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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 27, 2014

Date published:
April 27, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Iglinskiy allowed free role at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) on the podium after winning stage 4 at the Tour of Belgium
    Article published:
    April 26, 2014, 14:01 BST
    Daniel Benson

    2012 winner ready to support Nibali

    Although Vincenzo Nibali will lead Astana into Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, his teammate Maxim Iglinskiy has been granted a free role.

    The Kazakh rider won the race in 2012, catching his now team leader before the finish to seal the biggest win of his career. Now on the same team, Iglinskiy and Nibali will work together in Sunday's 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    "It taken a long time to get into top form from the beginning of the season but I'm there now," Iglinskiy told Cyclingnews at Astana's press conference on Friday afternoon.

    "I've got really good form and I'm in the kind of shape where I can get to the front of a race and be an active participant and make the race for the finale."

    "I have a free role right now. When we get towards the finish we'll see how the legs are. If I can go away or make an attack, I'll do it. If I can help, I'll do that too but it's something we'll have to discuss in that sixth hour of racing but Nibali is our leader."

    Iglinskiy's win in 2012 came after a number of top ten finishes major races. He had of course won Montepaschi Strade Bianche in 2010 but his triumph in Liege two years later was still somewhat of a surprise. As expected it made the headlines back in Kazakhstan.

    "When I got back they meet me at the airport with television cameras. There were flowers, lots of congratulations and interviews and it was a big deal back home. Alexandre Vinokourov was happy, everything in the team was happy and the cycling federation was very happy."

    His win was the culmination of his life's work up until...

  • Video: Matt White, why I love the Ardennes races

    Garmin-Transitions Matt White talks to the audience.
    Article published:
    April 26, 2014, 14:50 BST
    Cycling News

    Orica-GreenEDGE directeur sportif talks to Cyclingnews

    Liège-Bastogne-Liège marks the end of more than a month’s racing in Belgium. From Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the beginning of March to the Ardennes Classics, the riders have tackled all kinds of terrain. The Spring Classics are predominantly split between the cobbles of Flanders and the hills of Wallonia.

    Orica-GreenEDGE directeur sportif Matt White has ridden all of them at some point in his career and he explains to Cyclingnews, in this exclusive interview, why he loves the Ardennes races so much.

    “The first ever period where I did the classics, I did all the classics right through to Liège. By the time I got here I was pretty tired,” he says. “There is a little bit of a different feel to the Flemish ones. These are the world’s best climbers. It’s a gradual progression. Amstel is a mix of the world’s best climbers and the guys who can still handle the Flemish style of argy bargy racing. Then there’s Flèche and Liège. I think that Liege is the hardest one-day race in the world. It’s the most taxing. So it’s a gradual progression from the Flemish stuff.”

    White’s team will be aiming for the podium this Sunday with Simon Gerrans, who finished third at Amstel Gold last week.

    Defending champion Dan Martin also tells us about his love affair with the Ardennes Classics, in this exclusive piece for Cyclingnews.

    To subscribe to the Cyclingnews YouTube channel click here

  • Betancur aiming high in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) won the overall 2014 Paris-Nice
    Article published:
    April 26, 2014, 16:07 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Colombian hoping to improve on fourth in 2013

    It has been a tough few weeks for Carlos Betancur (AG2R-La Mondiale), following a spectacular start to the season, when he triumphed in the Tour du Haut Var and then became Colombia’s first ever winner of Paris-Nice.

    However since then the 24-year-old had to abandon both the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al País Vasco, telling the BiciCiclismo website after he quit in the second stage of the Basque race that he “lacked the strength to pedal.” He was also suffering from a knee injury from which fortunately he has now recovered.

    Betancur finished an unremarkable 65th in Amstel Gold, his first race back after País Vasco - although that was a better result than his abandon in 2013. He then took a more encouraging 36th in La Flèche Wallonne. He is aiming, at the very least, to continue the upward progression on Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    “Amstel wasn’t so good, but in Flèche was a little better and let’s hope that on Sunday it’s much better,” Betancur told Cyclingnews.

    “Liège is a very long race, and a race like that is so hard it has no secrets, normally when I’m going well, I can get a good result in that kind of event.”

    This is no exaggeration. Last year Betancur captured an impressive third in Flèche and fourth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, in what was his first ever participation in either Classic.

    One reason that neither race holds too many secrets for Betancur is thanks to his trainer, former Classics great Michele Bartoli who won...

  • Kwiatkowski confident ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Michal Kwiatkowski on the podium
    Article published:
    April 26, 2014, 17:12 BST
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep announce team

    Michal Kwiatkowski will lead the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team once again at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a role he’s becoming increasingly comfortable with. After securing his first Classic podium finish at Flèche Wallonne, Kwiatkowski goes into this weekend’s race brimming with confidence.

    Sunday will be the 23-year-old’s third tilt at La Doyenne and his best opportunity to get a result. On his first attempt, Kwiatkowski failed to finish and last season he found himself well down the order and finished over eight minutes behind the winner Dan Martin. However, Kwiatkowski has been his best form to date at the Ardennes and continues to look like a potential podium finisher. After taking third at Flèche Wallonne, the Polish rider is looking to make much more of an impression on the race.

    “I had a really good feeling on the bike. I feel recovered from the two previous Ardennes races. I'm looking forward to Sunday,” said Kwiatkowski. “I did this already twice, but I couldn't really be up there. At 30 or 40 kilometres to go I was suffering all the time. But this year, I hope it will be different. I recovered well, I took the right preparation going into the Ardennes Classics and it helps me to be in shape for this race.

    “There are a lot of strong riders and I am looking forward to the chance to race against them once again."

    There is only one change to the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team that assisted Kwiatkowski last Wednesday. World time trial champion Tony Martin comes back to the team after skipping the mid-week race. Aside from Martin the team is made up of climbers and the German...

  • Mohoric looking forward to Liège-Bastogne-Liège debut

    Matej Mohoric
    Article published:
    April 26, 2014, 18:40 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Cannondale rookie not feeling the pressure

    Matej Mohoric (Cannondale) is the youngest rider who will start Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. In fact he's the youngest rider in the WorldTour but you wouldn't know it based off the assuredness he exudes.

    At the teams' presentation on the eve of Sunday's Monument, the 19-year-old sat down with Cyclingnews to talk about his Ardennes adventure: one that has seen him ride Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne.

    "There's a great ambience in these races but the parcours have been great too," he told Cyclingnews as he waited for his Cannondale team to be called up onto the stage.

    "I especially like the one from Liège with its longer climbs that suit me better. I'm looking forward to tomorrow to see how it goes. I know it's going to be a really long race and really hard for a 19 year old, but I'll do my best as I always do and we'll see what happens."

    That have-a-go attitude served Mohoric well in Amstel when the U23 world champion succeeded in making the day's main break. It was course he already knew well, having taken silver and gold at Valkenburg in the junior men's time trial and road race world championships.

    "The difference," he points out, "is that here all the guys are champions and it's a different story. I'm sure that in couple of years things will change and I'll get stronger and become a better cyclist."

    Having made his WorldTour debut as early as Australia's Tour Down Under, Mohoric has spent the last few months in Europe where he as concentrated on building up his experience. Starts and finishes in Trofeo Laigueglia and Settimana Coppi e Bartali gave him his first taste of...

  • Portal upbeat on Froome and Porte’s chances at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Chris Froome (Sky) confirms his attendance in the race for stage 3
    Article published:
    April 26, 2014, 20:27 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Sky sports director says Froome will be racing for the win in Romandie

    For the second year running Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be Chris Froome’s (Sky) first - and quite possibly only - one-day race this side of the Tour de France and is also Richie Porte’s first one-day race since the Australian nationals in January

    Neither Froome nor Porte could be present at Saturday afternoon’s team presentation in Liège due to late flights into Belgium, Sky director Nicolas Portal explained. But the Frenchman was upbeat about Froome’s chances in a race which the Briton first took part in back in 2008 for Barloworld, finishing in 86th place. Since then he has added a 45th place in 2009, 138th in 2010 and 36th place in 2013.

    “We’ll also be seeing what David [Lopez] can do,” Portal told Cyclingnews. “Froomey and Richie have been in Tenerife” - training at altitude - “and they are both feeling very motivated about doing well in this race. The new harder finale is good, too, for all of them.”

    “There are a lot of favourites who will be waiting until the Cote de Saint-Nicolas because they’ve got a very fast finish, like (Alejandro) Valverde (Movistar) and (Joaquim) Rodriguez (Katusha).”

    “For Richie, Froome and riders like (Vincenzo) Nibali (Astana), just as he did two years ago, it may be better to try to make a move from further out, like maybe 20 kilometres to go.” - as happened last year when Rui Costa, Alberto Contador, Rigoberto Urán and Ryder Hesjedal all tried to split the race apart on the Col de Colonster.

    Although the Cote de Roche-aux-Faucons, which replaces the Colonster, is one key point in the finale, Portal also points...

  • Riders speak at Liège-Bastogne-Liège team presentation

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
    Article published:
    April 26, 2014, 22:43 BST
    Daniel Benson & Alasdair Fotheringham

    Rodríguez, Kwiatkowski and Slagter talk about their chances

    The centre of Liège prepared for Sunday's 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a teams' presentation at the Palais des Princes-Eveques.

    Squads were presented one-by-one and with less than 24 hours until the fourth Monument of the year tensions and excitement were rising. Defending champion Dan Martin took time earlier in the day to pen his thoughts on what he loves about the Ardennes Classics but Cyclingnews was on hand to round up quotes from riders and team directors and ask them about their chances and tomorrow's race.

    Tune in Sunday at 10:00 CET for complete live coverage from the race.

    Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin Sharp)

    "I did this race last year. It's a great race, I love the climbs and I'm looking forward to it. My form is good but we've such a strong team in general with Dan (Martin) a leader who can win this race. So we'll ride to that. We'll see how my form is in the race but we've a strong team for every part of the race.

    "After the Ardennes I'll take a short break and then I'll start again in Bayern. I hope to be in the Tour de France selection. I'm not doing the Giro."

    Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

    "This will be my third Liège-Bastogne-Liège and I'd like to do well. I've recovered well after Fleche-Wallonne and the last few days have been really good on the bike. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

    "I rode the final 65km of the race yesterday and you always see these sections where it might be good to attack but at the end of the day you'll be coming into the finale and it's only going to be the strongest riders who survive. You have to be ready all the time and you've got to figure out who has the power in their legs.

    "As for favourites, you just have to look at the line up. There are so many riders who...

  • Video: Frank Schleck looks forward to the Tour de France

    An unhappy Frank Schleck during the Giro d'Italia
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 6:31 BST
    Cycling News

    Trek rider hopes to build his form at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    With 24th in Amstel Gold Race and 56th in Flèche Wallonne it’s fair to say that Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) has not hit his top for in the Ardennes Classics so far this year. Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race his brother has won in the past offers a final shot at glory for the Luxembourg pair.

    Older sibling Frank has had a solid start to his comeback season after spending almost 18 months on the sidelines due to a positive test for xx at the Tour de France in 2012. He marked his comeback at the Tour Down Under in January, and backed that up with the Tour of Oman and Paris-Nice and sixth in Criterium International.

    The biggest objective this season for Schleck is undoubtedly the Tour de France, race in which he finished on the podium in 2011. In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews Schleck talks about his form in the Classics and his race programme for the months ahead.

    To subscribe to the Cyclingnews YouTube channel, click here