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Alexis Roche, Matt Teggart set for U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Posted on: April 13th, 2018

Matt Teggart Alexis Roche

Alexis Roche is based in France and is part of the U23 Irish squad this year. He and Matt Teggart line out for the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège; one of the hardest espoir races in the world (Photos Ludivinel)

 

Alexis Roche, Matt Teggart for Liège-Bastogne-Liège

 

While an U23 Irish team is in action in Holland today, Irish duo Matt Teggart and Alexis Roche line out in the U23 version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in Belgium.

Unlike other top races in the espoirs category, the Belgian classic is not part of the Nations Cup series.

That means the riders compete with their own trade teams rather than national squads.

However, the competition is no less fierce. And many of the world’s top young cyclists target this race each season.

It is 171.5km and finishes on the outdoor velodrome in Liege. The Oude Kwaremont is the longest climb, at almost 3km. And four of the nine categorised climbs are at least 2.5km long.

But aside from the categorised ascents, there are smaller inclines littered through the course. And only top riders will be in the hunt at the finish.

Last year Bjorg Lambrecht, riding for Lotto-Soudal’s U23 team, won a four-up sprint to take victory.

James Knox (Team Wiggins) was next followed by Lucas Hamilton of the Mitchelton-BikeExchange Continental team.

All three are now with WorldTour teams; Lambrecht for Lotto-Soudal, Knox for QuickStep and Hamilton for Mitchelton-Scott.

 

Matt Teggart Alexis Roche

Matt Teggart rides in Belgium for Team Wiggins; one of several riders in its selection capable of doing serious damage.

 

Today Teggart, who is in flying form, is part of the Team Wiggins outfit taking on the race. The British Continental team will put much of its hopes on Mark Donovan, who turned 19 years told last week.

As a junior last season he had a big year. He took the Giro di Basilicata (2.1) overall and the points classification.

He also won the final yellow jersey in Aubel-Thimister-La Gleize (2.1) and claimed the climbers’ classification in SPIE Internationale Juniorendriedaagse (2.1).

Team Wiggins also has Kiwi James Fouche (20) in its line-up. He won the king of the hills jersey at Le Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux (2.2U) two weeks ago.

As a junior he won the road race at the Oceania Continental Championships.

But while they are top riders, so too is Teggart. He was sprinting for victory at the Gent-Wevelgem last weekend; placing 11th.

However, when what remained of the peloton split during the hardest part of the race he was among a dozen riders who pulled clear.

They were caught by a chase group with about 1km to go. And Teggart said he felt he was on for a podium placing. However, he messed up the sprint when he ran into congestion.

He also won a stage of the Rás last year and held yellow. And with the progress he has made in the last couple of seasons, not to mention coming into some great form of late, he will count himself in today.

Alexis Roche rides today’s race with Cotes d’Amor. His form to date this season is not clear.

But he has been riding some testing French races so that should stand him in good stead for today.

He’s ridden Etoile de Tressignaux, the Etoile de Tressignaux stage race, Grand Prix U-Cotes d’Armor and Tour du Pays de Lesneven.

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