The spring classics conclude: Daily News Digest
Hello again, CyclingTips readers,
The curtain has come down on the spring classics for another year, with Liège–Bastogne–Liège wrapping up one phase of the season and ushering in another. At the Belgian monument, Tadej Pogacar and Demi Vollering took out the win.
The eyes of the cycling world turn now toward the stage races, with the Giro d’Italia looming large and the Tour de France not far behind it.
Read on for more.
Tadej Pogacar wins Liège–Bastogne–Liège
Reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) has added a monument to his rapidly growing palmares, outsprinting Julian Alaphilippe to win Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
In a tense, hard-fought edition of cycling’s oldest monument, things began to take shape at the Cote de la Redoute when Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) laid a foundation for attacks from teammates Adam Yates (unsuccessful) and Richard Carapaz (successful – briefly).
Carapaz, alone off the front, held off the chasing group until 13.5 km to go, at one point going into a supertuck position that saw him disqualified by the race jury at the end of the day.
On the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, soon after Carapaz was brought back, Michael Woods (Israel Start Up Nation) coaxed out a group of five big hitters – Julian Alaphilippe, Alejandro Valverde, David Gaudu and Tadej Pogacar. This would be the winning group – but with a world champion, a four-time Liege Bastogne Liege champion and a Tour de France champion in the ranks, who would take home the chocolates?
Valverde (Movistar) opened the sprint, before Alaphilippe moved to the front. Pogacar, tucked in the Frenchman’s slipstream, scooched around him on the right and took the win by half a wheel length.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1.UWT) Liège → Liège
Demi Vollering wins Liège–Bastogne–Liège Femmes
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) sprinted to the win in the women’s edition of Liège–Bastogne–Liège, taking the biggest victory of her young career.
Like the men’s race, a strong group of five went into the final kilometres to contest the win, with three highly-regarded pursuants. SD Worx had the numerical advantage. Current world champion, Anna van der Breggen, who was fresh off a win at Fleche Wallonne earlier in the week, was working for Vollering, setting a fierce pace on the climbs and keeping the group together all the way until the sprint.
Annemiek van Vleuten was the first to open it up, breaking up the right of the road, but Vollering was the fastest of the group and took an easy win.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes (1.WWT) Bastogne → Liège
Richard Carapaz disqualified for supertuck
The UCI’s new supertuck ban, enforced since April 1, has snared its highest profile scalp to date, with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) disqualified from Liège–Bastogne–Liège for the manoeuvre.
Carapaz was alone off the front of the race inside the final 20 km when he moved into the forbidden position, although he appeared to maintain some contact with the seat. His attack ultimately failed, with the Ecuadorian swept up by the elite group of five that would go on to contest the win. Upon crossing the finish line, Carapaz was disqualified by the race jury.
Chris Froome concedes that form is yet to return
Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has spoken of his slow return to the pinnacle of the sport in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, saying that on his current condition he “wouldn’t deserve” selection for the Tokyo Olympics.
Froome has been largely anonymous through the 2021 season, having most recently finished 93rd in the GC at the Tour of the Alps. His next race start is this week’s Tour of Romandie – an event Froome has won twice before – as he continues to build toward a return to the Tour de France.
“I’m still training just as hard, I’m putting in the hours. I’m not seeing the same numbers in training as I did previously, but I’ve just got to trust in the process. I’ve got to trust that working hard will bear results eventually. Obviously, I had the big accident a couple of years ago and I still haven’t come back to my former level since then,” Froome said.
“It’s been a longer journey than I expected but I’m certainly hopeful that if I keep following the process, keep working hard, keep doing the altitude training camps, and putting in all the work that’s required, eventually things are going to click for me and I’m going to wake up feeling more like my old self again.:
Thibaut Pinot will not race the Giro d’Italia
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) will not take the start of the Giro d’Italia as originally planned, according to a team press release. Pinot, who has been France’s tragic GC hero for most of the past decade, was building to a tilt at the Italian grand tour instead of his home race, but remains haunted by back pain sustained in a crash at the 2020 Tour de France.
“I can’t hide from myself: I’m not in the medical condition to shine in the Giro. I would unnecessarily suffer and I would not be able to help the team,” Pinot said in a statement.
Pinot and his team will continue to search for a resolution to his sacroiliac inflammation before deciding on his race schedule.
In case you missed it…
The first episode of a new women’s cycling show, The Run Up, is here.
Abby Mickey has the tale of Anna van der Breggen’s self-sacrificial ride at Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
Tadej Pogacar says that he’s “living the cycling dream“.