In-form Valgren newly optimistic for Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Het Nieuwsblad and Amstel Gold champion won Liege twice at U23 level
Following last Sunday’s victory in Amstel Gold Race, not to mention the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory from February, Michael Valgren (Astana Pro Team) certainly has reasons to be optimistic about his chances of a third top result on Sunday.
Looking further back, the Dane has ‘previous’ in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as well. In 2012, and again in 2013, he won the U23 version race, on both occasions with lone breakaways.
Speaking to Cyclingnews earlier this week, before placing 50th in La Flèche Wallonne - a race that does not suit his talents as a racer, and which he later Tweeted he had “survived” - Valgren talked of his hopes for this Sunday.
"I'm looking forward to Liège, not just because it’s a bigger race, but because it’s a bigger goal," he said.
"Together with Jakob [Fuglsang] I hope that we can use our team strength again, and I can pay him back for the assistance he gave me there in Amstel Gold last week."
At Amstel Gold, Fuglsang was instrumental in wearing down the strength of the lead group with several attacks, prior to Valgren going up the road himself.
Should the boot be on the other foot in Liège, then, Valgren says he will have no objections at all in working for Fuglsang, although Valgren's own track record in Liège at U23 level is undoubtably a strong one.
"I like it, I have some very good memories of it. The results there were kind of what got me into the WorldTour teams, you know?” he told Cyclingnews.
In 2014, Valgren signed for Tinkoff from the now defunct Continental squad, Team Cult Energy.
"The first years I did Liège was really hard, but in 2016" - the same year he took second in Amstel Gold - “I got 14th or so, which I was actually pretty happy with, because it’s a super hard race, maybe one of the hardest races of the year, with so much climbing, and the start list.
"But it’s a race I really like a lot and hopefully I can confirm what I did in Amstel again and be up there again."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.