It’s just a few days until the Tour of Flanders and one of the favourite riders to claim the victory is Greg Van Avermaet. The Olympic champion and 2017 Paris-Roubaix winner has won almost every major Belgian classic there is, but the one title that still eludes him is Flanders, despite the fact he has twice been runner-up and in the top 10 a further five times.
Van Avermaet goes into this year’s cobbled classics campaign as the undisputed leader of his CCC Team, a squad which has undergone significant transformation last winter since the change of sponsorship from BMC.
Procycling met with Van Avermaet as he prepared to start his spring campaign, to talk about chasing that Flanders victory, how winning the Olympic title in Rio changed things for him, and adjusting to life at the new-look CCC Team.
"I’m almost 34 and still haven’t won Flanders. But I still have time, and I’m also confident that I still have a few chances," he tells Sophie Smith. "I would love to win Flanders but it’s not like I get sick of it. We’ll see how it goes."
Another rider who is seeking a strong spring classics campaign is Matteo Trentin. The Italian endured a frustrating spring in 2018, his first year with Mitchelton-Scott, which culminated in him breaking his back in a crash at Roubaix. Trentin recovered to win the European Championships last summer, and he tells Sophie Hurcom how he’s hoping to turn his classics consistency into top results this year.
Alejandro Valverde will be among the debutants at the Tour of Flanders this year, and while Flanders is new ground for the Spaniard, February’s Vuelta a Murcia is a race he knows all too well. The 38-year-old has contested his home race every year since 2002, but this year returned to the start line with the rainbow jersey as world champion. Alasdair Fotheringham was there to witness Valverde’s reception.
One rider Valverde will be able to rely on at Flanders is Jürgen Roelandts, the Belgian classics specialist who signed for Movistar this season from BMC. The 33-year-old is one of two Belgian riders to ever race for the Spanish WorldTour team, with the cobbled classics being far from Movistar’s traditional terrain. He tells Alasdair Fotheringham what it’s like to cross the cultural team divide.
As cycling has increasingly specialised over the years, classics riders have largely split themselves into two groups; those who race the cobbles and those who race the Ardennes. Yet recent years are seeing a renaissance of the classics all-rounder – riders who race from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad through to Liége-Bastogne-Liége. Michael Matthews, Bob Jungels, Valverde, Peter Sagan and Michael Valgren are among them, as Procycling finds out.
Petrochemical company Ineos’s takeover as title sponsor of Team Sky has reignited the debate regarding the ethics of companies involved in cycling. Sponsors have long been attracted to cycling for its publicity value, but can that good publicity be used to cover up more questionable reputations and activities? Peter Cossins takes a look at how some sponsors are attempting to 'sportswash' their brands.
Two-time road world champion Giorgia Bronzini stepped off the bike and into the team car this season, as a directeur sportif for Trek-Segafredo’s newly launched women’s team. As a racer, the Italian was known as one of the most tactically astute in the peloton, perfectly exemplified by her victory on her final-ever race at the Madrid Challenge last summer. Bronzini tells Sophie Hurcom how she’s hoping to pass on that race craft.
Samuel Dumoulin and Tony Gallopin first raced together at Cofidis back in 2010, before reuniting last season at Ag2r La Mondiale. The French duo – both of whom have won stages of the Tour de France - talk to Edward Pickering about their friendship, careers and what it’s like being French riders on a French team.
As the spring classics are upon us, it’s only fitting that this month’s Retro feature revisits the life and career of a rider described as the ‘archetypal Flandrian’ – Walter Godefroot. The Belgian won virtually every classic there is over the course of his career, as William Fotheringham hears his racing memories.
The April issue also features all our regulars, including the latest updates from Procycling’s 2019 diarists: George Bennett, Alex Dowsett, Emilia Fahlin, and Dan Martin.
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