blue jersey in the finale at Pomarance, however, and from the moment Alaphilippe moved across to track the last of Roglic's attacks ...

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Daily News Digest: More details on Kelly Catlin, a standard for Road Tubeless

Supported by Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today: Crosswinds blow apart Paris-Nice; Rigoberto Uran breaks his collarbone; more details on Kelly Catlin’s tragic passing; and the industry finally establishes a proper standard for Road Tubeless rims and wheels. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest. Story of the Day: Crosswind triangle … The post Daily News Digest: More details on Kelly Catlin, a standard for Road Tubeless appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Dave Brailsford rode the Strade Bianche sportive this weekend and is almost as quick as the pros

Joe Robinson 11 Mar 2019 The Team Sky manager posted his ride to Strava and proved he is not slouch despite being 55-years-old Dave Brailsford may want to consider offering himself a pro contract for 2019 considering his Strava file after riding this weekend's Strade Bianche Gran Fondo . The Team Sky boss was in town watching the likes of Diego Rosa and Geraint Thomas race on Saturday and decided to give the Tuscan white roads ago, himself, on Sunday. Brailsford, who turns 56 later this month, completed the 139km sportive with 31km of gravel roads in just over four hours, giving him an astonishing average speed of 33.7kmh. The speed would have been faster had it also not been for a puncture in the last 9km of riding. His ability to hold this average speed is made impressive, firstly, because of the numerous steep sections of gravel road en-route ...

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The weekly spin: Alaphilippe, Van Vleuten conquer white roads of Strade Bianche

A pair of first-time champions emerged at Strade Bianche Saturday, though neither could be considered a surprise winner. After 184km of racing, including 63km across white gravel roads, Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) got the better of Dane Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) to take the victory in the historic Piazza del Campo in Siena. Former world cyclocross … The post The weekly spin: Alaphilippe, Van Vleuten conquer white roads of Strade Bianche appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Dry and dusty dirt roads expected to inspire a fast 2019 Strade Bianche

Anna van der Breggen and Tiesj Benoot before Strade Bianche

Mud and heavy rain turned last year’s Strade Bianche in to arduous race, with riders suffering perhaps more than any time during the rest of the 2018 season. Fortunately the recent Tuscan winter has been much easier on the dirt roads south of Siena and forecasts are for spring-like temperatures of 16°C in the afternoon with the sun breaking through partial cloud cover and only a slight westerly breeze blowing across the exposed Crete Senesi hills. Riders breathed a sigh of relief when they arrived in Tuscany on Thursday afternoon and enjoyed riding on dry but dusty on Friday during a final reconnaissance ride. Last year riders started Strade Bianche wrapped up like mummies to fight the cold and rain and finished the race covered in thick mud. This year they will race in shorts and perhaps just arm warmers, finishing in Siena looking like coal miners, with fine white ...

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Strade Bianche: Tuscan delicacy

Is it possible that Strade Bianche is the most anticipated race of all on the calendar save for one or two that the Flemish hype machine have managed to elevate to almost God-like status? I think it probably is. Last year we engaged in a debate over whether it is in fact the sixth monument already and the opposition to such an outrageous claim was surprisingly mellow. It may not be but it’s probably not far off in many people’s minds. That said, it’s still pretty early days and Strade is really just the opening salvo in perhaps the most intense period of the year, Paris-Nice, Tirreno, Sanremo all follow like a string of pearls and the coming weeks promise to be a blur of high caliber World Tour racing. The race also suffers from rubbing up against Paris-Nice this weekend. Like always some riders you’d desperately want to see ...

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Van Aert hoping to improve on last year's dramatic third place at Strade Bianche

Wout Van Aert makes his debut for Jumbo Visma

With the memories of third place at last year's Strade Bianche still fresh in his mind, Wout van Aert heads to this Saturday's race with the full backing of WorldTour team Jumbo-Visma – and hoping to go one or two places better. The Belgian's tumble from his bike on the final climb up to the finish in Siena's Piazza il Campo at the 2018 race, and his subsequent struggle to remount, had hearts in mouths all around the world, but with a good 30-second buffer back to fourth-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Van Aert's podium place was safe – even if he'd hoped to catch runner-up Romain Bardet (AG2R) before the finish. But in a video interview posted on Jumbo-Visma's website, Van Aert said that "giving up was not an option". "It's the race people have talked about most since I started cycling," he said. "It left an impression on many ...

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Strade Bianche dependably delivers the drama – Gallery

Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) makes his winning move at Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche has quickly become a crowd favourite during its first 12 years on the UCI calendar. Is it the often-muddy conditions on the white gravel roads of Tuscany that draws the fans? Is it the epic finale over the series of gravel climbs leading back to Siena that's responsible for the race's quick ascent in the hearts and imaginations of the cycling public? Or is it the predictably frenetic excitement that only an important one-day race can conjure as the potential winners balance on a thin line of luck, preparation and stubborn resilience? The 2018 edition of Strade Bianche had all that and more as the inclement weather kicked the drama up several notches. The precipitation caused no shortage of Tuscany's slippery 'white' mud for riders to deal with, and the cold temperatures knocked the fight out of more than a few of the favourites. In the end, it ...

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Geraint Thomas joins Moscon in Team Sky’s Strade Bianche line-up

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) riding stage 2 at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana

Team Sky have confirmed that Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas will ride Strade Bianche on Saturday, with the Welshman likely to stay in Italy and ride next week’s Tirreno-Adriatico . Thomas will line-up alongside Gianni Moscon, Owain Doull, Diego Rosa, Michal Golas, Salvatore Puccio and Leonardo Basso, with Moscon likely to be the protected team leader on the dirt roads and climbs of the Tuscan one-day race. Michal Kwiatkowski, who won the 2017 edition of Strade Bianche, will not ride his year because he is part of Team Sky’s Paris-Nice squad. The French race starts on Sunday. Thomas raced on the dirt roads of Tuscany when part of the Great Britain U23 Academy, but has never raced Strade Bianche before. Thomas and Moscon will face many of the best classics riders and even some Grand Tour climbers on Saturday. The 2018 winner Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens lead Lotto ...

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Benoot will return for Strade Bianche title defence

Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) on the move at Strade Bianche

The knee injury he suffered in a crash at Omloop het Nieuwsblad will not prevent Tiesj Benoot from defending his Strade Bianche title Saturday in Italy, according to a Twitter post today from Lotto Soudal . "Good news!@TiesjBenoot is ready to defend his @StradeBianche title next Saturday; his knee injury is healed after his crash @OmloopHNB!" the team wrote. Benoot's participation in the Italian one-day race was called into question after a fall in Omloop re-opened a wound in his knee that had not properly healed since a crash on stage 7 of the Vuelta a España last year. The 24-year-old Belgian was riding well at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after returning from a two-week altitude training camp at Sierra Nevada. Benoot made the first major selection on the Molenberg climb in a group of 18 riders at 40km from the finish, but just 10 kilometres later his race was ...

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Sergeant: Injury means Benoot must be prepared to give up Strade Bianche defence

Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Lotto Soudal will wait until Thursday before announcing whether Tiesj Benoot will attempt to defend his Strade Bianche title. The Belgian crashed out of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and injured his left knee, opening up a wound that has not properly healed since a crash on stage 7 of the Vuelta a España last year. Benoot was in strong form before his crash and is desperate to make the start line for Strade Bianche. However, with teammate Tim Wellens not participating in the majority of the Belgian Classics, Lotto Soudal are keen for Benoot to take a long-term view over the spring, rather than fixate on one race. "We’ll make a decision on Strade Bianche on Thursday, most likely. It’s a long campaign, though, and we can’t take the risk for just one race," team manager Marc Sergeant told Cyclingnews on Monday in Belgium. "It’s also a dirty race, but in ...

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Benoot injures knee in crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

After completing a two-week training camp at altitude in Sierra Nevada with Lotto Soudal teammate Jens Keukeleire, Tiesj Benoot headed back to Belgium on Wednesday hoping to perform at his best in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad , and upcoming Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and Strade Bianche. The 24-year-old Belgian rider was riding well at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, surviving the first major selection on the Molenberg climb in a group of 18 riders at 40km from the finish. Ten kilometres later, however, Benoot's race was over when he slipped out in a left-hand corner. He injured his knee and will be forced to skip Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, but hopes to be back to defend his title at Strade Bianche in Italy next weekend. "It's a real shame because I felt really good," said Benoot said to the press at the team bus following the race. "I was going really well on the Berendries ...

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Trentin: Some sporting directors aren't so sporting

Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) racing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Ninth place for Matteo Trentin ( Mitchelton-Scott ) in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad wasn't a true reflection of the Italian's impressive performance. The European road champion failed to make the final winning break that contained eventual champion Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), but Trentin repeatedly battled back into contention after an early crash, a long chase, and several splits. The crash wasn't the only problem Trentin faced. As he chased back through the convoy of team cars he found that some directors would purposely slow up in order to disrupt his chase. It's common courtesy for team cars to often assist riders - or at least not hamper their chances - if they are coming back from a fall. "I had a crash after about 70 kilometres and then I needed to get back through the convoy but to be honest a lot ...

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Van Avermaet: I expected a lot from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) sprints to second place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was the first major test for Greg Van Avermaet and for his new CCC outfit. The 33-year-old Belgian rider was asked a lot whether his new team would be strong enough to support him at the Spring Classics, and halfway through the race on Saturday afternoon, the CCC team was confronted with a lot of problems when a large elite group rode away without any of their riders in it. Van Avermaet will have been pleased to see that his teammates had enough in their tank to turn the situation around in a 20km-long pursuit. The Olympic champion was then ever-present when the race kicked off on the cobbles of Mater where Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) accelerated and he was up there, too, when the Jumbo-Visma team forced the pace at the narrow cobbled Molenberg climb. On the Elverenberg-Vossenhol, Van Avermaet helped to force the decisive move shortly ...

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Stybar Outsmarts Rivals to Take Omloop

The Kapelmuur. Fewer than twenty kilometres to go. Fewer than twenty seconds between the lead group and the peloton. An attack. Greg Van Avermaet. He’s been animating the front group for kilometres on end and he knows this will be one of his last chances to crack his rivals. Daniel Oss, the weakest of the six at the front, breaks. He won’t be seen at the front again. He’s the only one to fall back though, as Zdeněk Štybar glues himself to the Olympic champions wheel, while their companions Dylan Teuns, Tim Wellens and Alexey Lutsenko, less specialised for the cobbles, hang on behind. We reach the Bosberg. Another attack. It’s the same rider. Van Avermaet is determined to shed or hurt his companions, but Stybar at least is having neither of those things happen to him. Van Avermaet’s effort is palpable, but Stybar is unperturbed as Teuns and Wellens ...

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Kuurne - Brussels - Kuurne Preview

Jasper Stuyven may be primed to win here again

The perfect bland dessert to the perfect opening weekend Consider this. It’s date night. You order a five star plate of cobbles, spring time weather and opening day energy. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Your spouse orders a hearty dish of Grand Tour, and gives you a fork full of Maillot Jaune contenders, Cols and descents, and French commentary. The Classic Sud Ardeche. Delicious. And now, just to cap things off you head to McDonalds for the perfect dessert: soft-serve ice cream. Wholesome, reliable, honest, satisfying and most importantly cold. That’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The perfect I-don’t-care,-what-do-you-want ending to a perfect opening weekend date. The Course This year’s edition takes the same general form of previous editions. It starts headed eastward for 60 km to a town called Voorde, but not before traversing the first two of 13 bergs, and the two newbies included in this year’s edition: The Volkegemberg is 1 km ...

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Pre-Classics Season Power Rankings

Ladies and gentlemen, congratulations. You have made it. We have all made it. We have braved the offseason, the 4am Tour Down Under, piecing together tweets to form a picture of what happened in Oman and watching Amaro Antunes having his annual peak in the Algarve to arrive here, bare days before the joy of Omloop het Nieuwsblad. [The box on Conor’s desk wrapped in four whole rolls of packaging tape, hitherto motionless like all good packages, begins to move, almost imperceptibly] Ahem, anyway, as is customary here at the Café, before clip meets pedal and wheel meets cobble, it’s time to look at where all the teams stand ahead of the Omloop. Ah, the Omloop- [Tape rips suddenly. A mighty groan emerges from the box as it bursts open, revealing...] Ta flippin’ da, bitchez. Cuddles! How have you been? You bastard, I’ve been in Edinburgh for nearly two years. ...

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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Who are the favourites?

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Who are the favourites?

Joe Robinson 25 Feb 2019 Where should your money be for the first Classic of the year, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, this Saturday? Can you smell it? It's the smell of the opening Classics weekend and the cycling season starting for real . Saturday marks the beginning with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before the double-header is completed on Sunday with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Two contrasting races but both a brilliant gauge to see who is fighting fit to race the cobbles and who may be slightly off the pace. Omloop acts as a distilled version of the Tour of Flanders , taking the peloton on a 199.8km route from Gent to Ninove with the passing of 13 hills and seven cobbles sections in between, making a true day for the Classics specialists within the bunch. The race's real spice should be provided by the Muur van Geraardsbergen/Bosberg double punch within the last 27km of ...

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The Agony and the Ex-Stani

Oh, Captain! My Captain!

One man’s battle to pick a VDS squad The final Thursday Thoughts piece of 2019 comes out, fittingly, on a Saturday/Sunday night. I didn’t want to run this before the deadline but so much of my offseason writing has been leading up to picking a team that I thought I’d show my workings, as it were, for the last exam on the 2018/19 offseason. I know it is a bit self-indulgent, but I’m sure you’ll all enjoy the chance to talk about your own, undoubtedly superior, teams. I’ve loved writing this series (especially the “ Team PdC ” column. Thanks for your company and bring on the season proper. My philosophy I know you’re all desperate to hear the approach to team-building that led me to finish 182 nd in 2018. To that, I’d say the following: Shut up. I finished 3 rd in the 2018 Ed’s draft league and ...

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