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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) has followed up his victory in La Flèche...
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) has followed up his victory in La Flèche Wallonne by taking out the 92nd Liège-Bastogne-Liège in an 11 rider sprint. That group was all that remained after a very attacking race, and it formed over the top of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas with 6 km to go. Paolo Bettini rode well but could only finish second behind Valverde, with Damiano Cunego achieving his best placing in LBL with a third.
The race was held in excellent conditions, and was coloured by a 26 rider breakaway that formed after 34 km, containing Steffen Wesemann and Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), Jens Voigt (CSC), and Jurgen Van den Broeck (Discovery), among others. The group reached a maximum lead of 7'30, but some work from Milram, Phonak, Lampre and CSC pulled them back to within 2 minutes before the Côte de Wanne, where Steffen Wesemann attacked alone. The German steadily gained time as the chasers were all absorbed by the peloton, but even he succumbed with 52 km to go.
The finale was coloured by an attack by Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Liberty Seguros), who went clear on the Côte de Sprimont with 29 km to go and gained as much as 44 seconds before the chase group started to pull them back. On the Côte de Saint-Nicolas with 6 km to go, it all came together with Boogerd (Rabobank), Perdiguero (Phonak), Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Rodriguez, Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Horner (Davitamon), Cunego (Lampre), Basso, Schleck (CSC), Bettini (Quick.Step), Di Luca (Liquigas) and Kashechkin (Liberty) all making the front group. But no-one could get away in the closing kilometres, and Valverde won the sprint handily from Bettini and Cunego.