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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, April 11, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. - Charles Dickens

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Amstel Gold Race team reports

We posted winner Michal Kwiatkowski's Team INEOS Grenadiers report with the results.

Second-place Benoit Cosnefroy's Ag2r-Citroën team posted this:

Benoit Cosnefroy: “It’s a nice podium even if I would have preferred to win. Kwiatkowski was faster than me in the sprint. It happened little by little. We can be collectively proud of this podium.

"I felt good and the goal was to be in the front. I felt during the race that I was one of the strongest. In the final, I did a lot of the work.

"There are three Ardennes races left and the momentum is good.”

Just after the sprint. Sirotti photo

The number: 3
With his second place in the Amstel Gold Race, Benoit Cosnefroy stands on the podium for the third time in a one-day race on the UCI WorldTour after his second place in the Flèche Wallonne in 2020 and his victory in the Brittany Classic in 2021.

The news: First podium in the Amstel Gold Race since 1998. This is the second time since the founding of the team in 1992 that a rider has climbed the podium of the Amstel Gold Race. Rolf Jaermann won the race in 1998.

Here's the report from third-place Tiesj Benoot's Jumbo-Visma team:

Tiesj Benoot has finished third in the Amstel Gold Race. The rider of Team Jumbo-Visma rode away from the chasing group in the final kilometre. With this effort, Benoot rewarded himself and his team after a strong race through the Limburg hills.

Tiesj Benoot finishing third. Sirotti photo

From the start, there was a breakaway of six riders. The sextet got a five-minute lead. Team Jumbo-Visma decided to attack at less than a hundred kilometres from the finish. Nathan Van Hooydonck tried to bridge the gap and got Victor Campenaerts with him. Soon both attackers joined the leading group. Behind them, the pace in the peloton increased.

After Van Hooydonck’s attempt to escape had failed, Benoot had the initiative on the Keutenberg. With a strong acceleration, he managed to create a group of favourites.

In the last twenty kilometres, Kwiatkowski and Cosnefroy escaped from this group. The two attackers quickly created a gap and were not caught again. With a strong attack in the last kilometre, Benoot got away from the chasing group and took third place in the Amstel Gold Race.

Benoot thought it was a good race. "Nathan opened up the race, which was a good situation for us. It's a shame Christophe crashed. The guys dropped me perfectly on the Kruisberg. I think I forced the breakaway on the Keutenberg. I felt perfect until that moment. After that, it wasn't easy with the guys from INEOS because they were with two. In the descent to the Geulhemmerberg, I missed a turn and brought Cosnefroy back. When we were in front, he attacked and I had a hard time. Third place was the maximum. I tried twice and the second time I managed."

Van Hooydonck also won a prize. The Belgian's urge to attack was rewarded with the Herman Krott trophy for the most combative rider. "It was fun. When the race like usually would explode on the Kruisberg, I could have been of more value to Tiesj. INEOS kept the pace high. That was a pity. Next week Paris-Roubaix is my last big goal for this spring. It is nice to go there with a good feeling. It's also cool to take home the fighting spirit prize and be on the podium."

Tom Dumoulin rode through terrain that was familiar to him. "It was super special. I had been looking forward to this for six years. Last year I was there as a guest and saw how the race was experienced from the outside. The team rode well today, with Tiesj on the podium. We missed Wout, but Tiesj has shown the Team Jumbo-Visma colours well. It was a good race, but not yet on the level to colour the final. Maybe that wasn't to be expected. I am satisfied. It was good, but if you want to compete for the top spots here, you have to be in top shape. Hopefully I will make another step in the coming weeks. Tomorrow I will leave for altitude training and then the Giro will be next. I am looking forward to it."

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Here's the Amstel Gold Race report from Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

One week after a mechanical ruined his chances of a good result in Ronde van Vlaanderen, Kasper Asgreen produced a massive display at the first of the season’s three Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold Race. Riding it for the first time in his career, the 2021 De Ronde champion was unfazed by the interminable succession of leg-sapping hills making up the course of this 56th edition and fought bravely on his way to a well-deserved top 10 finish.

The race was properly ignited around 40 kilometers from the line, and the 27-year-old rode flawlessly as the peloton splintered just before the last of the day’s three Cauberg ascents, making the selection together with ten other riders, who didn’t need too much time to open a 30-second margin and deal a decisive blow to the chasers. On the mythical climb of the race, Asgreen hit the front of the group and pushed a steady pace that prevented any big attacks, and later closed down several accelerations, keeping it all together over the top of the Cauberg.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Dane remained a prominent figure even after two riders got away on a downhill section, churning out some huge power to reduce the gap before launching two blistering accelerations that forced the others to work hard in order to prevent the elastic from snapping. In the end, after doing most of the work there, Kasper still had something left to sprint from the group that came home 20 seconds behind winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) and take sixth in Valkenburg for his third top 10 of the season in a World Tour one-day race.

The group sprinting for fourth place. Mathieu van der Poel was the fastest of this bunch. It looks like Kasper Asgreen is on the far right. Sirotti photo.

“We would have liked to fight for the victory, but it was difficult. On the other hand, things went much better for us than last week, so that’s quite encouraging. I discovered a beautiful race and as things progressed, I was surprised by how I rode on the hills. I thought I would be struggling more on the climbs, but I managed them well and paced myself without going over the limit. Overall, it was a nice experience and I would like to return here one day and fight for the win”, said Asgreen after netting Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s ninth consecutive top 10 finish at Amstel Gold Race.

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Eighth-place Stefan Küng's Team Groupama-FDJ posted this report:

For his first participation in the Amstel Gold Race, on Saturday, Stefan Küng went up against the race favourites. The Swiss rider was right up there for the big fight in the final. He even was in contention for the victory, then for the podium, before eventually securing eighth place in the Dutch event. A very good sign one week away from Paris-Roubaix. It is also the eighth top-10 in a row on a WorldTour Classic for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, who aims to keep this series going. On a side note, Valentin Madouas (14th) and Quentin Pacher (18th) also entered the top-20 on Sunday.

Due to the French elections, the 2022 cycling calendar was slightly different than usual. One week after the Tour of Flanders, the riders were expected in the Roubaix velodrome but in the Dutch Limburg. The Amstel Gold Race indeed preceded the “Hell of the North” in the Classics’ order, but Groupama-FDJ only made one change compared to their Ronde’s line-up. Only Lewis Askey was replaced by Quentin Pacher at the start of Maastricht, for the Dutch WorldTour Classic, considered in-between the Flemish and the Ardennes ones.

Thirty-three climbs were on the menu, but none included cobblestones, and the peloton was happy to let only six men go away from the start. Owain Doull (EF Education-Easy Post), Johan Jacobs (Movistar), Emils Liepins (Trek-Segafredo), Luca Rastelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizenè), Ide Schelling (Bora-hansgrohe) and Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) were able to take a five-minute margin, which was then easily controlled by the favourites’ teams. “We had a plan to open up the race at km 158, on a winding road”, said Benoît Vaugrenard.

“Unfortunately, there was a headwind, so we ruled out this option. The race got crazy for a bit, but everything then got back together thanks to Ineos Grenadiers, who had a very strong team and who really controlled the race. Like every year on the Amstel, the decision was eventually made in the series of climbs from km 200”. “It was the race we were expecting”, confirmed Stefan Küng. “Given the wind, we knew the race was going to blow apart from the Kruisberg. We always needed to be up front. Olivier and Quentin followed the moves perfectly, which allowed us not to be too far behind. It was very important to be right there and hang on in the top positions.”

In the last fifty kilometres, more and more riders got dropped from the back. In a bunch reduced to around forty men, Groupama-FDJ still had four guys. “If there were moves from far, we had Quentin, Kevin or even Olivier, and then Valentin and Stefan were our major cards for the final”. The Frenchman and the Swiss man were up there when everything eventually exploded twenty-seven kilometres from the finish line, in the Keutenberg. After a frantic pace from Ineos Grenadiers and an attack by Tiesj Benoot, eleven men managed to take a gap. That included Stefan Küng. “Valentin said he didn’t have the same legs as last week,” explained Benoît. “On these races, if you miss 2-3%, it makes a real difference. However, we had Stefan in front, and we knew there was something to do”.

The first chasing group including Valentin Madouas and Quentin Pacher was soon left behind irremediably, and victory was therefore promised to one of the eleven leading riders. “There were two guys from Ineos, and they played their cards well,” said Stefan. “Kwiato went away without even attacking, and everyone looked at each other behind. Cosnefroy was very strong to come back to him a bit after. No one could follow. Then, I was expecting moves from Van der Poel or Hirschi, but they didn’t occur, and it was as usual very tactical at the end.” “If we had had Valentin with Stefan, it would obviously have been better, but the strong guys were still in front”, claimed Benoît. “When Cosnefroy went away, it came down to the legs, and I don’t think Stefan was able to follow him”.

About fifteen kilometres from the finish, Michal Kwiatkowski and Benoit Cosnefroy found themselves together in the lead and collaborated to stay away from the group including Stefan Küng. The gap reduced to around fifteen seconds at one point, but it never got closed. Eventually, the victory went to the Polish rider after a two-man sprint.

A few seconds behind, Tiesj Benoot secured third place after anticipating the sprint and Stefan Küng then crossed the line in eighth. “We have no regrets”, said Benoît. “It’s still a fine top-10 in a great Classic. Valentin (14th) and Quentin (18th) are also up there, and we have three of them in the top-20. That shows the team’s quality and it’s just like their last races. We are not surprised either by Stefan. He just keeps doing what he has been doing for a few weeks. We can see that he has really improved on the short and explosive efforts. On these races with hills shorter than a kilometre, we know that he can follow the best. He did it again today.”

Groupama-FDJ have now completed eight WorldTour Classics in the top-10, in a row. “I’m happy with my feelings,” said Stefan. “It was perhaps the race that suited me the least in this Classics campaign. So, being up to it and being able to fight at the front is very good. It allowed me to keep the race rhythm before the big goal of this first part of the season: Paris-Roubaix, next Sunday”.

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Tour of Turkey stage one reports

We posted the report from stage winner Caleb Ewan's Lotto Soudal team with the results.

Here's the report from third-place Kaden Groves' Team BikeExchange-Jayco:

Australian sprinter Kaden Groves was forced to settle for third place in the fast and frantic finish to stage one of the Tour of Turkey.

Despite looking to have the speed to challenge winner Caleb Ewan, the 23-year-old was boxed-in against the barriers with nowhere to go and crossed the line in frustration.

Caleb Ewan takes the Tour of Turkey's first stage. Photo: Photo News

The final categorised climb of the day looked to be the only major test on the lengthy 207km opening stage, with the peloton taking back the final rider from the breakaway at the foot of the ascent. Despite a string of attacks up and over the top, Groves fought hard to stay in contention on the category-two test alongside his Team BikeExchange-Jayco teammates.

Further attacks then came and went, but there was no denying the sprinters as the pack raced into Kuşadası. New Zealander Campbell Stewart guided Groves into position for the rapid run to the line, but the Aussie fast man found himself trapped against the barriers and unable to challenge for his second win of the season, but instead claimed his eighth podium finish of 2022.

Kaden Groves (3rd):
“I had good feeling all day long and I was able to get over the final climb ok and be in the mix for the win.

"In the sprint I found myself a bit closed out against the barriers, and I wasn’t really able to open up my sprint and challenge Caleb. But we have more chances coming up and another chance tomorrow.”

Gene Bates (Sport Director):
“We came to Turkey for the sprint stages with Kaden, and he was close to the win today, so it was a good start for us. He has good shape and he’s fast enough to win here, so we will try again tomorrow and on stage three.”

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