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EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!
Alejandro Valverde is the star of the day with a fifth Flèche Wallonne win. Report, result, quotes and video and he is our Top Story for EUROTRASH Thursday. In other cycling news: Flèche Wallonne Feminine, Tour of the Alps, teams for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, no Giro d'Italia for Philippe Gilbert, Ciclamino jersey returns, Sunweb Giro long list, star riders for the Tour de Yorkshire and official limited edition Tom Boonen magazine. Big coffee time.

TOP STORY: What About Valverde?
I'm not an Alejandro Valverde fan. Not due to his two year suspension for his part in 'Operación Puerto' or the way he handled it, but his racing style.

Let me explain: When Valverde was eventually banned, which took some time due to court cases and blood samples not being tested; Alejandro didn't admit anything, kept his mouth shut, carried on training and came back as a winner. Some people think this is worse than appearing on a TV chat show in tears, making a confession in a false manner. I'm not a fan due to his racing style. He's not known to attack that much and as to working on the front, he is a little shy in coming forward. Also he has crossed a few other riders in his time, just ask Joaquim Rodriguez after the World championships in 2013.

You could say he's a crafty rider and lets face it, his race formula works as he has been winning races since he was a schoolboy. Although it's well known in Spain that he and his Murcian neighbor, Luis Leon Sanchez, didn't attend school much as they were out riding their bikes. OK, I'm not putting up a good argument against Señor Valverde, anyone who can still be winning races at 37 can't be all bad.

Or maybe it's just his regrowing hair:

Fléche Wallonne 2017
Movistar's Alejandro Valverde claimed a splendid 5th career win in Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday to take his 10th individual success for 2017 and the 19th for his Movistar Team.

Valverde is now the out-and-out recordman of Flèche Wallonne. After breaking a tie with Merckx, Kint, Argentin and Rebellin, all with three victories before the Spanish claimed his fourth in 2016, the marvel from Murcia was able to increase that tally on Wednesday and take his fifth (and four on a row) in the second event of the Ardennes trio. Valverde was as strong as usual on the decisive climb to the Mur de Huy (1.3km at 9.6% average, slopes up to 26%). Following impressive work from the Movistar team, Valverde controlled the opposition with ease before doing his classic acceleration from just less than 200 meters from the finish line. Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors) finished Flèche Wallonne on the podium for the third time in his career, after the 2014 and 2016 editions and BMC's Dylan Teuns was third.

Before the riders tackled the legendary Mur de Huy for the third and final time in Wednesday’s race, Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) animated the Belgian Classic, attacking as the peloton crested the iconic climb for the second time and bridging to lone leader Alessandro De Marchi (BMC). After leaving Côte d’Ereffe behind, the 24-year-old Luxemburger put his time trial skills to work and dropped the Italian on the descent, opening a 50-second gap on the bunch. Jungels put in a valiant effort as he gave his best to bring the race to life and make the peloton work hard in order to catch him halfway up the Mur de Huy. On the final climb of the Huy it was a waiting game until 300 meters to go, when David Gaudu (FDJ) made a move, which drew a response from defending champion Valverde, who then surged clear to take the win.

Huy - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro (ESP) Rider of Movistar  pictured during the Fleche Wallone 2017 - foto Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

Flèche winner, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): "It was a victory based on confidence, strength and a great team supporting me all the way. I had lots of respect to what my rivals could do, but also knew that I was in great physical condition, and I had to take advantage from it. We believed we could win it again, and the whole team worked from the very first kilometer to keep the race together before the finish. There were plenty of attacks into the final 50km by riders from Quick Step and BMC, but ourselves, as well as Orica who took a big share of the work in the finale, made sure it all came down to the last Huy climb. We knew it would still be difficult to win there, because only one can achieve it and many fight for it, but to be honest, this feels like a race made for me."

2nd, Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors): "This year’s Flèche Wallonne was strange, because we had a strong headwind on the Mur and the peloton was very nervous. That made for a messy finish and as a result I didn’t have the best position on the climb, where my plan was to take Alejandro’s wheel. Although things weren’t perfect and I didn’t have good legs today, I managed to come back and grab second place at the end of the race, and this makes me look with optimism to Liège–Bastogne–Liège."

3rd, Dylan Teuns (BMC): "I was able to keep calm until the last two or three kilometers. The only important thing with the Mur de Huy is positioning, to be in front, and to try and ride as fast as possible up the climb. With Alessandro De Marchi in front in the final 30km we didn't have to chase, and even if we didn't have De Marchi, we were able to wait because Valverde (Movistar Team) was the big favorite. The pressure was on him and Movistar Team, and Orica-Scott also took the pressure because they were riding for Michael Albasini. For us it was perfect to have De Marchi in front. You need to be in the top ten riders when you approach the Mur de Huy. I knew from two years ago because I was in 25th or 30th position and I came up to 5th position at the steepest part but by then I had already made a big effort. I was with the big favorites towards the top of the climb so it was the perfect position for me. I was here in 2011 when Philippe Gilbert won and I was at the place where he attacked but I was boxed in by Michael Kwiatkowski and Sergio Henao, and I was thinking this was the moment to go. But when you are in a race with a top favorite like Valverde you need to wait until he goes. I tried to follow and I could for five meters but then I lost a bike length. Then it was just about keeping going to the end. The legs hurt. In 2015 I was a neo-pro and now it's my third year with BMC Racing Team. I did my first Grand Tour last year and they always say that this helps you to step up a lot. So, I guess that helped me. I'm 25 now and Valverde is 37 so I think I still have a lot of years to progress and try and win this race one day. Today I shared the leadership with Samuel Sanchez and I took my chance that I got from the team. I'm really thankful for this chance from the team and I think I still have time to grow, to compete more for winning in the next few years."

16th, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe): "When Jungels was caught, I was able to keep a position near the front but unfortunately on the last 150 meters I wasn’t able to go with the best ones. The result is pretty good but I wished to finish within the top ten."

18th, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): "It was the plan to ride at the front of the pack all day long and so we did. Everyone knows the last ascent of Mur de Huy is decisive. Jungels did an ultimate attempt to get another outcome, but it came back together nonetheless. On the way to the Mur, I tried to move up in the bunch and get a good position, but on the Mur I didn’t have the legs anymore to follow the best riders in the race. That’s a pity, because I felt good all day long and had hoped for a place on top ten. As a team’s leader you hope for a better result than eighteenth of course, but the others were stronger. I wanted to see how far I would get on the Mur and that was not far enough. I have to recover now and focus on the fourth monument of the year: Liège-Bastogne-Liège. That’s my dream race."

Hero of the day, Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors): "It was cold in the beginning and a bit difficult, but towards the end we went with our plan and on the second ascent of the Mur de Huy I attacked. Problem was that too many of the guys behind where still fresh and that made it impossible to go all the way to the line. Overall, I am satisfied with my legs and how I felt, and I take my ride in the Ardennes so far as a good omen for the Giro d’Italia."

Fléche Wallonne Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 5:15:37
2. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors at 0:01
3. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC
4. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky
5. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott
6. Warren Barguil (Fra) Sunweb
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky
8. Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJ
9. David Gaudu (Fra) FDJ
10. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates.


Flèche Wallonne Feminine 2017
La Flèche Wallonne Féminine celebrated its 20th edition with a spectacular race that drove the crowd wild. European champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels–Dolmans), who had already won the two previous editions of La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, took her third consecutive victory at the summit of the legendary Mur de Huy. Van der Breggen repeated the feat of her masculine counterpart Alejandro Valverde in last year's race and Marianne Vos in 2009. After her win last Sunday on the Amstel Gold Race, Van der Breggen will be on the start line next Sunday of the first edition of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Féminine with the possibility to do another incredible hat-trick!

Huy - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Anna Van der Breggen (Netherlands Boels Dolmans) pictured during the Fleche Wallone women - foto VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Race winner, Anna Van Der Breggen (Boels Dolmans): "Winning here for the third time in a row is really incredible. The race was very fast since the first kilometers. We had a plan, with the team, and it worked to perfection. I was obviously a favorite this year and so I had to change tactics to surprise my opponents and attack earlier than in previous years. But it was even harder and I had to draw from my reserves to win. I’m in good shape and I have an incredible team so I think we have good chances this Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège."

6th, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla): "Today was a great effort from the whole team. It was a huge improvement from Amstel Gold Race. Everyone executed the team plan perfectly. Unfortunately for me, I had some bad luck crashing just before some heavy cross winds. That cost me a lot of energy to come back. At one point I thought that was my race done but Clara [Koppenburg] did an exceptional job to be with me all day and help me with the chase. I managed to re-join at 76km. Thomas encouraged me to give it a go on the climb to put the others under pressure. I felt really good and it was perfect because Allie was up the road. She gave me a lift into the Mur and I rode solo to the top but it was quite windy up there it didn’t make sense for me to keep going solo. After I was caught, Marie then jumped across and put in an exceptional effort. I’m really proud of how she went today. I said to her today was the perfect day for her and the kind of race she can do well in. I used energy in the attack and the chase but today I felt really confident and am making progress. I’m proud of the team and believe we can now go into Liege-Bastogne-Liege with some positive energy and try again."

Flèche Wallonne Feminine Result:
1. Anna Van Der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans in 3:21:06
2. Elizabeth Deignan (GB) Boels Dolmans at 0:16
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Pro Cycling at 0:25
4. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott at 0:43
5. Shara Gillow (Aus) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope at 0:49
6. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo-Bigla at 0:54
7. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb at 0:56
8. Janneke Ensing (Ned) Alé-Cipollini at 0:58
9. Katrin Garfoot (Aus) Orica-Scott at 1:00
10. Flavia Oliveira (Bra) Lares-Waowdeals at 1:02.

Fleche Wallonne podium:
Huy - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Anna Van der Breggen (Netherlands Boels Dolmans) - Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE (Spain / Team Movistar)  pictured during the Fleche Wallone women - foto Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos ©2 017

Tour of the Alps 2017
The Tour of the Alps did not take long to start giving up huge emotions to the cycling fans. A spectacular finale sealed the historical Stage 1 of the new event, with the showdown among the announced favorites on the finale drag to Hungerburg – 7% average gradient. A just-over-3-km climb was enough to light up the race, and set up an exciting finish just over Innsbruck, at a 848 meters altitude, with some early indications on the conditions of the top contenders for this race – and also for the Giro d’Italia. Michele Scarponi (Astana) showed he is ready to fill the void left by Fabio Aru, claiming his first ever stage win in the event – though he had won a Giro del Trentino GC in 2011 – with an uphill sprint in which he prevailed on Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ): the top favorites are not hiding at all. Michele Scarponi claimed his first ever win in an Astana jersey, and the first in the year for the Kazakh team, getting back in the fuchsia jersey six years later.

The day had started in Kufstein, the venue of yesterday’s presentation. After the start of the 139 riders in the race, the early on was characterized by several breakaway attempts, with rain pouring on the riders in the first part of the race, then leaving way to a milder and wet weather for the rest of the way. Ackermann (Bora), Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Zhupa (Wilier Triestina), Orrico (Sangemini-MG kVis) and Gamper (Tirol Cycling Team), got clear after 4 km, but couldn’t resist to the comeback of the peloton on the first of two categorized climbs of the day. Foliforov remained out for longer, partnering with Hugh Carthy (Cannondale-Drapac) for some kilometers, before the group got back together. Foliforov’s grit was rewarded with the first KOM jersey, whilst the first red jersey (Intermediate Sprint) was worn by Bora-hansgrohe’s Pascal Ackermann.

The most important attempt of the day was still to come though, as Francesco Gavazzi (Androni-Sidermec), Iuri Filosi (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Matthias Krizek (Tirol) put on a good attempt, that required all the effort from Team Sky and FDJ to get them back in control at the foot of the final drag. Team Sky elevated the pace even further, stretching the peloton out, before an attack by Geraint Thomas made the decisive selection with 1,5 km to go. Scarponi was the first to react, followed by Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni-Sidermec). Pozzovivo tried to take advantage of the toughest section to attack, but he found the reaction of the fellow leaders, on whose wake also returned Formolo and Pinot with 500 meters to go. Formolo launched the long sprint, but Michele Scarponi’s acceleration ultimately proved the decisive one. Behind the Italian, Thomas managed to keep off Pinot’s comeback: a classification that immediately shows how much the leaders care about this race, and their intentions for the toughest stages to come.

As for the other favorites, Rohan Dennis (BMC) surrendered 11 seconds in 9th position, behind Youth Classification’s leader Hugh Carthy (Cannondale-Drapac), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) gave up 17 seconds, defending champion Mikel Landa (Team Sky) couldn’t do better than 21st at 26 seconds. But he gaps are still reduced, and there are still a lot of big mountains to go.

Stage 1 winner and overall leader, Michele Scarponi (Astana):
First stage victory at Tour of the Alps (former Giro del Trentino)

"In 2011 I had won the Giro del Trentino without winning any stage. Finally today I managed to raise my arms for a stage win, a wonderful feelings that I had been missing for long time. The stage was demanding, even if it was arguably the easiest on chart. Team Sky really pushed the pace to start the climb, and Thomas attacked with 2 km to go, but I was sharp enough to stay with him and Pozzovivo, and ultimately tried my move with 300 meters to go."

Astana breaks the ice
"It’s my first ever victory for Astana, and the first in the season for the Team too. We have been racing well lately, but for some reason the win kept eluding us. So this win is very good also for the team’s morale."

Impressed by…
"Thomas and Pinot rode like leaders, their teams made the race and this is a sign of confidence. Pozzovivo is always very consistent, generally and in this race. I was also impressed by myself, as I was coming off the training camp in Sierra Nevada, but you never know how you are actually doing until you get some race action. I think there is still room for improvement, but even if I could just bring this condition into the Giro I would not complain."

The leader’s jersey
"Tonight we are sleeping with the leader’s jersey, but there is still a long way until Friday. No one likes to surrender the leader’s jersey, so we will race to defend it, but today I would rather enjoy this winning taste I had not been feeling for some time, and then we will try to focus on tomorrow."

The weather
"There are some rumors about snow, and I have a perfect last name for that (Scarponi in Italian means booths). In case of snow, descents might prove treacherous, but we have competent people taking decisions on that on our behalf. Also today the weather was expected to be much worse that it actually was, so let’s stay positive."

A special dedication
"I want to dedicate this win to my twins, Giacomo and Tommaso, and to my wife, ‘cause I love them so much. And also to my Region, Marche, and all those regions hit hard by last summer’s earthquake in Italy: I know what it means, and I truly hope I could bring some joy to my land with this victory. And, of course, to my Astana team and teammates."

Tour of the Alps Stage 1 Result:
1. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana in 3:32:15
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
4. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana
7. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:04
8. Hugh Carthy (GB) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:08
9. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:11
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC.

Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 1:
1. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana in 3:32:05
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:04
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:06
4. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:10
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana
7. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:14
8. Hugh Carthy (GB) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:18
9. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:21
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC.

Alps stage 1:

Tour of the Alps might have been the sun so far, but the show was there all the way. Stage 2 of the new Euro-Regional race that took over from Giro del Trentino provided another big-name win. On the Austrian finish in Innervillgraten, Rohan Dennis enjoyed his first win in this edition, finding morale and confidence in his quest to convert himself into a GT contender. Dennis topped the uphill sprint over Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who improved his yesterday’s placement and took over the fuchsia leader’s jersey. Third spot for an Italian, Davide Ballerini (Androni-Sidermec), giving consistency to a good early season form by the Gianni Savio’s team.

It was in the forecast, and it eventually came. The bad weather in Austria forced the organizer to change the program of stage 2. The start was supposed to be in Innsbruck, from the iconic Europe Bridge, and instead the snowfall on the Brenner Pass made it too risky for the riders to take: the jury and organizers put riders’ safety first, moving the start to Vipiteno and reducing the stage distance by 40 kilometers.

After the transfer with the teams’ vehicles, the 138 riders found way better conditions at the start given at 12. The group moved together at very fast pace before the first breakaway came out. Four riders moved away from the pack: Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe), Simone Velasco (Bardiani-CSf), Niccolò Salvietti (Sangemini-MgKVis) and Patrick Gamper (Tirol Cycling Team). The break had a maximum advantage of 2:16 at km 42, when Gazprom took charge of making the pace in the peloton, helped by Team Sky. The four leaders were reeled in with 26 km to go, at the foot of the Santa Justina climb, the sole categorized ascent after the Brennero’s scratch.

The race lit up on the Brennero’s hairpins: Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) forced the pace, and was joined by Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-Csf), last year’s winner Mikel Landa (Team Sky) and Ilia Koshevoy (Wilier Triestina). In the descent, the four added another piece in Damiano Caruso (BMC).

An attack by Landa with 7 km to go further reduced the lead to three men – the Spaniard, Pirazzi and Caruso: the breakaway tried to resist to the comeback of the pack, with Pirazzi last to surrender after a solo attempt with 2 km to go. The outcome of the reduced sprint was uncertain until the line, with Dennis able to hold off Pinot, Ballerini and Thomas. With the second place, Thibaut Pinot moved to the top of the overall standings, taking the fuchsia jersey off the shoulders of Michele Scarponi.

Stage 2 winner, Rohan Dennis (BMC):
Bounce back

"Yesterday I didn't ride the final climb perfectly, tactical-wise. I lost time and it's not good when you come with overall ambitions. Today, I managed to bounce back from that disappointment, and also regain some confidence and morale. It was a chilly, but good day".

Fast wheel, sometimes
"I've won a couple of times in a sprint. I am not someone who can contest Kittel, Sagan, or even Greg Van Avermaet, but when it comes to uphill sprints, I have enough to get a win every now and then".

Without the Brenner
"To cut out Brennero Pass was a good decision. I think Brennero wouldn’t have changed the unfolding of the race. I expected about 60 riders to contest the finish today, and that’s what actually happened".

To seize the day
"I have come here with that sort of my mentality: come in day by day and see how I feel. If I can, I can. If I can't, try to minimize the loss, like I did yesterday. I think it's better for me to look at it kilometer by kilometer, and try to get the best possible result at that point of the race, instead of thinking too far ahead, to care about the condition of my legs, and try to take the opportunities when they come".

Teammates’ work repaid
"To get the stage win for them is great to sort of give them confidence in me, and one guy specially for me today was Rosskopf, he was riding in front for the last 10km, he was amazing when it came to the lead-out for Brent Bookwalter and I. I'm glad I can repay them for the work they've done today".

The queen stage
"I think with my legs today, if I feel the same, I don't think there's a reason why I wouldn't be able to be in the top-1 tomorrow. I think I just have to not think too much. The toughest pass isn't the finish of the race, I have to remind myself that. I have to make it to the top of the climb and hope I'm still in contention for the GC at the end of it".

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ):
A nice surprise

"It was a surprise for me to take the leader's jersey, I didn't expect it. It was a fast stage with cold weather that it's something I don't dislike, it was good for me. My focus was to be in the best position at the end of the race, I didn't expect to be in the leader's jersey. It was an excellent decision to cut the first part of the race today because it was snowing, it was very cold and many riders are here to prepare Giro, that's something you have to take in consideration. I don't think the Brennero Pass would've affected the final result, and we also found good conditions from the point we took the start".

Improving condition
"I think my shape is improving day by day, taking into account I had not raced since Tirreno-Adriatico, I'm confident I'll find a better shape through the week at Tour of the Alps".

A key stage
"I'm sure tomorrow will be a good stage, the hardest one, and I hope to defend the jersey. For sure the last 3 days are the toughest ones, we will try to defend the lead".

Italy mon amour
"I have always loved racing in Italy, I also got some good results here. Since this will be my first Giro, it seemed logical to me to be here, taking in races suited for my characteristics: Sanremo, Tirreno-Adriatico, and of course Tour of the Alps, a race I had always wanted to take part in".

Head home with the jersey
"After the race I will go home for some days, as I spent very little time there lately, coming off the training camp. It’s also important to rest before a race like the Giro. And hopefully I can go home with this jersey in my luggage".

4th on the stage, Nick Schultz (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): "Today was an interesting day with the stage being shortened and the first climb avoided due to bad weather. For me, this was probably better. It was really cold and we had periods of snow... Being from Australia that can be a shock to the system sometimes. I made sure I had a lot of clothes on for the start and throughout the stage the team was always there for me when I needed to take it off or add more so I'm really thankful for their amazing work all day. On the second last climb of the day I tried a move on the early slopes. Josemi told me to ease off a little so I waited for the peloton. I think he made the perfect call as I sometimes like racing too much and can get carried away. In the end Prades and I were trying to work together for the sprint. It was quite chaotic due to a head wind on the uphill finish and we couldn't quite organize the sprint together. I hit out quite early (200m) and tried to hold on. Rohan came past me with about 100m to go really fast and from there I tried to hang on for a minor placing. Of course I would have liked to get the win but I'm glad I could have a crack in the finale. Now the really big mountains start and I hope I can help the pure climbers on the team be successful in the coming days."

Tour of the Alps Stage 2 Result:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC in 3:20:13
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
3. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
4. Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
6. Eduard Prades (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
7. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana
8. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
9. Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Sky
10. Matteo Busato (Ita) Wilier Triestina.

Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 2:
1. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ in 6:52:18
2. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:04
4. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 0:10
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac
7. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 0:11
8. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:14
9. Hugh Carthy (GB) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:18
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 0:21.

Alps stage 2:

Sky’s Geraint Thomas might have been the most expected rider in today’s Tour of the Alps Stage 3, Villabassa-Funes of 135,6 km: the Alpe Rodengo and the final climb to Funes were deemed to be crucial tests for his new GT contender’s credentials. Many thought Mikel Landa would have been Team Sky’s guy for the day, and it actually looked like that until 1 km to go. But it’s never over until it’s over: Thomas succeeded in an outstanding progression into the final 1000 meters, claiming an impressive win over Landa in a Team Sky parade.

The stage also said a lot about the conditions of Giro d’Italia contenders: Landa is certainly stronger than what we saw in Innsbruck, while Pozzovivo is always a solid bid when it comes to late April. Scarponi was still solid, like Formolo, whilst Thibaut Pinot looked less brilliant than the previous days but was still fifth on the day, and never got out of top-5 in this race. Yesterday’s winner Rohan Dennis (BMC) was the only one of the favorites to end out of contention: there’s still room for a big battle in the last couple of days.

The day’s breakaway came out early after the official start. A trio of Leigh Howard (Aqua Blue), Davide Orrico (Sangemini-MGkVis) and Filippo Fortin (Tirol) saw their advantage grow quickly, reaching a 6.30 advantage before even reaching the Terento climb. The Gazprom-Rusvelo of KOM classification leader Alexander Foliforov took the reins of the bunch, but still the gap remained stable on the way to the top, with Italian youngster Orrico topping the Cat. 1 climb.

The three leaders kept on together until the feared and unprecedented climb to the Alpe Rodengo. It was again Orrico who showed the best climbing skills, dropping first Fortin and then Howard, while Team Sky pushed a strong but regular pace in the bunch to reduce the gap. Orrico succeeded to claim his 2nd KOM of the day, with the peloton reached the peak two minutes later.

There were just forty riders composing the main bunch at the foot of the last climb in pursuit of Orrico, who managed to defend only 38 seconds on the chasers. Team Sky kept pushing with Ian Boswell in first position until he left it to Philip Deignan to force the pace even further. Orrico finally had to give up with 7,5 km to the finish, with the peloton reduced to 20 riders. Then, defending champion Mikel Landa (Sky) launched his acceleration with 5 km to go, followed by Dario Cataldo (Astana) and then joined by Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale).

The Italian forced the pace again, dropping Cataldo and sharing the lead with the Spaniard. Behind, Scarponi tried to lead the chase, with Geraint Thomas looking brilliant in his wake, whilst leader Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) did not look to have the best of days. With 2 km to go, Pozzovivo and Landa had 20 seconds on the chasers, and looked destined to a 2-man battle for the win. Then, the unexpected happens: Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) attacks from the bunch, Geraint Thomas follows and breezes past the Italian with a remarkable progression, and quickly closes in to the leaders into the last 500 meters. From there on, it’s a Team Sky party, with the Brit celebrating the stage win over teammate Mikel Landa, and Pozzovivo in third. Thomas claims also the Fuchsia jersey: the Tour of the Alps might have found its man to beat.

Stage winner and overall leader, Geraint Thomas (Sky): "At the foot of the final climb Landa and I were both feeling good, so we decided he will try to go on the attack, so I could sit up on the wheels a bit and save energy. When Formolo attacked in the final kilometers, I saw the rest of the group was at the limit so I tried to go, even though I didn’t think I would bridge back on Landa and Pozzovivo. Instead it happened, and it was when I took a breather after the finish that I realized that I had done it."

"Team Sky did a great job today of setting the pace at the foot of the climb. We might be just six in the race, but six strong riders, and we also communicate very well together."

"Today’s win gives me confidence for my Giro ambitions, but of course it’s still unexplored terrain for me, as I still have to take a GC top-10, and I will be competing against big favorites like Nibali and Quintana. For me it’s more about keeping up to my plan and focusing on myself at this point. The Tour of the Alps provides five great days of racing with long climbs, so I think this is the perfect preparation for the Giro d’Italia."

"I went on recognition on Giro’s stage 18 and 19 before coming to this race, and they are both brutal stages indeed. After here, I will be heading home for some rest before tackling the Giro d’Italia challenge."

"We are in the lead now, and we will try to defend the jersey from now to the end of the race. Tomorrow is another hard day, and a lot can still happen until Friday."

Tour of the Alps Stage 3 Result:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 3:47:50
2. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Sky
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale at 0:03
4. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:13
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 0:14
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Hugh Carthy (GB) Cannondale-Drapac
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac.

Tour of the Alps Overall After Stage 3:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 10:40:02
2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:16
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:19
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana at 0:21
5. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:31
6. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Sky at 0:36
7. Hugh Carthy (GB) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:39
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 0:42
9. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:46
10. Danilo Celano (Ita) Italy at 0:48.

Alps stage 3:

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2017
While he was dominating races in Spain as a youngster and in the junior ranks, the parents of Alejandro Valverde’s rivals often called the organizers to inform them of the presence of ‘El Imbatido’, to help their kids avoid yet another humiliation. The years have passed and the riders no longer need their parents to get their hands on the entry lists. They have learned how to deal with the “ego blows”, but it is a similar feeling that permeates in the peloton when approaching the Ardennes. “I only have to wait for Alejandro to retire”, half-joked second place Dan Martin during the press conference punctuating the dream day of the Spaniard, winner yesterday of his fifth Flèche Wallonne title and fourth consecutive. In his current form, which has never been more dazzling when you think about his 10 victories so far in 2017, Alejandro Valverde comes in, once again, as the overwhelming favourite of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which he has won three times (2006, 2008 and 2015).

However, while the psychological ascendancy will be real at the start of the Sunday roundtrip, the scenarios are generally more varied… and ’La Doyenne’ and its vagaries can work to the advantage of several contenders. Thus, Dan Martin, who has always come up short against Valverde on the Flèche Wallonne, did manage to win the 2013 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, leaving his biggest Ardennes rival to finish 3rd. The rebellion could come from many others, whether it is the Sky contingent who put Henao (4th) and Kwiatkowski (7th) in the lead group at Huy, BMC that took a podium result with Dylan Teuns and is ready to wager on the appetite of Greg van Avermaet (7th in 2011) at Liège, the hyper-active Orica-Scott squad that has added former winner Simon Gerrans to join Albasini, the winner of the White Jersey on the Tour de France Adam Yates, his twin brother Simon, Colombia’s Esteban Chaves, and Sunweb who will rely on Tom Dumoulin in addition to Warren Barguil, 6th on the final climb of the Mur de Huy. Finally, Romain Bardet, runner-up on the 2016 Tour de France, took his best finish in his fourth Flèche Wallonne (13th) while already thinking about ‘La Doyenne’.

Key points :
Following his fifth triumph on the Flèche Wallonne, Alejandro Valverde is perhaps more than ever the man to beat on the 103rd edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Ø The contenders for ‘La Doyenne’ are not, however, throwing in the towel. The peloton will include more than his adversaries at Huy, such as other challengers like the winner of Paris-Roubaix Greg van Avermaet, Simon Gerrans and Tom Dumoulin…

see the full PEZ Liège Preview HERE.

25 teams: the main participants:


Orica-Scott: Gerrans (Aus), A.Yates (Gbr), S. Yates (Gbr), Albasini (Che)

Bahrain-Merida: Gasparotto, Visconti (Ita), J.Izagirre (Spa)

Etixx-Quick Step: D.Martin (Irl), Vakoc (Rtc)
Lotto-Soudal: Vanendert, Wellens (Bel)
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Van Hecke (Bel)
Wanty-Groupe Gobert: Martin (Fra)
WB Veranclassic Aquality Project: Delfosse, Pardini (Bel)

AG2R La Mondiale: Bardet, Latour, Vuillermoz (Fra), Pozzovivo (Ita)
FDJ: Vichot, Molard (Fra), Eiking (Nor)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Edet, Simon (Fra), Mate (Spa)
Direct Energie: Voeckler, Calmejane, Hivert (Fra)

Team Sunweb: Barguil (Fra), Dumoulin (Ned), Matthews (Aus)
Bora-Hansgrohe: Majka (Pol), McCarthy (Aus)

Great Britain
Team Sky: Kwiatkowski (Pol), Henao (Col), Rosa (Ita)

Aqua Blue Sport: Nordhaug (Nor)

Astana Pro Team: Fuglsang (Dan), Kangert (Est), L-L.Sanchez (Spa)

Team Lotto NL-Jumbo: Tankink (Ned)
Roompot-Nederlandse Lotrij : Weening (Ned)

South Africa
Team Dimension Data: Anton (Spa), Pauwels (Bel)

Movistar Team: Valverde, Moreno, Soler (Spa), Betancur (Col)

Team Katusha: Lammertink (Ned), Taaramae (Est)

United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: Costa (Por), Meintjes (Zaf), Ulissi (Ita)

United States
BMC Racing Team: Van Avermaet, Teuns (Bel), S.Sanchez (Spa)
Cannondale-Drapac: Uran (Col), Formolo (Ita), Woods (Can)
Trek-Segafredo: Pantano (Col), Felline (Ita)

2016 Liège:

Quick-Step Floors Team to Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Daniel Martin will look to be again in the thick of the action at the season’s fourth Monument.

The classics season will come to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon in Belgium, at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest Monument of the calendar, whose history runs all the way back to 1892. One of the hardest one-day races in the world, the Belgian event will bring the Grand Tour contenders to the fore, who’ll have the chance to shine and grab a prestigious victory at the end of a 258km-long course, which will put on the table an undulating route, containing ten classified climbs, for a total of nearly 5000 vertical meters.

Côte de La Roche en Ardenne, Côte de Saint-Roch, Côte de Pont, Côte de Bellevaux, Côte de la Ferme Libert, Col du Rosier, Col du Maquisard, Côte de La Redoute, Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas are the steep hills sprinkled all over the route, most of them having double-digit gradients, which will thin out the peloton and make an important selection before the drag to the finish in the suburb of Ans.

One of the three former winners to line up at the start of the 103rd edition, Dan Martin will hope to capitalize on his good form, which brought him second place at Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, and be in the run for a second “La Doyenne” title, after the one of 2013.

“Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a very hard race, one of the toughest out there, and at the same time very different from Flèche Wallonne. I’d say it’s a race which suits me better than Fleche and I won’t hide the fact I would like to finish on top again. I hope to have strong legs on Sunday and will try my best”, said the 30-year-old, one of the only two Irish riders to ever win a Monument.

Joining Dan Martin in the Quick-Step Floors ranks for Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be Gianluca Brambilla, Eros Capecchi, David De La Cruz, Laurens De Plus, Dries Devenyns, neo-pro Enric Mas (who’ll make his Monument debut) and Petr Vakoc.

23.04 Liège-Bastogne-Liège (BEL) 1.UWT


Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Eros Capecchi (ITA), David De La Cruz Melgarejo (ESP), Laurens De Plus (BEL), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Daniel Martin (IRL), Enric Mas (ESP), Petr Vakoc (CZE).
Sports Director: Tom Steels (BEL) and Geert Van Bondt (BEL).

Cycling: Team Quick-Step Floors 2017Daniel MARTIN (IRL) /Training Team QS (Bel)/ ©Tim De Waele

Preview Liège-Bastogne-Liège with Tim Wellens
Sunday 23 April, the Classics season traditionally ends with Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It is the 103rd edition of La Doyenne. While it was snowing last year, it will probably be dry this year with a maximum temperature of eight degrees.

Ten hills are spread on the route of 258 kilometres. The peloton will only reach the first hill after seventy kilometres of racing. Because of roadworks, the race won’t pass over the Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée. These hills are replaced by Côte de Pont, Côte de Bellevaux and Côte de la Ferme Libert. The next hill is the Col du Rosier, with 4.4 kilometres the longest hill of the day but definitely not the steepest. In the last fifty kilometres of the race the riders need to cover four hills: Col du Maquisard, Côte de La Redoute, Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas from where 5.5 kilometres are yet to cover. Although the climbing isn’t over at that point. The last kilometre towards the finish in Ans is still very steep.

Tim Wellens: “Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the fourth race in two weeks for me. Although I felt good every time, I didn’t set a top result. I am not worried about my shape. I am very keen on doing well on Sunday, in a race that matches my skills. The past years, I wasn’t able to ride the finale, but I have the ambition to do so this time. When you are in the running in the finale of Liège, you automatically get a good result.”

“According to me, there are two crucial phases: the road to La Redoute and the road to La Roche-aux-Faucons. Both times we will head downhill, at a high pace, towards the bottom of the hill. Both hills are very narrow. Especially on La Roche-aux-Faucons it will be a hard battle. If you are not in front, you can forget it, because the group will definitely split on the climb. It’s important that your legs still feel fine to be able to be positioned at the front and to have teammates by your side to take you to the bottom of the climb. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is an elimination race. Today, we did a recon of the course. Because of roadworks in Stavelot, the route has changed. The Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée were replaced by three other hills. It’s not an easy part of the course, but I don’t expect it to influence the race a lot.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Sean De Bie, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, Tomasz Marczynski, Rémy Mertz, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Bart Leysen.

Tim Wellens:
Coín - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Tim WELLENS (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2017 - stage - 5 from Setenil de las Bodegas to Coín, 151.50 km - photo Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017***SPAIN OUT)

Wanty-Groupe Gobert heads to final spring classic
On Sunday Wanty-Groupe Gobert closes the spring classics campaign in Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1.WT, 23/04). The team will bear an offensive ride in mind. On Friday our riders did an ultimate recon of the course with the new climbs Pont, Bellevaux and Ferme Libert. Hilaire Van der Schueren counts on our best climbers and punchers: Jérôme Baugnies, Thomas Degand, Fabien Doubey, Guillaume Martin, Xandro Meurisse, Marco Minnaard, Andrea Pasqualon and Dion Smith line up for our team on Sunday. Impressions after the reconnaissance of Thomas Degand, who will start his 4th Doyenne on Sunday.

Thomas Degand: "The new three climbs, apart from Ferme Libert, are not more complicated than last editions. On the other hand, the build up to Col du Rosier, along the circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, goes up and down all the time. That part of the course is more tough than the transition from Haute Levée to Rosier in the last editions.

Given the scenario in the previous classics, which settled faster than usual, we can expect offensives on the Ferme Libert. The leaders can send out their lieutenants over there. Even with 75 kilometers remaining that climb could have an impact. Liège-Bastogne-Liège remains an elimination race.

We must stay with our feet on the ground. We do not have the legs to follow the best riders in the final of the race. We have to anticipate in orde to play a role in this top level race. For my part the last 30 kilometers in Amstel Gold Race were tough since I didn't ride this distance for three years. My condition is good, I hope to be able to show this on Sunday. I think Dion (Smith) will be the best card of our team."

Uran and Co. look to animate Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Liège-Bastogne-Liège. La Doyenne. The Old Lady. The third of the Monuments. The last Ardennes. The unofficial shift from one-day classics to stage racing.

Cannondale-Drapac hope to surprise in the 103rd running of the Belgian classic. The team of eight will back a single leader despite multiple cards to play.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the best guys appearing early,” said sport director Tom Southam. “If the best guys appear early here, I’m not worried about that. We’ll be there with the right guys. We have a lot of guys in good shape coming out Basque Country, coming out of Trentino, and we plan to back one of them. I don’t want to say any more than that.”

The team is bolstered by the additions of Davide Formolo and Davide Villella. The pair flew in from Italy on Friday to join Simon Clarke, Alex Howes, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Toms Skujins, Mike Woods and Rigoberto Uran in Liège.

“It’s always been on the cards for these two to come into the race,” said Southam. “It’s a race we’re taking very seriously. They both have great form before the Giro. Traditionally it’s a race where guys going for the Giro are ready. It suits a stage racer a bit more than the other one-day races. They’re going to be a huge asset in this race.”

The course for the 2017 Liège-Bastogne-Liège has been changed from previous years. Last year’s innovation, the cobbled Côte de la Rue Naniot, has been eliminated as have the traditional mid-race trio of climbs in Côte de Wanne, Côte de Stockeu and Côte de la Haut Levée. They are replaced by Côte du Pont, Côte de Bellevaud and Côte de la Ferme Libert. The last of the three averages 12 percent and although it comes more than 80 kilometers from the finish, it could prove decisive.

La Redoute remains. The caravan-lined climb typically marks a shift into the business end of the race. It’s followed first by Côte de La Rouche-aux-Faucons and then Côte de Saint-Nicolas, the latter which regains its position as the penultimate climb before the uphill drag to Ans.

“Liège is another level hard compared to the other Ardennes races,” said Clarke. “It comes down to brute force in the end. You can either push the pedals or you can’t. There’s not a whole lot of tactics that come down to being at the front of the race compared to the other classics. The climbs are longer compared to Fleche and Amstel, which is why it’s more a question of climbing capacity and not so much positioning and being in the front on narrow roads.”

The nature of the course requires all-hands-on-deck in service of the team leader. Energy conservation matters more than positioning.

"Being such a hard classic, it’s even more paramount to look after your captains and help them arrive in the last 20km with the freshest legs possible,” said Clarke. "Because it’s so hard, any efforts to help them conserve energy helps them in the final. A team is vital in that respect.”

Although Cannondale-Drapac have yet to secure the Ardennes week result they have chased, Southam is encouraged by the preparation and execution from his squad.

“If you look where Mike and Rigo were on that last climb in Flèche, they were in the right place,” said Southam. “It’s not easy to do that, to put them there. In WorldTour races, it’s not easy to be where you want to be in a final. It’s take a lot of effort to do that. We arrived there in the way we wanted – similar to Amstel, the guys were in the right place on the Kruisberg before Amstel. In Amstel we just didn’t quite have the right guy for it in terms of to be in that six-man break. Even if Bettiol hadn’t had problems, he would have waited behind, and Mike didn’t have the legs on Wednesday."

“Liège is a completely different kettle of fish,” Southam noted. “A lot can change in the final in Liège. If we do the right thing, we’ll be in with a chance. We can always do things better but the team has been operating at a really high level. They need to continue to do that and then finish things off.”

Cannondale-Drapac for 2017 Liège-Bastonge-Liège:
Simon Clarke (AUS), Davide Formolo (ITL), Alex Howes (USA), Tom-Jelte Slagter (NDL), Toms Skujins (LVA), Davide Villella (ITL), Mike Woods (CAN), Rigoberto Uran (COL).

Mike Woods and Tom-Jelte Slagter. Read the Mike Woods PEZ interview HERE:
Bourg-de-Péage - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Tom-Jelte SLAGTER (Netherlands / Cannondale Drapac Professsional Cycling Team) - Michael WOODS (Canada / Cannondale Drapac Professsional Cycling Team) pictured during stage 5 of Paris - Nice UCI World Tour from Quincié-en-Beaujolais to Bourg-de-Péage, 199.50 km - foto: NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Lineup and Preview: Liège-Bastogne-Liège
On Sunday, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka lines up for Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a strong and determined team, eager to take on the last of the Ardennes Classics.

The race starts out in Liège at 10:10 local time. From here, 258 km awaits the peloton. The terrain is very lumpy with constant hills and descents. Ten of the climbs are categorized but there are just as many that aren’t. This year, the organizers have introduced three new ascents, Côte de Pont, Côte de Bellevaux and Côte de la Ferme Libert, which come one right after each other within 12 km of racing in the last third of the race. The classics hills like Côte de la Redoute and Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucon are still on the menu before the final categorized climb of the day, Côte de Saint-Nicolas appears with just about 5 km left to go.

The final stretch towards the line is an uphill drag, which serves as the last chance to attack before the riders turn left and it’s flat for the remaining 250 meters. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka sends a team of climbers to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, aiming to finish off the Ardennes Classics with a strong result.

Lineup: Igor Antón, Serge Pauwels, Nathan Haas, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Jaco Venter, Omar Fraile, Mekseb Debesay and Ben O’Connor.

Oli Cookson - sports director: “With the three new climbs, I think the selection will happen earlier this year so it will be important to be in a good position already at that point in order to save energy. Igor [Antón] is going very well at the moment and obviously, Nathan [Haas] was good last weekend. Unfortunately, Nathan and Serge [Pauwels] have since suffered a bit from a cold and we are doing what we can to help them recover from that. Our main plan is to look after Igor, Omar [Fraile], Nathan and Serge and then, once the real selection starts to get made towards the end of the race, we need to follow the top favorites and go for the best result possible”.

Sunweb for Liège-Bastogne-Liège
The fourth Monument of the season, Liège-Bastogne-Liège takes place this Sunday, April 23. One of the oldest classics on the cycling calendar and the last before the beginning of the Grand Tour season. The route tasks riders with a total of 258 kilometers and ten climbs, including the iconic La Redoute. The day's last second-to-last ascent of Saint-Nicolas is closely followed by another short, steep 5 percent climb sure to take only the best through to the line.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "Last year Warren became the first rider in the team's history to finish in the top ten of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and this year we hope we can achieve the same. It's important for the team to be sharp on the weather conditions, as last year showed that we have to be prepared for everything. The last 10 kilometers sees a route change but I believe this favors the more light-weight riders like Warren. We line up at the race with a strong team and this is another chance for our leaders to ride for each other during their key peak moments, with Tom and Michael both riding in support of Warren."

Warren Barguil (FRA), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Simon Geschke (GER), Lennard Hofstede (NED), Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR), Michael Matthews (AUS), Sam Oomen (NED), Albert Timmer (NED).
Coach: Aike Visbeek (NED).

Warren Barguil and Michael Matthews:
Valkenburg - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Roy CURVERS (Netherlands / Team Sunweb) - Michael James MATTHEWS (Australia / Team Sunweb) - Warren BARGUIL (France / Team Sunweb) pictured during the Amstel Gold Race 2017 - foto Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

Direct Energie team for Liège
Lilian Calmejane, Fabien Grellier, Romain Guillemois, Jonathan Hivert, Brian Nauleau, Perrig Quemeneur, Romain Sicard and Thomas Voeckler.
Directeur Sportif: Benoit Genauzeau.

UAE Team Emirates for the Doyenne
UAE Team Emirates, led by Rui Costa (photo Bettini), are focused on top results in the Spring Classic race Liège–Bastogne–Liège after reaching third place last year.

The 103rd race, nicknamed La Doyenne is one of the oldest races of the cycling calendar and the fourth Monument in the season, Liège–Bastogne–Liège is also the last of the Spring Classics before the Grand Tours begin with Giro d'Italia at the start of May. In 2016, Wout Poels (Team Sky) won the race, outsprinting a group of cyclists including Samuel Sánchez, Michael Albasini and UAE Team Emirates rider Rui Costa.

After an initial flat 70km there is an onslaught of ten hills over the 258km course. This year’s route has introduced three new hills Côte du Pont, Côte de Bellevaux and Côte de la Ferme Libert, Rui Costa noted, “The three hills between 168km and 180km will encourage some riders to attack: it will be important to see which athletes go clear to evaluate how to react. Managing energy is crucial in this race, on the last hill, the Saint Nicholas, every single drop counts!”

Liège–Bastogne–Liège is a race Rui has fond memories of, he continued, “This is the race of dreams, every year I work hard to be ready for it. I’ve come third and fourth, this year I’d like to add it to my list of victories.”

Teammate Diego Ulissi feels confident in his squad’s ability for Sunday: “I feel there is no other team with this high level of quality. The charm of this race is huge; having top riders like Costa and Meintjes in the same team is an additional value for us.”

The UAE Team Emirates lineup includes:
Matteo Bono, Rui Costa, Louis Meintjes, Matej Mohoric, Manuele Mori, Simone Petilli, Diego Ulissi and Oliviero Troia.
The team will be directed by Marco Marzano and Simone Pedrazzini.

Rui Costa:

BMC Racing Team's Olympic Champions Team Up at Liège-Bastogne-Liège
BMC Racing Team's two Olympic Road Race champions, Samuel Sánchez (2008) and Greg Van Avermaet (2016), will line up for the first time together this year at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on Sunday, 23 April.

Sánchez and Van Avermaet will be joined by Dylan Teuns, whose breakthrough podium result at La Flèche Wallonne has earned him a position as a protected rider, Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

"Samuel Sánchez is our main leader at Liège-Bastogne-Liège as the course is well-suited to him and he has produced some good results in the past, including fourth last year. Greg Van Avermaet has enjoyed the best spring of his career and is definitely capable of getting a top ten result, and now we have seen that Dylan Teuns is in top shape, so these three riders are our protected riders for the race," Piva explained.

"We are not the favorite team for Liège-Bastogne-Liège but we have a strong team and we will try to do our best. It's the last race of the Classics season and all of our riders are motivated."

Sánchez is confident after making his return to racing at La Flèche Wallonne.

"I had good feelings at La Flèche Wallonne. I raced cautiously and in the final my legs were not too bad. For me, it was the perfect test to arrive in top condition for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I think we have a super strong team with Dylan Teuns, Greg Van Avermaet and myself, as we have a lot of possibilities. The parcours has changed and it is slightly easier than last year. There are a lot of strong competitors but I think we are capable of getting a good result," Sánchez said.

Van Avermaet will race at Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the first time since 2013.

"It's nice to finish what has been a great Classics season with one last race in Belgium before I move onto the next part of the season. I'm definitely not lining up as the favorite but I have recovered well since Amstel Gold Race and I'm motivated to get a good result. We'll see how the race plays out and see what we can do as a team on the day. Anything can happen at these races," Van Avermaet added.

Hermans Ruled Out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Ben Hermans has been ruled out of racing at Liège-Bastogne-Liège after sustaining two broken ribs in a crash after the finish line at La Flèche Wallonne.

"Ben Hermans crashed after the finish line at La Flèche Wallonne and X-Rays taken this morning have revealed a fracture of the fifth and six interior ribs. Ben is unable to start at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and will require some easy days on the bike. We will continue to monitor his recovery and make the necessary adaptions to his racing program," BMC Racing Team doctor, Dr. Michel Cerfontaine said.

Hermans is hoping to make a fast recovery and be back racing as soon as his injuries allow.

"It's not healthy to race with two broken ribs and we don't want to take the risks, so although it's disappointing to miss Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it is the best thing to do. The team will begin planning a new race schedule for me now based on my recovery, and I'll revise my goals for the season if necessary," Hermans explained.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège (23 April)

Rider Roster:

Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Floris Gerts (NED), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).

Alessandro Di Marchi showed well in Fleche Wallonne:
Huy - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - illustration - DE MARCHI Alessandro (ITA) Rider of BMC Racing Team & JUNGELS Bob (LUX) Rider of Quick-Step Floors pictured during the Fleche Wallone 2017 - foto PdV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Philippe Gilbert Update
The Belgian Champion will scratch the Giro d’Italia from his calendar, as consequence of the injury he picked up in Amstel Gold.

After spending the past 48 hours in the hospital and undergoing further medical examinations following his crash in last Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, which he won despite a minor right kidney tear, Philippe Gilbert has been released by the doctors and is now heading home, together with his family.

After consulting the Quick-Step Floors medical staff, it’s been agreed that the Belgian Champion will stay off the bike for two weeks and fully recover, before resuming training. This means the Driedaagse De Panne–Koksijde, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Amstel Gold Race winner will not line up for the 100th edition of Giro d’Italia, which is set to start on May 5th, from Alghero, on the island of Sardinia.

“It’s a big blow for me to miss the Giro, a beautiful race in which I’ve enjoyed success several times in the past, but this kind of injuries are always delicate and it’s recommended to don’t rush things, so extending my recovery period is the best decision we could take. Despite this setback, I remain upbeat and I now look with even more motivation to the second part of the season”, said Philippe Gilbert, the second-oldest rider to win Amstel Gold Race.

The spring is over for Philippe Gilbert:
Valkenburg - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Philippe GILBERT (Belgium / Team Quick Step - Floors) pictured during the Amstel Gold Race 2017 - foto Davy Rietbergen/Cor Vos © 2017

Giro 100: Iconic Maglia Ciclamino is Back, Sponsored by Segafredo Zanetti
The Points Classification leader's jersey goes back to its roots with the distinctive color worn for 40 years

As previously announced, this year’s Corsa Rosa jerseys have reserved a surprise: the Giro 100 Points Classification leader's jersey will be the classic Maglia Ciclamino (cyclamen), the color of the jersey from 1970 to 2009. Segafredo Zanetti, a leader in the world of espresso coffee, is the new sponsor.

History of the Maglia Ciclamino
In the first five editions of the Giro d’Italia, 1909-1913, the final winner of the Giro was determined based on the Points Classification: at that time there were no distinctive jerseys for the leaders.

In 1958 the Points Classification was established as a separate competition within the Giro and from 1967 the leader of this classification started wearing a distinctive jersey to represent his leadership. From 1967 to 69 it was a red jersey (the Maglia Rossa - sponsored by Dreher), then it became cyclamen (the Maglia Ciclamino - sponsored by Termozeta) until 2009. Since 2010 the leader of the Points Classification has once again worn the Maglia Rossa.


# The riders with the most final victories in the Giro d’Italia’s Points Classification are the two great rivals of the 1970s and 80s: Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni. They each won the Maglia Ciclamino four times, followed by Mario Cipollini, Roger de Vlaeminck and Johan van der Velde, each with three
# Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni are the only riders to have won three consecutive Points Classifications: Moser in 1976-78 (plus the fourth in 1982) and Saronni in 1979-81 (followed by his fourth in 1983).
# On two occasions Italian athletes have won the Points Classification for 8 consecutive years: from 1976 to 83, when Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni won four jerseys each; and from 2001-08 thanks to Massimo Strazzer, Mario Cipollini, Gilberto Simoni, Daniele Bennati, Paolo Bettini (twice) and Alessandro Petacchi.
# Italian riders have won 33 of the 52 Points Classifications in the Giro’s history. The second most successful nation is Belgium, with 5 victories (3 for Roger de Vlaeminck and 2 for Eddy Merckx).
# The athlete with the greatest gap between their first and last Points Classifications victories is Mario Cipollini: 10 years. Cipollini won for the first time in 1992, with a five-year gap before his second victory (1997), followed by another five years of waiting for the third victory (2002).
# Nine riders have managed the General Classification / Points Classification double: Gianni Motta (1966), Eddy Merckx (1968 and 73), Giuseppe Saronni (1979 and 83), Gianni Bugno (1990), Tony Rominger (1995), Gilberto Simoni (2003), Danilo Di Luca (2007), Denis Menchov (2009) and Michele Scarponi (2011).
# The youngest rider to win the Points Classification was Giuseppe Saronni in 1979 when he was 21 years and 257 days old. The oldest was Mario Cipollini in 2002 at 35 years and 72 days old.

Sunweb Giro d'Italia Long List
The first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d'Italia is nearly upon the peloton and Team Sunweb are pleased to reveal their long-list of 13 riders for the 100th anniversary edition. This year, the race sees six mountain top finishes and two individual time trials, which are sure to shake up the overall classification.

Tom Dumoulin (NED) and Wilco Kelderman (NED) are two of Team Sunweb's riders of whom the team had already confirmed their participation during Team Sunweb's Launch at Münster-Osnabrück, Germany, last January. This year the team line-up for the first time looking to explore their GC possibilities in a Grand Tour. This is the perfect opportunity to grow and take the next step to see what it takes to become a GC rider, being focused on that for three weeks in a row. For this special Giro d'Italia a core group of German riders will be part of the final selection of the German Team Sunweb, which aims to inspire German and international fans during the three weeks of very prestigious racing in Italy.

Ahead of the race Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "Our long-list consists of a mix of experienced Grand Tour riders and some who could potentially make their Grand Tour debut. From this we will select the strongest possible team to support Tom throughout the three weeks of racing at the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia. The course this year is challenging and demanding and will for sure go down in history. The last week is crucial but with a lot of spectacular stages early on in the race, the GC riders have no opportunity to relax."

"It will be a different approach for this year's Giro in comparison to our ambitions in previous Grand Tours, when we aimed for stage successes. We need to be focused all race long and that will be even more demanding for the team."

Phil Bauhaus (GER), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Wilco Kelderman (NED), Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR), Georg Preidler (AUT), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Laurens ten Dam (NED), Mike Teunissen (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL), Max Walscheid (GER).
Coach: Aike Visbeek.

Tom Dumoulin:
Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - DUMOULIN Tom (NED) Rider of Team Sunweb pictured during Milano - Sanremo 2017 - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Star Riders Announced for 2017 Tour de Yorkshire and Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire
Race organizers Welcome to Yorkshire and A.S.O have announced a host of big-name riders for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire, with Luke Rowe, Nacer Bouhanni and Caleb Ewan among those set to compete.

Welshman Rowe, who has been part of the last two Tour de France wins, will be joined in a strong Team Sky line up by Olympic Gold Medallist Owain Doull and 2016 World Track Champion Jonathan Dibben.

Bouhanni, one of the world’s top sprinters who has five Grand Tour stage wins to his name and has already claimed the Nokere Koerse and Paris–Camembert titles this season, will head up the Cofidis Solutions Credits team while fellow star sprinter Caleb Ewan leads the Orica-Scott charge in a squad that also includes 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman.

Picture by Alex Broadway/ - 30/04/2016 - Cycling - 2016 Tour de Yorkshire: Otley to Doncaster - Yorkshire, England - The peloton makes it way through Thorner.

The Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire on Saturday 29 April also boasts a top-quality field with Olympic Road Race Champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans), two-time World Champion Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5) and 2017 Tour of Flanders winner Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) all on the start line.

In addition, reigning British Road Race Champions Adam Blythe (Dimension Data) and Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) will both be in action along with three former race winners in Lars Petter Nordhaug (Aqua Blue Sport), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) and Kirsten Wild (Cylance Pro Cycling). 2016 Points Classification and Stage One winner Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) also makes an appearance.

If that wasn’t enough, Yorkshire’s very own Scott Thwaites (Dimension Data) and Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) are set to be in attendance, with the full start lists for both races being unveiled before the men’s race commences on Friday 28 April.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: "It is exciting to be able to unveil this first wave of big-name riders and the strength of this list demonstrates how highly the Tour de Yorkshire is regarded."

"The third edition will be the biggest and best one yet, and with World Champions, Olympic Gold Medallists and Grand Tour stage winners on the start list, we can guarantee three days of great racing. Yorkshire is already gearing up to celebrate the race with banners, bunting and giant land art projects springing up right across the county, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone."

Full information on the Tour de Yorkshire and Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire can be found at

Picture by Alex Broadway/ - 01/05/2016 - Cycling - Tour de Yorkshire, Stage 3: Middlesbrough to Scarborough - Yorkshire, England - Thomas Voeckler of Direct Energie celebrates as he crosses the line to win Stage 3 and take the overall tour win.

Official Tom Magazine (Limited Edition)
Tom Boonen is a phenomenon, a cycling champion who has gradually transcended his sport. On April 9 2017, Tom has drawn a line under his exceptionally successful cycling career, so what better time to take a look back at the era and the many sides of Tom Boonen.

Discover the icon, multi-winner, teammate and leader, world champion, product, and king of the cobbles in this unique luxury magazine, featuring exclusive photographs, in-depth stories and moving testimonies. Not to mention a parting message from Tom. This bilingual magazine (Dutch & English) is a collector’s item that belongs on every bookshelf or coffee table.

The magazine will be available from April 28 as a limited edition, so reserve your copy now via the Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team webshop or buy it at the pop-up shop at “Tom says Thanks”, on April 29th in Mol.

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Don’t forget to check the “NEWSWIRE” section, you can find it on the homepage, just above the EuroTrash section. The bits of news that missed the EuroTrash deadline are in there, plus any news as-it-happens will be added there too.

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