News shorts: Machado buoyed by Algarve podium

Pieters to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Cunego ready for Amstel Gold Race

Machado posts best result of young Katusha career

Tiago Machado's third place overall at the Volta ao Algarve was his best result yet in Katusha colours. The 29-year-old returns the WorldTour this year after spending 2014 with NetApp Endura with the ambitions of impressing in stage races. Having made his debut this season at the Tour Down Under finishing 12th, Machado enjoyed his first visit to the podium in Portugal as he also won the best Portuguse rider jersey

"I am really satisfied with my result. The podium in GC says I am on the right path in my preparation for my next races. I managed to get in good condition and I hope it will continue to develop in the next races," Machado said. "I am happy with our team - we were strong and we only missed a stage victory here. It was very nice to see our team united and motivated in every stage.

Machado will next line up in France at Paris-Nice for just the second time in his career with a podium finish again in his sights.

"It was a good week here in Portugal," he added. "My next aim is Paris-Nice and I hope to earn some more results there."

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Pieters to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Defending women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad champion Amy Pieters returns to the race as a rider to watch this Saturday as she aims to open her 2015 account. Pieter's Liv-Plantur team is sending a strong squad for the defence that includes Lucy Garner and Claudia Lichtenberg.

"We are coming into this race following a tough Tour of Qatar that got the legs back into racing condition and then a god training camp to help fine tune the form ahead of the coming weeks," said coach Hans Timmermans.

"With Amy having the experience of what it takes to win here we have an easy decision on who will lead the team here in Belgium. She will be one of the favourites but we will prepare for it like any other race and remain concentrated on the job we have to do to get into the best position possible for the final. Our young riders have another year's experience in their legs now and will benefit from this in races like Het Nieuwsblad where riding with your head is very important."

Liv-Plantur will be against the likes of an in-form Lizzie Armistead (Boels Dolmans) and past champions Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Tiff Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM)

Liv-Plantur for Women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Lucy Garner, Willeke Knol, Claudia Lichtenberg, Floortje Mackaij, Sara Mustonen-Lichan, Amy Pieters, Julia Soek and Kyara Stijns.

Cunego excited for Amstel Gold Race with Nippo - Vini Fantini

With his Nippo-Vini Fantini team receiving a wildcard entry to the Amstel Gold Race, 2008 winner Damiano Cunego is looking to impress in Valkenburg. Cunego is hoping he can emulate his 2008 victory with his new Pro-Continental team which lines up at the race for the first time.

The 33-year-old, who remains the last Italian to have won a monument, explained that his season will revolve around the Ardennes Classics where he has been a regular protagonist.

"I'm really happy for this opportunity for me and the team which is very close to my peak condition for the year," said Cunego. "This year I will take part in two races, Limburg Classic and the Amstel Gold Race. I will approach this period at my best, because they are races I have in my heart."

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