Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Wiggle Honda team bike of two-time World Champion
Second for second time at Liège, Spaniard outgunned by Martin
"I had done my attack, I had played my card," Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) told Cyclingnews after he finished second for the second time in his career at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. And once he had played that card, the Spanish all-rounder said he just could not stop Daniel Martin (Garmin Sharp) from attacking just before the final left-hand bend into Ans.
"Making that last move and attacking from the break was the one strategy I had to try and get away, and it almost worked out. I tried it in the right place. But I knew that Dan was a very strong opponent, we've run into each other a lot of times before" - most recently at the Volta a Catalunya, where Martin beat Rodriguez by 17 seconds - "and as soon as he came across I knew it was going to be tough."
"I can be disappointed, but I was at my limit, Daniel was stronger and that was all there was to it." He actually initially thought it was Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) bridging across "and I thought I'd have a better chance in the sprint. When I realised it was Martin, and I saw how easily he'd reached me, I realised he could beat me, too."
Injured at Amstel Gold, to his credit Rodríguez refuses to play the game of 'ifs' and 'buts' when it comes to racing in Liège and his performance there - and when discussing the race, he does not even mention that injury to Cyclingnews. He also played down the importance of Ryder Hesjedal's late attack in Garmin's winning strategy, saying "by that point in the game at Liège-Bastogne-Liège we were all pretty exhausted. In a three-week Tour, you can point to one mistake or another in terms of strategy, but that's not the same in a Classic like Liège. There comes a point...
Movistar rider out of Romandie, may require surgery
Andrey Amador has been hit with another bout of bad luck after crashing at the final Ardennes classic of 2013, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and was forced to leave the race prematurely with a broken clavicle. The fracture is the fifth time Amador has broken his collarbone and is just another string in his bow of injuries – his most violent back in late 2010 when he was mugged, stabbed and left for dead in his home of Costa Rica.
Amador crashed on a corner leading into the La Redoute climb that was covered in gravel, according to a Movistar release and will now miss starting the Tour of Romandie. His return to competition is not know at this stage but it is assumed his preparation for the Tour de France should not be severely affected.
"I crashed on a curve covered in gravel, said Amador. I tried to slow down but we could not avoid hitting the ground. I have suffered this a number of times before and this is the fifth time I have broken my clavicle. I can now distinguish when I do or don't have a fracture.
"I went to the hospital in Liege and they have followed the immobilisation protocol because we wanted to return to Spain as soon as possible where I can calmly assess my options. I still do not know if the fracture is clean or if an operation will be required. Until tomorrow I cannot say anymore but it is a shame because I have not had any luck with injuries," he added.
A professional since 2009 when he signed for Caisse d'Epargne, Amador's biggest career victory was in Stage 14 at last...
Astana empty handed, Fuglsang surprised by Martin
"Hesjedal yeah," the Danish rider admitted to Cyclingnews in Ans. "Daniel Martin is a surprise but in the end they stayed calm. You really didn't see them the whole day and in the end, chapeau."
Astana had entered the 261.5km Ardennes Classic with the entire podium from 2012 and hopes were high, with Vincenzo Nibali parachuted in from the Giro del Trentino to join winner Maxim Iglinskiy and third place Enrico Gasparotto. Fuglsang admitted that there was an overriding feeling of disappointment in the team bus.
"But in the end everybody tried their best and everybody gave everything," he explained. "Of course it would have been very difficult to repeat what happened last year - okay it was across two different teams but still, no matter what it's difficult to win at Liege. There's only one winner and 200 losers."
The thought within the Astana camp was that the defining move of the race would come a little later than what it eventually did. With that in mind, Fuglsang attacked from the La Redoute with Sky's David Lopez and Movistar's Rui Costa.
"Everybody seemed like they had good legs," said Fuglsang. "For us not to get taken with our pants down, I wanted to try from La Redoute and see... unfortunately it didn't work out. Then before the second last climb I had to change...
Well-drilled Argos-Shimano launch sprinter to victory on Stage 1
A year on from riding his first Presidential Tour of Turkey without even coming close to a win and Marcel Kittel has already put his stamp on the sprinter's field by taking a clear victory on Stage 1 at the eight-stage race. The win along the flat finish in Alanya was the big German's fourth for the year and he's not planning on taking a back seat for the rest of the race - he's there for more and the team will look to do the same tomorrow when he lines up in the race leader's blue jersey.
"Before the stage we made a good plan, based on our experience from last year, and everyone knew what to do," said sports director Marc Reef in a team release. "It worked out perfectly - the timing was fantastic. Marcel is in great form and the team is at a high level. Tomorrow we will protect Marcel’s leader’s jersey and aim for another sprint win for him."
Kittel has been on a winning run since taking out Stage 1 at the Tour of Oman but it wasn't such a rosie start to the season for the rider who headed Down Under to open his 2013 season. His team demonstrated ample strength during the six-day race in Australia but the 24-year-old simply wasn't in good enough shape to contest the finishing sprints - nor the early riser Andre Greipel who crushed the field once again this year. Kittel did however, folow his Oman victory up with a stage at Paris-Nice and most recently going back-to-back at the one-day race, Scheldeprijs.
"Today was a very good example of how a team should work," said Kittel. "In the...
Gallopin best of RadioShack Leopard team, Schleck on the up
A crash, a bike change and then a broken rear derailleur which necessitated a second bike swap spelled the end of hope for Maxime Monfort at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. The Belgian lined up for the final Ardennes classic of the week and while his RadioShack Leopard squad lacked a defined leader, he believed he had a chance for a good result. That was until his second incident located too close to the final of the 261.5km race.
"I fell stupidly in front of La Redoubte after hitting the rear wheel of a rider, said a deflated Monfort to Lavenir at the end of the race. “The I broke my derailleur so I lost a lot of time changing the bike twice. From that point, it was impossible for me to return to the front."
The RadioShack squad failed to land a result at La Doyenne, with Tony Gallopin the best of the lot in 29th place, 1:06 behind the day's winner Daniel Martin but it wasn't all bad news for the team that included a former winner in its ranks.
Andy Schleck was the team's next-best rider, coming in just 12 seconds down on his teammate Gallopin to register what is one of his best results of the 2013 season. Failing to finish a bike race has been a resurgent them for the Luxembourger but his 41st at Liège is a promising sign for the rider who has struggled to return to form after braking his pelvis in a crash at the Dauphiné last year.
For Monfort however, his double-dose of bad luck; crashing at a critical point of the race at Le Redoute and then braking his derailleur was not taken so lightly. There was no way of making it back into contention, according to the 30-year-old.
"I'm bitter because I had good...
Scarponi comes up short in Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Much is being said about a lack of results by Belgian riders this spring but Italy has also ended the Classics season without success, with Italian riders missing out on the podium in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) finished fifth and Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) was sixth, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Damiano Cunego sacrificed their chances to help their teammates. Moreno Moser (Cannondale) finished a distant 24th, unable to understand why he was so off form, despite training at altitude and targeting the Ardennes Classics.
Luca Paolini (Katusha) won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but Italian riders have now not won one of cycling's big five monumental classics since 2008.
Scarponi seemed tired and far from his best at the Giro del Trentino. He had a complicated winter after serving a ban for his links to Dr. Michele Ferrari and having his salary cut by Lampre-Merida. Yet he fought for a result in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and was able to go with the decisive attack on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.
"It was a steady but hard race, we chased the break for a long time, going full gas on the climbs," Scarponi explained to Gazzetta dello Sport.
"When Rodriguez attacked, I didn't have the legs to go with him. I thought Valverde might chase him down but I think he was tired too. I tried but then Martin came from behind and was going a lot faster. After that I was going for a podium place, which would have been a great result. Unfortunately Valverde and Betancur passed me before the line"
Nibali worked hard in the chase to help Gasparotto but his group was unable to catch the front because of Ryder Hesjedal driving the move to set up Dan Martin.
Sprinter fine tunes his form for the Giro d'Italia
Cavendish has not raced since finishing second at Scheldeprijs on March 3, taking a well-deserved break after starting his 2013 season at the Tour de San Luis in January.
Cavendish traditionally rides the Tour de Romandie to test his form in the sprint stages and to work on his climbing before heading to Italy. This year's Tour de Romandie starts with 7.45km time trial, which zigzags up the side of the hill between Le Cable and Brunson, below Verbier.
Cavendish leads the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step along with Tony Martin, while Gianni Meersman could be a contender in the expected select sprint finishes on the hillier stages.
"We have riders for each race situation," directeur sportif Brian Holm said in a press release from the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team.
"There is a prologue and a final TT for Tony Martin, and then some mixed stages for the other guys — for example, a stage hunter like Gianni Meersman. It's also a good preparation for the Giro d'Italia. If there is a sprint, we have Cavendish who is tuning up his condition for the Giro. We have a balanced team, so I think we can be a protagonist throughout the race. That is our objective, but we will see each day."
As per tradition, the Tour de Romandie prologue time trial is held in the evening with the last rider scheduled to finish at seven o'clock in the evening.
The Omega Pharma-Quick-Step line-up: Gianluca Brambilla, Mark Cavendish, Bert Grabsch, Tony Martin, Gianni Meersman, Kristof Vande Walle, Peter Velits and Julien Vermote.
Luxembourger looking forward to Tour of California
It was a far cry from his solo victory in the 2009 edition of the race, but after a troubled early season, Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) was relatively pleased with his 41st place finish at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, 1:20 down on winner Dan Martin.
Schleck has suffered from injury and struggled with form and motivation over the past eighteen months, and has only finished one stage race – the two-day Critérium International – in that period.
In that context, Schleck’s Liège display was an encouraging one, as he was still part of the large main peloton inside the final 10 kilometres, before he was distanced on the final climb, the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.
“I’ve had some encouraging signs as I’ve worked hard these past few weeks,” Schleck told Le Quotidien. “I finished 41st here, I can’t say that it’s a great result – I clearly don’t have the sensations that I had in 2009, when I won, or in 2010 or 2011, but it’s not too bad all the same.”
As expected, the absence of the Roche aux Faucons climb meant that there were more riders than normal still in contention at the foot of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas. Nonetheless, Schleck believed that the strongest rider still won out and he was fulsome in his praise of Irishman Dan Martin.
“Even though we thought the race would be different without Roche aux Faucons, you can see that it was still the strongest guys who were in front and the strongest man won,” Schleck said of Martin. “He’s a great talent, a great climber. When he is good like he was today, he can do incredible things.”...