Tadej Pogačar to ride Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, Julian Alaphilippe ruled out due to injury

Frenchman also a doubt for Liège-Bastogne-Liège due to knee problem picked up at Tour of Flanders

Julian Alaphilippe and Tadej Pogačar in a composite image from the Tour of Flanders
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar is to return to racing at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, seeking to add yet another new race to his palmarés. Meanwhile, two-time former world champion Julian Alaphilippe is to miss both Amstel and Flèche Wallonne due to a knee injury he picked up at the Tour of Flanders.

UAE Team Emirates' Pogačar has not raced since he won the Flanders ten days ago, and the Amstel Gold Race will just be the latest target of his mixed season; he began with stage race wins at the Ruta del Sol and Paris-Nice before moving onto one-day races. Fourth at Milan-San Remo and third at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic were the precursor to his historic victory at the Tour of Flanders. 

Now, he is heading for the hillier Classics, with Amstel the warmup to Flèche Wallonne and then Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“The spring has already been a big success for us but we’re hungry to come to the Ardennes classics and take home a big result, starting with Amstel,” Pogačar said. “It’s a race I’ve only done once but I know it’s a long, hard parcours with lots of climbing so we need to be ready for a tough race.”

He will be the only one of the 'big three' at Amstel, with former winners Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) both opting to skip this race. In fact, the two great rivals will not race again until the Tour de Suisse in June, ahead of the Tour de France.

Pogačar has only raced Amstel once before, when he DNFed in 2019, in what became his breakout year. The hilly race should suit the Slovenian. His best result at Flèche is ninth, in an odd low for someone as prolific at him, while he won Liège in 2021.

“We have seen riders who can win Amstel Gold Race and Liège and win the Tour [de France]. With two peaks, it’s possible to prepare for the classics, and then recover, and then have a big chance at the Tour,” UAE Team Emirates sports director Fabio Baldato said. “We saw last year that he likes the classics. We are excited to go back there with him.”

“Of course, Tadej wants to win the Tour again. We made an analysis of what happened last year in the Tour, what might have been a mistake, and what we can do better in the Tour. Tadej wants to win all the races, not just the Tour.”

Alaphilippe to miss Ardennes beginning

Once the overwhelming favourite for the Ardennes Classics, Soudal Quick-Step's Alaphilippe has been forced out of the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne due to a knee injury he picked up at Flanders.

There are also doubts over his participation in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which takes place a week on Sunday.

Cyclingnews reported on Wednesday morning that the French two-time world champion is in doubt for the fourth Monument of the season after injury problems. It is a race he has almost won on three separate occasions, including in 2020 when he celebrated too early and was beaten by Primož Roglič on the line.

Last year, Alaphilippe crashed horrifically at La Doyenne, which affected him for the rest of his season.

Quick-Step will have defending champion Remco Evenepoel in its squad for Liège, which will be the first contest between Pogačar and Evenepoel this season, and possibly their only matchup ahead of the World Championships in August.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.