Italians struggle in the Ardennes

Much is being said about a lack of results by Belgian riders this spring but Italy has also ended the Classics season without success, with Italian riders missing out on the podium in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) finished fifth and Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) was sixth, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Damiano Cunego sacrificed their chances to help their teammates. Moreno Moser (Cannondale) finished a distant 24th, unable to understand why he was so off form, despite training at altitude and targeting the Ardennes Classics.

Luca Paolini (Katusha) won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but Italian riders have now not won one of cycling's big five monumental classics since 2008.

Scarponi seemed tired and far from his best at the Giro del Trentino. He had a complicated winter after serving a ban for his links to Dr. Michele Ferrari and having his salary cut by Lampre-Merida. Yet he fought for a result in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and was able to go with the decisive attack on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.

"It was a steady but hard race, we chased the break for a long time, going full gas on the climbs," Scarponi explained to Gazzetta dello Sport.

"When Rodriguez attacked, I didn't have the legs to go with him. I thought Valverde might chase him down but I think he was tired too. I tried but then Martin came from behind and was going a lot faster. After that I was going for a podium place, which would have been a great result. Unfortunately Valverde and Betancur passed me before the line"

"I was tired in the finale of the race and I didn't have the power in my legs to attack or chase, so I worked for Gasparotto," Nibali said.

Moser had to explanation for his lack of form.

"I tried to hang on as long as I could but my form is what it is at the moment and I could do any better. Don't ask me why: I don’t know. Now I'm going to focus on doing well at the Tour de Romandie and at Frankfurt," he said.

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