Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is back in action after passing on the final Monument of the season last Sunday. He won’t see Paris-Roubaix winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) or 2021 Amstel Gold winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in the Netherlands but will see defending champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers).
The Women’s WorldTour clash on Sunday is 28km longer than last year, now 156km so serves up a leg-shattering endurance test. Defending champion Marta Cavalli (FDJ-SUEZ) held off Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) last year but will a dominant SD Worx return to the top step this time? Recently-crowned Paris-Roubaix winner Alison Jackson will be in the spotlight with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB.
Mid-week exploits across the many climbs in the Flemish region of Belgium take place at Brabantse Pijl and Brabantse Pijl Women on Wednesday. Both 1.Pro-level races culminate once again on the climb of the S-bend in Overijse, the men riding 205km and four finish circuits. The women face 24 hills for the 141.2km contest, with three closing circuits.
Ronde de Mouscron delivered a flat 1.1 Belgian race for the women on Monday, while the men had rolling terrain in north-west France for Paris-Camembert on Tuesday. Wedged between the one-day contests of Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race, men’s top sprinters such as Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) and Elia Viviani (Team Italy) will compete across four days at Tour of Sicily from April 11-14.
Road racing amps up across the United States with the Redlands Bicycle Classic stage race, April 12-16, while the off-road scene heads to San Marcos for Belgian Waffle Ride California on Sunday, April 16, the second stop on the BWR mixed-surface North American series.
Before jumping straight in, here's a round-up of the weekend's biggest results.
The cobbled Classics hit a crescendo for the final Monument of the season at Paris-Roubaix last weekend. Both the Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift, the lead-off on Saturday, and Paris-Roubaix on Sunday did not disappoint with thrills and spills across the brutal cobbles of northern France.
The women’s race saw the early breakaway stay away and ride together into the Roubaix velodrome for a sprint finish. Alison Jackson (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) prevailed from the group of seven and became the first-ever Canadian rider to win the race. Katisa Ragusa (Liv Racing-Teqfind) and Marthe Truyen (Fenix-Deceuninck) rounded out the podium, while Team SD Worx’s Lotte Kopecky led a group of favourites, including Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) to the finish 12 seconds behind.
In the men's race, a third time was the charm for Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who rode solo for the final 15km to win the quickest-ever edition of the Hell of the North. While rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) began attacking 103km from the finish and with another severe acceleration over the five-star sector of Carrefour de l’Arbre, which only Van der Poel could match, it looked like it would be a head-to-head battle. Then the Belgian flatted and was left to chase , finishing just behind Van der Poel’s teammate Jasper Philipsen for the final podium spot, 46 seconds off the winning time.
One-day racing in the mid-week spotlight took place at Scheldeprijs for men and women. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) cemented his status as a top sprinter for the men while Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) continued her stellar sprinting with a third one-day victory on the year.
Meanwhile, in northern Spain, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) reeled off three consecutive stage wins over the second half of Itzulia Basque Country and secured the GC title at the six-day stage race. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) was the closest to the Dane at 1:12 back for second overall.
In the four-day Pays de la Loire Tour in France, Alexander Kamp (Tudor Pro Cycling) overtook Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) on the final day to secure the overall crown.
The criterium season began in the US on Saturday at the Miami Beach Invitational, the first of four National Cycling League races that combine for a $1 million prize purse in the NCL Cup. With points accumulated by co-ed teams in criteriums for women and men, the Denver Disruptors dominated both races for the opening win and early NCL Cup lead with 138 total points. The Miami Nights were second with 93 points and Goldman Sachs EFTs (women)-Texas Roadhouse Cycling (men) combo finished third with 32 points.
Giro di Sicilia
When: Tuesday, April 11 to Friday, April 14
The Giro di Sicilia returns for its fifth edition, covering 718 kilometres over the four days of racing across the island. Defending champion Damiano Caruso leads Bahrain Victorious for a repeat victory. Elia Viviani is a long way from his home in northern Italy but will be a contender for Team Italy.
UAE Team Emirates brings Rafal Majka with support from George Benett and Diego Ulissi, while Astana Qazaqstan has sprinter Mark Cavendish alongside GC hopeful Alexey Lutsenko. Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) returns to move from his third overall last year and will be a climber to watch on the final day with Mount Etna on the menu.
De Brabantse Pijl men
When: Wednesday, April 12
Back in a typical calendar slot after Paris-Roubaix and leading to Amstel Gold Race, De Brabantse Pijl returns for a 205km endless day of climbing in Belgium from Ladeuzeplein in Leuven to the signature S-Bocht in Overijse. There are 25 punchy climbs in total, the bulk coming across the Hagaard, Hertstraat, Moskesstraat, and Holstheide on the final 88km of four finishing circuits.
Leading the charge are 12 WorldTour teams, Jumbo-Visma one of the teams skipping the mid-week race. Ineos Grenadiers’ Michal Kwiatkowski will get support from young Britons Ethan Hayter and Josh Tarling, while Soudal-QuickStep bring Rémi Cavagna, who has two wins from Settimana Internazionale, and looks for only its third 1.Pro victory of the season.
De Brabantse Pijl women
When: Wednesday, April 12
Demi Vollering returns for Team SD Worx in defence of her 2022 De Brabantse Pijl Dames victory, a dominant solo victory in the rain when she attacked with Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon-SRAM) at 30km to go, then on the hilly final circuit distanced her companion.
Riding with Vollering will be three-time Hungarian road champion Blanka Vas, who has won a string of five cyclocross national titles. Other U23 cyclocross stars competing on the road are Trofeo Alfredo Binda winner Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) and Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma), who was eighth in her only road start at Volta Limburg Classic.
There are 24 total hills for the women this year across 141.2km. After a series of ascents across Hertstraat, Moskesstraat, Holstheide and S-bocht, the peloton will begin the three laps of the finishing circuit with those same hills, plus the Hagaard.
Redlands Bicycle Classic
When: Wednesday, April 12 - Sunday, April 16
A staple on the stage racing scene for pros and amateurs in North America since 1985, the 37th edition of Redlands Bicycle Classic continues as the longest, continuously running US invitational stage race, taking place April 12-16 in southern California.
The elite women will kick off the five days of racing on Wednesday in the City of Highland Circuit Race with 14 laps for 41.3 miles, while the men complete 20 laps for 58.1 miles. Stage 2 is the City of Yucaipa Road Race, the men riding 90 miles and the women 61.8 miles. Friday both the men and women will compete in the Route 66 Time Trial, both divisions covering the same 9.1 miles.
Downtown Redlands hosts the final two stages, the Criterium events on Saturday afternoon (75 minutes for the women and 90 minutes for the men), and the concluding multi-lap Sunset Road Race stages on Sunday (68.1 miles for women and 91.1 miles for men).
Last year Heidi Franz won the women’s overall title riding for Instafund La Prima, while Tyler Stites won the men’s GC riding for Project Echelon Racing.
Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition
When: Sunday, April 16
Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition serves up a more menacing route of 156km through the hills of Limberg this year, 28km longer than last year. Again the Cauberg serves as a decisive climb for the finish at Valkenburg.
Marta Cavalli (FDJ-SUEZ) comes into the opening race of the Ardennes Classics as the defending champion and one of the favourites after winning both the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne last season. She will be supported by Grace Brown and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. However, two-time Amstel Gold Race runner-up Demi Vollering leads the aggressive SD Worx team, which also brings Tour of Flanders winner Lotte Kopecky.
Amstel Gold Race men
When: Sunday, April 16
Amstel Gold Race returns for a 57th edition for the men, with a 253km route covering 33 climbs. The peloton will cross the finish line twice, once at 79km to go, and the penultimate time at 16km to go.
The 800-metre climb of the Cauberg at 6.5% average gradient and a max 12.8%, will be faced twice, at 81km to go and 18km to go. The final finish loop will include the Geulhemmerberg (14km out) and the Bemelerberg (7km out) climbs.
Two-time Amstel Gold Race winner Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) returns to defend last year’s victory, a photo-finish where he edged Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën) at the line. Julian Alaphilippe is out for Soudal-QuickStep, so the team will look for its first WorldTour one-day victory from Andrea Bagioli or Mauro Schmid, and possibly bring in Remco Evenepoel.