Amstel time gap frustration, Van Avermaet to Liège: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Alaphilippe and Fuglsang rue questionable time gaps in Amstel Gold finale, Van Avermaet will race Liège-Bastogne-Liège after all, Geoghegan Hart gets his first pro win. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Alaphilippe and Fuglsang rue Amstel Gold time gap confusion

With a healthy lead in the final 10 kilometers, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) seemed destined to fight for the Amstel Gold Race victory between themselves – but that’s not how things played out on the finishing straight. After a long break, the duo was caught and it was instead Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) who took a thrilling win.

Confusing time gap intel may have played a part in the move’s demise.

“I am not disappointed that I did not win, but I am disappointed in how it happened,” Alaphilippe said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “At two kilometers from the finish line the race director came to tell us that we had a 35-second lead. That means that they rode 15 seconds per kilometer faster than we did afterwards. I think that such a thing is impossible.”

Mathieu van der Poel atop the final podium at Amstel flanked by runner-up Simon Clarke and third-placed Jakob Fuglsang.

The television broadcast showed a similarly large time gap that then precipitously dropped over the final 1,500 meters.

Fuglsang said his team car told him to stop pulling in the finale so that he might conserve energy for the expected sprint against Alaphilippe.

“I said to them in the car, when they didn’t want me to pull anymore, that they needed to give me the times to the group behind,” he said, according to Cyclingnews. “They told me in the last kilometer that they were 20 seconds behind.

“I looked behind me and saw [Michal] Kwiatkowski 10 meters back. That’s not 20 seconds, so you guys got it wrong. So it’s a little bittersweet.”

Fuglsang did still finish on the podium (in third), but it’s hard to imagine his solid ride living on in the memory of viewers the way van der Poel’s will. The Dutchman practically willed a group of chasers to close down the gap, and still managed to sprint for the victory in Berg en Terblijt to take one of the most thrilling wins so far this season.

Beauty of Cycling

Feritcan Samli, who rode the Tour of Turkey for the Turkish national selection, had a busy week. The 25-year-old stayed active at the front of the race to collect intermediate sprint points on the way to sewing up the jersey in that classification – and then made the most of his time on the podium ahead of the final stage.

Race Radio

Van Avermaet will race Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) will race Liège-Bastogne-Liège after all. The 33-year-old Belgian had initially said he would make his decision on starting the final Monument of the spring after the Amstel Gold Race. Then, his team said in a press release that Amstel would be the last event of his Classics campaign. Now, with Amstel in the books, Van Avermaet has decided he’ll be heading to Belgium’s Wallonia region to take on the long, hilly race.

Greg Van Avermaet at the E3 Binckbank Classic. Photo: ©kramon

“I was happy with my legs and condition yesterday at Amstel Gold Race so, after taking a day to think about it, I have decided to line up at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday,” he said in a CCC press release. “I think I have managed to maintain my form from the cobbled Classics to the Ardennes and with the new finish in mind, I think I have a good chance to make a nice result.”

Bora hoping Sagan bounces back for Liège

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has extended his one-day objectives this year to include Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, an event he has never started, but the fatigue of a long stretch of racing appears to be taking its toll. The former world champion abandoned the Amstel Gold Race, deciding to pull the plug after being dropped.

Peter Sagan at the Amstel Gold Race. Photo: ©kramon

“It wasn’t important to fight for the 40th or 50th, so I pulled out,” he told Slovakian newspaper Novy Cas. “Last week was very difficult and when we look at some analysis of the racers who started at Paris-Roubaix, nobody was in the forefront today.”

Bora is hoping that Sagan can recover some strength in time for the spring’s final monument on Sunday.

“It wasn’t what we were aiming at today, we wanted to go for the win with Peter but still, overall, we can be satisfied with the performance of our young riders,” sports director Enrico Poitschke said. “We look forward to the upcoming races and we are sure Peter will come back.”

Geoghegan Hart gets his first pro win at the Tour of the Alps

Tao Geoghegan Hart, long one of Britain’s most promising youngsters, rode to his first professional victory on Monday in the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps. The 24-year-old Sky rider took a reduced sprint in Kufstein after a lumpy 144-kilometer stage.

“It was good to claim one with the Team Sky jersey, as that’s my last opportunity to do that,” Geoghegan Hart said, with Sky changing over to Ineos next week.

Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) finished second on the day with Roland Thalmann (Vorarlberg Santic) in third.

Geoghegan Hart now leads the general classification heading to the second stage of the race, which runs 179 kilometers from Reith im Alpbachtal to Schenna.

Vendrame wins Tro-Bro Léon

Andrea Vendrame (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) won the always entertaining Tro-Bro Léon on Monday, taking a small sprint in Lannilis after navigating the gravel farm roads in the French region of Brittany.

The 24-year-old Italian topped Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles) and Emil Vinjebo (Riwal Readynez) to take the UCI 1.1-rated victory.

Socially Speaking

Thanks to Daniel Lloyd for the providing the crazy stat of the week (which is remarkably true)…

Moving Pictures

With his stunning stunning Amstel Gold Race victory, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) added himself to an impressive list of winners at the Dutch Classic. One of them is among his biggest fans.

Back in 1990, van der Poel’s father Adrie van der Poel took a thrilling Amstel victory ahead of Luc Roosen, who may have celebrated a tad early.

Happy Birthday to …

Carlos Sastre is 44. The Spaniard won the 2008 Tour de France ahead of Cadel Evans and collected numerous other podium finishes in the Grand Tours over the course of his career before retiring in 2011.

Carlos Sastre at the 2008 Tour de France. Photo: Marketa Navratilova/Cor Vos ©2008

Feature Image: Julian Alaphilippe and Fuglsang off the front at the Amstel Gold Race, before they were caught in the finale. Photo: Pool Fred Mons/LE/Cor Vos © 2019

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