Vanendert needing big Liège result to salvage Ardennes Classics campaign
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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Vanendert needing big Liège result to salvage Ardennes Classics campaign

by VeloNation Press at 4:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Lotto Belisol rider hopes to be the one to break rare Belgian drought

Jelle VanendertSecond last year in the Amstel Gold Race, fourth in Flèche Wallonne and also tenth in Liège-Bastogne-Liége, Lotto Belisol’s leader for the Classics Jelle Vanendert has had less success this season, with frustration in the first two of those races.

The Belgian rider will line out in Liège today knowing that a big ride is needed if he is to turn things around. He hasn't been highly placed in either of the two Ardennes Classics held thus far, with the new finish of the Amstel Gold Race not suiting him as well as last year’s finale at the top of the Cauberg.

The flat 1.7 kilometres after the summit was a disadvantage for the climbing specialist, and he finished in the chasing group behind the winner Roman Kreuziger (Astana), netting thirteenth. It was a solid result, but not the spectacular one he had wanted.

Vanendert then went to Flèche Wallonne trying to fight for the win, but was hit by bad luck there, falling early in the race and later puncturing. Those cost him energy and he trailed in 39th. Fortunately, he states that he wasn’t injured by his fall.

“There aren’t any consequences of my crash in the Flèche Wallonne. Also, in the race, that wasn’t decisive as regards my result. The puncture I had at 45 kilometers from the end was. I had to chase hard to get back into the peloton before the penultimate climb of the Mur de Huy,” he said. “If you have to make such an effort in that moment of the race, that is fatal.

“When going onto the final climb I was in the top fifteen, but you miss the acceleration to make the difference. Such bad luck is annoying, but there is a new chance this Sunday.”

Vandenert’s status as Classics leader means he will have the full backing of the team. He will be joined by Gaëtan Bille, Bart De Clercq, Francis De Greef, Jurgen Van de Walle, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

In comparison to the other two Ardennes Classics, Liège is often a more selective event due to the nature of the course, although modifications to this year’s route are expected to make it more open than before. He’s clear in what he expects, and what he needs to do.

“Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a different race. In the Flèche Wallonne the Mur de Huy is almost always decisive, Liège is more of a tactical race,” he explained. “Partly because of the absence of the Roche aux Faucons; I think that the route has become easier and that more riders are able to win.

“In the final you have to ride up the Saint-Nicolas as fast as possible and I have to get to the finish with as few riders as possible. The amount of kilometres is definitely not a disadvantage for me. After Amstel, where the team wasn’t that strong, they showed in the Flèche Wallonne that they are good. But the strong teams like BMC, Katusha and Sky will have to carry the race.”

Vanendert is aware that Beglians haven’t yet taken any of the big Classics, and hopes to be the one to break that run of misses. He explains the drought by referencing Boonen’s bad luck and also reiterates a point he made last week that he believes Gilbert isn’t the same rider of two years ago. However he notes the latter’s improving form and thinks that he could perform today.

He feels good about his own chances, even if he acknowledges that the form which can secure a big result one year may not necessarily result in the same the following season. “In the Amstel I felt good and I got confirmation of my good condition, in the Flèche Wallonne that didn’t succeed. I need a good result on Sunday to be able to speak of a successful Ardennes season.”


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