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Official thread: Amstel/Fleche/Leige

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Apr 12, 2009
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Don't think the ardennes are harder than PR and RvV, or vice versa. I do think LBL would be harder for Boonen, and PR would be harder for Schleck, only very few can do both (and compete for top 20).
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Bala Verde said:
I disagree here. I think the Walloon classics (including the AGR) are slightly harder then PR and Vlaanderen, mostly because the competition is more diverse, and possibly tougher.

A field with potential winners from many different teams, such as, Valverde, Cunego, Gesink, Kroon, Kreuziger, Sanchez, Rebelin, Rodriguez, Schleck (2), Freire, Dekker, Evans, Gilbert, Nibali, Monfort, Chavanel ... , to me, outweighs any field with 'only' competitors like Boonen, Cancelara, Devolder, Chavanel, Flecha, Hushovd, Hoste and Haussler and of which three are on the same team...

I agree the list of big names is longer in the Amstel/Ardennes; unfortunately 3/4 of them didn't move at all. So they didn't add anything to the hardness of the race. Or is your list of potential winners simply not realistic?
If the number of potential winners determines the hardness of a race; then flat races have to the hardest. Quite frankly, the question which one is the hardest, is totally irrelevant because both types of races are so different. And that's what's leading to a high level of specialisation in today's cycling.
Do you think the Ronde or PR will be harder/more valuable if Valverde & Schleck start?


Bala Verde said:
On the other hand, you seem to be inconsistent. When it comes to PR and RvV, you say you love the 'dangerous' elements, namely the kasseien. They are as artificial as anything, mainly because some of these paves are 'protected' for the purpose of racing. Local gvmt isn't even allowed to improve their conditions, because some are afraid that PR and RvV becomes too 'easy' if the kasseien are straightened! Organizers could also have chosen to leave them out (but hey then the race would have been reduced to San Remo without the Poggio, long and further nothing)

When it come to th AGR, you find the narrow winding roads too artificial, or too dangerous? So the question becomes what is too dangerous.

I don't like dangerous elements at all. Cycling is not about that. Besides that i don't consider cobblestones/kasseien dangerous. I easily could, because i don't like riding on them, but i never felt in danger. OK, i'm not rushing into the Bois de Wallers at 55km/h (IMO the only dangerous part of PR); but still, i did some wet and muddy sectors in Flanders. The protection of the cobbles might be artificial, but what on earth is artificial about that stone itself??

It's normal a race tries to find difficulties on its road. But it's laughable how hard the AGR tries. It's like racing on a handkerchief. These narrow road are enjoyable, i really like that, but in the AGR you're doing them all day long with a peloton of 180 riders. That and all this traffic junk makes it incredibly dangerous. After all, i don't seem to remember a rider breaking his pelvis during PR this year. Honestly, i'm waiting for the first top rider to skip the AGR because of that; just like a lot of them treat PR as it's a cancer.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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il_fiammingo said:
I agree the list of big names is longer in the Amstel/Ardennes; unfortunately 3/4 of them didn't move at all. So they didn't add anything to the hardness of the race. Or is your list of potential winners simply not realistic?
If the number of potential winners determines the hardness of a race; then flat races have to the hardest. Quite frankly, the question which one is the hardest, is totally irrelevant because both types of races are so different. And that's what's leading to a high level of specialisation in today's cycling.
Do you think the Ronde or PR will be harder/more valuable if Valverde & Schleck start?

First of all, you commented on Valverde's comment which classic is hardest. So I thought you wanted to engage in a discussion about which one actually is hardest. I totally agree that all classics are hard, and harder for some then for others, because their capabilities are so different. As you mentioned, Valverde's line up at PR would not really have upped the ante at all.

However, the fact that they didn't move yesterday IMO didn't make them less likely potential winners. Tactics are part of the game, and I bet Valverde and Cunego were hoping for an uphill sprint (although admittedly Valverde did not seem strong enough). The fact that Schleck crashed took away a potential winner as well, so again, that changed the dynamics of yesterday's particular race. But I am not talking about yesterday's race only. I have seen quite a number of exciting AGR, due to the fact that so many teams with potential winners show up. I think there are more 'types' of riders who can win the AGR, like the lighter climber type (Gesink, Cunego) to the hilly classic riders (Valverde, Rebbelin, Nibali, Gilbert, F.Schleck or formerly Boogerd and Bettini) to the general classification riders (Evans, A.Schleck). So I still do believe that the hilly classics have a stronger line up due to the fact that there are more types of riders who are potential winners. PR and RvV is 'op het lijf geschreven' for only a very few cyclists. I mean, even Ballan is physiologically rather the odd one out, given his lankiness.

Another reason which supports the assumption that of a stronger diversified field, is that over the past few years, no one has managed to take a consecutive win at AGR by rider or team. Whereas PR and RvV have been dominated the last five years by mainly QST and Cancelara/Saxo and Ballan. Granted, this year's bad form of Cancellara and Ballan's injuries, reduced the field of potential winners a lot, but that even proves my point, because only very few competitors remain in the mix for a win.

And then there is team tactics. The fact that there are perhaps 5 teams (RAB, SAX, GCE, LAM, SIL) who can win the AGR, makes it in essence more difficult to control and win the race. In PR and RvV, at least this year, I was just waiting till Boonen, Devolder or Chavanel would make the final move. Both races are heavily dominated by QST and before by MAP. I wonder how exciting the race would have been if Lefevre had opted to transfer Haussler to his team over the winter... Amazing for QST, but as you probably know the saying, if you are not on QST, you might never win a PR or RvV. It goes without saying that I nonetheless love to watch the race ;)


il_fiammingo said:
I don't like dangerous elements at all. Cycling is not about that. Besides that i don't consider cobblestones/kasseien dangerous. I easily could, because i don't like riding on them, but i never felt in danger. OK, i'm not rushing into the Bois de Wallers at 55km/h (IMO the only dangerous part of PR); but still, i did some wet and muddy sectors in Flanders. The protection of the cobbles might be artificial, but what on earth is artificial about that stone itself??

It's normal a race tries to find difficulties on its road. But it's laughable how hard the AGR tries. It's like racing on a handkerchief. These narrow road are enjoyable, i really like that, but in the AGR you're doing them all day long with a peloton of 180 riders. That and all this traffic junk makes it incredibly dangerous. After all, i don't seem to remember a rider breaking his pelvis during PR this year. Honestly, i'm waiting for the first top rider to skip the AGR because of that; just like a lot of them treat PR as it's a cancer.

I don't think the AGR is trying hard to make it difficult, not more than the P-R or RvV, for maintaining a 'historically chosen' distance over a 'historically chosen' course. Perhaps if the PR would take out some paves, more riders wouldn't skip it because they would deem it a safe race! And on top of that, the AGR does not include traffic obstacles to make the race more difficult. As far as my knowledge goes (dutch and belgian newspapers) the organizers cooperate with local counties to reduce or keep steady the number of traffic obstacles, and roundabouts. There is a balance that needs to be struck between conserving a race and creating safe roads for the general public throughout the year when the race isn't going on! At least they don't try to keep the race dangerous by preserving the bad conditions of the paves.

Furthermore, Boonen skips the AGR. He thinks the AGR is ridiculously dangerous. On the other hand, most other cyclists don't feel comfortable on the paves, so they might have the same opinion as Boonen, except that they judge other elements as intrinsically dangerous. Many cyclists also wouldn't want to do a bunch sprint with Boonen at 70k/h either. So are cobblestones dangerous? I don't know, most cyclists think they are for whatever reason they have (and especially when they are wet and slippery.)

But hey, I think going down the Izoard or the Telegraphe at 90km/h is dangerous as well, but still no one seems to skip the tour for that reason =)

PS> For your information, a motor cyclist rode into a group of people at PR....

"The accident took place in Orchies, some 60km from the finish line when the rider, carrying a timing official, lost control of his bike at the end of a cobbled sector."

source the guardian... And I do remember seeing Flecha and Hushovd going down as well.
 
Dekker_Tifosi said:
An unexpected lead role for the Dutch today. We hoped for maybe a good result by Kroon, Gesink or hell even out-of-shape Dekker.

And the result is? 2 Dutch riders in a 3 man lead group, with behind them... Dekker chasing for Gilbert :eek:

Too bad it wasn't an happy ending for all 3 of them. Kroon and Gesink were not strong enough to beat Ivanov, and Dekker's work was for a 4th place from Gilbert. Heh, well though luck.

I give Gesink a big big chance for Fleche Wallone though, the way he went up and over Gilbert at the Keutenberg was a good preminition.

You're right,Gesink should get a top result in the Fleche,remember he finished 4th last year.
Even if he doesn't like the steep climbs so much,the Mur de Huy will probably see him at the front of the peloton.
Joaquin Rodriguez is another man to watch,i think the finish suits him better than is suits to Valverde,and looks more or less like Montelupone from Tirreno Adriatico,where he won twice.
And if Katusha will not bring Ivanov,let's keep on eye on Christian Pfannberger ;)
 
Well,if Gesink is out of the Fleche,Rabobank lost its only real chance to get a top result.
I don't know if Nuyens is riding,but the Mur will be too steep for him:D
Other options...Garate? i don't think so.
 
Apr 3, 2009
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Nuyens won't be riding either on wednesday nor sunday. This is the Rabo selection for the Fleche:

Mauricio Ardila, Stef Clement, Oscar Freire, Juan Manuel Garate, Koos Moerenhout, Grischa Niermann, Bram Tankink en Pieter Weening

Not really anyone there with big aspirations I think. Freire in a really good day might be able to get a top 5 spot (which he did a few years ago if I'm not mistaken?), but sunday's race showed that his form is not yet what it should be.

I wonder who the big guns will be. Gesink out, no Di Luca, Kirchen barely recovered from injury, Rebellin seemingly out of shape (or is the age finally getting to him?), same for Valverde, Wegmann and Dekker, Fränk Schleck doubtful to start, and this is not really his type of finish anyway. Evans moves up a step this year, or Cunego to take another classic? Maybe Ivanov thrives on his good form and Amstel win, or perhaps Pfannberger for the surprise? I'd love to see Gilbert taking it, but I'm afraid the Mur of Huy is too steep for him, and he'll be saving himself for Liège.
 
Jasper said:
I wonder who the big guns will be. Gesink out, no Di Luca, Kirchen barely recovered from injury, Rebellin seemingly out of shape (or is the age finally getting to him?), same for Valverde, Wegmann and Dekker, Fränk Schleck doubtful to start, and this is not really his type of finish anyway. Evans moves up a step this year, or Cunego to take another classic? Maybe Ivanov thrives on his good form and Amstel win, or perhaps Pfannberger for the surprise? I'd love to see Gilbert taking it, but I'm afraid the Mur of Huy is too steep for him, and he'll be saving himself for Liège.

Or maybe one of the young guns - Nibali, Kreuziger, or A Schleck? I wouldn't count out S Sanchez either. I also bet we'll see a stronger Valverde, Rebellin, and J Rodriguez on Wednesday. Last week I heard Rebellin saying he expected to be stronger at FW and LBL this year than at AG. Kroon's gotta be smarting after his 2nd. Does he try to make up for it at Fleche or save it for Leige?

The Fleche finish might be my favorite in all of cycling. There's nothing like that race up the Mur to the line, watching people take turns going for it and blowing up on that steep grade. What does it get up to, like 23%? Admittedly, sometimes it can be a bit boring before then if everybody just saves their energy for the Mur.
 
jaylew said:
Or maybe one of the young guns - Nibali, Kreuziger, or A Schleck? I wouldn't count out S Sanchez either. I also bet we'll see a stronger Valverde, Rebellin, and J Rodriguez on Wednesday. Last week I heard Rebellin saying he expected to be stronger at FW and LBL this year than at AG. Kroon's gotta be smarting after his 2nd. Does he try to make up for it at Fleche or save it for Leige?

The Fleche finish might be my favorite in all of cycling. There's nothing like that race up the Mur to the line, watching people take turns going for it and blowing up on that steep grade. What does it get up to, like 23%? Admittedly, sometimes it can be a bit boring before then if everybody just saves their energy for the Mur.

I agree with you,Valverde,Rebellin and the others who weren't at the top in AG will be stronger in the Fleche.
Kroon seems to be Saxo Bank's leader,but Andy Schleck looked good last sunday,and after those attacks he made,he still managed to finish 10th.
Chris Anker Sorensen could be Bjarne's surprise,i remember last year he won the Kitzbuheler Horn stage in the Tour of Austria,which ended with a very steep climb.

I wouldn't count out those punchy italian climbers like Rinaldo Nocentini and Luca Mazzanti,or Garmin's Ryder Hesjedal.
And two of my outsiders: Jesus Hernandez of Astana(he was the best in Tenerife training camp last winter when he even dropped Lance and Levi on a climb) and Rigoberto Uran of Caisse d'Epargne.:rolleyes:
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Rebellin - in the saddle most of the way up.

Was it ever going to be any other way?

Congratulations to Gianna Savio too. This is huge for the team.
 
Indeed. It should be noted that Rebellin was sick in the week before the Amstel Gold Race. I discovered that after the race, so it wasn't strange he was bad there and good here.

I also noticed some of the stronger riders in the Amstel being not so good here. Perhaps conserving their energy for Liege. It's always a matter of choice.
 
Dekker_Tifosi said:
I also noticed some of the stronger riders in the Amstel being not so good here. Perhaps conserving their energy for Liege. It's always a matter of choice.

Also, some of the stronger guys at AG(Pfannberger, Ivanov, Kolobnev, Kroon) were involved in moves which probably left their legs less than fresh for the Mur.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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jaylew said:
Also, some of the stronger guys at AG(Pfannberger, Ivanov, Kolobnev, Kroon) were involved in moves which probably left their legs less than fresh for the Mur.

Ivanov isn't really a man for winning on the Muur in a big group, so this was likely his shot at glory. Kroon and Kolobnev were obviously working for ASchleck and they did a good job.

All these moves would've been planned out well in advance.
 
Zoncolan said:
And I said Rebellin was past his prime:eek:
Andy was really strong today. Can't wait for that Ventoux!:D

Indeed,Andy was impressive on the Mur,and he should be in contention for LBL this sunday. Last year he was 4th,after working for his brother in the finale.
The Ventoux? I can't wait to see Contador-A Schleck battle,first in the Dauphine,where the MV will also feature as a stage finish,and after that in the Tour.
But who knows,maybe Lance will spoil their party,because he will surely want to add the Ventoux to his palmares,as he never won there before.:rolleyes:
 
With Thomas Dekker short of form and Karsten Kroon probably working for the Schlecks,Gesink should be the top Dutchman in Liege.
I hope Pfannberger will do better that in the AG and FW,he was 5th last year at his first participation.
But we might have a reduced group of favourites fighting for victory,with Valverde as the best sprinter. Russian Kolobnev also has a good sprint,as does Philippe Gilbert.
Anyone sees Basso among the best? I would say a top 20 for him,if not 15.:D
 
Nah I don't think so, he'll just have returned from Trentino.

I expect 3, max 5 riders to escape on the Cote Roche aux Faucons. And from there they will battle it out. No surprises, just the usual suspects. A. Schleck, Rebellin, Valverde and Sanchez I think. But it could also be Cunego, Rodriguez, Evans, Pfannberger, Gesink or Kroon.
 

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