Very little pressure for GreenEdge in Liège-Bastogne-Liège
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Very little pressure for GreenEdge in Liège-Bastogne-Liège

by Kyle Moore at 11:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
 
After a solid spring, Australian team hoping for three in Monument’s final selection

Simon GerransAfter outstanding results from its two Ardennes leaders already this season – Simon Gerrans won Milan-Sanremo and Michael Albasini took second in Flèche Wallone – the GreenEdge Cycling Team heads to the final of the Ardennes Classics with little pressure on its shoulders.

The Australian team is not designating a true and absolute leader for the hilly Monument, but said it expects Gerrans, Albasini, and Simon Clarke to be present as the race gets selective in its closing kilometers.

“I don’t like the term ‘leaders,’ so I will not say that one guy is leading the team over the other or that we are starting the race with two leaders.  It’s not like that,” team director Laurenzo Lapage wrote on the team website.  “The team aspect on Sunday will be important as always.  If we’re there with two or three guys, they will need to communicate with each other.  They need to speak fairly and honestly about their condition, and the others will support whoever has the best chance.”

In La Flèche Wallone, it was the Swiss rider Albasini with the best chance, as the all-rounder continues adding to a career-best season after taking the overall win in the Volta a Catalunya.  Albasini provided one of the best responses to race winner Joaquin Rodriguez’ searing attack, and was rewarded with second place on the line.

Gerrans did not ride the mid-week Classic, and since he is back to ride alongside Albasini in Liège, Lapage stressed strength in numbers.

“For us, the most important thing is we want to be there with a couple of guys,” he continued.  “I’m almost certain that Albasini, Gerrans, and Clarke will make the selection on [the Cote de] la Redoute.  From there, communication will be a key factor.  Any of those three could do really well in the finish.  The finale is not for a sprinter or climber.  It’s for someone who has power in a small-group finish.

It is the type of finish Lapage describes that the Australian Gerrans has become best known for, after taking stages in all three Grand Tours with similar finishes.  But before GreenEdge gets to the finale with any of its featured men, Lapage noted that the team’s assisting riders must be used wisely.

“Like we saw in Amstel [Gold Race] and Flèche, the helpers are really important to ensure that we have guys in the final,” Lapage added.  “We’ll look to Daryl Impey, Travis Meyer, Fumy Beppu, Christian Meier, and Wes Sulzberger to do whatever they need to do to help ‘Alba,’ ‘Gerro,’ and Clarke stay safe and conserve energy before the finish.  The weather forecast on Sunday suggests this could be a wet and windy race, which makes energy conservation an even bigger factor.

“Of course the goal is to get a good result, but I never stand before the guys and tell them that we have to win a certain race.  That’s not how we start races on this team.  I don’t believe this is an effective strategy – and the results we have already gotten help us stay relaxed.”

Even with likely bad weather and one of the toughest and hilliest Classics on the menu, Lapage sounded confident and relaxed – and rightly so, given his team’s highly productive first part of the season.

“We’ll start just like we did on Wednesday [in Flèche Wallone].  We have a plan.  We are organized.  We race as a team.  The guys know they can count on their team-mates even in the most difficult moments.  As a team, we focus on our own strengths.  If Gerrans and Albasini are in they same shape they were in this last week, I think we can produce a really good result in Liège.”
 

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