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Ardennes Week

MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
The spring cycling season keeps rolling with the three big races making up Ardennes week: Amstel Gold (today), La Flèche Wallone, and ending in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, close to 800 km of racing over seven days. The races feature some of the great hills of the Benelux region: Cauberg, Gemmelberg, the @AaronWebsteyberg, and many other bergs, and many Côtes in the French areas. In fact, today's Amstel Gold race features something like 22 unique bergs of it's own. If you are trying to look knowledgeable about pro cycling, you can scramble pretty much and sequence of letters, add the suffix -berg, pronounce it with a bad Flemmish accent, and ask if anyone saw how many watts the pros put out going up that hill.

The interesting thing about Ardennes week is that you see a mix of Classics riders like GVA, Terpstra, and Gilbert facing off against guys that typically win Grand Tours or week-long races, like Kwiatkowski, Valverde and Nibali. Valverde has dominated Flèche in recent years - he has won the last four - and usually shows well at L-B-L as well.

My picks for Amstel today, since they have continued the course change introduced last year that moved a couple of decisive hills away from the finish: Someone from Bahrain-Meridia (who are stacked today), Albasini, or Alaphilippe. Sentimental favourite: Cunego, in his last major race before retirement. The little prince has won Amstel (in 2008), and while he is not free of scandal, he was fun to watch in his prime - small, fast climber, with a surprisingly effective sprint.
simonsen77MattAaronWebsteyRashEvan

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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    I should mention that the women's races are getting very strong in Ardennes. The organizers have wisely scheduled the races to run the same day as the men, leaving a couple of hours ahead. This means they get great fan support along the route.

    The caliber of women's racing has increased significantly over the past few years, both tactically and pure talent. If you get a chance to watch one of these on YouTube or catch clips on Eurosport during the men's race, definitely watch it.
    MattbalsdorfRash
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member
    VALGREN!!!!!!!!!!!!
    RashEvan
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Matt said:

    VALGREN!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It's funny, someone gave a bunch of form predictions in the cyclingnews comments, ignoring Astana (like I did), but when someone pushed him to pick a winner he chose "someone from Astana."

    Always helpful to have the numbers in the break. Fuglsgang looked great there... Matthews is snakebit.
    MattRash
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member
    And Fuglsgang gets a super domestique for the Tour.
    RashMartin
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member
    No win for Valverde at Fleche Wallone. Alaphilippe stomps up the Mur de Huy!
    Martin
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Liege is going to rock this weekend.
    AaronWebstey
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    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Great finish. Huge display of strength by Jungels to stay away and continue QuickStep's amazing spring.

    And a second place for Canadian Michael Woods in his Giro warm-up. I was worried about him after a couple of anonymous results, but looks like he's coming into form.

    Dumoulin showed some form today. Nibali showed some tired legs. Bardet in 3rd strikes first among French riders with names starting with B (with Barguil being just so so this year to date). BMC continues a disappointing spring campaign, although I'm sure it's been an emotional week in that camp following the death of Rihs.
    M_Waresimonsen77AaronWebstey

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