A catalyst for the race-winning break at Amstel Gold, Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge) sees similarities in the bookends of the Ardennes Classics due to the removal of the Roche aux Faucons for tomorrow's Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Formerly on the podium at the under-23 edition of Liège, Weening has been building into top form over the last two months, all with an eye to the Giro d'Italia, a little under a fortnight away. Weening finished second overall at the Tour de Langkawi and then finished sixth on GC at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco prior to his top-10 finish at the Amstel Gold Race.
"Tomorrow will be my last race before the Giro," Weening confirmed. "It's a nice race and I'll try and get a result but it's also good training at 260km so it's good preparation for the Giro. Hopefully I can keep this shape until the Giro."
The Faucons has been replaced by the Cote de Colonster at 17 kilometres to go and while not as difficult as its forebear, Weening is willing to bet that with the element of the unknown it gives any breakaway added hope.
"The finish of Amstel Gold Race was a little bit different than before and that gave guys in the breakaway more opportunity to win that race," he explained. "Tomorrow that can happen here but we'll have to wait and see what happens because this final is different.
"Normally for the win it will be decided on the last climb but there's a lot of hard racing before also. It depends on how the weather is, how the wind is and how they're going to race the last 100km."
Making the most of May
In 2012, a knee injury led to a slow start to Weening's season and instead of making a return to the Giro where the year before he had worn the maglia rosa for four days, he raced the Tour of California. There, he finished 10th overall off the back of a strong performance on Mount Baldy but admits it wasn't quite the same.
"It's a long one but for me normally, May is a good month and I hope to be good this year again," Weening told Cyclingnews.
Along with sprinter, Matt Goss, Weening must be considered as a genuine chance for a stage win over the course of the three-week event, especially given his form - if it can be maintained. Something that he admits requires a fine balance.
"I'll do my own small sort of training camp and I'll also do recovery from the Ardennes," Weening explained. "So there's not much time in between and I'll try to be well recovered so there's not too much training but I won't be too relaxed. I try to do a bit of everything. The focus is still to be fresh for the Giro."
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