Ag2r La Mondiale 7/10
Despite not being a team that specialises in the Ardennes Classics, Ag2r La Mondiale enjoyed some strong results courtesy of Romain Bardet. The Frenchman showed great form to finish ninth at La Flèche Wallonne, then starred in the Classic he is best suited to – Liège-Bastogne-Liège – to finish third, a career-first Monument podium.
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Astana pulled off a tactical blinder to win Amstel Gold, having Jakob Fuglsang put in several stinging attacks in the finale and pave the way for Michael Valgren to make his own race-winning move. That result was enough to make it a successful week for the Kazakh team, even though they came up short in the other two races.
Although a top three at Amstel Gold (via Enrico Gasparotto) and a top five at Liège-Bastogne-Liège (via Domenico Pozzovivo) represents a good return, there’s a sense that Bahrain-Merida could have done better. Vincenzo Nibali’s exciting attack at La Flèche Wallonne ultimately came to nothing, and the team didn’t make the most of their numerical advantage at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
BMC Racing 3/10
A lot of faith was shown in designated leader Dylan Teuns, who could be spotted towards the front of the bunch surrounded by team-mates during the early part of the races. But the young Belgian was found wanting during the crucial moment in each, and BMC Racing failed to register a single top ten in the Ardennes.
The highlight of a solid week in the Ardennes for Bora-Hansgrohe was Peter Sagan’s ride at Amstel Gold, which might have been a winning one had he received more assistance. Davide Formolo made the key selection at Liège-Bastogne-Liège to finish seventh, while Patrick Konrad completed a clean sweep of top tens for the team at La Flèche Wallonne.
Dimension Data 3/10
Tom-Jelte Slagter was again unable to reproduce the kind of form he showed early in his career, managing a best result of only twelfth at La Flèche Wallonne. Dimension Data didn’t really have anyone else capable of a big result, so passed through the week fairly anonymously.
EF Education First-Drapac 7/10
Lawson Craddock lead Amstel Gold over the Cauberg and held on for a ninth place finish, but it was Michael Woods’ ride at Liège-Bastogne-Liège that EF Education First-Drapac will remember this week for. The Canadian attacked in the finale with Romain Bardet and won the sprint for second, the team’s highest finish in a Monument since Dan Martin won Il Lombardia wearing a Garmin-Sharp jersey way back in 2014.
With star men Thibaut Pinot riding (and winning) the Tour of the Alps and Arnaud Démare enjoying some rest after a long northern Classics campaign, the Ardennes Classics were not a priority for Groupama-FDJ. Rudy Molard nevertheless managed to decent results, with top fifteens in both Amstel Gold and La Flèche Wallonne.
It seems a long time ago now that Joaquin Rodriguez made Katusha-Alpecin a major player in the Ardennes Classics. Their week this year was derailed when injury struck Nathan Haas, while Ilnur Zakarin was nowhere to be seen at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The team might have been one of the races’ protagonists had Primož Roglič been involved in any of them, but the on-form Slovenian opted not to ride. In his absence, LottoNL-Jumbo had little to write home about.
Internal conflict took some of the shine off what was an impressive campaign for Lotto-Soudal. After Flèche Wallonne, Tim Wellens – the team’s designated leader having finished sixth at Amstel Gold off the back of a win at De Brabantse Pijl – criticised Jelle Vanendert for not fulfilling his domestique duties, even though Vanendert himself managed to finish third. Differences were put aside at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, when the two worked well in tandem, with Vanendert unlucky not to make the podium after a spirited late attack.
The team’s roster included numerous riders capable of delivering good results in the Ardennes, and ultimately it was Roman Kreuziger who emerged as Mitchelton-Scott‘s star. The Czech rider was among the most consistently strong of the whole week, finishing second at Amstel Gold with an attacking ride, and following it up with fourth at Flèche Wallonne and eighth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
By their own high standards, Movistar will be disappointed with how their Ardennes Classics campaign panned out. They were given a real working over at Flèche Wallonne, which Alejandro Valverde failed to win for the first time since 2013, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège went even worse with the Spaniard failing to even make the top 10.
Quick-Step Floors 10/10
At the moment, everything Quick-Step Floors touches turns to gold. Julian Alaphilippe’s Fleche Wallonne victory came courtesy of both his lightning acceleration and great positioning by his team. Then, via a strategy that has become so familiar this spring, the Frenchman repaid the favour at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, by marshalling the group of favourites while up the road Bob Jungels stormed to a solo victory in what was an even more impressive team performance.
Team Sky 3/10
Despite boasting some of the world’s best Classics riders, the best result Team Sky could muster was Sergio Henao’s ninth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Star man Michal Kwiatkowski never looked right, Wout Poels was short of fitness having only just returned from injury, and Geraint Thomas was short of form at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Team Sunweb 5/10
Michael Matthews entered this year’s Ardennes Classics with high aspirations, and it was clear to see why at La Flèche Wallonne, where he defied expectations to finish fifth on a finishing climb that many would have considered too steep for a rider who was once a specialist bunch sprinter. However he and team-mate Tom Dumoulin would have hoped for a better Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
As the Trek-Segafredo’s protected rider, Bauke Mollema did a reasonable job. Although he found himself dropped in both Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a strong sprint up the Mur de Huy earned him sixth place at Flèche Wallonne.
UAE Team Emirates 2/10
Just about everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for UAE Team Emirates’ leader Dan Martin. He failed to finish Amstel Gold, was caught up behind a crash to fall out of contention at Flèche Wallonne, and finally – after the team had made a statement of intent by riding at the front for much of the day – suffered a puncture just as Liège-Bastogne-Liège was entering its endgame.