LIÈGE, Belgium (VN) – The peloton returns to the scene of the Stockeau massacre in a race for the first time Sunday. The descent of the Ardennes climb was the site of the massive crash that led to the neutralization of stage 3 at last year’s Tour de France.
LIEGE, Belgium (VN) – Dan Martin is starting Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but will be fighting a troubling arm injury suffered in a crash on Wednesday.
LIÈGE, Belgium (AFP) ─ Defending champion Alexander Vinokourov has ruled out a concerted effort in the peloton to stop race favorite Philippe Gilbert from winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium – Two weeks ago, Fabian Cancellara was the talk of the cycling media. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has assumed that role with three wins in a week, but Cancellara's Leopard-Trek teammates aren't looking past anyone for Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Having recently come away from the World Track Championships with yet another rainbow jersey (Madison with Leigh Howard), a silver medal (points race) and a seventh place (scratch) young Aussie sensation Cameron Meyer is ready for the first race of his Euro road season, Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. VeloNews caught up with him as he tries to build on his already amazing 2011.
WALSHOUTEM, Belgium (VN) – Greg Van Avermaet is ready to close a long classics season Sunday and is looking to deliver a result to BMC Racing. Van Avermaet, 25, will start his first Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday.
WALSHOUTEM, Belgium (VN) – Nearly lost in the fever of Philippe Gilbert’s triumph for Omega Pharma-Lotto at La Flèche Wallonne Wednesday was Alexander Vinokourov’s best-ever result in the mid-week classic. Astana’s defending champion of Liége-Bastogne-Liége ground out a fourth-place result atop the Mur de Huy and said afterward that the ride gave him much confidence ahead of Sunday’s Ardennes finale.
HUY, Belgium (VN) ─ Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervélo) is hoping to cap his spring campaign with a run for the podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.
HUY, Belgium (VN) — Philippe Gilbert will wake up Thursday morning as he did Monday, focused on recovering from a tough, winning effort in the hills near his hometown of Verviers, Belgium. So says the winner of all three high profile hilly classics contested this spring.
HUY, Belgium (VN) – Alexander Vinokourov will have a full arsenal at his disposal in his bid for a third Liège-Bastogne-Liège title Sunday. Roman Kreuziger will join his Astana teammates Saturday evening in Liège after the Giro del Trentino wraps up earlier in the day in Italy.
WALSHOUTEM, Belgium (VN) – Leopard-Trek has been denied in all but one of the spring classics this year. While their top focus is on Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Andy and Fränk Schleck on Tuesday reaffirmed their plans to be aggressive in the finale at La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday.
Editor’s note: Every week through the 2011 road season, VeloNews editor-at-large John Wilcockson is writing about key features of the week’s racing. This 10th installment focuses on the career of rider of the week Philippe Gilbert.
VILT, Netherlands (VN) — Philippe Gilbert left no doubt Sunday on the Cauberg, launching a violent attack midway up the climb to claim his second Amstel Gold Race in a row. The win was the third consecutive hilly classic for the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider, who cemented his position as king of the Ardennes.
SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy (VN) – It is four days before the season’s first one-day monument at Milan-San Remo and 2008 winner Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) is making plans. But those plans are much farther reaching than the 300 kilometers he’ll face Saturday.
The full punch of the Ardennes Mountains will be felt during Liège-Bastogne-Liège April 24 when the Côte de la Haute-Levée returns to the sport’s oldest monument.
Vino's win, bottles in Belgium and frequent flyer tips
After the Kazakh dropped the Russian in the last 100 meters of the last climb and cruised the final 400 meters to the line, the crowd let out an unseemly chorus of boos. That’s probably never happened before at a monumental classic.
Chris Horner (RadioShack) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) were close to the podium with solid performances in Sunday’s grueling Liège-Bastogne-Liège, while Christian Vande Velde, Ted King, Brent Bookwalter and other Americans have strong finishes.
Frank Schleck got a warm round of applause from fans crowding around the Saxo Bank team bus Sunday, but it couldn’t erase his disappointment at not being able to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood snaps some pix of Alexander Vinokourov's flashy new Specialized.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the toughest, oldest classic
Following a tough win at Paris-Nice, defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has reconfigured his racing schedule for the next two months.
Andy Shleck times his attack to perfection on the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons and rides alone to victory in the 95th La Doyenne
Thus far, the 2009 Classics season has provided cycling fans plenty of drama and nail-biting finishes. Tom Boonen’s Paris-Roubaix winning escape on the Carrefour d l’Arbre cobbles, Sergei Ivanov’s cagey tactics in the final meters of the Amstel Gold Race and Davide Rebellin’s last-minute burst on the Mur de Huy stand out as key moments when the aggressor came out on top. Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège caps off the 2009 Classics season, and the question on everyone’s mind is whether tactics of attack will again prevail.
Luxembourger Frank Schleck has been cleared to start Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège after crashing hard at last week’s Amstel Gold Race. “I joined the boys for a ride down in Bastogne [today] and it’s the first day I have felt better,” Schleck said. “I have one more day to get better and I hope to make the best of it.”
Frank Schleck, the victim of a nasty crash in the Amstel Gold Race, has been cleared to start Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Saxo Bank announced Thursday that the Luxembourg national champion will line up for Liège alongside his younger brother, Andy Schleck. The pair finished third and fourth last year, respectively. Schleck was a victim of a crash late in Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, prompting him to renounce Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, where Andy Schleck finished second to Davide Rebellin (Diquigiovanni).
There were a few surprises Friday as race organizers released the names of 25 squads that will start Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne next month in the Belgian Ardennes. The LPR team of Danilo Di Luca, winner of Liège in 2007, was left out along with Fuji-Servetto, the Spanish ProTour team. Wild-card teams include new Dutch squad Vacansoleil, the Diquigiovanni team of Davide Rebellin, Belgian teams Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Barloworld and Cervélo. Agritubel and Skil-Shimano are also both in.
Cadel Evans' plans to go one better than his runner-up place at last year's Tour de France remain intact after what has proved to be an ultimately confidence-boosting week of bike racing. Yet on Sunday the 30-year-old Australian was left wondering about his form at the prestigious Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classic, where at least one of his yellow jersey rivals put his climbing potential on full display.
Italian Davide Rebellin conceded defeat to the "faster legs" of Spanish rival Alejandro Valverde after their thrilling battle for one of the most prestigious crowns in one-day cycling Sunday. A runner-up to Italian Danilo Di Luca last year and winner in 2006, Valverde left Rebellin struggling to match his pace when he capped the tough, 12-climb 261km epic with a winning sprint a few hundred meters from the finish line. Rebellin's victory here in 2004 rounded off a superb week in which he won the Amstel Gold Race and the Fleche Wallonne classics.
A new climb with 20km to go lived up to expectations, breaking Liège-Bastogne-Liège wide open, but Alejandro Valverde relied on tactical savvy and his fiery finish-line punch to win La Doyenne for the second time in three years Sunday. After working into the decisive four-man move, Spain’s “Green Bullet” collaborated with Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) to fend off searing attacks from the Schleck brothers on the Saint-Nicolas climb with 5.5km to go only to relegate the Italian to bridesmaid status with his winning sprint.
Coming into the 93rd Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the number of riders named as potential race favorites was almost overwhelming. Nearly a dozen men were believed to have a serious shot at winning the hilly classic on its demanding course that suits a variety of riders. In the end, the cadre of serious contenders proved to be a hindrance for all the favorites, except one — Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas). The Italian, who won the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallone in 2005, completed a career triple of the Ardennes Classics by bridging across to a late attack by CSC’s Frank Schleck and then jumping away
“It’s the best one-day race in cycling.” American Chris Horner, who placed eighth at last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, says this weekend’s coming edition is the highlight of the season. But the Predictor-Lotto man’s assessment could just as easily come from world champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Innergetic) or defending Liège champion Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), or any of the 192 riders expected to start the 93rd edition of Liège Sunday, the final race of the spring classics season. “It’s a race almost any type of rider can win — a climber, a Tour rider, a time-trial
Discovery Channel rider Ivan Basso will skip Wednesday’s Flèche Wallone and Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège over growing pressure to boycott riders with links to the Operación Puerto doping investigation heats up again. The Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported Tuesday that the decision comes following an agreement between Discovery Channel team officials and race organizer ASO, which runs the Tour de France as well as the two upcoming Ardennes classics. Both sides agreed it would be more pragmatic to keep the Italian out of the hilly spring classics to avoid a potentially
Damiano Cunego has marked two very clear goals for his 2007 racing. Cunego, who said he enjoyed “excellent” winter training, is motivated to have a strong run at the Giro d’Italia podium and shine in the spring classics. “Compared to 2006, it’s true there are less difficult stages but I don’t agree with those who said it’s less difficult,” Cunego told the Italian web page cicloweb.it. “It’s a balanced course with a few decisive days.” Cunego won the 2004 Giro in spectacular fashion, but suffered through media pressure and health issues in 2005 only to bounce back with a solid campaign last
Alejandro Valverde, whose fans sometimes call him Balaverde, the Green Bullet, added a second notch to his list of classics victories on Sunday in a riveting 92nd edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, raced on a splendidly sunny spring day. The verdict was always in doubt after repeated attacks in the finale failed to break up a 12-strong group that eventually contested a ragged sprint, which Valverde of Caisse d’Épargne-Illes Balears clearly won from the Italians Paolo Bettini of Quick Step-Innergetic and Damiano Cunego of Lampre-Fondital.
Since his break-through victory last Sunday at the Amstel Gold Race, FrankSchleck has seen his stock rise like a meteor. “He seems like a fragileguy,” his CSC team manager Bjarne Riis commented this week, “but he hasa huge resistance.”Schleck confirmed his good form on Wednesday at the Flèche Wallonne,where he was one of three riders, with CSC teammate Karsten Kroon and SamuelSanchez of Euskaltel, who finished at the top of the Mur de Huy just behindwinner Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d’Épargne-Illes Balears.In placing fourth at the Flèche, Schleck rode a smart race inview of the difficulties
A more aggressive, more exciting edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège resulted last year when the organizers restored the "Bermuda Triangle" to the Belgian classic’s 262kmn course. The series of three critical climbs — Côte de Wanne, Côte de Stockeu and Côte de la Haute-Levée — in the space of just 12km around the town of Stavelot split the peloton into shreds. Only 35 riders from the 180-strong pack emerged from the "triangle" with a chance of winning. As a result, none of the pre-race favorites had more than a couple of teammates to help them in the final 80km. This gave an opening for
After Tom Boonen rounded out the first half of the spring classics season by winning the GP Schelde near Antwerp on Wednesday, he said he was looking forward to some vacation time before building up toward a green-jersey bid at the Tour de France. While the current UCI ProTour leader (see standings below) puts up his feet by the pool at his home in Monte Carlo or in Spain’s Canary Islands, his co-leader at Quick Step-Innergetic, Paolo Bettini, will be coping with harsher weather (and the reality of racing) in the hills of the Netherlands and Belgium. This Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, next
Friday’s EuroFile: Vino’ wins in Spain, eyes Líege; Lampre rules in Italy; Normandie tough on TIAA-CREF
Alexandre Vinokourov’s road to the Tour de France won’t be going through Georgia this year. Vinokourov’s Liberty Seguros team isn’t making the trek next month for the Tour de Georgia, and Vinokourov – who won the final stage and the overall at the Vuelta a Castilla y León - will instead defend his title at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. “This year I am preparing everything for the Tour and we are planning to have no pressure before that,” Vinokourov told VeloNews in an interview this week. “I think I can return to the Tour podium.” The battling Kazakh – third overall in the 2003 Tour and fifth last
Alex Vinokourov’s exciting victory over Jens Voigt in Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège not only ended the T-Mobile’s season-long losing streak, but also laid to rest the assumption that a long-range breakaway couldn’t succeed in this super-hilly classic. Vinokourov was not among the top favorites to win this 10th race of the UCI ProTour, but his rising form and savvy racing brain allowed him to take advantage of a race that was in flux after the trilogy of climbs that were restored to the 260km course.
A steady rain that started in Liège Saturday afternoon is forecast to return Sunday, which - combined with a 20-kph wind from the south - should make the Belgian super-classic even tougher than it already promises to be. The new 260km course has 10 major hills compared with eight last year, and the restoration of the Wanne-Stockeu-Haute-Levée trilogy of climbs has added meat to what was becoming a less demanding race. Even the hot race favorite, Italy’s Danilo Di Luca, seems to agree. The Italian, who is hoping to increase his UCI ProTour lead in this 10th race of the series, said Saturday:
The sun was shining from a clear blue sky Friday on the 260km course of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the 91st edition of which takes place on Sunday. It was almost like summer, with early tourists hiking the wooded trails of the Ardennes, anglers out in the trout streams, and cows lounging around their meadows of lush, green grass. But this sort of weather is unusual for Belgium, a country that on average has 203 days of rainfall a year, and only three days of what the locals call “excessive heat” — warmer than 30 degrees C (or 86 degrees F). It was great weather for the 25 teams that will contest
PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS1. Tyler Hamilton (USA)2. Niki Aebersold (Swi)3. Oscar Camenzind (Swi)4. Martin Elmiger (Swi)5. Bert Grabsch (G)6. Gutierrez José Enrique (Sp)7. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Sp)8. Gregory Rast (Swi)T-MOBILE TEAM11. Steffen Wesemann (G)12. Mario Aerts (B)13. Giuseppe Guerini (I)14. Matthias Kessler (G)15. Klöden Andréas (G)16. Daniele Nardello (I)17. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)18. Erik Zabel (G)LOTTO - DOMO21. Peter Van Petegem (B)22. Serge Baguet (B)23. Christophe Brandt (B)24. Thierry Marichal (B)25. Axel Merckx (B)27. Rik Verbrugghe (B)28. Piotr Wadecki (Pol)29. Glenn D'Hollander
There’s now little doubt that Gerolsteiner’s Italian wonder man Davide Rebellin is the man of the week, the man of the month, maybe even the man of the year. That seven-year gap between World Cup victories after the two he scored in August 1997 was more like a blockage than a drought. Suddenly, last Sunday in the Netherlands, the dam broke and in eight days Rebellin has simply swept away his opposition in a torrent of victories: Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) said he’s feeling strong and will be motivated to defend his title in Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège race in Belgium. Since joining Phonak, the popular New Englander has been quietly building his form for July’s Tour de France. He narrowly missed victory in the final time trial at the Tour of the Basque Country in early April and worked himself into an early attack in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallone. “You maybe didn't see it on Wednesday, but I consider myself to be in good shape, maybe slightly below that of a year ago but not by much,” Hamilton told Belgian newspaper La
The sunshine that enveloped the green hills of the Ardennes Saturday evening augers well for the Italians who have arrived in force for Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Not only do they have the highest number of starters (44) and teams (six) for this World Cup race, but they have also delivered the race winner four times in the past seven years. Last year, of course, Tyler Hamilton broke their stranglehold with a brilliant solo victory ahead of two other non-Italians, Spaniard Iban Mayo of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Dutchman Michael Boogerd of Rabobank. Both Hamilton (race No. 1) and Boogerd (No.
Friday’s EuroFile: Zaballa pips ’em in Spain; ‘Armstrong effect’ a boon to Georgia; Mayo to skip Liège
The action was hot despite the cold and rain in Friday’s third stage of the Tour of Aragon in Spain. Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval) won a photo-finish, seven-up sprint against Oscar Laguna (Relax-Bodysol) as Denis Menchov (Illes Balears) retained the overall lead. Zaballa and Laguna were part of a seven-man break that peeled away from the main bunch over the final Category 3 climb about 25km from the finish line, and the chase was on. Illes Balears checked an early move that chugged away over the day’s main obstacles – two Cat. 1 climbs in the opening 90km. Menchov was part of the
Friday’s EuroFile: Zülle, Jeker in road rage tussle; Azevedo doesn’t like Heras comparison; Rebellin eyes Lìege, world’s
Two-time Vuelta a España champion Alex Zülle, former world champion Oscar Carmenzind and two other pros were intentionally driven into a guard-rail by an angry motorist Thursday in Spain. Zülle, Carmenzind (both Phonak), compatriot Fabian Jeker (Saunier Duval) and Santos González (Phonak) were training near Alicante in southern Spain when an 84-year-old driver exchanged heated words with the pros and then forced them into a guard-rail with his vehicle, the EFE wire services reported. Jeker suffered a three-inch cut in his left thigh while Zülle was taken away in an ambulance, received five