Amstel Gold result leaves Flèche Wallonne searching for favourites
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Amstel Gold result leaves Flèche Wallonne searching for favourites

by Ben Atkins at 2:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne
None of Sunday’s expected protagonists performed on Cauberg finale leaving Wednesday’s race wide open

philippe gilbertThe failure of any of the pre-race favourites to feature in the result of Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race has left this coming Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne race wide open. With similar style courses, and uphill finishes, Amstel, Flèche, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège generally feature the same protagonists - with Philippe Gilbert (then Omega Pharma-Lotto, now BMC Racing) winning all three last year.

While Astana’s Enrico Gasparotto’s victory was not entirely unexpected, given his third place in the 2010 edition, the former Italian champion has no history in la Flèche, and is unlikely to feature on Wednesday.

Gilbert himself was the best of the pre-race favourites on Sunday, but his fifth place on top of the Cauberg does not augur well for a repeat victory in the Mur de Huy. The Belgian champion has suffered from poor form so far this season and, while he looked to be in his best shape yet for 2012, his strong attack faded before the line and - instead of becoming the first rider to win three straight Amstels since Jan Raas in the late 1970’s - he was forced to settle for that fifth place.

Prior to Sunday’s race most eyes were on the Spanish trio of Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Sánchez was the best of the three, finishing in seventh place, but Valverde and Rodriguez languished back in 22nd and 24th places respectively.

Of all the predicted contenders for the victory, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) performed the best, but he too mistimed his sprint and finished third. The Slovakian champion is not listed in the green and blue team’s roster for Wednesday’s race however, although his teammate Vincenzo Nibali steps into his shoes and could be a possible contender.

Two riders that will certainly not feature in Wednesday’s results are 2010 winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and two-time third place Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD). The Tour de France champion climbed off his bike midway through Amstel Gold, suffering from a sinus infection, and has withdrawn from both Flèche and Liège; Cunego is skipping Flèche to ride the Giro del Trentino, although he will return - along with teammate Michele Scarponi - for Sunday’s Liège.

It is possible that the steeper climb of the Mur will see a greater selection than on the relatively shallow Cauberg, and that the expected favourites rise to the top once more. Among those names though, will surely be that of Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol), whose second place on Sunday came in the 27-year-old’s first experience of riding Amstel for himself.

Having won last year’s Tour de France stage to the Plateau de Beille, Vanendert certainly enjoys the uphill finishes and, without Gilbert to worry about as a teammate, could contend on the Mur on Wednesday.

Teams for La Flèche Wallonne (WT) Wednesday, April 18th (with leading riders)

Eighteen UCI ProTeams
AG2R La Mondiale (ALM): Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita), Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra)
Astana Pro Team (AST): Enrico Gasparotto (Ita), Evgeni Petrov (Rus)
BMC Racing Team (BMC): Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (EUS): Igor Antón (Spa), Romain Sicard (Fra)
FDJ-Big Mat (FDJ): Pierrick Fédrigo (Fra) 
Garmin-Barracuda (GRM): Christophe LeMevel (Fra), Ryder Hesjedal (Can) 
GreenEdge Cycling Team (GEC): Michael Albasini (Swi), Simon Clarke (Aus)
Katusha Team (KAT): Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa)
Lampre-ISD (LAM): Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) 
Liquigas-Cannondale: (LIQ), Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
Lotto-Belisol Team (LTB): Jelle Vanendert, Gianni Meersman, Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel)
Movistar Team (MOV): Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Rui Costa (Por) 
Omega Pharma-Quick Step (OPQ): Dries Devenyns (Bel), Jérôme Pineau (Fra)
Rabobank Cycling Team (RAB): Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema (NL) 
RadioShack-Nissan (RNT): Fränk Schleck, Andy Schleck (Lux), Maxime Monfort (Bel) 
Sky Procycling (SKY): Rigoberto Uran (Col) 
Team Saxo Bank (SAX): Karsten Kroon (NL) 
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team (VCD): Thomas De Gendt (Bel)

Seven Professional Continental Teams
Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda’s (ACC): Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel)
Argos-Shimano (ARG): Simon Geschke (Ger), Alexandre Geniez (Fra)
Colombia - Coldeportes (COL): Fabio Duarte, Johan Esteban Chaves (Col)
Landbouwkrediet-Euphony (LAN): Dirk Bellemakers (NL) 
Saur-Sojasun (SAU): Julien Simon, Jérôme Coppel (Fra)
Team Type 1-Sanofi (TT1): Julien El Fares (Fra), Rubens Bertogliati (Swi)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator (TSV): Preben Van Hecke (Bel)


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