Wout Poels ended Team Sky's search for a win in one of cycling's five monuments with a well timed sprint ahead of an undergeared Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) and Lampre-Merida's Rui Costa at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
“We went for it on the new cobbled climb. I really like that one now” Poels joked in his winners post-race comments - “and we got a really good gap. The others were looking really strong, but I knew it was a long drag to the finish, and that was good for me.
“I did one little attack, not a really hard one and then I was afraid the bunch would come back, so when we hit the final corner, I went for it again with 150 metres to go. I thought ‘let’s see what happens.’”
Poels, who almost lost a kidney in the 'metz messacre' crash at the 2012 Tour de France, started his season with two stage wins and the overall at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, a stage at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and most recently was fourth at La Fleche Wallonne. Coming into the race, Sky were backing Kwiatkowski with Chris Froome in a super domestique role but with the snow and cold conditions across the day, Poels pulled off the biggest win of his career yet.
Wout Poels (Team Sky) wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
Continental team Synergy Baku pulled off a coup at the Tour of Croatia with the squad delivering Matija Kvasina to overall victory despite the presence of five WorldTour teams at the UCI 2.1 race. The 34-year-old moved into the overall race on Stage 4, finishing second to solo winner Riccardo Zoidl, and kept his jersey as Synergy Baku posted the fourth fastest time of the team time trial on stage 5, won by Tinkoff.
Needing only to navigate the final day stage from Sveti Martin na Muri to Zagreb, Kvasina saw his overall lead cut by eight seconds but did enough to hold off Jesper Hansen for the victory after IAM Cycling's Sondre Holst Enger took his first win of the season.
For the full stage reports from the Tour of Croatia, click here
The 2016 edition of the Tour of Turkey may be lacking the star power its enjoyed in previous years but there was no less drama as a neutral zone crash saw Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural-RGA) break his collarbone before Przemyslaw Niemiec jumped clear from the peloton and stayed away for his first win since 2014.
"It’s a surprise indeed," Niemiec admitted. "At the start, everybody expected a bunch sprint finish but when my breakaway companions decided to give up as our advantage was reduced to 40 seconds, I decided to continue. I’m glad I did. This victory is important for me and for Lampre-Merida."
Lampre-Merida, one of two WorldTour teams at the race along with Lotto Soudal, won the race overall last year with Kristijan Durasek and had Sacha Modolo for a sprint finish had Niemiec been caught. With 23km to go, Niemiec had three minutes over the peloton before the realisation the GC was about to be over on stage 1 sunk in and the peloton chased hard to ensure the Polish rider's winning advantage was down to 16 seconds over the peloton with José Gonçalves (Caja Rural) second at 11 seconds.
Stage 2 of the Tour of Turkey takes the peloton from Kapadokya to Kapadokya. Click here for the Tour of Turkey race homepage.
Tour of Turkey stage 1 podium: Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) takes the win (Tour of Turkey)
Neilson Powless continued his current run of good from in April with the 19-year-old claiming final day victory at the Joe Martin Stage Race ahead of Nigel Ellsay (Silber). While the Axeon rider was celebrating his first UCI win, just a few weeks after his third place overall at Redlands Bicycle Classic, Janier Acevedo was contemplating losing the leader's jersey on the final day of a race twice in one month.
In the final stage of the women's race, Tibco's Lauren Stephen soloed to victory five seconds ahead of UnitedHealthcare's Coryn Rivera who sealed overall victory. Rivera's teammate and time trial world champion Linda Villumsen finished second on GC with Tibco duo Stephens third, and Brianna Walle fourth.
Click here for the full race coverage of the 2016 Joe Martin Stage Race
Barbara Guarischi enjoyed her first win of the season and Canyon SRAM's second win in as many days after. Lisa Brennauer's time trial victory. The Italian outkicked Floortje Mackaij (Team Liv-Plantur) and Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans) for the victory with teammate Elena Cecchini making it two in the top-ten as she finished eighth.
"This victory is for the staff who work hard behind the scenes, for Beth and Ronny that give us the best. This victory is for all of our sponsors that support and believe in us. Big thank you. And last but definitely not least thank you girls, I'm proud to be part of WMNcycling," Guarischi said of her win.
For the full race report, click here
A day after placing third at EPZ Omloop van Borsele, Christine Majerus took the win at Dwars door de Westhoek as former world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) crashed in the closing metres of the race. It was Majerus' first win of the season having helped her Boels Dolmans team to the first five Women's WorldTour events.
Coming into the Boezinge finish of the 1.1 race, Vos found herself tangled up in the road barriers on the left-hand side of the road. Vos was unable to stay upright, falling heavily as Majerus came around her to take the win but there was no victory celebration from the Luxembourg champion who crossed the line just ahead of Elena Cecchini, with Wiggle High5's Emma Johansson in third.
"I feel sorry for Marianne that she crashed, but I cannot change it. I'm happy she's ok. Sometimes for winning you need to do no mistakes, and unfortunately for Vos, she made a mistake and I didn't. It's all part of the game," said Majerus.
Click here for the full race report
No celebration for Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) after Vos' crash (Sean Robinson/Velofocus)
Samuel Dumoulin won his first race in over the year as the 35-year-old beat Olivier Pardini (Wallonie-Bruxelles) and Julien Duval (Armee de Terre) in a fast finish. The 35-year-old came into the race having placed second to Pardini's teammate Baptiste Planckaert at the Tour du Finistère earlier in the month and proved his current form with his first victory since the 2015 La Drome Classic.
The win is AG2R La Mondiale's third of the season and as Dumoulin explained, he is keen to quickly add to that tally.
"Tomorrow I leave for the Tour de Romandie with a long trip. I will try to enjoy my good feeling to do something in the sprints. Then it will be the Four Days of Dunkirk where I will try to lift my arms," he told DirectVelo.
Click here for the full race results
Cairns welcomed the mountain bike World Cup circus back to North Queensland for the first time since 2014, hosting the first round of the cross country and second for the downhillers. Friday was dedicated to the downhill qualification before a big weekend of racing with six events in total.
Rachel Atherton continued her dominance in the women's downhill with yet another crushing victory. The World champion was almost seven seconds faster than local Tracey Hannah with her compatriots Manon Carpenter and Tahnee Seagrave, and France's Morgane Charre completing the podium
The rainbow jersey was back on top of the podium just a few hours later as Loic Bruni got the better of Australian Try Brosnan by less than half a second. Aaron Gwin squeezed into fourth as Mick Hannah (third), Joshua Button (fifth), and Graeme Mudd (eighth) ensured a strong Australian representation in the top-ten.
In the U23 cross-country events, it was New Zealand's Sam Gaze winning the sprint ahead of French duo Romain Seigle (Focus Rotor G-Skin Racing Team) and Titouan Carod (Scott Creuse Oxygene Gueret). American Kate Courtney enjoyed a solo win in the women's U23 ahead of Catherine Fleury for Specialized Racing's second win of the day.
Sunday was set aside for the men's and women's elite cross-country events with Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing) riding away from Linda Indergand to secure the win in the the morning race.
The final race of the round belonged to Nino Schurter with the world champion winning his fourth straight world cup race.
For all the race reports from Cairns, click here