Israel-Premier Tech creates division with action after crash: from 'ugly' (Zonneveld) to 'part of racing' (Mollema) Cycling

Israel-Premier Tech creates division with action after crash: from 'ugly' (Zonneveld) to 'part of racing' (Mollema)

Israel-Premier Tech creates division with action after crash: from 'ugly' (Zonneveld) to 'part of racing' (Mollema)

Liège-Bastogne-Liège wasn't necessarily decided by it on Sunday, but the massive crash entering the last hundred kilometers did play a crucial role in the outcome for many. A dastardly crash on the right side of the road produced barely any physical casualties, but it did produce a major tumble. Many big names paused for a moment before a 30-kilometer chase began. A chase, prompted by the fact that one team at the front went full steam ahead.

UAE Team Emirates had controlled at the head of the peloton all day, but when some important climbs came up, Israel-Premier Tech emerged as one of the key contenders at the front. Initially, it seemed their presence was mainly to keep leaders Dylan Teuns and Stephen Williams out of trouble, but when half the peloton suddenly found itself trailing, the team went full throttle.

Israel-Premier Tech makes big blocks work hard

Winner Tadej Pogacar saw it from the front and reacted somewhat surprised afterwards, "We were riding with Sjoerd Bax in the lead, who was riding like a train. But when there was a crash, Israel-Premier Tech suddenly came to the front. They started riding at full speed, against the wind and on the flat roads. Our plan on the climbs was to maintain a high tempo, so we resumed riding on the next climb. We slowed down due to the headwind, which allowed Van der Poel and Pidcock to catch back up."

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Israel-Premier Tech created a gap of up to a minute and a half shortly after the crash. Alpecin-Deceuninck (Mathieu van der Poel), INEOS Grenadiers (Tom Pidcock), BORA-hansgrohe (Aleksandr Vlasov), and Bahrain Victorious (Pello Bilbao and Antonio Tiberi) had to give everything to ensure their leaders did not lose the race early. And when we say give everything, we really mean it.

Things eventually worked out, especially when the chasing group caught up between the cars and there was quite a bit of tailgating. At the time, Domen Novak was riding with Diego Ulissi of UAE Team Emirates in the lead. He stressed to Eurosport that it was not Pogacar's team that had caused all the problems. "In the team meeting, we agreed to go full throttle in that phase, whether there were crashes or not. We did what we wanted to do."

Alpecin-Deceuninck (Van der Poel, Roodhooft) on pursuit of Israel-Premier Tech and UAE Team Emirates

Alpecin-Deceuninck's Christoph Roodhooft also shed light on the incident afterward, particularly regarding the chase debates of Van der Poel and his teammates. 'When Mathieu was held up by that fall, we did fear the worst. Opinions were quite divided, but in the second group, there were many teams for whom this race was crucial. They put in the effort to bring the race back together. Additionally, the jury decided to neutralize the race anyway, as the crash site wasn't properly marked. This decision aimed to give everyone a fair chance. Consequently, those sixty to seventy riders quickly caught back up," alerted Fleming.

Van der Poel indirectly addressed the situation himself. 'I'm not quite sure how I made it to the podium today. It felt like I was chasing all day,' he remarked afterward. 'I was removing my leg warmers and gloves when they suddenly fell, causing a roadblock. At that moment, I thought we wouldn't be able to return to the race, but we managed to do so by setting a steady pace. It certainly demanded a lot of energy. Despite a long chase, we did succeed in rejoining the pack, but my legs were extremely fatigued," concluded the Dutch world champion.

Mollema understood jacking through, Zonneveld calls it 'ugly', Bauke Mollema, who eventually managed to finish in a respectable thirteenth place, paused for a brief interview after the race. 'Actually, it was just one of many moments in the race,' described the Dutch veteran of Lidl-Trek. 'Things happen very quickly out there. So I didn't find it particularly unusual to keep riding. Of course, it was unfortunate for the riders involved or affected by it, as it was a really bad moment. Closing that gap isn't easy. Fortunately, I was at the front. But I believe almost everyone managed to get through in the end. It's all part of racing.'

On social media, there were some less-than-positive opinions regarding Israel-Premier Tech's actions. "Teams pushing hard at the front after a massive crash: ugly," wrote journalist Thijs Zonneveld, among others.

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