Archive for April 14th, 2021

AMSTEL’21: Who Will Take the Beer?

04/14/2021 12:05

Amstel Gold Race Preview: Holland’s only one-day Classic was cancelled in 2020 and nearly didn’t happen this year, but with a closed circuit and no fans, the Amstel Gold Race will go ahead this Sunday. Ed Hood gives us his ‘lowdown’ on the race and the likely ‘Top Men’ for the Dutch Golden Race.

No fans roadside in Amstel’21

Amstel Gold – isn’t that a beer?
Indeed, the brewery was founded in Amsterdam in 1870 ; ‘A sturdy, full-flavoured beer with a definite taste of fruit and hops, 7.0% ABV.’ But it’s also the name of the river from which Amsterdam takes it’s name, flowing from Drecht to Amsterdam, some 31 kilometres.

The Amstel brewery

Wasn’t there another Euro brewery sponsored a big race?
That would be the GP Henninger Turm [tower] in Frankfurt which was sponsored by the Henninger Brewery from its inception in 1962 for 46 years. When the company pulled out they said it was an economic decision but most believed it was because of the damning drugs revelations in German cycling of the day. The race continues now as the Eschborn-Frankfurt.

That other beer – Henninger

Isn’t the Amstel just a criterium, this year?
You could say that but don’t bring your crit. bike with a ‘straight through’ cassette and close ratio chain rings – it’s on a savage 14.9km circuit covered 13 times – a race watcher’s dream if it’s a good day, you have a good spot and plenty of the sponsor’s product in the cool box. Each circuit includes the Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and Cauberg ascents with the last climb the Bemelerberg, coming six kilometres from the line; so that’s just the 38 climbs then. Scotland’s Robert Millar used to refer to the race as; ‘the Tour of the Roundabouts,’ the original parcours was so sinuous, technical and dangerous. The pandemic has made the organisers re-draw the route however and it is indeed a ‘circuit race.’

amstel21 profile
Amstel’21 course and profile

Give us some stats then. . .
This will be edition 56 of the event with Dutch riders winning 18 times thus far and Belgians 13, the only ‘Anglo’ to win was Aussie, Phil Anderson in 1983 but a certain Lance A**strong was twice second, in ’99 and ’01. ‘Recordman’ on five wins, one second place and one third – seven podiums – is ‘hard as’ 70’s Home Boy, Jan Raas – the joke was that it had become the ‘Amstel Gold Raas.’ But the man with the second most wins, four, is still active, Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert – can he get up to equal Raas’s five wins? No. Curly haired 90’s/00’s Home Boy, Michael Boogerd merits a mention too, with a win, three second places and two third spots.

Phil Anderson had been knocking on the door of success for a few years before he won the Amstel Gold race in 1983. His win started the ball rolling for the other English speaking riders of the time; Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche, Robert Millar and a little later Greg Lemond. Pic:CorVos/PezCyclingNews.
Phil Anderson won in 1983

Valkenburg - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - Amstel - Gold Race - Michael Boogerd (Ned-Rabobank) - Paolo Bettini (Ita-Quick Step) - foto Marco Ferrageau/Marketa Navratilova/Cor Vos ©2007
Michael Boogerd attacking in 2007

Isn’t this the race where MVDP caught the break in the finish straight then won the sprint without missing a beat in last year’s edition?
Right description, wrong year, that was 2019, the race fell victim to the pandemic last year – but Van Der Poel’s win was a thing of beauty, for sure. The race had been Alaphilippe’s to lose – and that’s just what he did, stalling for the sprint as the MVDP express heaped on the coals.

‘Don’t look at me!’

Can the big Home Boy win again this year?
Nope, he’s been in the shed, hauled out the MTB, given it a wipe down and is preparing for the Novo Mesto mountain bike World Cup in May before coming back to the road for the Tour de France in July. The Olympic MTB race in Tokyo at the end of July is one of his goals for the year.

Not this year

Who’s been winning the race over the last few years?
MVDP in 2019 as we’ve said; in 2018 it was the Dane Michael Valgren who took the honours but his recent form doesn’t suggest a repeat?

Maybe not this year for Valgren

In 2017 it was Philippe Gilbert grabbing his fourth win, he was 34 years-of-age then and second oldest winner at that time behind the remarkable Joop Zoetemelk who won at 40 years-of-age in 1987; another four years down the line it’s unlikely the Belgian can challenge the ‘New Wave’ of riders.

Joop Zoetemelk – The oldest Amstel winner

Now retired, Enrico Gasparotto won in 2016, the little Italian had a great record in the race with two wins and two third places.

Top record for Gasparotto in Amstel

Michal Kwiatkowski gave Poland her only win in the race in 2015, he was also second in 2017; he rides this year but his INEOS – Grenadiers squad is likely to be, ‘all for Tom’ – of whom, more in a moment.

World champion Kwiatkowski won in 2015 – Can Alaphilippe do it in 2021?

In 2014 it was Gilbert; 2013 winner, Roman Kreuziger will be on the start line in the colours of Gazprom-RusVelo a repeat win would make someone a millionaire for a lowly stake at the bookies. In 2012 it was, ‘Gaspa’ with Gilbert the victor in 2011 and 2010.

amstel 13
It was a long time ago when Roman Kreuziger won Amstel

What about this ‘New Wave’ then?
Aforementioned ‘Tom,’ as in ‘Pidcock’ [INEOS – Grenadiers & GB] coped well in Flanders until the thermo-nuclear weapons were deployed, late in the day. This race is much shorter at 219 kilometres and the parcours will suit his slight build – a podium is well possible for the talented 21 year-old, 58kg Englishman.

Amstel – Next up for Pidcock

As demonstrated by the palmarès of recently retired Romain Sicard, a world u23 road race title is no guarantee of success in the WorldTour – but there have been no such problems for 22 year-old Swiss 2018 World u23 Road Race Champion, Marc Hirschi who’s moved seamlessly up through the ranks to become a Classic winner in the 2020 Flèche Wallone. He started his season late with the objective of peaking for the three ‘Ardennes’ races, this being the first of them – he won’t be far away.

Marc Hirschi should be at the front end in the finalé

Another young ‘Brit’ who the parcours will suit is 22 year-old Simon Carr [EF Education – Nippo], he impressed us at the Strade Bianche. At just 53kg. – the kind of weight best suited to all those climbs – 24 year-old Frenchman on the rise, David Gaudu [Groupama – FDJ] comes off an excellent Tour of the Basque Country where he won the final stage; his combative style is well suited to this race

Stage 6 win for Gaudu in the Basque Country

And are all the big guns apart from MVDP there then?
Pretty much. Artillery doesn’t get much heavier than the World Champion and effervescent Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe [Deceuninck – Quick-Step] will be out to make amends for throwing the race away, two years ago.

sanremo alaphilippe
It would be nice to see Alaphilippe win in the rainbow jersey

Belgian ‘jack of all trades – and master of them all,’ Wout Van Aert will be there backed by a hugely strong Jumbo-Visma team which also has 2020 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and recent Tour of the Basque Country winner, Primoz Roglič plus Danish star on the rise, Jonas Vingegaard who won Coppi e Bartali and was second to Roglic in the Basque Nation.

Can Roglič turn stage race form into Classics form?

On the subject of Danes, Jakob Fuglsang has been quiet this year but remember that the Astana man won Lombardia last year and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2019.

lombardia20 leaders
Fuglsang has been quiet so far this season

Esteban Chaves [Team BikeExchange & Colombia] has re-found his mojo and has won a Classic before, Lombardia in 2016; he’s performed strongly in both Catalunya and the Basque Nation – at 55kg. he’s another who has the kind of power to weight ratio a podium finisher in this race requires.

Chaves has the form – Stage win in Catalunya

Who does PEZ soothsayer, Vik say will win?
The postponement of Paris-Roubaix affected him badly, he’s been sedated since the announcement and not available for comment. However, if I had to name one name?


But keep an eye on Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl for clues as to who else is ‘hot.’

brabantse alaphilippe
Ed’s bet for Amstel – Alaphilippe

# And for our refreshment of choice we can’t go past the race sponsor’s product. . . Stay PEZ for the Race Report on Sunday, and for live action go to SteepHillTV. #


The post AMSTEL’21: Who Will Take the Beer? appeared first on PezCycling News.

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Canyon’s Jake Scott Gets PEZ’d!

04/14/2021 0:11

Rider Interview: Racing is not easy at the moment for any British based UCI Continental Team, the combination of Covid and Brexit have been a big problem. The Canyon dbh SunGod team has managed some trips abroad, Ed Hood caught up with Canyon rider Jake Scott to hear how 2021 has been going.


Mathieu Van Der Poel, Wout Van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe; all wonderful bike riders. But a start sheet lists more than the handful of super stars who make all the headlines, what about all those hard working pros who perhaps never make the headlines but without whom there would be no races?

We were perusing the finishing sheet for the GP Monseré and spotted in 22nd place, 25 year-old English pro, Jake Scott from English continental team Canyon dhb SunGod. It’s been six years since last I spoke to Jake but he’s still out there jousting with the best for not a heck of a lot of recognition. High times we caught up with him. . .


PEZ: Let’s start with season 2015 with the Belgian Illi Bikes team, tell us about that experience.
Jake Scott:
My first full season in Belgium racing the National races was just what I needed to develop my career, I was fairly consistent all year which eventually accumulated in winning my last race of the season in Zandhoven. The whole year was an experience in which I learnt a lot about that aggressive racing style which suits me the most.


PEZ: Season 2016 and ‘cult’ Belgian continental team, An Post, how did you get the ride and what was the team like?
The ride came through a contact who had seen my results throughout 2015, I believe the win in Zandhoven helped also, but An Post was looking for a British rider to develop and after one phone call I joined An Post for 2016. The first year was an interesting one for me, the racing and training wasn’t an issue, however with a lot of older riders involved with more developed careers I realised that I needed to prove a point quickly.

PEZ: And a very strong race programme from the Étoile de Besseges through to the Olympia Tour.
Yes, Besseges is still very much something I look back on but didn’t think a great deal about at the time, or perhaps I didn’t take as much confidence as I should have from that. Some five years later and they still mention my riding well in the Étoile de Besseges every time I step on the podium for a team presentation of a French race. After that I went reasonably well through 2016, but didn’t continue with the same results as I started with in France. I rode three times with the GB National team that year and had a strong showing in my first Tour of Britain. The investment people showed in me in 2016 was one I still look back upon very fondly.


PEZ: And even better programme in 2017 with some nice rides; Ronde van Overijssel, Antwerpse Havenpijl, Schaal Schels.
Certainly, I think to date 2017 would be the year that sticks out in my mind in the sense of really living the ‘pro life’. I had a stacked UCI programme with three training camps, with one of those being an altitude camp. That platform definitely led to some good results in 2017 and one that I think developed my strength over the last years.


PEZ: It must have been a big disappointment when An Post folded at the end of 2017?
Yes, It’s something that I look back on as a very difficult end to the year, I had a few contract offers to choose from, however I feel there was a three year plan at AnPost for me, and obviously I only served two of those. Season 2017 was a very different period in a sense of moving up to the top tiers of the sport, with my showing at Tour of Britain and other previous races it was thought I would get a chance at Pro Continental level, but I was still classed as a developing younger rider.


PEZ: Season 2018 and the One Pro team, tell us about that experience.
I joined One Pro with the view of the team developing and achieving Pro Continental status in 2019; it was nice to be back in a British team, and there were certainly some good experiences there. There were some solid opportunities with One Pro, however I had a lot of illness in 2018 where I had three lots of antibiotics in seven months which meant my personal performances weren’t the best and I never really found form. After the team announced it was folding I took my bike and went to race the pro kermis scene in Belgium and took the pressure off myself. I invested in myself to see some specialists at the end of the season and they suggested I had my tonsils removed to stop my recurring problems. Strangely, I haven’t had antibiotics since.


PEZ: Swift – Carbon for 2019, what was that team like?
Having two teams fold on you in two years really teaches you a lot about cycling in general, however at the end of 2018, it seemed to happen to so many riders. I was still in Belgium and a friend messaged and said this Swift team seems to be going continental next year? After discussing things with them I got bikes and equipment to race in 2019. That still left the fact of needing some money to pay the bills I did have, so I decided to go get a job working Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday In the local bike shop. The stage races we did as a team broke everything up nicely, and I enjoyed my year with the team. It really taught me that if I got my training right that to compete with full time bike riders was still possible. I think from this year I really started to believe I actually had something and a drive that not many others find.


PEZ: That season saw you as King of the Mountains in the Tour of Britain that year, a nice performance.
Yes, going into the race I already saw myself winning that jersey, it was very much a ‘I’m going to do what I should have done two years ago,’ but this time I’m not losing it by a solitary point on the last day of the race. After eight days in the jersey I stood on the podium in Manchester thinking ‘well, I’ve ticked that box’ and riding for a team with the smallest budget in the race after working all year added an extra joy to that.

PEZ: You joined Canyon last year and there was a big early win for the team with Max Stedman in Tour of Antalya, that must have been nice to be part of?
Back when things were much easier and we could travel freely, yes Turkey was an interesting one.
I personally don’t feel stress in races anymore compared to when I was younger, I remember sitting on the beach on a sun bed the day before the race started just thinking; ‘well, this is lovely.’ I felt strong but rusty in the first days and wasted a lot of energy early on which put me out of any personal GC ambitions but my focus was very much on hard racing and the early season semi-classics in March. When Max took the Yellow jersey after Stage Three I knew it was going to be an interesting battle on the last day with the race so close. Everyone had a job to do and we did it perfectly to help bring Max home safely and in the lead. I feel the confidence that brought to us all as a team would have shone through all season had it being a normal year.


PEZ: Canyon again, this year – where are you based and are there many changes to the set up?
Yes, it was an easy decision for me to stay with Canyon for this year. The manager, Tim Elverson has a drive to race and win, and it didn’t sit well with him that we couldn’t race as much as we had planned at the back end of 2020. I know the research that’s gone in to preparing for 2021 in these uncertain times, and I know that everyone at Canyon dhb SunGod is appreciative of the work the team has done to allow us to compete in the opening races of the season and start the season right. Other than that we’ve had a list of new riders for this season, which is odd to say as I didn’t get to see everyone last year. However the major change is that I’ve gone from a younger rider to an older one at the tender age of 25. I’m based in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, and it’s being a very different build up to the start of the season than last year, however I’ve got it right and I’m looking forward to what comes next.


PEZ: Who coaches you?
Me myself and I; since the back end of 2018 I’ve taken full control and I’d say it’s the best decision and smartest one I’ve made, of course it sometimes comes with questions from myself, but the management at Swift or Canyon never questioned it and neither does anyone in my support bubble. It does seem to shock a lot of people however and they ask why, but there’s a few simple reasons for that. One of the first reasons was cost as 2019 was completed on a budget. However I also realised that I had no one to blame if I did so, I like that pressure of knowing that a great deal of excuses stop with me. I think that entering my third consecutive year of self-coaching and doing so through the roughness and uncertainty of 2020, to then come back feeling energised and strong in 2021 stops any personal thoughts about currently needing a coach throughout this season, and has given me a mentally positive start to 2021.


PEZ: You were just outside the top 20 in the GP Monseré recently, tell us about that race.
We had planned for me to be the middle man in the lead out, I do a good job of positioning, and it was decided that I’d get as close to the last kilometre as I could. However with the nerves of the race and several crashes from the team I had worked out that I needed to freelance a bit in the last laps, an opportunity arose with a move a lap to go, and while the peloton was panicked, a number of riders from the big teams were still rather fresh. When the bunch caught us though I had realised that we had done a very good job of breaking up the main teams lead out trains. Arriving back in the peloton I turned my attention to Matthew Bostock as he was positioned well and one of our sprinters, however in the last kilometre we got separated and I had reasonable positioning exiting the round about which is a major compression point in that race, unfortunately my legs weren’t fresh for a sprint so I decided to just sit down and push to the line just in case I was the best positioned rider.


PEZ: How’s the programme looking now?
It’s still to be 100% confirmed with all the postponements and cancelations. However, I think after we couldn’t race at the end of 2020, race organisers were unsure if it would be the same situation in 2021. But I feel that as a GB continental team we’ve certainly put our foot in the door and made our point; which I hope will help expand our calendar and also help British male and female teams get rides.

# Thanks to Jake for his time and good luck for 2021. #

The post Canyon’s Jake Scott Gets PEZ’d! appeared first on PezCycling News.

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