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Nathan Earle (Team Sky) driving the pace at the Tour Down Under
Numerous changes to squad for mid-week race
After a joyless Amstel Gold Race in which Edvald Boasson Hagen was the best finisher in 39th place 36 seconds off Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Team Sky turn its attention to the 194km La Flèche Wallonne looking for a better result. The team will have to do without last year's second place getter Sergio Henao who has been taken off Sky's roster due to test anomalies.
There are several changes to the team for the second of the three Ardennes races including the outgoing Geraint Thomas after a long Classics campaign and will now enjoy a period of rest.
With Boasson Hagen also having a break, the recent winner of Stage 2 and the overall victory at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, Peter Kennaugh, is handed his debut in the Ardennes.
Sport Director Nicolas Portal explained the squad changes on the Team Sky website for Flèche Wallonne. "They all gave it 100% and you can't ask for any more than that. Christian [Knees], Danny [Pate], Ian [Boswell] and Josh [Edmondson] were really good today and Nathan [Earle] did a lot of work as well," Portal said.
"We couldn't give Edvald as much support as we'd wanted in those last 20km though, and that showed when those last attacks went on the Cauberg.
"We have Pete [Kennaugh], Mikel [Nieve] and David [Lopez] coming in [...] for Flèche Wallonne so I think we will be much fresher for that, and if we avoid any more bad luck, we should be in good shape."
Australian Nathan Earle was the second best Sky rider in 79th place at his debut Amstel Gold Race. The 25-year-old is set to complete the Ardennes week with Liège–Bastogne–Liège on Sunday before heading to the Tour de Romandie in support of Chris Froome.
Team Sky for the 78th La Flèche Wallonne: Ian Boswell, Nathan Earle, Josh Edmondson, Peter Kennaugh, David López, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Ben Swift.