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Deignan set for Ardennes assault

Posted 15 April 2010

Philip Deignan will complete his preparation for Sunday’s Amstel Gold with a training ride over the final 50 kilometres which he expects will decide the winner of the opening Ardennes Classic.

The Cervelo Test Team rider has regained his condition after a bout of the flu but believes that he is still a little off his best as the countdown to the Dutch race gets officially underway.

“A race like Amstel with 31 climbs over 257 kilometres is a wearing down process. I don’t think I have the condition to be really up with the favourites in the final kilometres and it is going to be about who can survive best,” he told Irish Pro Cycling.

The Donegal man rode well in Wednesday’s 200 kilometre hilly Brabantse Pijl in Beligum despite suffering from the effects of having been treated by an osteopath on the eve of the race.

“We really should have seen the osteopath three or four days before. We all suffered in the race and should have known that getting treatment like that the day before the race was too severe,” he said.

Deignan however, was one of only 51 riders from the 170 starters to finish the race and was unfortunate not to finish in the front group having got caught up behind a crash on the final climb with one lap to go.

“The race was ideal preparation for Sunday. The course was similar to Amstel with small roads, plenty of sharp twists and turns and 31 of those sort of short, explosive climbs. I wasn’t an easy ride and with only 51 riders finishing you could see it was a hard race,” he said.

The Cervelo rider is familiar with Amstel’s winding course through the hills of southern Limburg and believes that while it is similar to last year’s World Championship course in Mendrisio that it will require a different style of riding to make the final cut.

“It’s a similar course with the climbs. At the Worlds it was not that hard to ride when the tempo was steady. The peloton was like elastic on the climbs, you could drift back and come back. Amstel also has narrow roads and short climbs but you need to stay in the top 40 or 50 riders.

“Everyone knows how dangerous it is and how much street furniture you have to negotiate. You have to stay alert and keep your wits about you and the level of concentration required is draining, although it is probably no more dangerous than the average race.”

Deignan enjoyed a one and half hour team training ride this morning (Thursday) close to the race headquarters in Maastricht and believes that his teammates Xavier Florencio and Xavier Tondo carry Cervelo’s best hopes for the race.

“Right now I plan to just see on the day what happens and to play it by ear. I’m feeling a lot better but it will come down to that crucial moment in the last 40 kilometres when everyone wants to be at or near the front,” he said.

With the Fromberg, 9.4% climb of the Keutenberg and the infamous Cauberg all coming within the last 19 kilometres, Irish cycling fans will be hoping that Deignan can finds the legs for the final shake-up.

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