Cycling News

The WorldTours pivot to the Ardennes Classics

The WorldTours pivot to the Ardennes Classics

After six weeks of cobbles, the WorldTour will pivot to the hilly Ardennes Classics from April 14 to 21 before almost completely abandoning one-day races in favour of stage races and Grand Tours for the next few months. Michael Woods will race all three: Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Each has a Women’s WorldTour edition; last season SD Worx’s Demi Vollering ran wild in the Ardennes.

In France Woods’ beginning to the season was strong: fourth in Classic Var and 10th in the Tour des Alpes Maritimes. His last race was March 30 in Spain where he did not finish, but he’ll take on two one-day races in France before Amstel Gold.

Woods on Classic Var’s Mont Faron.

Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race is held in the Limburg region of the Netherlands, not Belgium’s Ardennes. Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix victor and 2019 Amstel champion Mathieu van der Poel is the clear favourite, with reigning titlist Tadej Pogačar and 2021 winner Wout van Aert missing the race. Of the three Ardennes Classics, only Amstel Gold has stymied Woods for a top-10 finish.

Nor will Pogačar be defending his title Wednesday, April 17 at La Fleche Wallonne, where Woods was third in 2020, fourth last season and in 2019, and sixth in 2021. The Walloon Arrow is the only Ardennes Classic that van der Poel will miss.

Woods has also been strong in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, where he’s finished in the top-10 six times, including runner-up in 2019. Pogačar, the 2021 winner, will return to La Doyenne after crashing out of last year’s edition. The Slovenian will square off with van der Poel on April 21.

Pogacar vs van der Poel is what everybody wants to see.

Right now Canada’s Olivia Baril is penciled in for Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition, a Flèche Wallonne Féminine and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes, with Magdeleine Vallieres tapped for the latter two.

After L-B-L there is a single one-day WorldTour race, Eschborn-Frankfurt, until August 10. Late April’s Tour de Romandie is the next round of the WorldTour.

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Canadian Cycling Magazine…