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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, April 22, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches. - Adam Smith

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Liège-Bastogne-Liège team previews

2017 winner Alejandro Valverde's movistar team posted this update:

The 104th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will not bring too many changes to the table in 2018, the route remaining identical in its finale, as challenging and tough as one could expect from one of cycling’s five Monument classics.

The ‘Doyenne’ will again compress most of its hardest points into the final 90km of racing. With only three categorized climbs -Bonnerue (72km), Saint-Roch (109km) and Mont-le-Soie (152km)- in the first half of the event, the approach to Malmédy will bring the first block of tough ascents, three hills in barely 12km. Pont (168km; 1,000m at 10.5%) and Ferme Libert (180km; 1,200m at 12.1%) will be combined with the gentle climb to Bellevaux to add a first touch of spice and hardness to the race.

After that, already with five hours of racing on the legs, the LBL will go for a more classic route, with longer climbs. Rosier (198km, 4.4km at 6%) and Maquisard (211km, 2.5km at 5%) will preceed the legendary La Redoute (-36km; 2,000m at 8.9%) and the two hills usually offering the most trascendental attacks: Roche-aux-Faucons (-19km; 1,300m at 11%) and Saint-Nicolas (-6km; 1,200m at 8,6%). The final kilometer uphill towards Ans’ Jean Jaurès street will define the outcome of the final big classic in the spring.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde wins L-B-L in 2017

Here's Team Quick-Step's take on the race:

Julian Alaphilippe and former winner Philippe Gilbert will headline our squad for the 104th edition of the race.

The classics season will come to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon 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 puncheurs, climbers and Grand Tour specialists alike to the fore, who'll have the chance to shine and grab a prestigious victory at the end of a 258.5km-long race which will put on the table an undulating route containing eleven classified climbs, for a total of nearly 5000 vertical meters.

Côte de Bonnerue, Côte de Saint-Roch, Côte de Mont-le-Soie, 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 course, most of them having double-digit gradients, which will thin out the peloton and make an important selection before the uphill drag to the finish in the suburb of Ans.

Quick-Step Floors have been a dominant force in this year's one-day races, notching up ten victories with seven different riders, the latest to make his entry on the list being Julian Alaphilippe, who won in spectacular fashion the 82nd edition of Flèche Wallonne. The 25-year-old Frenchman, runner-up at his Liège-Bastogne-Liège debut in 2015, will return at the start of the Belgian Monument after an injury prevented him from taking part last year, and will be joined by fellow countryman Rémi Cavagna, 2011 winner Philippe Gilbert, Bob Jungels, Enric Mas, Maximilian Schachmann and Pieter Serry.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert wins in 2011.

"Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of the hardest one-day races of the calendar and if you look over the course, you can see that is has everything needed to turn into a war of attrition. Up until this point, our classics campaign has been a sublime one, as we enjoyed success after success, and we won't hide the fact we would like to draw the curtain on a high note. Everybody's motivated for the final challenge of this spring, the confidence and enthusiasm in the team are huge after Flèche Wallonne and we are ready to let the legs do the talking on Sunday", said sports director Davide Bramati ahead of the season's fourth Monument.

Richie Porte set to lead BMC racing team at Tour de Romandie

BMC sent me this:

21 April, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Richie Porte will team up with Tejay van Garderen once again when he returns to the start line at the Tour de Romandie next week, one year after taking overall victory at the UCI WorldTour stage race. 

A strong and well-rounded line-up will join Porte, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said. "We will go into the race with Richie Porte as our leader. Looking at the parcours, I think the time trial on stage 4 will be important and we will see what the situation is when we reach that. We also have Tejay van Garderen lining up and he is in good shape so we will look to protect him and put him in a good position for the General Classification as well. After the TT, there is a really hard stage in the mountains. It's short but with four tough climbs so we will keep looking at the situation to see what the best plan will be when we get there."

"We have a strong team for this race. First of all, we have three Swiss riders and we know they are always extra motivated when racing at home. Rohan Dennis will make his final preparations for the Giro d'Italia at this race and I'm sure he will want to target the 4km prologue. It's maybe a little bit short but we know that on this kind of effort, he is always one of the strongest in the peloton. I think we have a good team with lots of different options so it will be up to us to make a result," Baldato explained.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte time trialing in stage 5 of the 2017 Tour de Romandie.

Porte will line up at the six-day stage race as defending champion. "I'm not putting too much pressure on myself heading into the Tour de Romandie this year as I don't really know where my form is. However, while I have more modest ambitions this year, it is a race I enjoy so I will be going there ready to give 100%. Overall, I think we have a good group of riders lining up so, I am looking forward to getting started," Porte said.

For van Garderen, the Tour de Romandie is an important race for BMC Racing Team. "Being on a team so closely linked to Switzerland means that this race is a big goal for us. My form is good and we are very motivated especially having Richie Porte, the defending champion, on the team. It gives us an extra incentive. The course suits us, and we are ready to fight. We owe it to Andy," van Garderen added.

Tour de Romandie (24 - 29 April)

Rider Roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Richie Porte (AUS), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Danilo Wyss (SUI)

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Allan Peiper (AUS)

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