Tim Wellens wins stage 3 of Étoile de Bessèges: Daily News Digest

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Hello again, CyclingTips readers,

Several big names tested their legs at Étoile de Bessèges. Amaury Sport Organization announced the teams who will attend both Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège along with some route adjustments. And Flanders Classics launched a new gravel event with Laurens ten Dam.

Read on for the latest news from the world of cycling.

Abby Mickey
Associate Editor

What’s news?

Wellens wins stage 3 of Étoile de Bessèges with a solo attack

Tim Wellens soloed to victory on stage 3 of Étoile de Bessèges, finishing 37 seconds in front of his breakaway companions and snagging the general classification lead as a bonus. Behind Wellens, Edward Theuns sprinted to second and Mads Wurtz Schmidt took third.

Christophe Laporte, who had been in the lead after stage 2, finished with the main peloton more than three minutes behind Wellens.

“It couldn’t have gone better,” said Wellens at the finish. “We saw the start was hilly and with technical descents, so we knew it would be hard. It took a long time for the right break to form, but it was full of good riders and we knew it had a chance to go the distance. In the finale, I attacked on the descent and then did a time trial to the finish.”

Wellens was one of 17 riders who made up the decisive mid-race breakaway. Other escapees included Egan Bernal, Michal Kwiatkowski, Nils Politt, Greg van Anermaet, and two of Wellen’s teammates Philippe Gilbert and Stefano Oldani.

The group got away with 94 km remaining in the race after some pressure put on the peloton by 2019 Tour de France champion Bernal.

Nearing the finish Kwiatkowski was the first to try for a winning move, but with 15 km to go on the final descent of the day Wellens slipped off the front and took the race for his own.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège route and team selection announced

The ASO has announced a new climb that will appear in this years Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Côte de Desnié. This new feature runs 1.6 km long and has an average gradient of 8.1%. The women will hit the new climb 93 km into the race, just before they take on the Côte de la Redoute. For the men, it will be roughly 211 km into the race. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is set to take place on April 25th.

Other than this new ascent, the remainder of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège route remains the same as the 2020 edition. The men will race 259.9 km starting and finishing in Liège while the women will race 141 km starting in Bastogne and will follow the final 80 km of the men’s route to Liège.

Along with the announcement of the route, the ASO listed the teams who have been invited to attend the race. For the women, the list contains the nine WorldTour teams along with a handful of UCI Continental teams.

The two UCI ProTeams who will line up in Liège will be Alpecin-Fenix and Team Arkéa Samsic, and the wildcard teams who have been invited to La Doyenne are Team Bingoal-WB, Gazprom-RusVelo, SportVl-Baloise, and Team Total Direct Energie.

2021 Flèche Wallonne route announced

Alongside the news of the new Liège-Bastogne-Liège climb, the ASO announced the route, team selection, and date of their other Spring Classic, La Flèche Wallonne. Set to take place on April 21st, both the men’s and women’s events will finish atop the iconic Mur de Huy. However, the race will start in Charleroi for the first time since 2012.

A few new climbs have been added to Flèche Wallonne, the Côte d’Yvoir and the Côte de Gives, making for a total of 19 climbs for the men and 8 for the women. The men will race 192 km and the women 126.5 km, both with the same final 90 km.

As far as team selection, the peloton will look much the same as the one that will take on Liège-Bastogne-Liége a few days later.

Flanders Classics to host 3-day gravel event

Flanders Classics has partnered with former professional Laurens ten Dam to create Flanders Gravel, a 3-day gravel event in early July of this year. The event will take on some of the most iconic climbs of the Flanders Classics region, including the Koppenberg, Paterberg, and the Oude Kwaremont.

“Flanders Gravel focuses mainly on the recreational rider. We look forward to a weekend where the gravel bike will be the centre of attention combined with the relaxed and unique gravel ambience,” said Tomas van den Spiegel, Flanders Classics CEO. “Topped off with routes that will bring the riders to undiscovered cobblestones, our famous bergs and unique gravel sections. If you successfully complete the Flanders Gravel event, you have truly earned yourself the title of Gravel Flandrien.”

The event already has an alternative date set in October should COVID-19 impact their summer plans.

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