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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, April 19, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? - Abraham Lincoln

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GC leader Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team reports on Tour of Turkey stage three.

We posted the report from stage three winner Fabio Jakobsen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Today’s shortest stage of this year’s Tour of Turkey went over 122km from Canakkale to Edremit. It took some kilometres before a group broke clear from the bunch. However, the peloton held the escapees on a short leash to keep control of the race. While the first part of the parcours was quite undulated, the break had no chance to counter the high pace of the bunch in the second part of the stage.

While BORA – hansgrohe was already working the whole day for their overall leader Sam Bennett, the squad also focused on the Irish sprinter in the final. When a bunch sprint was already set up, the German squad waited long today before hitting the front, due to strong headwinds on the last kilometres. Approaching the Flamme Rouge, the BORA - hansgrohe train delivered Sam in a good position and the Irish sprinter went on the wheel of his opponents.

On the final stretch to the line, it was Fabio Jakobsen, who took the win ahead of Sam. Despite this first defeat in this year’s race, Bennett extended his overall lead, with Felix Großschartner sitting still in second position. With his second place today, Sam also remains the leader in the points classification of the Tour of Turkey.

Fabio Jakobsen

Fabio Jakobsen takes stage three.

From the Finish Line:
“The finale was a bit chaotic, but also hard and tricky due to the headwind. The guys did a really good job today and I am sorry that I couldn’t finish it off, but Deceuninck – Quick Step was stronger today. Of course, a win would have been great, but I just hadn’t the legs in today’s finale. But I will try it tomorrow again.” – Sam Bennett

“The race went as expected, all teams took control over the race and worked for a bunch sprint. Our guys worked well together today, and in the finale some other teams tried to catch Sam’s wheel. At the end Jakobsen was the fastest. However, I think we can be satisfied with today’s result and there are still some stages left where we have chances. We will keep on going and give our best.” – André Schulze, Sports Director 

Greg Van Avermaet to wrap up classics season at Amstel Gold Race 

Van Avermaet's CCC Team sent me this:

18 April 2019: Greg Van Avermaet is set to wrap up a solid Classics season this Sunday when he lines up at Amstel Gold Race.

Van Avermaet, whose best result at the UCI WorldTour race was fifth place in 2015, will be joined by a new CCC Team roster for the race which marks the transition from the cobbles to the hills of the Ardennes Classics.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet riding the cobbles of the 2019 Paris-Roubaix. Sirotti photo

“Greg Van Avermaet will line up as our main protected rider at Amstel Gold Race. After the cobbled races, it’s time to change the supporting riders in our roster and bring in the riders who are more suited to the short, steep climbs of the Ardennes Classics. In support of Greg, we will have Alessandro De Marchi, Patrick Bevin, Serge Pauwels, and Jonas Koch, who have come from the stage races in Spain, and Michael Schär and Łukasz Wiśniowski, who have lined up with Greg at all of the cobbled Classics. We have a mix of experience and riders set to make their debut,” Sports Director Valerio Piva explained.

“The course is exactly the same as last year’s edition so Greg knows it well, and the riders lining up for the first time will have the chance to see the course on Friday. Although Greg is our main leader, I think we have different cards to play with riders like Alessandro De Marchi motivated and in good shape. Hopefully, we will have a few riders with Greg in the finale and see how things play out.”

Van Avermaet is hoping to end his Classics season on a high to culminate what has been a consistent spring for the Belgian.

“Amstel Gold Race is my last chance to get a good result this spring. I was really disappointed after Paris-Roubaix knowing that I had the legs for a better result so, I am motivated to line up at Amstel Gold Race and turn things around. I have had good legs throughout the classics and although I am missing a big result, I think I have consistency showed that my form is good. It would be nice to end this first part of the season with a good result on Sunday,” Van Avermaet said.

“Amstel Gold Race is a different kind of race to the cobbled classics, of course, but out of all of the Ardennes Classics, it is the one that suits me the best. I think we have a good team with guys like Patrick Bevin, Alessandro De Marchi, and Serge Pauwels able to climb well and go on the attack or cover moves, which gives us options. Unlike the cobbled Classics, I don’t think there is any pressure on us to control the race so we will see how the race develops and hopefully be able to race aggressively.”

Amstel Gold Race (21 April):
Rider roster: Patrick Bevin (NZ), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jonas Koch (GER), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Steve Bauer (CAN) , Piotr Wadecki (POL)

Alejandro Valverde to ride Amstel Gold Race

Here's the race assessment from Valverde's Team Movistar:

It’s time for another round of hills in the Netherlands and Belgium, and with it comes another chance for Alejandro Valverde to write his name in the palmarès of the Amstel Gold Race. The Dutch classic’s route has, though, seen changes in its last few years, mostly in its finale, which makes harder -yet not impossible- for punchy climbers to have an edge on the resistant sprinters, with no big climbers near the finish in Valkenburg.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde riding the cobbles of the Tour of Flanders. Sirotti photo

The long 265km route from Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt -the long, already traditional final straight in the Rijksweg- are a rope into a pocket, an endless succession of loops and turns, with 35 little hills and three passages through the finish prior to the end. Even if riders never stop climbing, usually the favourites tend to pay more attention at 178km into the race (87 before the finish), with the second of three ascents to the Cauberg. From there, the peloton tackles what will be the closing circuit -with the côtes of Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg- and later heads into a series of five key ascents, just over 20km apart: Gulperberg (-44km), Kruisberg (-39km), Eyserbosweg (-37km), Fromberg (-33km) and the steep Keutenberg (-29 km), with slopes up to 20%.

From the latter, we’ll be heading down towards Valkenburg, climb the Cauberg for the last time and start the final lap -through Geulhemmerberg (-14km) and Bemelergberg (-7km)- which doesn’t include a final descent. That makes for a more courageous approach to the finish, where attacks further away from the finish stand a stronger chance.

Daryl Impey to lead Mitchelton-Scott at Amstel Gold

Here's the team's update:

After consistent performances, having finished on the podium in five of the past six editions of the race, Mitchelton-SCOTT return to this year’s Amstel Gold race hungry to get things right and clinch that elusive victory.

Dual South African Champion Daryl Impey will head the strong Australian outfit in the one-day Ardennes Classic, hoping to benefit from a slight change of preparation leading into the event.

The team surrounding him is bolstered with talented riders in good form, with some coming in from the cobble Classics and others from a big stage racing block. The oldest member of the team Michael Albasini brings his valuable wealth of experience to the squad, having finished on the podium himself in the event once before.

Mitchelton-SCOTT Team:
Michael Albasini - (SUI, 38)
Michael Hepburn - (AUS, 27)
Daryl Impey - (RSA, 34)
Chris Juul-Jensen - (DEN, 29)
Dion Smith - (NZ 25)
Nick Schultz - (AUS 23)
Matteo Trentin - (ITA 29)

The Course:
The course has been modified over the years and for this year’s 54th edition, the route follows the same laps that we have seen the last two years, with a new final 16kilometre finishing lap which misses out the Cauberg climb.

The peloton leave Maastricht and head out into the relentless Limburg hills, and with no less than 35 climbs on the menu, it is one of the hardest one-day classics. The climbs are scattered throughout three large laps that includs three ascents of the Cauberg climb with the riders passing through the finish line in Vilt-Valkenburg each time.

After 249kilometres of racing and 33 climbs, the riders head up the Cauberg and through the finish line for the final time ready for the last lap which can decisive and features two climbs, the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg for riders to use as a launch pad.

Michael Valgren

Michael Valgren wins Amstel Gold in 2018 ahead of Roman Kreuziger. Sirotti photo

The Past:
The team has always been consistent in the race with five podium finishes in the last six editions from four different riders. Last year former rider Roman Kreuziger finished the highest the team has ever done before with second place. In 2017 Albasini took third spot, likewise in 2015 with former rider Michael Matthews.

Simon Gerrans came close one two occasions, finishing in third place in both 2014 and 2015. Impey’s best performances was last year where he finished in 11th position.

Daryl Impey:
"I have changed things around a bit this year and I am trying a different approach by going to altitude before the Ardennes. The hard work is done and now it's time to see how it all works out.

“I have confidence in myself and the team that we can do well here. No doubt Amstel is the more realistic of the three Ardennes race for me to win and it is a race I enjoy and suits my characteristics quite well.

“We have a very solid team, mixed with experience and youth. Everyone seems to going very well and that makes everyone lift, it is great to see everyone is motivated.”

Matt White - Head Sport Director:
“I think we have good cards to play. The tricky thing about Amstel is making the break, it is a real tactical race, it used to be almost a guaranteed reduced group sprint over the Cauberg but since they changed the course it just forces the race to play out differently.

"It could still be a sprint but there’s not really enough sprint teams that have number to neutralise any breakaways, so the general trend the last couple of years has been a real aggressive last hour and once the right combination of teams go, it is very very hard to shut it down.

“We’ve been on the podium in this race with four different riders over the years, so it has been a good hunting ground for us and we’ve got riders that are good on that type of terrain and we expect to be in the mix.”

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