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Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, April 21, 2014

Date published:
April 21, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Gerrans: The strongest rider won Amstel Gold Race

    2014 Amstel Gold Race podium: Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge)
    Article published:
    April 21, 2014, 10:00 BST
    Daniel Benson

    White pleased with team performance

    Simon Gerrans and Matt White admitted that the strongest rider won Amstel Gold Race with Philippe Gilbert breaking clear on the Cauberg to net his third win in the race. The race also marked Gerrans’ third, third place in the race after he participated in the final set of attacks in the race. Despite seeing Gilbert wind up for his unmatchable move the Australian was unable to match the BMC rider’s power.

    “Gilbert was the strongest in the race. We saw that when he attacked on the Cauberg that we was strong enough to maintain that until the finish,” Gerrans said at the finish.

    “We knew that there was a tailwind on the climb so whoever was clear was going to be very difficult to catch. We were racing for second and third. I thought I was well placed and tried to follow Gilbert but that was really impossible.”

    Orica GreenEdge came into the race with Gerrans as their designated leader. The Tour Down Under winner had struggled for fitness in the build up to the race and had missed Milan-San Remo due to illness. However Matt White was confident that his rider - who is out of contract at the end of the season – would be in contention for the win.

    The Australian team were in the thick of the action with Pieter Weening joining a dangerous move inside the final 40 kilometres that included Thomas Voeckler and Greg Van Avermaet. It took the pressure off the team in the run-into the final ascent of the Cauberg and when the move was finally shut down GreenEdge positioned Gerrans near the front.

    He was able to respond to moves from Samuel Sanchez and Michal Kwiatkowski and even managed his own attack as the leading group began to splinter but there was no response when Gilbert swept passed and the...

  • Andy Schleck has doubts for Flèche and Liège

    Frank and Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) ride side-by-side during stage 1 in Oman
    Article published:
    April 21, 2014, 11:18 BST
    Cycling News

    Painful knee after Amstel Gold crash

    After 132 kilometres the Amstel Gold Race came to and end for Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing). "Nicki Sörensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) got something in his wheel and went down hard," Schleck told Luxemburgish newspaper, "I wanted to avoid him but hit my knee against a pole at the side of the road." 

    The youngest of the Schleck brothers tried to continue but the pain proved too much and had to abandon the race. "I had trouble following but did manage to get back to the peloton. But I was suffering a lot." 

    The crash compounds what has been a torrid few seasons for Schleck.  The Ardennes classics are traditionally the focus of both Schleck brothers next to the big goal of the season: the Tour de France. Frank rode Amstel as the team's leader, finishing in 24th, with Andy setting his sights on Liège-Bastogne-Liège this Sunday. He had hoped that reuniting with his brother this season would help him find the confidence he's been sorely lacking. It looked like he might be finding it, but the crash will be a setback. Despite the fact that his last individual top ten result in a UCI-race was more than 1,000 days ago (2nd place in the 2011 Tour de France), Schleck keeps morale for the races ahead. 

    "I did the work I had to do to start the Classics on good form. I hope to show it in Flèche Wallonne and in Liège but I have doubts. Our Trek Factory Racing Team has competent people so I hope that we manage to resolve this problem," he concluded.

  • Rodríguez still hopeful for Flèche Wallonne

    Catalunya leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) signs on for stage 6
    Article published:
    April 21, 2014, 12:08 BST
    Cycling News

    Spaniard suffers only bruising after Amstel Gold crash

    Joaquim Rodríguez’s Ardennes campaign took a big blow after he crashed at Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. He was unable to finish the race, however, the Katusha rider escaped severe injury. Rodriguez will return to training today and is still hoping that he can line-up at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège later this week.

    “It seems to be ok, I don’t have any fractures. Thank goodness. Possibly these bad days have passed at the Classics, but I’m assured to arrive at the Giro,” Rodríguez wrote on twitter, after returning from the hospital.

    There were worrying scenes as Rodríguez went down after 90km of racing at Amstel. He could be seen clutching his chest as he was being attended to by paramedics on the roadside, leaving the team fearing that he had broken something. The Spaniard tried to continue and Katusha sent two riders back to shepherd him back to the peloton, but he retired soon after complaining of dizziness. He was rushed to hospital for x-rays, but the worst wasn’t confirmed and Rodríguez escaped with some bruising to his ribs. The news means that he could still target his bigger goals of the week.

    Rodríguez has named Liège as his biggest goal of the season. The 34-year-old has never won La Doyenne but has twice finish second. He lost out to Dan Martin last year, when the Garmin-Sharp rider dropped him before the finish. Rodríguez has been on good form of late and won his home race the Volta a Catalunya at the end of March. He’s since been training at altitude as he looks to take his first victory at Liège this Sunday and his first grand tour...

  • Video: Belkin unable to follow the best at Amstel Gold

    Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dams smile for the camera
    Article published:
    April 21, 2014, 13:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Reactions from Mollema and Ten Dam

    Belkin’s Ardennes campaign didn’t get off to the flying start that they had hoped for at Amstel Gold, with Bauke Mollema the team’s top finisher in seventh place. He stayed with the front group until the final climb, but he didn’t have the firepower to keep up with the group that was chasing down the eventual race winner Philippe Gilbert.

    “I was in the wheel of Gilbert on the last time up the Cauberg, but I couldn’t follow him. On top, I was really close to the second group, who were expecting second place. It was a pity that I wasn’t there,” Mollema told Cyclingnews on the finish line.

    The result is Mollema’s best performance at Amstel Gold, after finishing 10th in last year’s race. Mollema will head to Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday as joint leader for the Dutch team, alongside Lars Petter Nordhaug and Paul Martens, who finished 22nd and 26th respectively at Amstel Gold.

    Mollema’s Belkin teammate Laurens Ten Dam was at his side in the closing kilometres of Amstel but found himself out of place when the crucial moves began. “I was too far back and I couldn’t react when guys attacked,” he told Cyclingnews. “I’m happy with my form coming after not that much racing so far and still getting into the final is ok. I was just lacking a little bit of sharpness or a little bit of eagerness in the final.”

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  • Fuglsang reflects on lost opportunity in Amstel

    A focused Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)
    Article published:
    April 21, 2014, 14:38 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Dane helped power dangerous late break with Van Avermaet and Voeckler

    “Crunch moments’ in Amstel Gold on Sunday prior to Philippe Gilbert’s dramatic charge to victory up the Cauberg were noticeable by their absence - but if there was one moment before Gilbert attacked where journalist heads in the race’s press room collectively turned towards the TV screens, it came when a group of nine riders seared out of the pack with around 39 kilometres to go.

    Sparked by Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) as the peloton wound its way over the Eyserbosweg, the move looked very dangerous, with riders such as Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) also present.

    The sense that the move might just manage to stay away to the finish or perhaps see a lone rider ‘do a Kreuziger‘ - as in jump out of the break, and repeat the Czech’s lone triumph of 2013 - increased after doughty veteran Alexandr Kolobnev(Katusha) and one of the Classics most consistent performers, Bjorn Leukemans(Wanty-Groupe Gobert) bridged across.

    The loss of Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) after the former World Cyclo-Cross champion sat up was a big setback, though, given it ensured that the powerful Belgian squad were always going to work hard to chase down a break containing none of their riders.

    Yet even as the relentless series of climbs and fast pace ensured more riders from the break followed Stybar’s example and dropped back, Fuglsang and Van Avermaet stayed stubbornly just out of the peloton’s clutches for longer than might...

  • inCycle video: Amstel Gold Race 2014 Highlights

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) brings back his form of 2011 to win the Amstel Gold Race
    Article published:
    April 21, 2014, 15:28 BST
    Cycling News

    Gilbert races away to third victory at Dutch race

    The Amstel Gold Race kicked off the Ardennes week with an exciting finale that culminated in Philippe Gilbert taking his third victory at the Dutch race.

    Gilbert hasn’t won during the Ardennes week since 2011, when he became only the second rider to win all three in the same season. BMC played the perfect race with Greg Van Avermaet getting a late break and Samuel Sánchez attack at the foot of the Cauberg - forcing their rivals to chase him down - before Gilbert stormed away.

    The Belgian’s attack was so devastating that everyone else was racing for second place. Jelle Vanendert took that honour, for the second time – he finished behind Enrico Gasparotto in the 2012 edition – to ensure Belgium took the top two spots. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) out- sprinted Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to round off the top three. You can relive the action with inCycle TV’s highlights, in this exclusive video.

    To subscribe to the Cyclingnews YouTube channel click here. To watch all the inCycle videos, click here.

  • UnitedHealthcare enters La Flèche Wallonne as antagonists

    With three riders out front on a break, UnitedHealthcare is about to take this train out of the station.
    Article published:
    April 21, 2014, 16:25 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    American John Murphy believes a WorldTour win for his team is just around the corner

    UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling has officially debuted its colours on the WorldTour stage, showcasing breakaway performances at Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. On Wednesday, the American pro continental outfit will head into its third Spring Classic at La Flèche Wallonne prepared to push its limits and learn from the best riders and teams in the world.

    The team is more than a decade in the making and has been strategically, and realistically, pursuing the WorldTour ranks. Although it did not receive the invitation it was hoping for at the Giro d’Italia this year, it did secure wildcards to three of the Spring Classics.

    American John Murphy was recruited last year in part for his previous experience at the WorldTour level with BMC. He’s raced a handful of the Classics including Paris-Roubaix in the U23 version and twice at the professional ranks. He knows the overall effort needed from the team’s management and its riders if they want to experience success at the top.

    “We’ve been pushing hard for more invites in the bigger races in Europe,” Murphy told Cyclingnews. “We’re continuing to grow in every capacity and the WorldTour races are very important.  Not only have the riders stepped up, but all of the staff and sponsors too.  We’ve had to get our feet wet while lining up against the best riders in the world. We’re making sure to take notes about what it will take to race at this level day-in and day-out. This is the level UHC is aiming for and we’re rising to this level as an entire team. It’s not possible to do these races without a well-oiled team, and we are only getting better.”

    The team’s Dutch rider, Marc de Maar, rode into...

  • Gilbert hopes to continue good form at Flèche Wallonne

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) brought his son onto the podium to celebrate his Amstel Gold Race win
    Article published:
    April 21, 2014, 17:51 BST
    Cycling News

    BMC announce team for Belgian race

    BMC look to continue their good fortunes at the Ardennes this week with their next race at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. The American team has made a few changes to the team that helped Philippe Gilbert to victory at the Amstel Gold Race.

    Gilbert will again lead the team, as he tries to repeat his 2011 campaign where he became the second rider in history to win all three races in the Ardennes week in the same year. After two seasons of struggling to find his form, BMC has made some big changes to Gilbert’s programme and it seems to have done wonders for the Belgian. He has taken his first two victories of the year in less than a week, with success at Brabantse Pijl earlier last week - as many as he managed throughout the whole of 2012.

    Supporting Gilbert will be Samuel Sánchez, whose attack at the foot of the Cauberg paved the way for his teammate to race away to victory. The Spaniard is in the twilight of his career, but has proved to be a useful signing for the team this season. Sánchez has had his own success at the race, he finished on the podium at Flèche back in 2011, when Gilbert took his last victory at the Belgian race. Marcus Burghardt and Ben Hermans are the only other riders from the Amstel line-up to race again on Wednesday.

    Greg Van Avermaet won't be racing on Wednesday, he will finally get to put his feet up for a bit, after a tough cobbled Classics campaign. Among the riders getting the call for Wednesday’s race is Darwin Atapuma. The Colombian returns to racing after he withdrew from the Vuelta al País Vasco with respiratory problems. The 26-year-old Atapuma is a big hope for BMC in the future, but will be present to ride for Gilbert and learn from the...