Fuglsang draws career-best spring to a close at Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Dane says new finish could mean he attacks from distance
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) says that he's better than he has ever been at this time of the year and he is hoping to capitalise on that to take the Liège-Bastogne-Liège title.
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So far this season, Fuglsang has won the Ruta del Sol, finished on the podium of every one-day race that he's completed and taken third overall – plus a stage win – at Tirreno-Adriatico. Fuglsang has twice finished in the top 10 at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his best result coming in 2015 with a ninth-place finish. With what he feels is his best spring form, he is hoping to improve upon that on Sunday.
"At the moment, I feel super and the Classics have been super. So far the whole start of the season has been very good for me so till now I haven’t been as good as I have now at this time of the year," Fuglsang said at the team presentation in Liège on Saturday afternoon.
"I have finished in the top 10 or close to the top 10 many times but never really got the big result here. I hope that tomorrow will change that."
This year, Liège-Bastogne-Liège looks quite different to what Fuglsang will be used to, with a new finish likely to open up the race to a broader spectrum of riders. The mid-section of the race is tougher with the addition of the Côtes de Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée making a return, but the final 10 kilometres feature a fast, sweeping downhill section before a flat run to the line. Previously, the route culminated in an uncategorised rise into Ans, which Fuglsang says suited him better, but that isn’t putting him off having a go on Sunday.
"With the condition that I have and the qualities that I have as a rider, I would have preferred the old finish but it is how it is and there's nothing I can change," said Fuglsang. "I know that if I'm with Alaphilippe or Yates or in a smaller group with 10 kilometres to go, then it is going to be very difficult to do something about it and to win the race. I won't give up before the finish line and finish line. First, we have to get there.
"The descent towards the finish line is quite fast and quite easy so that might not change so much. That's at least something. For the rest, it's going to be a very tough day if it’s going to rain and be windy the whole day."
With the new finish, Fuglsang knows that he won't be able to sit around and wait until the last few kilometres. The Dane is going to have to take up the race much earlier than he has previously.
"I kind of have to try and go from far away. At least to start with, my finish line is on the top of the Roche-aux-Facons," he said. "From there on, it's flat and downhill and it will be a very fast speed at the finish line.
"With the kind of rider that I am, the safest way is to go it alone. We will see. It’s difficult and if the conditions are wind and rain it's going to be tough and it will be difficult to be alone in front."
Given his strong spring – results-wise, the best of his career – Fuglsang accepts that he will be a watched man, but he says that he and his rivals will have to be careful not to get too wrapped up in what others are doing if they have any hope of winning.
"They are probably going to keep an eye on me, but they also have to do their own race like I have to focus on how I do my race to win it and not to lose it, that's what it's all about.
"If you race too much on other's conditions then you can easily end up losing it instead of winning it. Of course, they are going to look at me as I am going to keep an eye on Alaphilippe, Yates and Daniel Martin."
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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.