Nibali unable to follow the favourites at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Fuglsang holds on to take ninth for Astana

After an aggressive week and the news that his team would be safe in the WorldTour for the remainder of the year, Vincenzo Nibali’s Ardennes campaign had a disappointing end at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Nibali just about avoided the crash that took out two former champions in Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and Simon Garrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and was in the front group as the race neared its conclusion. However, when push came to shove, the Italian had nothing left in the tank.

“I was lucky to stay up in the crash before the La Redoute but I had to chase. I got back on at the top but I’d spent a lot because the race had exploded,” Nibali said as the rain poured down outside his team bus. “I felt good on the Roche but I knew that if I attacked, I’d be chased down. I thought the Saint-Nicolas would be the place to attack but my legs said no… I tried to do something. I gave it everything and so I haven’t got any regrets.”

Nibali eventually came home 24 seconds down on the race winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). His Astana team also lost Luis Leon Sanchez to a puncture in the finale but Jakob Fuglsang avoided any issues and was able to stay with the key players. But after already getting into a break earlier in the day he was only able to manage ninth.

“I’m a little disappointed, I believed that I still had the possibility to get even more out of it,” he told Cyclingnews. “We tried to make it a hard race which it really was and we tried to take control of it also once we really hit the climbs. I’m pleased with the way the team worked but of course I would have liked to be sprinting for the top three and not the top 10.”

Astana rode a particularly aggressive race, sending riders up the road throughout the final 100 kilometres. Andrei Grivko was the first to go on the Côte du Stockeu soon followed by Tanel Kangert. The Estonian took two other riders with him and began to build a small lead over the main bunch. They were eventually caught by two chasers, one of which was fellow Astana rider Michele Scarponi. Along with Orica-GreenEdge’s Esteban Chaves, Scarponi stayed away until just before the penultimate climb of the Côte du Roche-aux-Faucons.

Fuglsang became the fourth Astana rider to make a move in the finale, following an attack from Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo). “When Roman went away I thought that we really needed to have someone out there instead of having to pull behind. That’s why I went after him. I thought that Vincenzo was feeling a little better than he actually and for that reason I thought he should save himself for Saint Nicolas.”

In terms of results, Fuglsang has been far and away the best performer for the Astana team, taking 17th at Amstel Gold and eighth at Flèche Wallonne. He now heads to the Tour de Romandie on Monday, happy with what he was able to do.

“As a whole it was the best week in the Ardennes I ever did, with the results,” he said. “I also have fourth place from Amstel (in 2011) but racing wise I proved I’m in good shape and I did some good racing here, I believe. With a little luck it could have gotten more out of it.”

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