Milan – San Remo: Race Preview

The year’s first monument is upon us The smell of cut grass. The days lengthening. The Masters from Augusta. The sound of [insert local fauna as appropriate] [insert distinctive sound] in/on/beside [insert recognisable local architecture or flora as appropriate]. Milan-San Remo. Yes, spring* is coming, folks, and so is the season’s first monument. Italian cycling, never without a poetic narrative, has the first big race of the year, starting in a corner of Europe where winter isn’t too far forgotten, and finishing in the glitz, colour and sunshine of the Mediterranean coastline. Well, that’s the theory, anyway – the weather doesn’t always align with the narrative. * In the Northern hemisphere. Chris has given us the colour and the history of the race. Conor feels confident that he can tell us all the winner. Which leaves me to look at how the race will unfold. It is a pretty familiar ...

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The Race of the Two Cs

Will we see Greg stand atop the podium once more?

Ordinarily I’d start this piece with a wistful opening paragraph, maybe calling to mind editions of Tirreno-Adriatico from years past. This case is an exception, however, as obviously my first priority needs to be explaining that travesty of a headline. See, this is not only the race of the two seas, the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic, but this year also the two ‘c’s, which will be explained presently. C numero uno: Classics racing. Okay, don’t get me wrong. As year after year has gone by I have come to hate the formulaic coastside TTT and the equally predictable ITT when the race hits the Adriatic. I’d say that even the residents of the always-willing San Benedetto del Tronto have lost their enthusiasm by this point. The race has turned up there without fail since 1967. The Tirreno permacourse involves these two, two flat stages, an uphill sprint, a hilly stage ...

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Simon Clarke: 'I hesitated when Fuglsang went, and I should have just gone'

Simon Clarke tries to bridge to the leaders near the end of Strade Bianche

Simon Clarke ( EF Education First ) came close to cracking the podium at the Strade Bianche on Saturday, but a moment's hesitation when the winning move went from a select group cost him his chance. The 32-year-old Australian hung on to finish a career-best eighth in the Italian Classic, but at the finish he rued the missed opportunity for an even better result. "I hesitated when Fuglsang went, and I should have just - I should have gone," Clarke told Cyclingnews , referring to the winning move Astana's Jakob Fuglsang launched with about 20km remaining that also drew out eventual winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who finished third. "I should have tried to go," Clarke said. "Whether I could have gotten across or not I don't know, but I felt good and I hesitated a second and that was it, and then I was on ...

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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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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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Flying Too Close to the Sun: Paris - Nice Preview

Race to the sun, my ass.

There’s always a discussion around this time about which is the better race-- Paris - Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico-- as the peloton gets split between the two races. The consensus view is usually that TA is the better race-- it gets the better riders and has the better route. Here’s the thing, though. Anyone that still believes that has not been watching PN during the last three years. Each of the last three years has been a barn burner of a race, easily in contention for best week long stage race of the year as well as race day of the year and probably only losing out on those honors due to its placement on the calendar-- before the spring classics and all of the grand tours cloud our collective memories. 2016 saw Geraint Thomas take the GC victory over Alberto Contador by a mere 4 seconds and saw a vintage ...

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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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Time to draw breath

A rare day without racing allows us to take stock of the year so far A midweek pot-luck today, as we draw breath after a start to the FSA-DS season that took in the inaugural UAE Tour, two hilly races in France, Opening Weekend and Le Samyn. There’s no attempt below to be comprehensive, just a few of my thoughts coming out of the first bout of races, with a few diversions for other matters arising. The Joy of Teammates My wish for all of you is that you have someone who’ll do for you in life what Tim Declercq will do for the Deceuninck Quick-Step team in a bike race. Namely, put everything they have on the line in pursuit of your success. His ride in the finale of Le Samyn was the most visible part of Quick Step’s tactical success in the opening three classics, but it 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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What we learned from the opening weekend of the Spring Classics

Joe Robinson 4 Mar 2019 QuickStep and Boels-Dolmans to win all the Classics, why a crosswind is the best weather for racing and a goodbye to desert racing According to some, last weekend was better than those days between Christmas and New Year's Eve when all you do is eat chocolate and leftover cold cuts. That's because it was the opening weekend of the Cobbled Classics campaign, what the purists would consider the true start of the season. For the men, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and for the women, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Omloop van het Hageland, each providing their own spectacle, teaching us some interesting lessons for the next few weeks ahead. Unfortunately, it'll be all over far too soon as Paris-Roubaix , the Queen of the Classics, is under five weeks away. Deceuninck-QuickStep are here to party Turns out that Deceuninck-QuickStep are pretty good at racing the ...

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Matthews cut down by crash in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Michael Matthews is starting his third season with Team Sunweb in 2019

When you're on the backfoot in a spring Classic, it's almost impossible to come back. For proof, just ask Michael Matthews ( Team Sunweb ), who saw any realistic chances of success slip away after a fall on the Molenberg in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. Despite a desperate chase, Matthews was only able to pull himself back to the first chase group, but by then the winning move had already pushed clear with Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep) taking a solo win ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal). Matthews would come over the line in a larger group, taking 12th in his first race of the 2019 season. It wasn't the result that the Australian had been hoping for, but it was far from a disaster considering the position the Sunweb rider found himself in during one of the key moments of the race. ...

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Stybar: I kept on believing I could win some nice races

Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Zdenek Stybar ( Deceuninck-QuickStep ) became the first rider from the famous Belgian WorldTour team to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad since Nick Nuyens won the race in 2005 when it was known as Omloop Het Volk. The Czech rider attacked the final selection of Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) in the final kilometres to take his second victory in as many weeks, following a stage victory in Volta ao Algarve. The two wins come off the back of three years with only a single victory - at the Czech national road race championships in 2017. A close second place finish at Paris-Roubaix in the same season was perhaps the summation of the past few years for Stybar, visible in big race finales, loyal teammate but ultimately just off of the pace, until today. "I think it's quite difficult to explain, ...

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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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Zdenek Stybar outfoxes rivals to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Supported by Zdenek Stybar played off the strength of his adversaries and used a perfectly time attack in the final kilometres to win his first Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The post Zdenek Stybar outfoxes rivals to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad appeared first on CyclingTips .

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Stybar takes solo victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Nearly man no more. Zdenek Stybar ( Deceuninck-QuickStep ) soloed to victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a canny attack in the closing kilometres to claim the first Flemish Classic of his career, while Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) won the sprint for second ahead of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal). Stybar was part of a five-man break that decided the honours on the approach to Ninove after they had extended their lead over the chasing group to more than half a minute on the final climbs of the Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg. Van Avermaet was, by reputation, the quickest of their number, and the Olympic champion took it upon himself to close down an attack from Wellens with 3km remaining. Stybar had been waiting for this precise moment. As soon as Wellens was caught, the Czech attacked on the opposite side of the road. Van Avermaet, reasoning that he ...

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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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Astana continue winning streak at Ruta del Sol

Astana win the team classification at Ruta del Sol

Jakob Fuglsang has continued Astana's spectacular start to 2019 as he racked up the team's sixth stage race win of the season in the Ruta del Sol on Sunday, taking their 11th victory of the year. Fuglsang did not win a stage in the Ruta del Sol but his consistent placings throughout an event, which is considered the toughest early-season race on the European calendar, placed the Dane on top of the overall ranking. Second at Alcala de los Gazules summit finish on stage 1 and second again in the stage 3 time trial, keeped Fuglsang snapping at the heels of the early race leader Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal). Then Astana collectively acted as the springboard that Fuglsang needed to claim his first stage race victory since the 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné. Their ferociously strong team-work isolated the Belgian on the crunch mountain stage 4 through the Sierra Nevada on Saturday. ...

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