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  • Everyone is talking about Mathieu van der Poel, and Julian Alaphilippe is the latest to praise the young Dutchman, describing him as "a phenomenon".  Alaphilippe has been the outstanding rider this season with eight victories, including Milan-San Remo, but Van der Poel, the 24-year-old cyclo-cross world champion, has stormed onto the road in his first spring classics campaign, with victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen and fourth place at the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem. The pair went head-to-head at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, where Van der Poel left the more experienced Alaphilippe to win the sprint from the select four-man group. They will lock horns again at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. ADVERTISEMENT "I was happy for him," Alaphilippe said ahead of the Dutch Classic. "I do not know him personally, we have not ridden against one another much, but I have followed him a bit because I like cyclo-cross. It's a pleasure to see him doing well in 'cross and now doing it as well on the road. What he's doing is a good thing for cycling." Ahead of the spring, Van der Poel's director at the Corendon-Circus team said the Classics would be a 'playground'...

  • Eddy Merckx has paid tribute to his old six-day partner, Patrick Sercu, who died on Friday, describing him as "a fantastic guy and a good man".  Merckx and Sercu formed a legendary partnership on the track, winning 15 six-day events together.  Sercu's death was announced by his son, Christophe, on Friday, who explained that his father's health "had been unstable for several years and had deteriorated sharply in recent weeks". Sercu died at the age of 74. ADVERTISEMENT "He was a friend I had known since I was 16 or 17. This is a big loss for me," Merckx told Belgian broadcaster Sporza.  "Our partnership goes back a long way - from the 1960's on the Brussels velodrome. We were rivals at first, then we became teammates. Together, we won 15 six-day races, including the Gent Six in 1965. They are wonderful memories. "He was a fantastic guy, a good man. He was honest, did not beat around the bush, and always looked for compromise. I appreciated that in him and that is why I rode with him for so long." You can...

  • Dan Martin will skip Amstel Gold Race on Sunday before returning to lead the line for UAE Team Emirates at La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.  Martin, a former winner of Liège and a multiple podium finisher at Flèche, has never fared quite so well at Amstel. In seven participations, he has finished the race just twice.  This year, he will skip the Dutch Classic to focus on the races the following Wednesday and Sunday. After a disappointing Ardennes Classics campaign in his first season with UAE Team Emirates, the Irishman will be out to put that right. ADVERTISEMENT Martin, who won Liège in 2013, has never cracked Flèche, finishing on the podium three times behind Alejandro Valverde, and a further two times in the top six. Prior to his difficult start to life at UAE, he finished runner-up at both Flèche and Liège - after a DNF at Amstel - in his final season with QuickStep.  Martin has had a solid start to the season but showcased his growing form with second overall at the recent Tour of the Basque Country.  In Martin's absence, UAE Team Emirates will be led at Amstel by former world champion...

  • The final climb on the queen stage of the 2019 Tour of Turkey has been shortened due to heavy snowfall in Kartepe, where stage 5 is set to conclude on Saturday.  Kartepe literally means 'snowy hill' in Turkish, and there has been significant snowfall in the area in recent days, making it impossible to scale the full 16-kilometre final climb.  After doing their best to clear the roads, the organisers have decided to cut the final four kilometres to the top, reducing the climb to 12 kilometres. The steepest gradients, which enter the double digits, will still feature. ADVERTISEMENT The decision was made alongside team and rider representatives under the UCI's Extreme Weather Protocol. Decueninck-QuickStep's Brian Holm and Eros Capecchi were representing the teams and riders, respectively, and had a hand in deciding the best course of action.  "The uphill finish to Kartepe today has been cut by 4km due to snowy conditions at the top, following the weather protocol with Brian Holm and Eros Capecchi representing the teams and riders respectively, so the final climb will be 12km long," read a statement from the race organisers on Saturday.  After four sprint stages, the Tour of...

  • Deceuninck-QuickStep will once again head into a weekend Classic with a stacked hand on Sunday at Amstel Gold Race, where the Belgian team will ride in support of Julian Alaphilippe and four-time winner Philippe Gilbert in search of the team's 10th one-day race win this year. Alaphilippe has had a phenomenal season so far with eight wins, including Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo. Gilbert, who won Amstel previously in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017, has two wins so far this year, including Paris-Roubaix last week. “We come here with two leaders," said Deceuninck-QuickStep director Geert Van Bondt, "Julian, who tested his legs on Wednesday at Brabantse, and Philippe, who skipped the race to recover after Paris-Roubaix and feels good, so we can look to Amstel with confidence."ADVERTISEMENT Alaphilippe and Gilbert will be backed in the 265.7km race by a proven Classics roster that includes Rémi Cavagna, Dries Devenyns, Mikkel Honoré, Pieter Serry and Petr Vakoc. The Dutch Amstel Gold Course course, which features a day of narrow and twisting roads, is peppered with 35 climbs, including the Cauberg, Kruisberg and Bemelerberg. The last climb of the day tops out 7.3km from the finish line. "Dries and Pieter...

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