Sprained ankle keeps Swift from Amstel Gold Race - News shorts

Crash clips McCarthy's chances, Lawless takes first win of 2017, Tour of the Alps a final Giro tune up for Gazprom-RusVelo

A sprained ankle kept UAE Team Emirates' Ben Swift from taking the start of Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, according to a statement from the team. Swift was set to anchor the team's effort in the first of three Ardennes Classics, but the 29-year-old Briton suffered a sprained ankle the morning of the race.

"This morning Ben Swift has accidentally suffered a sprained right ankle," said team doctor Antonio Angelucci. "He has been immediately aided by the medical staff of the team and by the physiotherapists. After the presentation of the team, considering the clinical situation, the rider has agreed with the team's physician and with the sports directors to not participate in the race."

Swift most recently earned a top 10 finish during stage 1 of Pais Vasco. His best result so for this season, his first with the new team, was fourth during stage 4 at the Tour Down Under in January. The team's top result at Amstel was Diego Ulissi in 27th. It is not clear how long Swift will be out of action.

"He'll go home, where he'll undergo more checks under the supervision of the team's medical staff," Angelucci said.

Crash clips McCarthy's chances in Amstel Gold Race

Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe) saw his opportunity to battle for a top 10 place at Amstel Gold Race slip away when he crashed just before the Cauberg climb with about 16km to go.

McCarthy was unable to go with a the final move when Phlippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) attacked in the final 40km, taking six other riders with him, but the Bora-hansgrohe rider was fighting in the chase group for a possible top 10 when he went down at the base of the infamous climb. He  remounted his bike and regained the peloton, but his rhythm was ruined.

"I felt good today, but then I hadn´t the legs to go with the other seven riders," McCarhty said. "And the crash shortly before the Cauberg brought me totally out of my rhythm."

Nevertheless, McCarthy was able to sprint for 17th place in the bunch kick, which Trek-Segafredo's Michael Gogl won for eighth place, 1:10 behind winner Gilbert and runner-up Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).

Lawless takes first win of 2017 at ZLM U23 race

Chris Lawless broke through a string of second-place finishes on Saturday to take his first win of 2017 at the U23 ZLM Tour, a 181km Dutch Nations Cup race contested by national teams. Riding for Great Britain, the 2016 British criterium champion jumped early and held his advantage to the line to seal the win.

"There was a crash with about 1,700 meters to go and my teammate, Jake (Hennessy), was on the front ahead of me," Lawless said. "I felt I had to hit out from there because I knew I could get a gap. I shouted to him to go but he said he couldn't. So I had to take it up myself with 1,400 meters to go. I just tried flat-out from there."

Since joining Axeon Hagens Berman for 2017, Lawless has come close to winning but hash;t quite been able to hit the podium's top step. he was runner-up during two stages at the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal in February and once at Le Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux in Belgium last month. he was able to finally break through with the British national team on Saturday.

"I came into this race the same as I came into any other race," Lawless said. "I knew at Triptyque that I would like to win a stage, but it did not work. The same goes for Portugal, I wanted to win and it just did not work out. Today, all things just fell into place and it was the day for me."

Tour of the Alps provides final Giro d'Italia tune up for Gazprom-RusVelo 

Gazprom-RusVelo will use the upcoming Tour of the Alps (April 17-21) as its final tune-up for the Giro d'Italia in May. With 825km and 15,000 metres of climbing over the five days, the former Giro del Trentino is a true feast of mountains with practically no flat stages. 

The team will go into the inaugural Tour of the Alps backing Sergey Firsanov, who was fourth in a stage of t Trentino last year and finessed fourth overall.

"I was in a good shape on Giro dell’Appennino, but due to unfortunate fall, I finished just 15th," Firsanov said. "Now I have good legs and I am doing everything to shape up for Giro d’Italia. Tour of the Alps has a tremendous list of contenders, some of them are favorites for Giro. However, it just stimulates us for a fierce competition. We understand that it is a crucial part of the season, and nobody is going to sit behind one’s back. We are going to compete for the top places.”

The first two Austrian stages have undulating profiles that will set the peloton up for the crucial third stage and its 9km uphill finish. The remaining stages will give the riders a further taste f the high mountains they'll see in May.

Gazprom-RusVelo roster for Tour of the Alps: Ildar Arslanov, Igor Boev, Pavel Brutt, Sergey Firsanov, Alexander Foliforov, Sergey Nikolaev, Ivan Rovny, Dmitry Kozonchuk. 

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