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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, April 22, 2019

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

You can observe a lot by watching. - Yogi Berra

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Amstel Gold Race team reports

We posted the report from 4th-place Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the race results.

Fifth-placed Max Schachmann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

Blue skies and blazing sun would make each of the Amstel Gold Race’s 265.7km much more positive, given how unpredictable the weather is for the Spring Classics – the first of the three Ardennes Classics – but even for the most upbeat rider, it would be hard to take on each of the day’s thirty-five climbs and not be exhausted by the end. This jagged profile, with so many places from which to launch an attack, would have riders anxiously eyeing their rivals with no real idea who was going to go and when, and which move was going to be the decisive one and go on to win the race.

Mathieu Van der Poel

Mathieu Van der Poel wins. Sirotti photo

An early breakaway took centre stage for the first 150km, a group of eleven building a lead that broke eight minutes at its peak, but as their efforts on the hills started hitting their legs, the eleven slowly started dropping in number, with only five remaining with 70km to go, and it was clear an early catch was going to be made. A little over 40km remaining and it was all over for the escapees, but it was here the race came to life. Multiple attacks saw several small groups on the road, BORA-hansgrohe’s Maximilian Schachmann joining one of these, while Jay McCarthy and Patrick Konrad were also pushing hard on the front trying to bring the attacks back in. Taking on the fearsome Cauberg for the final time – the 900m climb with gradients of 13% – it was clear the break had a good advantage, but this didn’t stop the BORA-hansgrohe riders working in the peloton to stay in touch, with the bunch knocking twenty seconds off the lead duo’s advantage with 15km to go.

It was here Max went again, chasing solo and attempting to bridge to the front, the young German riding confidently after a strong performance at the Tour of the Basque Country. Joined by several chasers, Max’s group caught the leaders just on the final straight– the two leaders seemingly caught unaware – and while he wasn’t able to take the win, his fifth position after a well executed strategic ride was a show of strength for the young rider.

From the Finish Line:
"When Alaphilippe went, I wasn't positioned well enough to follow. We were a small bunch behind him and I tried to drive the pace. After the Cauberg I attacked but I wasn't sure it was the right decision. Still, I rode at my own pace, I closed in on the chasing group and that's when I really started pushing.  In the final stretch, when I was on their wheel, Kwiato attacked, I made a move but suddenly, Van der Poel was on my wheel and went for a long sprint. I was able to hang in behind him but after going 15km solo and racing for 260km, I didn't have much left in my legs. So, I am happy with my fifth place at the finish." – Maximilian Shachmann

"The guys worked well together. In the first part of the race, we were concentrated on not allowing a big group to break away and having 9 to 11 riders wasn't a problem for us. It allows you to save energy. In the important part, we were well positioned with Jay McCarthy, Patrick Konrad, and Max Schachmann. Peter wasn't able to follow on the hard climbs but Maximilian was very strong in the finale. He tried on his own to chase the leading groups in the front. In the end, he was caught by the bunch behind, but he put in an excellent performance in the finishing sprint and took fifth, still a good result. It wasn't what we were aiming at today, we wanted to go for the win with Peter but still, overall, we can be satisfied with the performance of our young riders. We look forward to the upcoming races and we are sure Peter will come back." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Here's the Amstel Gold Race report from Lotto-Soudal:

Bjorg Lambrecht finished sixth during his first Amstel Gold Race today. At around 40 kilometres from the line, the race really lit up when Alaphilippe and Fuglsang attacked and opened up a nice gap. For a long time, it looked like the two riders would battle for victory but that was not what Mathieu van der Poel had in mind. In a chasing group, with amongst other Lotto Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht, the Dutchman took the initiative, closed the gap to the leaders and eventually sprinted to victory. The 22-year-old Lambrecht took sixth place in that sprint for the victory. Tim Wellens had a bad day and was not able to play a role in the race.

Bjorg Lambrecht and Tim Wellens

Bjorg Lambrecht and Tim Wellens check out the course on Saturday. Sirotti photo.

Bjorg Lambrecht: “Finishing sixth in my first Amstel Gold Race is almost like a dream come true. Before the race, I would have signed for something like this but today, the race unfolded to my advantage. I was on the limit during the final four to five climbs but I still managed to launch an attack and immediately ended up in a nice group. I only realised that we would join the two leaders the moment we had Kwiatkowski in our sights. Van der Poel managed to close the gap on his own. During the sprint for victory, I had to touch my brakes for a moment. Otherwise, a top five would have been possible.”

“Before the Ardennes Classics, I would not have dared dreaming of performances such as these. However, I knew that I was in a good shape. Today, I was able to continue the same way I performed in the Tour of the Basque Country. But let us keep both feet on the ground towards Fleche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The team guided me perfectly today. I only had to follow and listen to the instructions of my experienced teammates. They brought me in a good position and informed me about the crucial points. It is kind of a luxury to race that way. I look forward to the coming week, where there won’t be any pressure to perform. I clearly took another step forward in my second year as a pro and that’s something I have to enjoy now.”

Tim Wellens: “I had a bad day today. I still felt good on the Kruisberg, but the lights went out on the Eyserbosweg. I don’t really have an explanation. It was hot today but for sure, no extreme temperatures. So I do not want to use that as an excuse. I felt really good in the Brabantse Pijl last Wednesday, so hopefully it was nothing more than an off-day and I can play my role coming Wednesday and Sunday. But it is of course not  a nice feeling to get dropped.”

Annemiek van Vleuten takes second in Women's Amstel Gold

Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Double world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten took second place in a nail-biting finale at the sixth edition of the women’s Amstel Gold Race. Racing on home soil, the 36-year-old just ran out of road in a heroic attempt to reel in eventual winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM Racing) on the run to the line.

There were attacks from the gun as seven riders jumped out of the peloton to form the breakaway. The bunch were happy enough to allow the escapees to go clear and they eventually opened up an advantage of over five minutes.

But with the gap coming down rapidly, a counter move was launched back in the peloton as CCC – Liv upped the pace, causing a reaction from the pre-race favourites. Triple Tour Down Under champion Amanda Spratt was alert to the move and quickly followed, with Van Vleuten also joining the 14-rider split.

The break was reeled back as the race reached the Cauberg for the first time and attacks soon followed with both Spratt and Van Vleuten making attempts to go clear. However, nothing was sticking and the pair had to work together to close down rival attacks.

With a lull in the pace, Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) went solo over the second ascent of the Cauberg, but the Brit was brought back after some strong work from Van Vleuten as the race hit two laps to go. Spratt then sensed an opportunity to attack and jumped clear with two riders, opening up a gap of 40 seconds before being brought back heading onto the final lap.

Not content with waiting until the finale, Spratt attacked again inside the final eight kilometres, but with the bunch closing in the Australian sat up, with the race set for a showdown on the Cauberg.

It was Niewiadoma who was the first to make a move as the pack hit the slopes, with Van Vleuten initially struggling to go with the acceleration. However, as they reached the crest, Van Vleuten was coming back fast, but just ran out of road in a grandstand finish.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten in 2017

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“The team was really awesome, we were really racing today from kilometre 30 onwards. We sacrificed Grace Brown, Gracie Elvin and Moniek Tenniglo on the front to make the race hard on the narrow roads until the Eyserboswerg and it was great for me and Spratty, we were just sat in the wheels while the bunch was splitting up. They should be proud to have played a part in this race.”

“I had a flashback to La Course! I had moments when I thought ‘she’s too far away’, then I started to believe I could do it and that it was still possible. I gave everything I had, I saw a small rise and I got out of the saddle and I was coming closer and closer, but it wasn’t long enough.”

“I think for the team we can take confidence going into Fleche and Liege. We can be really proud, I’m also very proud, this is my home country and to race like this with live TV coverage in front of all these fans is where you want to be.”

Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“We really made the race aggressive today and made it a hard race from early on. Looking at the finish and seeing all the top riders looking tired at the end, I think it’s clear we managed to make it tough for everyone.”

“In the end it almost worked perfectly with Annemiek and Spratty, I think we really went 100% in for one goal and when you’ve done more or less everything you can, second place isn’t so bad.”

“Of course we wanted to win and it was really close, but I don’t think we would change too much looking back at the race and we should be happy with the result.”

Amstel Gold Race Results:
1. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM Racing)
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott)
3. Marriane Vos (CCC-Liv)

Tour of Turkey final reports

We posted the report from GC winner Felix Großschartner's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results

Stage winner Caleb Ewan's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this:

Caleb Ewan took his second stage win in the Tour of Turkey today. In the ultimate stage with finish in Istanbul, the Australian Lotto Soudal rider beat the Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen and the Irishman Sam Bennett during a technical uphill finish in Istanbul. That way, Ewan leaves Turkey with two stage wins and gains confidence in the run-up to his next big goal, the Giro d’Italia.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan wins Tour of Turkey stage six.

The over 170 kilometres long closing stage between Sakarya and Istanbul was animated by five escapees, but they were not granted a lot of advantage. In the chase, Lotto Soudal rider Harm Vanhoucke did a considerable amount of work to bring back the early break. At five kilometres from the line, the escapees were caught and the riders prepared for the much-anticipated bunch sprint in Istanbul. However, Sam Bennett had other plans in mind and launched a fierce attack in the final kilometre. Caleb Ewan had to make a serious effort to get on the wheel, but the Australian clearly had some energy left in the end to attack himself and leave the Irishman behind. That way, Caleb Ewan still had plenty of time to celebrate his second stage win in this year’s Tour of Turkey!

Caleb Ewan: “It certainly was a finish where it would have been beneficial to have a full team but we were running a bit short with Jasper De Buyst not taking the start yesterday and Carl Frederik Hagen not being able to participate. So, we did all we could with the guys we had left. Harm Vanhoucke rode a complete day at the front of the bunch and Roger Kluge did a perfect job in the run-up to the final kilometre. Without him bringing me there, it would have been hard to win on a finish like the one today.”

“I wasn’t really surprised by the attack of Sam Bennett because I watched last year’s finish and he did the same thing. Only last year, he managed to stay away. There were still some Deceuninck – Quick Step riders up there, so I knew it would be difficult for Bennett to make it till the very end. I took advantage of that and while I saw them fading a bit, my legs still felt pretty good. So, that’s when I jumped away and bridged to Bennett. I passed him right away because I wanted to be the first through the last corner. When I came around that final turn and seeing that I had a gap, I knew if I kept going as hard I could, the stage win would be mine. It was a really tough finish but I am very happy with how it turned out.”

“Coming to the Tour of Turkey, I didn’t really know what to expect. Honestly, I don’t think I was in my best shape so I didn’t have too many expectations. As I could take two stage wins, it is much better than what I expected beforehand. For sure, it gives me confidence in the run-up to the Giro d’Italia. I still got some more form to gain but for sure, it is a good confidence boost!”

Valerio Conti's UAE-Team Emirates sent me this report:

The 2019 Tour of Turkey ended with Valerio Conti second place overall at 19″ from the winner Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe). He survived the final stage, Sakarya to Istanbul, 172.4 km, which saw Simone Consonni take fourth place in the sprint behind winner Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal).

After yesterday’s snow and frost, cyclists had a sunny but very complicated arrival. Ewan navigated best the complicated turns and 1300-metre slight rise in the ancient city of Istanbul. Simone Consonni was just 4″ back, behind Ewan, Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).

In the overall standings, in addition to Conti’s second place, the UAE Team Emirates is satisfied for Jan Polanc’s sixth place at 1’12”.

Valerio Conti: “I am satisfied with this second place in a hard fought race. Today was not an easy day, the final was complicated and it was essential to keep the leading positions in the tortuous run in. I received excellent support from the team, I thank all the teammates. It is a result that gives me optimism in view of the Giro d’Italia. Thinking about Consonni, it was too bad, he came close on the final stage again and almost made the podium.”

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