Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mathieu van der Poel … Our review of the spring classics

One page turns. The period of classics will give way to the second main course of the season: the Tour of Italy (May 6-29). This week, the Tour de Romandie is in charge of making the transition, while on Sunday, Liège-Bastogne-Liège closed this episode of the big one-day races in the spring. Here is the report, with more or less successful innovations, French in the game but not winners and, unfortunately, many packages that refer to the favorites.

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  • Van der Poel: Almost unexpected, almost frustrating

Decisively positive, Mathieu van der Poel’s results can be analyzed through two prisms. Winner of his second Tour of Flanders and Across Flanders, the Dutchman may be more pleased with these two successes, as there were doubts about his fitness at the end of a season of almost white cyclocross due to physical problems. Both on the optimistic side.

The other way of looking at things is to notice the touch of disappointment that comes from his 4th position at the Amstel and, above all, from his 9th position at Roubaix. So impressive during his first return to the competition, on the occasion of the Milan-Sanremo (3rd), Van der Poel raised in a touch of his fingers the hope of a monumental classic campaign. She was just great, excuse me.

Pogacar everywhere, perfect Van der Poel, Madouas in the box: the summary of an impressive round

  • Van Aert: podiums and taste for the unfinished

Another symbol of its versatility. Wout van Aert took 2nd place in Paris-Roubaix, a week before climbing the table during Liege-Bastogne-Liège (3rd) on Sunday. The only Monument without a podium is the Tour of Lombardy … and it has never participated. But the Belgian champion is enough to be tired of accumulating places of honor, for a single Monument on the list (Milan-Sanremo 2020).

Covid has greatly altered this key period of his season. Hence this impromptu Roubaix-Liège sequence, after losing the Tour of Flanders, of which he was a favorite as well as Van der Poel, and Amstel, of which he was champion. Van Aert certainly won the Het Nieuwsblad and the E3 GP earlier this year, but he lacks a big win.

Van Baarle sacred, Van Aert frustrated, Van der Poel too fair: the summary of a fiery edition

  • Alaphilippe: the chalice in the Scots

He was not saved either. Julian Alaphilippe lost Milan-Sanremo due to illness and left Liège-Bastogne-Liège after a fall. Meanwhile, he also left the Flèche brabançonne before his end, after a gadin, and his only performance in a one-day race in 2022 is his 4th place in the Flèche vallona, ​​which had become in his reserve (three hits).

The resulting feeling is that Alaphilippe has missed the great races of his program, literally even more than figuratively. It’s a forgettable campaign for the two-time world champion … in the hope that he won’t leave too many marks (this Tuesday at noon he was still in the hospital, according to a press release from his team, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl ).

Burgaudeau on Alaphilippe’s accident: “Julian has a healthy life, he will be healed very quickly”

  • Pogacar: Liege was to be its revealer

Tadej Pogacar left his title vacant on Sunday. Winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year, the Slovenian prodigy withdrew this year due to the grief of his partner’s family. Long before that, his solo victory on the Strade Bianche had kicked off his March / April blockbuster. It remains a source of satisfaction.

He later signed a correct result in Sanremo (5th) and then discovered the Flemish races with surprising ease, in particular the 4th in a Tour of Flanders that almost escaped Van der Poel. His shy Arrow (12th) didn’t change much: it was in Liège that we thought we would judge him. We will never know how well he prepared his shot.

“It’s Pogacar who makes the hole”: the moment Alaphilippe saw the podium fly

INEOS has changed

The INEOS Grenadiers team, ex-SKY, has changed a lot. His desire to break the Grands Tours with his monotonous way of locking and expanding his area of ​​excellence is bearing fruit. Three one-day races won in one week: the Amstel Gold Race (Michal Kwiatkowski), the Brabant Arrow (Magnus Sheffield) and the Paris-Roubaix (Dylan van Baarle).

There is also the road, symbolized by the unsustainable cyclocross Ben Turner (22), or the maneuver that started very early during the Northern Hell: the British team is often one step ahead. Overall, he produced a magnificent campaign of classics, despite a tenuous Tom Pidcock, and had the strongman of the Flanders in his ranks: Van Baarle, 2nd in the Ronde before triumphing at the velodrome.

Cosnefroy’s disappointment, Kwiatkowski’s victory: the summary of the Amstel Gold Race

Master stroke and advertising acrobatics

In the “innovation” section, the masterstroke is for Matej Mohoric, the (bad?) Advertising trick of DSM. The Slovenian from the Bahrain-Victorious team won the Spring at the cost of a dizzying descent from Poggio. A performance he partly attributed to his telescopic seatpost, a common instrument on mountain biking, but not on the road. “Cycling changed” that day, according to Mohoric.

The formation of the DSM did not change the situation during Paris-Roubaix. After communicating during the week about a tire inflation / deflation system for his riders, he left it for the event, according to John Degenkolb. The magic tool for reducing pressure by approaching a cobblestone sector and then quietly raising it seems to be underdeveloped. The revolution will wait.

A funicular: how Mohoric made a difference

The French played “placed”

From Christophe Laporte (2nd in E3 and Gent-Wevelgem) to Anthony Turgis (2nd in Milan-Sanremo), Valentin Madouas (3rd in the Tour of Flanders), Nacer Bouhanni (3rd in Bruges-La Panne) or new Benoît Cosnefroy (2nd in the Amstel and the Flèche Brabançonne, just ahead of Warren Barguil): the French have accumulated the places of honor.

Alaphilippe, 4th in the Mur de Huy and Adrien Petit, 6th in Roubaix, also helped to beat the colors of the French contingent. But that didn’t translate into winning an important event. Although Cosnefroy believed in it, during the final mess of the Amstel. Laporte and Turgis chained the galleys to the cobblestones, as did Florian Sénéchal.

Sheffield like a fox, Cosnefroy like a dolphin: the arrival of the Flèche Brabançonne

The advent of Evenepoel, the revelation of Girmay

Among the relative surprises: Stefan Küng (“Top 8” at E3, Across Flanders, Round, Amstel and Paris-Roubaix) was even stronger than expected. Dylan Teuns was also constant, his coronation at the Flèche Wallonne as well. As for Remco Evenepoel, he confirmed that he was a different runner, and even materialized it by winning his first Monument, on Sunday in Liège, at the age of 22.

Revelation level, Biniam Girmay flies over the competition. The 22-year-old Eritrean runner-up, runner-up in the U23 world last year, won Gent-Wevelgem … when he didn’t even have to take part. It has been cut as expected (this time) since the end of March. He should recover during the Frankfurt Grand Prix on May 1, and then be lined up during the Tour of Italy, to which all eyes are directed.

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