News shorts: Liege start uncertain for Dan Martin after Flèche Wallonne crash

Medics monitor Dan Martin after Flèche Wallonne crash

Dan Martin is recovering from contusions, abrasions and a sore neck after crashing at the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Cannondale-Garmin released a statement on Thursday that said he was currently being monitored by medical staff. Martin was scheduled to race Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, a race he won in 2013, and his team is still hopeful that he will be able to compete.

The Irishman crashed after crossing wheels with Tiago Machado as the peloton approached the Mur de Huy for the first time. Although he initially returned to the bunch, he ended up abandoning the race.

"Medical staff continues to closely monitor Dan following his crash at Flèche Wallonne. Today his known injuries include contusions, abrasions and soreness in his neck. His health is our top priority and we will see how he progresses but remain hopeful that he will be able to start Liège-Bastogne-Liège."

Mezgec to lead Giant-Alpecin in the sprints at the Giro d'Italia

With Giant-Alpecin's Marcel Kittel focussed on the Tour de France in July, the team will rely on Luka Mezgec in the sprints at the upcoming Giro d'Italia in May.

Kittel won stages 2 and 3 last year before abandoning due to illness, while Mezgec won the stage 21 sprint into Trieste to close out the Italian Grand Tour. The Slovenian rider aims to provide his team with another stage win this time around.

The team's goals for the race are to win a stage and gain experience for the riders over the 21 days and more than 3,000 km of racing.

"Our primary target will be the sprint stages with Luka Mezgec, so in the final selection we will make choices that are aligned with this objective," said Coach Addy Engels. "Mezgec is a type of sprinter who is able to survive a climb in the finale, and we will determine our strategy from day to day."

The team will also rely on Simon Geschke to be in breakaways during the stages with more challenging terrain. Geschke was second to Tinkoff-Saxo's Michael Rogers in stage 11 last year.

"In the Giro there are always some stages that are too tough for a bunch sprint and not hard enough for the GC contenders," Engels said. "For these days we will bring riders such as Geschke to Italy to aim for a good stage result."

Mezgec and Geschke are the only two riders confirmed for Giant-Alpecin's Giro d’Italia team. The remaining riders on the long-list include Nikias Arndt, Bert De Backer, Caleb Fairly, Johannes Fröhlinger, Chad Haga, Cheng Ji, Tobias Ludvigsson, Tom Stamsnijder, Albert Timmer and Tom Veelers.

Saddle sores sideline Lutsenko

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) has had to take a break from racing to be treated for severe saddle sores. The team announced Wednesday that the Kazakhstani rider has been referred for surgery to treat the issue, which cropped up after a lengthy block of training for the Ardennes classics.

He will return home to recover, with a tentative return to racing in June at the GP Gippingen in Switzerland.

Tinkoff-Saxo aim to be in the mix at the Tour of Turkey

Tinkoff-Saxo will send an eight-man team to the upcoming Tour of Turkey from April 26 to May 3. The UCI 2.HC event, won by Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) last year, will include two uphill finishes, and Tinkoff-Saxo aims to be in the mix.

Nicki Sorensen will direct the team of Jay McCarthy, Pavel Brutt, Daniele Bennati, Michael Kolar, Nikolay Trusov, Edward Beltran, Evgeny Petrov and Juraj Sagan.

"We will arrive with a prospect of being competitive although we don’t, on paper, have the biggest favourites on the roster, neither in the GC nor in the sprinter’s stages," Sorensen said. "But still, we have a team with a pretty good width. I believe we can get in the mix on the flat stages and in the GC with Jay McCarthy and Pavel Brutt.

"It’s an exciting route, it has a bit of everything except time trials and you don’t necessarily have to be a pure climber to do well in the GC. It’s a good mix and I believe that, depending on the race shape of McCarthy and Brutt, they can do well. We will take it day by day and we also have a team of pretty fast guys in the likes of Michael Kolar, Nikolay Trusov and Daniele Bennati. I expect them to be there in the fast finales on the flat stages."

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