The final of the Ardennes Classics didn’t have the dream ending Bahrain Victorious hoped for with a back to back victory after Teuns win at Flèche. In the end it came down to a bunch sprint for second and Dylan managed to cross the line in sixth.
The oldest Monument on the calendar was also the hardest to face. Bahrain Victorious was at the start with a super strong lineup: including the Slovenian Champion Matej Mohorič, the former race winner Wout Poels, a brilliant Mikel Landa on his road to the Giro, Damiano Caruso coming out from Giro di Sicilia as GC and stages winner, the experienced Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez, and a back in form Jack Haig, who was also one of the possible contenders of this tough race. All in all, one of the strongest teams on the paper this morning at the start of La Doyenne.
And that’s what the team proved to be, riding an aggressive race and pulling in front of the peloton to bridge the gap to the day’s breakaway. Multiples attacks from Landa and accelerations from Poels aimed to make the race as difficult as possible. The plan worked well but was not enough to prevent and stop the winning move of Remco Evenepoel(Quick-Step), who went on the legendary Redoute climb, and nobody was able to follow him. He bridged the gap to the race leader and managed to solo to victory in Liège.
Behind him, Bahrain Victorious tried to arrange the chase, but without success. “Everybody of us was committed to working, except our leader Teuns and Haig”, Matej Mohorič explained. “I was not on a great day; therefore, I just worked for the team, and on the last ascent, I finished my job”.
Bahrain Victorious leader Dylan Teuns went hard on the Roche-aux-Faucons, where the race was usually decided in the past. But it was not enough to make the difference and take advantage of the rivals for the sprint for the remaining steps of the podium, finishing in 6th place in Liège.
“I can’t say to be happy with the result, as I was looking for the victory today,” says the Belgian rider. “We showed a strong team performance. This finale is always a little bit technical, without a climb. I tried several times on the last climb, and I got it away a bit, but they came back in the end, and there was no super collaboration. We tried to organize the chase to Remco Evenepoel without success, and the gap remained the same. I did the sprint, finishing 5th. It could be better, but it is what it is.”
(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Sprintcycling @TeamBahrainVictorious)
— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com
The Ardennes Classics triptych ends with the 108th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, April 24, starting and finishing in Liège (Belgium) over a 256.9km course.
The oldest Monument, known as “La Doyenne” (The Old Lady), is also considered the hardest. The gruelling course with 4,400 vertical meters and the iconic Côtes like La Redoute, le Col du Rosier and the Roche-aux-Faucons attract the climbers, but the contenders must be skilled for the fast finale too.
Bahrain Victorious won’t be hiding its ambition to be the race’s protagonist, lining up with some of the strongest contenders. Recent winner of Flèche Wallonne, Dylan Teuns, will be looking to carry his confidence into the race: “This gave me extra motivation for sure as it happened on Wednesday. That victory made me even more confident, and I still have good legs to be able to arrive in Liège and contest a selected sprint finish, if that would be the case”.
Alongside the Belgian leader is Matej Mohorič, who is back with the team after his brilliant performance at the Paris-Roubaix. The Slovenian Champion was close to the podium in 2020, sprinting to 4th place in Liège.
“Not only can we rely on those two champions. We also have an additional card with Jack Haig,” SD Gorazd Stangelj explains. “The quality of this lineup is premium: we also have a former Liège winner like Wout Poels, a road captain in great shape as Damiano Caruso, the experienced Luis Leon Sanchez at his 13th appearance and Mikel Landa, who joins us right after the Tour of the Alps.
From the beginning of these Ardennes Classics, we’ve shown that the team is constantly fighting to achieve the best places possible. The team at the start of Liège will be again a strong one and with big expectations.
Our number one leader will be Dylan Teuns after his stunning performance at the Flèche, but we will try to be ready for two different race outcomes. The race changed slightly in the finale, with one climb less, but as in the past editions, we expect the race to be decided on the final climb, with a small group of riders battling in the last run to Liège.
I’d like to see more than one of our guys in the finale, but it’s difficult to say as the race is always very controlled and decided on the Roche-aux-Faucons. Easy to predict, but hard to execute”.
— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com
Astana Qazaqstan Team for Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2022
Astana Qazaqstan Team is ready for the fourth Monumental classic race of the season – Liège – Bastogne – Liège, which will be held tomorrow, on April 24th.
Rider roster: David De La Cruz, Stefan De Bod, Fabio Felline, Vincenzo Nibali, Alexandr Riabushenko, Simone Velasco, Andrey Zeits.
Sports director in race: Stefano Zanini.
Race information: https://www.liege-bastogne-liege.be/en/
Photo credit: @Gettysport
— Vitalii to www.astana-qazaqstan.com
Italian climber gears up to take on the walls of the Ardennes
Lining up in Bastogne on April 24 to face La Doyenne (“The Old Lady”) will be young Italian climber Barbara Malcotti. As the program’s first-ever rider from “il bel paese,” the 22-year-old who hails from the Dolomites of Trentino is well-suited to the hilly Ardennes test that will face the riders at the sixth Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes.
Having finished in 26th place in 2021, Malcotti hopes to use the experience of cresting the climbs of the Amstel Gold Race, De Brabantse Pijl and Flèche Wallone Féminine to better her result.
“It is one of the races that I like the most as I prefer long climbs with not too steep slopes like those of the walls here in Belgium. Last year I achieved a good result but I would like to be able to improve myself more over the years.”
Having grown up in the mountains, Malcotti has a natural affinity for those days on the bike where flat roads are impossible to come by.
“I leave the house and find climbs everywhere,” she says, describing her home town of Tione di Trento. “They are long climbs and you have no choice to go on the flat because even only a ten-kilometer ride will be up and down anyway.
At home, true flat does not exist.
Having previously raced for the Italian Valcar – Travel & Service team, 2022 marked a step out of Maclotti’s comfort zone as she switched to an American-based program that is comprised of riders and staff of 13 different nationalities. She hopes to “become an athlete on the same level” as ex-teammates, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallone winner Marta Cavalli and current world champion and “great friend,” Elisa Balsamo.
“It is a totally different environment,” she says. “I like it very much and I get along very well with my teammates as well as with all the staff. There is professionalism but at the same time fluency on aspects that are of fundamental importance for Italy.”
“They are very helpful and I integrated well and it is nice to know other lifestyles and cultures,” the 22-year-old explained. “The team are teaching me a lot of their ways of life, we exchange cooking recipes and tips and teach each other words and phrases that are typical of our countries so we are looking to work together to build a competitive team.”
Malcotti’s grace on two wheels is matched by her hospitality off them, which included preparing ten pizzas for the squad after a gruelling edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift. She will drop everything and cook even the press officer some food to create a communal evening meal, a metaphorical and practical expression of commitment in the Italian gastronomical culture.
— Human Powered Health (@HumanPwrdHealth) April 16, 2022
As well as leading the team through the Setmana Valenciana stage race and the Ardennes races, Malcotti has also had new chances to adapt as a rider by taking on a spring campaign that included Strade Bianche, Ronde van Drenthe, Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders, challenges she was not afforded on her previous team.
“The team are allowing me to gain a lot of experience that I have been missing from the past years,” she explains. “I am experiencing wind, pavé, cobbled climbs and all kinds of roads.”
Malcotti already knows she will be wearing a Human Powered Health jersey in 2023, by which time she will be 24 and have her debut Women’s WorldTour season in the legs. Right now, the introduction to WorldTour racing has represented a steep learning curve.
“The level is very high and there are very strong athletes, but the goal is always to do the best possible – maybe one day I will be able to get a good result for the team.”
The young Italian says she’s happy to be in a team where she doesn’t have a lot of pressure to bear on her shoulders, but she has an eye on steady improvement through the season.
“I would like to improve a lot this year and thanks to the numerous races that the team is allowing me to ride, even the ones that don’t match my strengths, I am bringing home a lot of experience,” she says, before adding in true Italian fashion:
I want to have fun and do what I like with ease.
How to watch
In North America, FloSports has live coverage of the racing and in Europe, it can be caught on the Eurosport Player and GCN+. Live images from the women’s race start at 5:30 am ET with coverage joining around the majestic Côte de La Redoute.
To keep up with all the action ahead of the TV, make sure to stay across the team’s updates on social media as we will be bringing wall-to-wall coverage from Belgium.
— Oskar Scarsbrook to humanpoweredhealth.com
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.
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)
“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.”
2022 Race Details:
Wednesday, 20th April: Flèche Wallonne – Blegny to Huy, 202.1km
Sunday, 24th April: Liège-Bastogne-Liège – Liège to Liège, 245.7km
Photo: Chris Auld
— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com
After a busy weekend with the second edition of Paris-Roubaix, Team BikeExchange-Jayco women are back in action with their ‘climbing’ group, ready to tackle the final two races of the Ardennes Classics, the iconic Flèche Wallonne Femmes and prestigious Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes.
The squad will line-up with a leading trio of Ane Santesteban, Amanda Spratt and Alex Manly, after all showing good climbing form in the previous races, with Spratt a former fifth place finisher in Flèche Wallonne and second place finisher in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Joining the trio will be Georgia Williams, Urska Zigart, Chelsie Tan (Flèche only) and Jess Allen (Liège only) with the team looking to play their cards right to be attentive and in moves with an aggressive style of racing.
The two one-day races round-out the busy northern spring classics, with Wednesday’s 133km event including three ascents of the famous Mur de Huy for the first time in the women’s race. A brutal 1.3km climb averaging 9.6% percent but with a maximum gradient of over 20%.
For Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it is a slightly bumpier and lengthier route of 142km with seven main ‘cotes,’ culminating with the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons just 14km from the finish line.
Team BikeExchange-Jayco line-up:
Jess Allen (AUS) * Liège only
Alex Manly (AUS)
Amanda Spratt (AUS)
Chelsie Tan (SIN) *Flèche only
Georgia Williams (NZL)
Ane Santesteban (ESP)
Urska Zigart (SLO)
“Flèche is always a race I look forward to. This year I think it will be one of the toughest editions yet. We race up the Mur de Huy three times for the first time ever and the final loops have many more climbs. The inclusion of the Cherave climb again makes the final harder in my opinion.
My form has been progressing race by race. I still need more time to hit my top form again, but I still come to the race with high motivation alongside a strong team. I am especially looking forward to having the amazing crowds back this year especially up the Mur! The atmosphere there is electric.
Ane and Alex in particular, have shown really strong climbing form in the last races so they will be key riders for us, and I am just looking forward to leaving everything I have out on the road in both races.”
“We bring the climbers back into the team for Flèche Wallonne and Liège, they are both always really hard races, but we go in with confidence after seeing the riders’ performances over the last weeks. Spratty is improving every single race she does, and we saw that Alex is in good shape after her rides in the last races like Amstel and Brabantse. The racing in general has been really aggressive so we expect the same on Wednesday, and we will look to be animated and, in the moves, but like always it will be a case of who has the best legs in those final few hundred metres on the Mur de Huy.”
2022 Race Details:
Wednesday, 20th April: Flèche Wallonne Femmes – Huy to Huy, 133km
Sunday, 24th April: Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes – Bastogne to Liège, 142.1km
Photo: Chris Auld
— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com
Julien Jurdie : « Get on the podium
« Our sporting goals for the Ardennes are quite simple: with the physical condition that Benoît Cosnefroy has recently displayed, we can hope to get on the podium and why not on the top step. For the past few weeks, he has shown that he is very strong and he will be supported by a committed team to position him in the best possible conditions. It is a complicated task but it is the right year to shine. He is capable of climbing onto the Flèche Wallonne podium again and he can confirm the good sensations he had at la Doyenne two years ago.
Mentally and physically, Benoît is equipped to succeed in these races. »Julien
With Benoît Cosnefroy, Paul Lapeir, and Mikaël Chérel, three riders who come from the Manche department will be at the start of the two Ardennes races.
— Kévin Bottin to ag2rcitroenteam.com