By Brecht Decaluwé in Ans
The Barloworld team was one of the dark horses for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, with the team's strongest man being Christian Pfannberger who also did well at the Amstel Gold Race. The Austrian featured in the group with Cadel Evans and Damiano Cunego, which was eventually caught on the final climb towards the finish, but still managed to place fifth.
Cyclingnews talked with the Austrian champion about his fantastic result, which the rider himself wasn't all that surprised about. "Last year I had very good results in Italy and the year before that in Portugal and Austria," said Pfannberger, who rode for the Elk-Haus Continental team last year. "But everybody knows about this race and everybody looks at these results. This is the top of cycling.
"I'm in good form now and maybe a little bit better than last year," he added. "The difference with last year isn't that big as you need to be strong to finish second in a race like the Coppa Agostoni. Last year I finished on the podium in several hard races but they don't have the exposure of the Ardennes Classics.
"Liège-Bastogne-Liège suits me very well as it is a hard race. It's my first participation here but I had done the last 100 kilometres on the bike so I knew that I would be well prepared for it."
One of the men who had to stay with Pfannberger as long as possible was British rider Stephen Cummings. "I had to make sure the right breakaway got away as well," said Cummings. "Pfannberger is really good and we also had Soler as an outsider but he's come over directly from the Giro del Trentino."
Cummings wasn't really prepared for a race like Liège-Bastogne-Liège at this point in the season, having focused his attention on the track until now. "I had never raced Liège so I knew it was going to be lovely," Cummings laughed. "Did you take a look at the profile of the race? Did you see where the flat parts are?" he joked.
"Now I'm trying to get ready for the Giro d'Italia," the likable Brit said. Despite his doubts, Cummings managed to finish his first Liège-Bastogne-Liège, crossing the finish line in 96th position over eight minutes behind the winner.