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Saturday, April 23, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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Tadej Pogacar to miss Liège-Bastogne-Liège

VeloNews posted this explanation as to why Pogacar, the winner of the 2021 edition, will not be on the line Sunday:

"Tadej Pogačar will not race at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, with Brandon McNulty set to replace him in the lineup.

"Pogačar had returned home to Slovenia with his fiancée Urška Zigart, a rider on the BikeExchange-Jayco squad, after her mother passed away due to cancer.

"Initially, the team had planned for Pogačar to come back to Belgium to race Sunday, but he said Saturday that he would not be defending his title."

Pogacar winning in 2021. Sirotti photo

Pogacar posted this tweet:

"Sadly I won't be at the start of @LiegeBastogneL tomorrow.

"It's been a tough few days but I'd like to thank everybody for their understanding

"A special thank you to @TeamEmiratesUAE & especially to Mauro Gianetti and Team President Matar for their support in this situation."

Tour of the Alps stage five final reports

We posted the report from race winner Romain Bardet's Team DSM with the results.

Here's the report from second-place David De La Cruz's Team Astana Qazaqstan:

David De La Cruz finished second today at the final stage of the Tour of the Alps in Lienz. At the finish, in the uphill sprint the Astana Qazaqstan Team rider lost to Thibault Pinot who became the winner of Stage 5.

David De La Cruz leads Thibaut Pinot on their break. Sirotti photo

“The feeling was really good and after first difficult stages, yesterday and especially today I felt myself much better. Looks like the form is coming and I hope to be ready for the main goal Giro d’Italia. Well, I was fighting for a stage win, but there was 50/50 between me and him with many factors which could impact the result. But today Thibault Pinot was the strongest and I congratulate him. It did not work today, but I hope it could work in a day at the Giro. Now with these good sensations I am heading to the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, while later I will go to Budapest”, – said David De La Cruz.

The final Stage 5 of the race has been impacted a lot by cold and rain. After some 30 km of racing a group of 15 riders finally broke away clear with David De La Cruz among the escapers. The Astana Qazaqstan Team rider was one of the most active in the break; with 65 km to go De La Cruz launched an attack together with the Frenchman Thibault Pinot, shortly opening a good gap to the rest of the breakaway. Two riders worked well together, increasing their advantage on the next climb of the day. David De La Cruz made an attack on the descent, while Thibault Pinot tried to escape on the last climb, however the riders hit the finish 500 meters all together and decided the stage win in a sprint, won by French rider.

“Well, it was a real fight between David and Thibault and the strongest won today. We were close to another win here at the Tour of the Alps, however I am quite happy with David’s performance today and with the form he showed in this stage. He looked really strong, and it is a good sign ahead of the Giro d’Italia. So, it still was a good day for us. In general, we spent a nice week here in Alps and all riders who are going to take part in the Giro showed they are ready”, – said Alexandr Shefer, Sports Director of Astana Qazaqstan Team.

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Here's the report from third-place Lennard Kämna's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

On a brutal last day with heavy rain 15 riders managed to breakaway after a big fight for the group of the day. For BORA – hansgrohe it was once again Lennard Kämna who joined the leading group. On the second climb of the day first, the break was reduced to six riders before Pinot and De la Cruz also dropped their other four companions. Lennard chased hard on the last 30km and managed to go solo on the last climb while at the front Pinot dropped De la Cruz. Even the Spaniard came back on the downhill, Pinot was the one who took the stage win on the final uphill stretch.

Behind the two, Lennard crossed the line in 3rd place after a brutal day in the saddle. In the battle for the GC Bardet was able to go clear from Bilbao together with Arensman and Storer. Bardet therefore took the overall in the end. Cian Uijtdebroeks also rode another strong race and finished in a group with M. Landa to end the race in 16th place in the final GC.

Torstein Traeen leads Lennard Kamna & Igor Arrieta on a break. Sirotti photo

“It was a brutal stage from the beginning. When I made the break, I already spent a lot of energy and on the second climb it was kind of an elimination race. I am still not at my best level, and it wasn’t possible to follow Pinot. But we rode a good tempo in my group as well and in the end, I dropped my companions on the final climb. I think I made a good step this week. I am happy with how things go right now, and I am in a good mood as well, so I am optimistic for the Giro now.” – Lennard Kämna

“I tried to make it into the group today but even I tried several times I didn’t make it. When the group went away I focused on the final climb. The pace was already high before we entered the climb, and I was a little too far back in the beginning. Gaps opened immediately and I rode my tempo to get back a little to the front on the last kilometer. It was a super hard day and a brutal final. I think I managed it well though. Again, I wasn’t far back and there were some big names around me. Overall, I think I can be happy with this week, and I know where I did some small mistakes. On this level every bit of energy counts and there are some areas where I still need to be better. But I am young and there is enough time to learn.” – Cian Uijtdebroeks

“We had no pressure today with already one stage win in the pocket and wanted to ride offensive again. Our plan was to help Cian to join a break and ride for a top ten in GC. On a day like this it’s quite often an advantage to be in front early and in the end, gaps sometimes are hard to close. But the race was super hard from the beginning and almost everybody tried to jump. The race situation changed several times and finally Lenni made it into the break. He rode another strong race and it’s clearly visible that his positive trend progresses. He still misses a bit to his top shape and wasn’t able to follow Pinot today. But to finish 3rd on a day like this is for sure a strong performance. Also Cian did a good job in the end. He focused on the race leaders and could hang on to a good group with Landa and Sivakov. I think for a young guy like him the 16th place overall is a fantastic result, and I am sure he learned a lot this week. With him our main goal is to take it step by step but to see how close he is already to the best is quite impressive.” – Christian Pömer, sports director

And here's the Tour of the Alps final report from James Piccoli's Israel-Premier Tech team:

The final stage of the five-day Tour of the Alps wrapped up today with another day with an Israel – Premier Tech rider in the breakaway with Canadian James Piccoli flying the IPT flag at the front of the race.

That makes four consecutive days the team has been fighting for a stage win on the mountainous terrain with a rider in the breakaway after Carl Fredrik Hagen (stage 2), James Piccoli (stage 3), and Omer Goldstein (stage 4) all put their legs to the test this week.

Although unable to score a stage win, with Piccoli’s sixth place on stage 3 the team’s best result, the guys can be proud of the way they raced said Sports Director Dror Pekatch.

“The Tour of the Alps was a very challenging race for us. We had to start with six riders and Alessandro De Marchi had to stop on the first day due to sickness. But aside from that, we stuck to the goal of being up there every day. We tried for the sprint the first day with Giacomo but it was a good day for the breakaway and we couldn’t close the gap. Every day after that, we had a guy in the breakaway so on four of the five days. The best result came from James with sixth place so in terms of riding aggressively and being in the breakaway, we were there. We were missing a little bit of legs and for sure, the two missing riders,” explained Pekatch.

“In general, it was good preparation for Giacomo for the Giro d’Italia, good for Chris Froome to get the racing days in before Tour de Romandie, good for Carl to come back to racing here, and also for the others to gain more experience and have the opportunities to go and try for themselves.”

Today, Piccoli found himself as part of a strong 15-rider breakaway and with no riders posing a threat on the General Classification, the peloton sat up and let the group go more than 10 minutes up the road.

Cold weather and torrential rain made for tricky conditions and with 73 kilometers to go, the group split and Piccoli was eventually caught by the peloton while up ahead, the Thibaut Pinot (Groupama FDJ) took the win.

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Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl previews Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Here's the team's update:

The 108th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will await the peloton with a tough 257.1km course comprising ten climbs: Côte de La Roche-en-Ardenne, Côte de Saint-Roch Montée, Côte de Mont-le-Soie Montée, Côte de Wanne Montée, Côte de Stockeu, Côte de la Haute-Levée, Col du Rosier, Côte de Desnié, Côte de La Redoute, and Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.

The selection could start early, with the succession of hills boasting stinging double-digit ramps promising to gradually thin out the peloton, but the decisive moves are once again expected to come on the iconic Roche-aux-Faucons, whose 11% average gradient over just 1.3 kilometers can serve as the perfect terrain to make the difference, especially as the finish line in Liège comes only 13 kilometers from the top of this gruelling ascent.

The only Frenchman to amass multiple podiums in “La Doyenne” this century, Julian Alaphilippe will race the spring’s final Monument for the third time in his career clad in the prestigious rainbow jersey, after the 2020 and 2021 editions. The World Champion will be joined on the start line by Tim Declercq, Remco Evenepoel, Pieter Serry, Ilan Van Wilder, Mauri Vansevenant and Louis Vervaeke.

Julian Alaphilippe (right) was just beaten by Tadej Pogacar in 2021. ASO photo

“We have a squad more or less similar to the one that was in action on Wednesday, riders who know the parcours and have a lot of motivation coming into the race. We can count on the World Champion, we have several other guys who can go on the offensive, so the feeling is good and hopefully we will get a nice result on Sunday as we bring down the curtain over the Spring Classics”, explained Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Klaas Lodewyck.

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And here's the Liège-Bastogne-Liège news from Team Jumbo-Visma:

Van Aert ready for debut in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the fourth monument of the season, is on the programme on Sunday. For the first time, Wout van Aert will be at the start of the Ardennes classic.

There are few surprises in the course of 'La Doyenne'. This year's 257.1-kilometre long hill classic starts on the Quai des Ardennes in Liège, which is also the finish location. The course includes ten categorised climbs. Most of them are in the race's second half, back from Bastogne to Liège. Thirty kilometres before the finish there is the famous Côte de la Redoute, followed by the Côte de la Roche-au-Faucons at thirteen kilometres from the end.

Wout van Aert at this year's Gent-Wevelgem. Sirotti photo

Van Aert will make his debut in Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year. He had an excellent reconnaissance on Thursday. "After Paris-Roubaix I took two days of rest, but I have already completed good training sessions. I often train in this region, so there were no surprises. I know the hills and their order."

According to the Belgian champion, the final slope, the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, will be a tipping point. "After la Roche-aux-Faucons there is an interesting descent to the finish. It is good that I have explored it.

"The race usually explodes on that climb. You have to be at the front at the top because it will be difficult coming back on the descent. By that time, many riders will have already been dropped. In that sense it is an easy race. You have to 'just' keep following, although that is hard enough already. In this shape, I can definitely show something in Liège. I have a small chance of winning, but a good chance of a good result. I have a good opportunity to ride this classic. It is also good to have ridden this race already."

Sports director Frans Maassen is also happy that Van Aert will start in Liège. "It's convenient that everything fits and he can be at the start in good shape. Wout can play an essential role in every classic, also here in Liège. He has already shown great things in different areas. Wout is a special person; he always gets far when he puts his mind to something. He will not start here as the top favourite. I think Pogacar is the top favourite. Behind him, there are fifteen other favourites, and Wout is also one of them. He has already ridden a great spring. Hopefully he can finish it off in a good way on Sunday."

According to Maassen, Van Aerts' presence gives the whole team a boost. "Wout is looking forward to it and that's great to see. It also ensures that his teammates are extra motivated. You're twice as strong with such a leader in the team."

Line-up Liège-Bastogne-Liège (24/04)

  • Wout van Aert
  • Jonas Vingegaard
  • Jos van Emden
  • Sepp Kuss
  • Tiesj Benoot
  • Timo Roosen
  • Sam Oomen

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