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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, April 20, 2022

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Tour of the Alps stage two reports

We posted the report from second-place Romain Bardet's Team DSM with the results.

Here's the report from team Bora-hansgrohe:

The first big day of climbing awaited the peloton today at the Tour of the Alps on their way to Lana. Right from the beginning attacks were flying as the first kilometers were already the first KOM of the day. A strong group formed at the front including the likes of Sivakov, Storer, Arensman or Lopez but also with young Cian Ujitdebroeks from BORA – hansgrohe. The group worked well together and built a lead of three minutes.

On the Mendelpass Team Bahrain set a furious pace in the bunch and at the front P. Sivakov attacked. Cian dropped from the group three kilometers before the top and managed to survive the last climb of the day in a heavy reduced group of favorites. In the downhill this group broke into two parts. While the first part was able to catch the remaining escapees, Cian was in the second group together with the overall race leader G. Bouchard. Finally, P. Bilbao won the sprint for the stage win in front, with Cian crossing the line just 35 seconds down in the first chasing group. A strong ride from the young Belgium who once again showed his talent. 

The peloton tackles the Passo Rolle. Sirotti photo

“We wanted to try something today and when the attacks started at the first climb I followed the moves. It was a strong group and we worked well together. The pace was really high the whole day and I had to suffer a lot, but actually I felt quite good. When Sivakov attacked I could follow anymore but kept a good rhythm. After the downhill the main group caught me, and I was able to follow them on the last climb. But over the top Bahrain really pushed hard and there was a split in the bunch. There was no chance to close the gap and I was part of group with the Green Jersey then. We managed to limit the time loss to 35 seconds, and I am really happy with my overall performance today. Now I need to recover well as there is plenty more climbing to come.” – Cian Ujitdebroeks

“We already said at the start of the race to Cian that he will have a free role here. We want to help him gaining experience and to test himself. Therefore, we told him today to follow a group at the first climb, but only if it is big enough. First, there have been 30 riders in front, but due to the hard pace it came down to 11 riders and Cian was there. He rode a strong race and it’s no shame to get in trouble when Sivakov attacks. Also Lopez was dropped at this point and the group had to push hard the whole day. After that he was able to hang on to the Green Jersey group and finished 17th. I think he did a great job today and I have to admit that it’s fun to work with him, he is a very nice kid and eager to learn.” – Christian Pömer, sports director

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Michael Matthews & his Team BikeExchange-Jayco to race Ardennes Classics

The team sent me this:

Australian Michael Matthews will lead a mixed Team BikeExchange-Jayco squad at the coming Ardennes Classics, Flèche Wallonne & Liège-Bastogne-Liège, with the team lining-up with high confidence after the Australian’s recent strong and consistent performances.

The 31-year-old finished seventh in his last two races, Amstel Gold Race and Brabantse Pilj after making it into the front splits but is hungry to snatch a podium placing this week, after previously finishing in fourth place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and fifth place in Flèche Wallonne.

Michael Matthews is going to bring the great form he currently has (above, winning stage one of the 2022 Tour of Catalonia) to the Ardennes. Getty Sport photo

Surrounding Matthews will be a versatile team boasting various talents from the strength of experienced Chris Juul-Jensen, Jack Bauer, Tsgabu Grmay and Nick Schultz, through to the youthful motivation of Alexandre Balmer, Jesus David Peña and Jan Maas.

For Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, the men will tackle the Mur de Huy three times like most previous editions, with the close succession of short and steep climbs coming after 120km of racing. Sunday’s prestigious cycling Monument, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, will see the peloton tackle 254km before the main testing climbs come after 165km of racing.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco line-up:
Alexandre Balmer (SUI)
Jack Bauer (NZL)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Jan Maas (NED)
Jesus David Peña (COL)
Nick Schultz (AUS)

Michael Matthews:
“I have been feeling good, the legs are good and I had two seventh place finishes in the last two races here, so I am feeling ready and motivated for these final two Ardennes Classics.

"Flèche is always a hard race, and the Mur de Huy never gets any easier. I have been fifth here before so it gives me confidence that if I am in the right place, I can have a good result. Then for Liège, it is Liège, it is one of the cycling Monuments and a race I really would love to win.

"I have finished fourth in the race before, but I really want to try to get on the podium this year. It is a race that suits me, I expect it to be really aggressive racing like we’ve seen in all these races recently, but we’ve got a good mixed team for many situations that may unfold.”

Mathew Hayman – Sport Director:
“It is a hard iconic finish for cycling up the Mur de Huy, Michael has had some solid results up there, it is a climb that suits not only the punchy classics riders but also the pure climbers and we often see the light guys come in, so it is a bit of a cross over race of the classics.

We will be going all in with Michael, he has shown week in, week out, that he has got good form and he has had numerous top ten’s in these classics and we will continue to try and put him into a good position.

Liege is a longer race, there’s more chance for different race scenarios to happen. Flèche in recent years has always been a big bunch come to the bottom of the climb and essentially has been a race up the climb whereas in Liège, there is a lot more involved with getting to the final. Again we are looking to support Michael into the final, and we are hoping some of our other guys can step up to the mark and once we get around the Cote de La Rouche-Aux-Faucon, it is pretty much full on to the finish line.”



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Team DSM’s upcoming races

The team sent me this schedule:

La Flèche Wallonne: APR 20

Albert Timmer - Team DSM coach
"La Flèche is a nice race in the tough Ardennes region, with the finish on the famous and challenging Mur de Huy. Our goal is to race the final with Liane and Juliette as your finishers, and both showed that they have good form in their recent races. With the support of Leah, Léa, Esmée, and Elise; we also have a strong and solid base to help our finishers in the race to come into the final without spending too much energy, where we then hope to play our cards."

Liane Lipper (shown at the 2020 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race) will be on the Flèche Wallone start line.

Line-up:
Léa Curinier (FRA)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)
Elise Uijen (NED)

La Flèche Wallonne: APR 20

Wilbert Broekhuizen - Team DSM coach
"We are looking forward to continuing our Ardennes block and racing in La Flèche Wallonne. It's always a nice but tough race with the local laps around the Mur de Huy, where the day is often decided on the final ascent. We want to ride well as a group with some effective racing and look for some opportunities throughout the race, and to be in a nice position in the finale to go for a good result.”

Line-up:
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Romain Combaud (FRA)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED)
Florian Stork (GER)
Henri Vandenabeele (BEL)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)

Liège - Bastogne - Liège: APR 24

Huub Dujin - Team DSM coach
"With 'La Doyenne' we have the last classic of the Ardennes on the menu, where we will look to give it our all one final time. With a challenging parcours, the race can be decided at any point over the many hills, so we need to be sharp throughout the day. With a strong squad at the start, we have lots of different possibilities to go with the attacks, and ride aggressively as we aim for another top result to end our classics campaign.''

Line-up:
Francesca Barale (ITA)
Lea Curinier (FRA)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)

Liège - Bastogne - Liège: APR 24

Luke Roberts - Team DSM coach
"This Sunday we will line up for the fourth monument of the season, ‘La Doyenne’, the oldest of the five monuments on the calendar. A true race of attrition with the many challenging climbs through the Ardennes on the return from Bastogne to Liège. Our goal will be to protect Romain and Soren throughout the day and bring them in a position to challenge in the final as we take on the famous climbs of Cote de La Redoute and Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons."

Line-up:
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Romain Bardet (FRA)
Mark Donovan (GBR)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED)
Florian Stork (GER)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)

Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste: APR 25 - MAY 1

Boris Zimine - Team DSM coach
"Le Tour de Bretagne is an important race for our Development Program and one that we're looking forward to. With Casper and Tobias we have two really good finishers in the team, but we also have a really strong group that can work really well and help to create something throughout the race. Last year, we achieved a really nice race with two stages wins and we aim to ride at a same level this year. The Tour de Bretagne though is a race that is hard to get control of with lots of attacking and aggressive racing so our first goal will be to focus on riding well as  a team, communicating with each other, as we hunt for stage success."

Line-up:
Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
Moritz Kärsten (GER)
Lorenzo Milesi (ITA)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Lorenzo Ursella (ITA)
Hannes Wilksch (GER)


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Lennert Van Eetvelt signs pro contract with Lotto Soudal

Lotto Soudal sent me this:

With Lennert Van Eetvelt the Lotto Soudal Development Team delivers yet another talent to the WorldTour team. The 20-year-old Belgian has signed a contract for 2023 and 2024. The reigning Belgian U23 time trial champion, who got second this weekend in the U23 version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, wants to further develop his qualities on all levels at Lotto Soudal.

At the moment, there are 13 riders in the Lotto Soudal WorldTour team with a history in the Development Team. The Development Team has been the final step-up to a professional career for many Belgian and foreign riders. Lennert Van Eetvelt will follow in the footsteps of amongst others Tim Wellens, Florian Vermeersch and Arnaud De Lie.

“Our Development Team plays a crucial role within Belgian cycling”, says Lotto Soudal CEO John Lelangue. “The best U23 riders of the country can prepare themselves in a professional environment and in the toughest races at their level to make that final step to the pros. The three years in our Development Team will look good on Lennert Van Eetvelt’s resume for the rest of his career.”

Van Eetvelt is known as a puncheur with a good time trial. “He is definitely ready for the step”, says Kurt Van de Wouwer, manager of the Lotto Soudal Development Team. “Van Eetvelt joined us in 2020, the ‘Covid year’. It was a season with few races for the U23s, which made it hard for them to show themselves. In 2021 he took a big step forward, with amongst others the Belgian time trial title, a 3rd spot at the Belgian road championship, a 5th spot at the European road championship and also an 8th spot in the Tour Alsace. This year he showed himself even stronger, with a 6th spot in Tour de Normandie, and last weekend a 2nd in Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23. He is more than ready for the WorldTour.”

Van Eetvelt himself is looking forward to next year, but is still aiming for nice results at the U23s this season. “This is my third year at the Development Team now. I have already joined a training camp of the WorldTour team”, says Van Eetvelt. “Stepping up to the pros feels very natural and smooth. All those riders who have been there before me, show that Lotto Soudal knows how to help young riders when they turn pro.”

The third-year U23 rider hopes to further develop his qualities on all levels. “I am a puncheur, but can go a long way uphill too and I also have a good time trial. What type of rider I will become at the pros, I am yet to discover. But I am looking forward to developing myself into a strong pro rider.”

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