Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) speed to the finish in Ans.
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Russian no match for Vinokourov in final kilometre
Deep into the finale of Liège-Bastogne-Liège two Alexandres led the race, working together to hold off the pursuit by Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Caisse d'Epargne) and world champion Cadel Evans (BMC). The leading duo of Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) managed to head into the last kilometre together, but Vino dropped Kolobnev with a last desperate attack in the final uphill section before the finishing straight.
Afterwards, the Russian runner-up didn't regret missing out on the victory in the finale, a situation that happened as well during both the Amstel-Gold-Race and Flèche Wallonne earlier this week.
"It was hard and I was completely finished," said Kolobnev. "I did my best in all classics. I really tried but I missed a bit of luck to win this week. Today I didn't do anything wrong, I did what I could. Maybe if I would've sat on Vino's wheel we could've lost the whole race so I pulled the same like Vino.
"In the end he was stronger than me. I couldn't follow him," Kolobnev said about Vinokourov's attack in the final kilometre. If Kolobnev had stayed with the Kazakhstani a sprint would decide the win, tipping the advantage to the Russian's favour. "We knew that if we would arrive together I could beat him. He was afraid of me but I was afraid of his attacks, too. When he had attacked earlier on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas I was already on my limit. Anyway, it's a nice podium with Vinokourov and Valverde there."
After riding for several international teams Kolobnev moved to the Russian Katusha team in 2010. For now it seems like the move proved to be a successful one. "Of course I have more freedom now. Although actually the first objective today was to keep [Joaquim] Rodriguez in first position of the [ProTour] ranks, but I had my own chance, too, when Vinokourov went.
"We got away after the downhill of a climb [Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons], after a right-hand turn, in the second part of the climb where riders start to look at each other because everybody's at their limit. It was just attacking and attacking. It was good for me that Rodriguez was behind and Contador, too," said Kolobnev of the tactics during the finale of the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
After this last of the Ardennes classics, Kolobnev is taking a break before building back up towards the Tour de France.