Stevens is confident of a good result by the team in the fourth round of the 2014 Women's World Cup with racing moving on from the cobbles to the côtes.
The peloton will tackle 12 climbs over 127km of racing including two loops around the town of Huy and a finish atop the Mur de Huy at the same location as the men.
Last year it was Marianne Vos ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini and Ashleigh Moolman who claimed the win, her fifth.
The Mur de Huy at 1.3km in length rises to a gradient of 26% in parts and is set to decide the winner on Wednesday as Stevens explained.
"The Mur de Huy is always a battle," said Stevens. "In the past few years the race has always been decided on it; but you never know what can happen in a bike race."
Stevens won the race in 2012 with a well timed attacked on the Mur de Huy to beat Vos across the line by four seconds having let her get out in front and start her sprint before coming around around the world champion to record a thrilling victory.
"It was an amazing day, the team rode flawlessly and to win it at the end was so special," said 30-year-old Stevens of her victory two years ago.
"The team is definitely motivated. We left Energiewacht on a great note and are looking...
"We've got lots of problems but money is only one of them"
New Italian national coach Davide Cassani has admitted that Italian cycling faces an uphill struggle if it is to hold its own as professional cycling becomes more and more globalised and Italian cycling become poorer and poorer.
Cassani was at the pre-race Giro del Trentino press conference to be awarded the "Ciclismo Vita Mia" award. He was a modest but dedicated professional rider for 15 seasons between 1982 and 1996. He then worked as a television commentator for Italian state TV for 18 years before became Italian national coach in January this year after Paolo Bettini opted to join Fernando Alonso's WorldTour team project.
"I've got to admit that I'm not happy for results the Italian riders have achieved so far this season," Cassani said during the event when reminded that the best Italian rider at Pais-Roubaix was Filippo Pozzato in a lowly 50th place. Enrico Gasparotto and Davide Rebellin finished in the top 15 at the Amstel gold Race but Diego Ulissi again struggled on the WorldTour stage.
"I'm an eternal optimist and so I hope they'll go well at the end of the season, at the world championships, which is the race that really matters to me."
"Unfortunately we've lost a generation of riders for lots of different reasons and are going through what I hope is a low point. Belgian cycling is enjoying a good moment with Gilbert and Boonen but they will also face a similar problem when their best riders get old in a few years."
"There are some good Italian riders coming through but they need more time to develop. I'm talking about riders like Ulissi, Sonny Colbrelli of Bardiani CSF and Fabio Aru of Astana, who we will see in action at the Giro del Trentino and the Giro d'Italia."
The root cause of the problem
Cassani believes that one of the root causes of Italian cycling is because of a lack of international races at...
Johan Bruyneel has been handed a 10 year ban in sport by the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Bruyneel’s sanction has been back-dated to when he was originally charged and will end June 11, 2022.
According to the panel, they found that “the evidence establishes conclusively that Mr. Bruyneel was at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the USPS and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders. Similarly, Dr. Celaya and Mr. Martí were part of, or at least allowed themselves to be used as instruments of, that conspiracy.”
Bruyneel has responded on his personal blog, writing that he does not "dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different" and has reiterated that he disputes the "jurisdiction of the AAA and/or the United States Anti-Doping Agency ("USADA")."
The charges fell on June 13, 2012, when USADA started cases against Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong's team director for all seven of the Texan's Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005, Armstrong, doctors Luis Garcia del Moral, Celaya, Marti and trainer Michele Ferrari with a host of violations including possession of prohibited substances and/or methods (including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment, testosterone, HGH, corticosteroids and masking agents); trafficking of the aforementioned prohibited substances; administration and/or attempted administration of prohibited substances; and assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more...
Belkin will throw all their resources at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday in an attempt to get some success from a race that has often eluded them. The Dutch team will try to cover all eventualities as they send three leaders to the race.
Bauke Mollema, Paul Martens and Lars Petter Nordhaug are the men that Belkin hope can bring them success. Under any of their guises, since their inception in 1984, Belkin has never won at Flèche and the team admits that they do not head to start in Bastogne as leading contenders.
“Just as in the Amstel Gold Race, we have a strong team, although we don’t have a true favourite. Paul, Bauke and Lars Petter should be able to handle the tough final. The team will try to keep them as fresh as possible until the Mur de Huy,” said Sports Director Merijn Zeeman.
The team is expecting the race to pan out in a similar fashion to previous years, with the crucial moves coming on the final ascent of the day. “Flèche Wallonne is the most predictable race of the three Ardennes classics. Until the Mur de Huy, it will be a controlled race,” said Zeeman.
“The wind can be a factor, but we are well prepared and know the crucial points of the course.”
Mollema was the team’s best finisher at Amstel Gold last Sunday and is likely to be that once again tomorrow. He has twice finished inside the top 10, with 7th in 2012 being his best finish.
The Dutch rider has consistently been the team’s strongest rider at the Ardennes, but has lacked the finishing kick to really challenge the leaders. Mollema expects that the...
The Cannondale rider last raced at the Volta a Catalunya, quitting during the rain-soaked final stage in Barcelona. He will ride the four-day Giro del Trentino, testing his form in the three mountain stages that follow on from today's opening team time trial, then head to Switzerland for the Tour de Romandie (April 29-May 4). He will fly to Northern Ireland on May 6 ready for the Giro d'Italia that begins on Friday May 9.
"Mount Teide is the best place to get ready for a Grand Tour because of the temperature, the roads, the climbing and the lifestyle," he explained in Tuesday's edition of Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The hotel is at 2150 metres and the road peaks at 2300m. Your day is totally dedicated to cycling: breakfast, training, rest, massage, dinner and rest. It's all very disciplined but it has always been worth it considering the results: I was third in the 2009 Giro d'Italia, first in 2010, fifth in 2012."
No predictions for the Giro d'Italia
Basso will turn 37 in November but is confident he can still perform at the Giro d'Italia against the like of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), fellow veteran Cadel Evans (BMC) and Ireland's Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp).
With Vincenzo Nibali targeting the Tour de France, Basso is perhaps Italy's best hope for a place in the top five overall. However he refuses to make any specific predictions....
Preparation is key in professional cycling so it’s little wonder that in the few days between Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne so many teams were out and riding reconnaissance for Wednesday’s race.
Fleche typically comes down to a dog-fight on the Mur de Huy but a slightly altered parcours for this year saw Garmin-Sharp ride over the final 60 kilometres in training. Cyclingnews was given a front seat in the team car, joining Johnny Weltz and Eric Van Lancker as they put the riders through their paces.
The race now starts in Bastogne and the second, penultimate ascent of the Mur de Huy comes much closer to the finish than in previous years.
The team head into the race with a number of options. Dan Martin was fourth last year, missing out on a podium after he was forced to chase back after a late puncture. Although he’s nursing a slight knee injury, he remains a team leader, along with Tom Jelte Slagter. They will look to remain in contention when the pre-race favourites – including Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) and the Katusha pair of Daniel Moreno and Joaquim Rodriguez look to spring into action.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews the team ride over the altered route for Wednesday’s while Weltz and Van Lancker provide commentary.
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With less than three weeks to the start of the Giro d’Italia, race organisers RCS have released a provisional start list.
In two week’s time, the peloton will be heading en masse to Belfast for the first three stages. Breaking from tradition, the race begins on Friday to allow for the travel and an extra race day. There are a number of strong contenders who are yet to win a Grand Tour, and it’s likely that we could see a first-time winner this season.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is the overwhelming favourite to take the maglia rosa when the race reaches Trieste. The young Colombian finished second at last year’s Tour de France and won the mountain’s classification along the way. He’s classed as one of the best climbers in the peloton and is expected to shine on the mountain heavy route.
Quintana will face some tough competition from his compatriot Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), who finished second in the last edition, and Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha). Rodríguez suffered a setback in his preparation for the race when he crashed at Amstel Gold, but the Spaniard is still confident that he can give Quintana a run for his money.
The last time a Grand Tour visited Ireland was the 1998 Tour de France, where there wasn’t a single Irish rider on the start list. This time around, three riders have been named among the 198 that will travel to the capital. This time they have three riders, two of which could finish in the top 10.
Cousins Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) have been fairly quiet on their ambitions for the Italian race, but both have the potential to finish well up the standings. Philip Deignan is unlikely to feature in the upper echelons of the standings at the finish. But with the team time trial opening the race, he could find...
Check out race recaps and previews from the pro peloton
The North American professional cycling scene was full of action-packed racing from coast-to-coast last week. USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar (NRC) and National Criterium Calendar (NCC), along with the USA CRITS series saw some changes with new talents moving up in the overall ranks. In addition, many of the continent’s top-level riders are continuing to battle the Spring Classics overseas. Check out a few of the highlights from the peloton and a peek at what’s to come.
NRC and NCC standings after Winston-Salem Cycling Classic
The NRC and NCC standings have reshuffled following the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic road races and criteriums held on April 18 and 19 in North Carolina.
Travis McCabe (Team SmartStop) and Shelley Olds (Alé Cipollini) kicked off the weekend of racing with wins during the UCI 1.2/NRC road races. McCabe moved into the elite men’s NRC overall lead while Taylor Wiles (Specialized-lululemon) continues to lead the elite women’s standings following her overall victory at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
Brecht Dhaene (Astellas Cycling Team) and Elena Cecchini (Estado de Mexico Faren) won the NCC/USA CRITS criteriums. Teammates Carlos Alzate and Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) continue to lead the overall NCC standings. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom p/b Pink Siren) still leads the elite women’s USA CRITS standings while Shane Kline (Team SmartStop) took over as the new leader of the men’s series.
Joe Martin Stage Race next on the NRC
Joe Martin Stage Race will reunite the top players on the NRC at a four-day stage race held from April 24-27 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The race kicks off with a four-kilometre time trial on Thursday, followed...