This amusing four-part series of videos featuring Cannondale-Garmin teammates Australian Nathan Haas and American Alex Howes is essential watching for anyone thinking of visiting Australia or joining an Australian cycling team.
Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler claimed an opportunistic win at the pre-Ardennes Brabantse Pijl semi-Classic. He rode solo to victory over the final 27km after catching and passing long-time leader Daniel Schorn (NetApp), taking advantage of a lack of organisation in the chasing group to win by over a minute at the finish in Overijse.
With the three Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne – coming up over the next week and a half, Brabantse Pijl provides a useful tune-up ahead of these. Last year Philippe Gilbert showed his form here by defeating fellow Belgian Bjorn Leukemans in a two-up sprint, before going on to complete the Ardennes hat-trick.
The course is a puncheur‘s delight. Run this year over 196km, it includes 28 hellingen (hills), with all but eight occurring in the final 63km. Four hills – Hagaard (480 metres, 3% average gradient, 12% maximum), Hertstraat (725m, 3.5%, 11% max), Ijskelderlaan (450m, 7%, 11% max) and Schavei (700m, 6.2%, 12% max) – are negotiated five times each on a concluding series of loops around Overijse. There is little respite between the ascents, each of which provides opportunities for the bold to launch an attack.