Thursday, April 19, 2018

Top 10 Riders To Watch At Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2018

This Sunday marks the end of the classics season, with the oldest of the lot, Liège-Bastogne-Liège. We run through all the riders we think you need to keep an eye on in the men's and women's races

Monday, April 16, 2018

Amstel Gold: Valgren Upsets Favorites with Late Attack

Michael Valgren upset the favorites to take an impressive victory at the 2018 Amstel Gold Race. (Photo by Luc 

Astana’s Michael Valgren won the Amstel Gold Race in the Limburg region of Holland on Sunday with a late attack out of a select group in the final kilometers. Former Amstel winners Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) and Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) rounded out the podium.

Amstel is the second major one-day victory for the Dane this spring, after his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad triumph in February, and it came about in eerily similar circumstances as Astana once again exploited the lead group with a numerical advantage in the race’s finale.

Valgren was quick to credit the work of his teammate and countryman Jakob Fuglsang in his post-race interview, “Me and Jakob work well together. He was super strong and made the other guys tired. My second attack was the good one and I finished it off.”

The Dane used his head just as much as his legs to catch out the big favorites. He timed his attack out of a select group perfectly, launching with just over 2km remaining.

Kreuziger responded while the rest of the group, which included Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Gasparotto, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step), and Tim Wellens (Lott0-Soudal), was left watching as the two riders disappeared up the road.

Due to the group’s hesitation, Kreuziger and Valgren were able to quickly pulled out an insurmountable advantage. Gasparotto would eventually give chase in an attempt to add a third Amstel title to his palmares, but the Italian was unable to close down the gap.

Once it was clear Gasparotto wouldn’t make contact, the sprint was a mere formality, as the powerful Valgren easily came around Kreuziger to take a career-defining victory.

Sagan won the sprint in the reduced bunch for fourth place. American Lawson Craddock (EF Education First-Drapac), who was part of the day-long breakaway, held on through the final kilometers to finish in an impressive ninth place.

Top 10
1. Michael Valgren Andersen, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, in 6:40:07
2. Roman Kreuziger, (CZE) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at :00:00
3. Enrico Gasparotto, (ITA) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :00:02
4. Peter Sagan, (SVK) BORA – HANSGROHE, at :00:19
5. Alejandro Valverde, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM, at :00:19
6. Tim Wellens, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00:19
7. Julian Alaphilippe, (FRA) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :00:19
8. Jakob Fuglsang, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :00:23
10. Jelle Vanendert, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00:36

The 53rd edition of the Amstel Gold Race started in Maastricht to kick off the Ardennes Classics. There was a minute’s silence in memory of Michael Goolaerts, who tragically died after Paris-Roubaix last week before the riders rolled out for the 263-kilometer race.

The course featured a shark tooths profile, with 35 climbs of note on tap. The organizers replicated last year’s finish, which placed the Cauberg 18km from the finish, instead of in its traditional place in the finale.

A breakaway of 12 riders got away early. It featured Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Craddock, Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Eddie Dunbar (Aqua Blue Sport), Marco Tizza (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Willem Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise).

They were allowed to open up a huge lead of 16 minutes and would not be caught until the decisive moments of the race.

The unusually large gap appeared to finally cause concern in the peloton with 70km to go. The favorites’ teams came to the front to put a dent in the break’s significant advantage.

As the pace ramped up and the peloton lined out like a ribbon flowing across the Dutch countryside, the group readied for the first big attacks.

Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) opened proceedings by attacking over the top of the Eyserbosweg with 35km left to race and the peloton began to buckle under the pressure. Shortly after, Gorka’s teammate and brother, Ion, added more pressure by going solo for a few kilometers.

There was a flurry of attacks as the race approached the final climb of the Cauberg. The frantic pace whittled down the leading the bunch to an extremely select group of riders.

Kreuziger attacked leading into the Cauberg. Gasparotto jumped to eventually join Kreuziger, and they caught the six remaining leaders on the slopes of the famed climb. Meanwhile, Pieter Serry (Quick-Step) led the severely reduced peloton behind.

Julian Alaphilippe, never one to pass up an opportunity to attack far out from the finish, jumped away from the group. However, his attack was short-lived, but Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) used the lull to go clear with FDJ’s Rudy Molard.

Sergio Henao (Sky) took to the front of the group to bring this move back just in time for the Guelhemmerberg, but Sky was left with nothing to show for this effort as the group split after a Valverde attack. Wellens, Alaphilippe, Valgren, and Sagan reacted quickly enough to make the cut, while Gilbert, Kwiatkowski, and Van Avermaet were left behind.

Shortly after, the lead group was caught, while a chase group dangled roughly 15 seconds behind. Craddock was dropped during a flurry of attacks with 5km remaining but put in a herculean effort to keep the lead group in sight and hold off the chasers all the way to the finish.

Despite the non-stop action, Sagan, Kreuziger, Valverde, Fuglsang, Valgren, Gasparotto, Alaphilippe, Wellens would find themselves all together with 2.2km remaining. It was at this moment when Valgren launched his lethal attack. Sagan was left in the group to chase while first Kreuziger, and then Gasparotto, jumped away in an attempt to join Valgren.

The remaining favorites appeared content to stare at each other as the leaders rode away to victory. Valgren forced Kreuziger, who was concerned about losing his second place to a hard-charging Gasparotto, to the front with 400 meters remaining. This allowed the Dane to easily come over the top for the win.

The favorites like Sagan, Alaphilippe, and Valverde appeared to have stronger legs, but Valgren and his Astana team used both brain and brawn to topple a field of Goliaths.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Tour de France 2018 Yellow Jersey Design Revealed

Mondrian inspiration for 105th edition of French Grand Tour

The 2018 Tour de France yellow jersey (ASO)

Tour de France organisers ASO have revealed the Le Coq designed classification jerseys for the 2018 edition of the Grand Tour. Le Coq replaced Nike as the Tour's jersey classification manufacturer for the Tour in 2012 and had provided an unique design for each year since.

In 2018, the design of the four leaders jerseys have been influenced by the combination jersey and its "Mondrian-style pattern". The colours of the jerseys, yellow, green, white and polka dot, remained unchanged for 2018. The jerseys though will all feature particular panels of colour in a different shade to give a geometric look.

The 'collar' of previous years has been removed while LCL remains the main sponsor of the yellow jersey. The green jersey also continues its association with Skoda, the polka dot jersey with Carrefour and Krys returns with the white jersey.

The first yellow jersey of the race will be decided 7 July in Fontenay-le-Comte with a bunch sprint finish the anticipated outcome following 189 kilometres of racing. The yellow jersey is expected to change shoulders across the following week with time bonuses on offer along with the stage 3 team time trial in Cholet.

What do you think of the 2018 Tour de France classification jerseys?

Article Source:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Van Aert Mourns Fallen Teammate Goolaerts After Roubaix

Michael Goolaerts was found unresponsive after falling off his bike at Paris-Roubaix. He later died. Photo: ©Tim De Waele | Getty Images

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan will continue its season Wednesday in the Brabantse Pijl despite Michael Goolaerts’s death in Paris-Roubaix.

The 23-year-old crashed and died of cardiac arrest Sunday evening. Teammate Wout van Aert raced to 13th, but without celebration.

Now the team will try to race ahead in the mid-week Belgian race. Even those riders not participating will attend to remember Goolaerts.

“It has been and remains unreal,” van Aert said on his website.

Goolaerts and van Aert are from the same area near Antwerp, Belgium. Van Aert was born just a few months after Goolaerts in 1994.

“So we have been together for a long time, albeit as competitors. I remember Michael as an ever-cheerful guy, never bad-tempered and always extremely motivated, a barrel full of talent.”

Van Aert should have been celebrating a successful spring campaign when he finished Paris-Roubaix in 13th. Instead, the three-time cyclocross world champion ended it sadly with the death of his teammate.

It was van Aerts’ first spring campaign in the big classics. He placed third in Strade Bianche, 10th in Gent-Wevelgem and ninth in the Tour of Flanders before taking on the Roubaix cobbles. Just after he finished, his sport director told him the sad news.

“I had worked weeks to Paris-Roubaix — my favorite cobbled classic — I wanted to finish a strong spring on the road in style,” van Aert continued.

“It is unfortunately completely different: all results of the past spring disappear with the death of our teammate Michael Goolaerts. I close my road campaign with a very bitter aftertaste.”

Van Aert made the favorites group behind eventual winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), who attacked solo and rode clear with Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale). Van Aert, who is used to dominating the cyclocross world, rode along with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac), and Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors).

A puncture saw him slip from that group and left him to fight for 13th. The celebration of that result and the spring season’s ride vanished quickly when sport director Michiel Elijzen arrived.

Elijzen wanted to tell the riders the news that Goolaerts suffered a heart attack and was in intensive care at the Lille hospital before they had to hear it from the journalists in the velodrome.

The sport director and mechanic stopped immediately when they saw Goolaerts on the left side of the second cobbled sector with around 150 kilometers to race. The mechanic took his wrist and Elijzen held his head. They talked to him in the brief moments while the doctors began performing CPR. They then raced away, hoping for the best.

“Have I been selfish by going back in course? And by thinking that we could win with Wout van Aert?” Elijzen told Algemeen Dagblad.

“The practical, business, and emotional was all mixed up. Another 25 cobbled strips arrived. It was a bizarre roller coaster. I told the riders only that he had fallen. If someone breaks a leg, I would not say that either.”

After the brief moment in the velodrome, the riders returned to their hotel in Belgium for a quiet dinner.

“At 11:10, the coach of the team called me from the hospital. You sink through the ground, but I am also one of the managers and I had to bring the news to the riders and the staff,” Elijzen said.

Said van Aert, “Paris-Roubaix was also Michael’s dream race. On Wednesday, we went with the team to explore the ‘Hell of the North’. Michael rode with enthusiasm. Also during the course. After the early escape went, we talked [to] each other.

“The team management made the decision not to inform me and I think that was the right choice. Everyone was still in the dark about Michael’s condition at the time, and the hope that things were going well remained intact for a long time.

“We kept hoping for a positive signal. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The ‘Hell of the North’ leads to paradise is Paris-Roubaix’s slogan, but I don’t know what to think now.”

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) won the Brabantse Pijl in 2017. Van Aert is not expected to race. The organizer will hold a minute’s silence for Goolaerts.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Paris-Roubaix 2018 | GCN Race Preview

This year at Paris-Roubaix there's a new sector of cobbles, one of the most open fields in a number of years, and there's even the chance of rain! Quick-Step will look to cap off their incredible classics season with the biggest one of the lot on Sunday, can anyone stop 'The Wolfpack'?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Who Will Win Paris-Roubaix? We Asked the Sport Directors

Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media |

GENT, Belgium (VN) — Niki Terpstra is strongly predicted to follow his Tour of Flanders victory with one in Paris-Roubaix this Sunday, according to top team directors.

And if not the Dutch former Roubaix winner, then one rider from his classics-strong Belgian team Quick-Step Floors is expected to win in the velodrome.

After Quick Step, predictions vary widely for the final cobbled classic of the 2018 season. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) won in 2017 by riding clear in a trio that included Zdenek Stybar, second place, and Sebastian Langeveld, third.

Some sport directors on the ground, however, point to others for 2018 like Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac), and of course, world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). We polled some of the insiders to see what they expect. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many backed their own riders to take a cobblestone trophy Sunday.

Addy Engels (LottoNL-Jumbo): Terpstra
“Looking to the previous classics, the winner will have a blue jersey. Looking to the team, they are always the strongest. If he didn’t celebrate too much, I think that Terpstra has shown a great level and that Roubaix even suits him better than Flanders. It’s not a surprising pick, but he will be there for sure.”

Lars Michaelsen (Astana): Terpstra
“My top three: Niki Terpstra, then Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen [both Trek-Segafredo].

“Terpstra is going like a motorbike, he’s not even looking behind. When he goes, he goes. He has confidence. He already won it once, now he won Ronde Van Vlaanderen, so of course, he’s the big favorite.”

Wilfried Peeters (Quick-Step Floors): Terpstra
“The others are Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan, Sep Vanmarcke. Vanmarcke is very good. He didn’t have good luck in the last weeks, but I think he’s one of the guys. We need to beat him.

“As a team, we are the big favorites. All the other teams want to beat us. What we did last week was successful, we are very happy, and with this team, we can also have a good result in Roubaix.

“Our rider? Looking at the situation, we have the four guys from last Sunday who could win. When Niki is strong, with the same legs from last week, then he can have the same result.”

Enrico Poitschke (Bora-Hansgrohe): Sagan
“My favorite is Peter Sagan, but we saw last Sunday how hard it is to win races when every rider watches you. He needs to be with a very small group in the front with the best, only the leaders and no other helpers from teams like Quick-Step, and then he’s strong enough to win. But it’ll be difficult.”

“Most feared rival? Quick-Step is with a lot of guys on the high level, and they did a very good job. It’s not one rider, but one team that’s to beat.”

Herman Friesen (Lotto-Soudal): Gilbert
“Gilbert. That’s who will win on Sunday, one of the monuments that he hasn’t won before. I saw him in Flanders, he has good condition and was always second or third in the big races up to this point. And I know him a little bit, I think that Sunday he’ll win.”

Roger Hammond (Dimension Data): Boasson Hagen
“It’s too early to say. Roubaix is a predictable race, there is only a small amount of people who can win it, then add in weather factors, and you have clearer picture. It’s favoring more the favorites with the conditions, a southerly wind is predicted. It means a fast Roubaix. So the chances of a surprise victory are getting less and less, unfortunately.

“I hope and pray that the dominance of Quick-Step will start to be detrimental to them. Terpstra, Van Avermaet, Sagan… I wouldn’t bet my money on any of them. I know who my money’s on, and he’s in our team and we are working towards that. I don’t even think about the other people to be honest.

“Boasson Hagen? Of course, he’s growing every day, we believe in him, and he’s already proved he can be there. If you can be fifth [in 2016], then you just need your day.”

Servais Knaven (Team Sky): Rowe
“I hope someone will win from Team Sky, of course. We have the legs to win, but we could also finish fifth. Gianni Moscon will be good, Ian Stannard, but if I had to pick one, then I’d say Luke Rowe.

“He’s surprising the whole world being back on the bike that early [after breaking his right leg last summer], even making it through Flanders and now Roubaix. He’s really motivated and it’s a race that suits him. I pick him, it’d be so nice to see happen.

“Maybe I should have picked Wout van Aert because no one puts him under pressure and puts him with the favorite. I’d have a close look at Wout van Aert on Sunday. Maybe I’m the first to say this, but watch out.”


Sunday, April 1, 2018

The 5 Hardest Cobbled Climbs In Flanders

The climbs of the Flanders region of Belgium hold an almost mythical place in the sport of cycling. Climbs like the Muur and the Koppenberg, conjure up images of muddied riders battling just to make it to the top! But which Flandrian climb is actually the hardest?