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Second Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 27, 2014

Date published:
April 27, 2014, 1:00 BST
  • Van den Broeck hoping to boost his morale at Liège

    Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol)
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 10:16 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian to ride in support of Vanendert

    Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) is hoping to get his season back on track at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. The Belgian has been working for his team-mate Jelle Vanendert at the Ardennes, but thinks that he can boost his confidence with his own personal result.

    "(I need to) just fly it. That's what I need. I’ve got to go through that wall. With Jelle Vanendert we have a good leader,” Van den Broeck told Het Nieuwsblad. “I pulled myself up for Brabantse Pijl, though I know that Liège is another level. And who knows, if I have a good day and it is with us, maybe I can get something out of it.”

    Van den Broeck has had a rough time of it over the past year. He crashed out at last season’s Tour de France, which put him out of the rest of the season. The Lotto rider returned to action at the Tour de San Luis in January where he finished 24th in the general classification. The following month he managed to make that 16th overall at the Tour of Oman and things seemed to be getting things back on track before he fell on the same knee - as he had at the Tour de France - at Tirreno-Adriatico.

    “I was enormously looking forward to Tirreno-Adriatico. That was the goal for which I had worked. I had a good feeling and wanted to measure myself with the world’s top,” said Van den Broeck. “My morale was high, until I fell on that knee again. Shit. Then you know you have to start over. The fall was not so bad, but I was still a while. I was on antibiotics and threw my body completely upside down. I had to start again from scratch.”

    After his crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, Van den Broeck took...

  • Froome non-starter in Liege-Bastogne-Liege

    Chris Froome (Sky) signs on for stage 6 at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 10:20 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Briton out with mild chest infection, but will start Romandie

    Chris Froome (Sky) is a non-starter in today’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege due to a mild chest infection. Froome travelled to Belgium for the race, arriving late Saturday, but was not able to start.

    A statement from Team Sky on their website confirmed the news, with Team Sky’s Doctor Richard Freeman stating: "Unfortunately Chris has been suffering from a mild chest infection. After an examination this morning we concluded that the best course of action would be to withdraw him from Liege-Bastogne-Liege as a precautionary measure, which will allow him the best chance of recovery ahead of the Tour de Romandie."

    Team Sky's Pete Kennaugh could not take part in Liege-Bastogne-Liege the team said in the same statement, whilst Vasil Kiriyenka is a late withdrawal from the Tour of Romandie, which starts on Tuesday, also because of an unspecified illness.

    Froome's non-participation in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, in which he finished 36th last year, means he has had to pull out of two races in 2014 because of health issues. He did not take part in Tirreno-Adriatico because of a back injury.

    Sky have had several riders fall ill this season and have started several races one or more riders short of a complete participation, with six, rather than eight, in La Fleche Wallonne and again in LIege-Bastogne-Liege.

    Team Principal Dave Brailsford talked to a small group of reporters at the start of the Belgian Classic, pointing out that; "When you actually analyse and look at all of the illnesses and crashes we've had this year, we've had proportionally more than you’d expect to have and when you look at the last couple of years, we've had proportionally less than you’d...

  • Rogers returns to racing at Liege-Bastogne-Liege after Clenbuterol case

    Jack Bauer, Michael Rogers and Damiano Cunego made up the Japan Cup road race podium.
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 11:26 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Australian thanks Contador and team for support

    Michael Rogers had the broadest smile of all at the start of Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday as the Australian made his comeback to racing. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider was making his first race appearance since being cleared of a positive clenbuterol test from last year.

    The Australian tested positive for the banned substance at the 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race in October 23. He was given a provisional suspension but was cleared by WADA on April 23, with the UCI stating that “there was a significant probability that the presence of clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China.”

    Rogers agreed to talk to Cyclingnews at the start of the race and the relief was clear.

    “First of all I just want to say that I’m really happy to be back. It was a very difficult time for me and my family. I’m just happy to be back,” he told Cyclingnews.

    Team owner Oleg Tinkov quickly appeared, giving Rogers a hug and stating that the team always supported and believed in the 34-year-old, before Rogers talked about the moment his positive test was confirmed.

    “I was at my daughter’s Christmas party. And I got a letter from the UCI. You can imagine my immediate reaction. I was totally faint,” he said.

    “Then it’s just a case of reflection. You try and understand. The news didn’t sink in but you try and retrace what happened and go about proving it.”

    “Of course I would have liked the ordeal to have been shorter but I got a better understanding and I can see why I took so long.”

    Rogers’ case raised several questions, one of which surrounding the time and length it took for the situation to be resolved. Rogers was also keen to stress that more should be done to protect riders who raced in...

  • Liège may host 2015 Tour de France stage

    Tour de France prologue winner Fabian Cancellara resplendent in yellow at the start of the first road stage.
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 14:52 BST
    Cycling News

    Belgian city bidding for stage finish

    While the cycling world focuses on Liège-Bastogne- Liège this weekend, the city is looking a little further into the future. According to a report in Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, the Belgian is bidding to host a finish of the 2015 Tour de France.

    With next season’s race starting Utrecht, The Netherlands a quick diversion into Belgium is a possibility. The report states that a number of Flemish cities are also going up against Liège, including Antwerp and Middelkerke. This year’s race also sees a brief diversion into Belgium, with the potentially crucial stage five starting in Ypres.

    Liège has a long relationship with France’s national race. Organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), the Tour de France organisers, also organise Liège-Bastogne- Liège. The city has hosted the race’s Grand Départ twice before, in 2004 and 2012. Fabian Cancellara won his first Tour de France stage in the city and took the win when it returned for its second start.

    The first time Liège featured in the Tour de France was as a stage finish in 1948 where Gino Bartali beat Jean Robic and Briek Schotte, from a small breakaway group, en route to winning the general classification, ahead of Schotte.

    A.S.O. has already announced the opening stages of the 2015 race. Next year’s edition will start with a 13.7 kilometre time trial, it’s the first time since 2009 that the race will begin with a non-prologue time trial. The details of stage 2 haven’t been fully revealed although it will in Utrecht. The 2015 race begins on July 4.

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  • Gerrans sprints to centenary triumph in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) wins the 2014 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 19:05 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    First Australian to win La Doyenne, second Monument for Orica-GreenEdge rider

    Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) added another major line to an already impressive palmares as he captured Australia’s first ever victory in 100 editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Doing so both wearing the Australian national champion’s jersey and in the much-coveted centenary edition of La Doyenne only made his success even more impressive.

    “It’s absolutely incredible, it was very tough at the end of the race, but thanks to the team I got through,” the 33-year-old - already with wins in all three Grand Tours, Milan-San Remo, three editions of the Tour Down Under and a string of other top races to his name - said afterwards.

    “I was pretty confident I would have a chance of doing well in a small bunch sprint, but after 260 kilometres everything is possible, and particularly after such a hard finish and tough final climb like that.”

    In a race where it seemed that none of the top riders could really establish any kind of solid advantage on the rest, the stalemate and the likelihood of a final sprint meant the race scenario was playing out increasingly in favour of Gerrans: as he put it, “the situation unfolded perfectly.”

    “I’ve always thought Amstel Gold” - in which he has three times finished third, including last week - “was a much better race for me. Here for me to win it was a question of everything going exactly right. I always said I needed a perfect day for that to happen and that’s what happened today.”

    “I’ve had some very beautiful wins in my career, but Liège-Bastogne-Liège is very special to me. I’ve competed in it for almost every year of my career, so to finally get the win is extremely...

  • Dan Martin suffers final corner crash in Liege-Bastogne-Liege

    Dan Martin on the podium
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 19:17 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Defending champion takes disappoinment on the chin

    Before the race Dan Martin stated that he and his Garmin-Sharp squad would stand by their result in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and despite crashing out of contention, and seeing the race cruelly slip from his hands on the final corner, he stood by those words at the finish.

    If anything, Martin's post-race comments were a sign of the solidarity and teamwork he has helped to instil in a team that looked to be going through a phase of transition at the start of his season. But in this Ardennes campaign of just three races Martin has solidified his position as the team’s talisman: a rider who has united a brigade of youthful enthusiasm with the experience of the likes of Thomas Dekker and Fabian Wegmann.

    The Irishman came into the race as the defending champion and had high hopes of repeating his win from 2013 after a fine second place in Flèche-Wallonne. However sport can be cruel. It can flip from euphoria and promise to despair and ‘what ifs’ in just a matter of seconds and in the space of a few wheel revolutions, in the final corner of the hardest one-day race in cycling, Martin saw his race come crashing down.

    “I’m obviously devastated,” Martin told the press after he stepped off the Garmin-Sharp bus.

    “It’s one thing to make a mistake or know what you’ve done but we figure that there’s a patch of oil or something. I think I had tears in my eyes before I even hit the floor. There aren’t really words for it. To race for seven hours and for that to happen on the last corner…. it’s poetry.”

    Up until his crash Martin had ridden an almost perfect race. His team had helped control the main break, Alex Howes had tried to soften up the peloton...

  • Valverde adds another Liège podium to collection

    Alejandro Valverde looks disappointed with second place
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 20:40 BST
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Spaniard most consistent racer of Ardennes week

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was unable to outpower Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) in the finale of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but he proved himself to be the most consistently well-placed rider in the Ardennes week of 2014 with his fourth place in Amstel, victory in Flèche Wallonne and runners-up spot in La Doyenne.

    Third in Liège last year and twice victorious in the same race in 2006 and 2008, as well as second in 2007, Valverde's ability to turn in top three results in the hardest of the Ardennes Classics - he now has five podium finishes - stretches back across almost a decade of racing in Liège.

    But despite his immense experience in the race and undoubted ability to be at the forefront of the action in cycling’s oldest Monument, the 34-year-old Spaniard was at a loss to explain why what has traditionally been such a hard race failed to see any major attacks go clear this time round.

    "Why was there such a long wait for attacks to happen?" Valverde said, echoing one journalist’s question, "I'd like to know that myself. All I can say is it was very fast throughout, there were no big attacks on La Redoute and it was very difficult for one team to control. I was lucky I had such a good team with me."

    "Gerrans won, but I'm happy, I'm pleased for myself and the team with the results I'm going to be taking home from this week. With a bit more luck, I'd have been on the podium of all three Ardennes Classics, so I can’t really complain."

    Whilst Movistar kept up a high pace coming off the Roche aux Faucons and up until the foot of the San Nicolas, the final classified climb of the race, Valverde appeared to...

  • Kwiatkowski confirms promise with podium in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

    Michal Kwiatkowski takes his second podium of the week
    Article published:
    April 27, 2014, 21:08 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider gets first Monument placing

    He may have missed out on a win in the Ardennes Classics but Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was far from disappointed after finishing on a Monument podium for the first time in his career at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. The Pole claimed third, in a sprint finish behind Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), two riders have although have consistently got the better of him, are ten and 11 years his senior.

    "For sure I’m not disappointed," he said of missing out on victory, but kept his sights focused on the bigger picture. "I’m happy with what I did this week, especially to finish on the podium because that’s something special. It’s amazing for me, and I’m very please."

    Fifth in Amstel Gold, third in Flèche Wallonne and third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race that although looked stale at times on Sunday, was a genuine test of the 23-year-old’s mettle.

    "I still have a lot to show in the future," he pointed out, perhaps aware of the pressure that has been heaped on his friend and rival Peter Sagan, who is also still looking for his first Monument win.

    "Right now I have a lot of hope for the future. I was aiming to be in really good shape for Ardennes and I did it."

    In one sense the finale in Liège was to be expected. There has not been one clear standout rider in this year’s trio of races and it has led to cagey action. That’s somewhat to be expected in Amstel and certainly Flèche but the surprise in Liège was simply how many riders who were still in contention by the time the race reached the Côte Saint-Nicolas. Normally only the strongest of team leaders...