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VN news ticker: UAE-Emirates waiting on COVID results, Sarah Gigante out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Here's what's making headlines on Friday, April 23.

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UAE-Emirates waiting on COVID results ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Riders and staffers at UAE-Emirates are awaiting results from COVID-19 controls to see if they will be cleared to race Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.

The team was kept out of Flèche Wallone on Wednesday following a diagnosis within its “race bubble.” Follow-up tests were negative and suggested a false positive, but it came too late, and the team featuring defending champion Marc Hirschi and Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar did not race.

All teams underwent routine pre-race screenings Friday ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and results are expected to be returned Saturday.

Like all the other teams, if health controls are negative, UAE-Emirates will race Sunday, team officials confirmed to VeloNews.

Julian Alaphilippe racing to avenge last year’s hiccup

MUR DE HUY, BELGIUM - APRIL 21: Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step sprint on arrival during the 85th La Fleche Wallonne 2021, Men Elite a 193,6km race from Charleroi to Mur de Huy 204m / #FlecheWallonne / on April 21, 2021 in Mur de Huy, Belgium. (Photo by Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)
Julian Alaphilippe powered past Primož Roglič to win the 85th Flèche Wallonne. Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images

World champion Julian Alaphilippe won’t be celebrating too early again this year if he’s sprinting into downtown Liège on Sunday.

Hot off victory at Flèche Wallonne, the French superstar will see strong support to close out the spring classics at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Also read: Highs and lows in 2020 for Julian Alaphilippe

The team also includes João Almeida, a winner of the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège three years ago, Dries Devenyns, Mikkel Honoré, James Knox, Pieter Serry, and Mauri Vansevenant.

“We have a strong team to support Julian, a team comprising young riders but also guys who bring a lot of experience,” said sport director Klaas Lodewyck. “Liège–Bastogne–Liège is the kind of race where you have to save as much energy as possible in the first part, make sure you’re always in the right position and don’t miss the important moves, which will start coming from La Redoute onwards. We did a great job in Flèche Wallonne, and we hope to be again in the mix also on Sunday and get another good result to conclude the spring classics.”

Sarah Gigante out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB) will not start Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday. The 20-year-old crashed at La Flèche Wallone and sustained a number of injuries including a fractured clavicle.

In her first season racing in the pro ranks, Gigante was to make her Liège-Bastogne-Liège debut.

The Australian rolled out hot earlier this year, winning the Santos Festival of Cycling, and finishing in 11th place at the Dwars door Vlaanderen. She was 32nd at Brabantse Pijl.

Gigante defending her Australian national time trial championship ahead of Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange).

The next race on Gigante’s calendar is the Giro Rosa, starting on July 2nd, reports Wielerflits.

Jai Hindley pulls out following Tour of the Alps crash

Jai Hindley did not start Friday’s final stage at the Tour of the Alps after crashing with 5km to go in Thursday’s thrilling mountain stage, and later required stitches on cuts.

Hindley tumbled out of the top-10 with his crash Thursday, and Team DSM officials confirmed Friday he did start.

“The guys rode a good stage, with Nico in the break and then showing good teamwork to bring Jai and Romain into position for the final climb,” said coach Matt Winston. “Over the top Jai was racing for a good result on the descent but unfortunately he crashed at five kilometers to go. He got back on the bike but lost time running into the finish. Romain was able to round out a solid top ten on the stage for the team though.”

Tom Pidcock to race Liège before transitioning to mountain bike

Following his better-than-expected spring campaign, Tom Pidcock is expected to be a late-hour addition to Liège-Bastogne-Liège for Ineos Grenadiers.

Pidcock was expected to finish his spring campaign at Flèche Wallonne, but his sixth place on Mur de Huy opened the door to debut at Liège on Sunday. The young British rider exceeded expectations all spring, capped by victory at Brabantse Pijl and second at Amstel Gold Race in a photo finish.

After a rest, Pidcock will transition to mountain bike, and hopes to compete for the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“Tom is set to start his MTB season at a one-day race in Leukerbad in Switzerland,” said mountain bike coach Kurt Bogaerts last month. “That initial race is all about the transition back from the road to the mountain bike. Then he’ll move on to the two World Cups in Albstadt and Nove Mesto. At that point he will take a break before heading to the third round of the World Cup in Leogang. Then at that point we’ll keep our options open following the first block of MTB racing.”