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Gilbert the great!

By:
Brecht Decaluwé

Schleck brothers no match for flying Belgian

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) had time to savour his coronation as king of the Classics when he easily out-sprinted Fränk and Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) to take victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The win saw Gilbert complete a hat-trick of wins in the Ardennes, after triumphing at Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallone in the past week. Born near the course at Verviers, it was an emotional victory for Gilbert, who took his eighth Classic victory, and his first at La Doyenne.

The leading trio escaped on the Côte de Roche aux Faucons with 20km, when the Schleck brothers made their much-anticipated two-pronged attack. Fränk was the first to go, but when Andy joined him with Gilbert sat comfortably on his wheel, there was already an air of inevitability about the result.

The Schleck-Gilbert express caught and passed the remnants of an earlier breakaway over the top of the climb, although the plucky Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) managed to hitch a ride as far as the Côte de Saint-Nicholas, with 5km to go.

On the Saint-Nicholas itself, Gilbert was well able to resist Andy Schleck's speculative pressing, and even went to the front himself. As the road steepened, he launched a ferocious acceleration of his own from the front, to which only Fränk had an answer, although Andy managed to get back on after scrambling down the descent.

Although outnumbered two to one in the final kilometres, Gilbert had a comfortable time of it on the approach to the final kick up the Côte de Ans. Rather than attack Gilbert in turn, as might have been expected, the Schlecks appeared resigned to the fact that the Belgian was simply the strongest man in the race, and ultimately they all but carried him to the finish.

For his part, as was the case from the Roche aux Faucons, Gilbert contributed his share of the pace-setting, but was always careful in his positioning as he looked to avoid an ambush.

Even under the red kite, however, neither Schleck was able to summon up an attack to cast at least some doubt on the outcome. Instead, Andy Schleck led out a straightforward sprint, and Gilbert duly ripped past him 200 metres from the line to score an emphatic victory.

Fränk Schleck crossed the line in second ahead of Andy, while Roman Kreuziger (Astana) led home a select chasing group 24 seconds back to take fourth in front of Rigoberto Uran (Sky), Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank-SunGard), Van Avermaet and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale).

Kreuziger's team leader Alexandre Vinokourov had punctured on the Roche aux Faucons shortly after Gilbert and the Schlecks' decisive move, but while the confusion that caused may have hindered the initial pursuit, there was no doubting that Gilbert was far and away the strongest man, as has been the case all week.

Early breakaway with strong De Gendt

Soon after the start in sunny Liège Sébastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet) and Jesus Herrada Lopez (Movistar) sparked the early breakaway, and in several steps eight more riders joined them: David Le Lay (AG2R), Frederik Kessiakoff (Astana), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Tony Gallopin (Cofidis), Mickel Delage (FDJ),Yannick Talabardon and finally Mathias Frank (BMC).

The ten leaders never received more than four minutes from the peloton where the Omega Pharma-Lotto team took the main responsibility for keeping the gap in check.

The lead was down to less than three minutes when reaching the trio of climbs of the Côte de Wanne, Côte de Stockeu and Côte de la Haute-Levée. Thomas De Gendt crossed the top of each climb in front, clearly with a repeat win in the mountains prize in mind. On the last climb the lead group split apart while a large chase group was formed.

Once again Omega Pharma-Lotto missed the move and was forced to do the chasing, but this time Leopard-Trek joined them on the front of the peloton. The situation changed often in the following 25km with even outsider Danilo Di Luca (Katusha) attacking from the peloton.

Thirteen leaders cause problems for the peloton

After the Col du Maquisard, there were 13 riders in the lead group: previous leaders Vorganov, De Gendt, Gallopin and Frank were joined by Kanstantsin Sivtsov (HTC-Highroad), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Juan Manuel Garate and Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Dario Cataldo and Jérôme Pineau (Quick-Step), Blel Kadri (AG2R) and Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale).

In the peloton the Omega Pharma-Lotto team was burning an important match as Jurgen Van Den Broeck pulled for a long time on his own, and then 45km from the finish a poker game of sorts developed. When Omega Pharma-Lotto sat up, nobody else was working and the gap quickly grew up to 1:30. Eventually, Leopard Trek took over the job from Van Den Broeck, but the gap kept growing until suddenly FDJ lent their former teammate Gilbert a hand.

No explosion on the Côte de la Redoute

Thanks to the efforts of Leopard Trek, the gap to the leaders was down to one minute at the foot of La Redoute, 35km from the line. Cataldo and De Gendt quickly got dropped, while Enrico Gasparotto, Greg Van Avermaet and Jerome Pineau would go on prove themselves to be the best of the break by forging clear on the next climb

Meanwhile, Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard-Trek) led the peloton over La Redoute at 35km from the finish line and the chase continued to the base of the Roche aux Faucons, where the favourites finally sparked into action, as the Schlecks and Gilbert danced clear and bridged up to Gasparotto, Van Avermaet and Pineau,

Shortly afterwards, Gasparotto and Pineau bade farewell to the front of the race, as the scene was set for a battle of strength and guile between the Schleck brothers and Philippe Gilbert. And on each count, Gilbert proved himself to be superior.

Full Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 6:13:18  
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek    
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek    
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 0:00:24  
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling    
6 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
7 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:27  
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:29  
9 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:39  
10 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
11 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha Team 0:00:43  
12 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling    
13 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team    
14 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
15 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team    
16 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
17 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:47  
18 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:00:53  
19 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:00:57  
20 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:00:58  
21 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
22 Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack    
23 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack 0:01:01  
24 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
25 Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling    
26 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:14  
27 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:16  
28 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team 0:01:26  
29 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:40  
30 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
31 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek    
32 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:01:43  
33 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team    
34 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:02:10  
35 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:02:13  
36 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ 0:02:29  
37 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:31  
38 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:02:34  
39 Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:36  
40 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
41 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Katusha Team 0:02:38  
42 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack    
43 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team    
44 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana    
45 Addy Engels (Ned) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:03:00  
46 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
47 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
48 Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Pro Team Astana 0:04:03  
49 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:05:18  
50 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad    
51 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:42  
52 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 0:07:16  
53 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:07:18  
54 Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Skil - Shimano 0:07:35  
55 Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet    
56 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team    
57 Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
58 Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad    
59 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek    
60 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
61 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
62 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
63 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
64 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team    
65 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team    
66 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
67 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
68 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
69 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team    
70 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Pro Team Astana    
71 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
72 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
73 Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team    
74 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
75 Peter Stetina (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
76 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
77 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
78 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ    
79 Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale    
80 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
81 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team    
82 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
83 Francesco Reda (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team    
84 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
85 Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
86 Matthew Busche (USA) Team RadioShack    
87 Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad    
88 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
89 Philip Deignan (Irl) Team RadioShack    
90 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:11:02  
91 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:11:29  
92 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:13:33  
93 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
94 Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ    
95 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
DNF Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team    
DNF Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana    
DNF Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana    
DNF Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana    
DNF Rémi Cusin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Mickaël Delage (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Cheng Ji (Chn) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Thierry Hupond (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
DNF Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Gianni Meersman (Bel) FDJ    
DNF Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF David Lelay (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha Team    
DNF Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
DNF Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Sven Van Den Houte (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Grégory Habeaux (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Arnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Dieter Cappelle (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Sébastien Joly (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Laurent Mangel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
DNF Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
DNF Reinier Honig (Ned) Landbouwkrediet    
DNF Matti Helminen (Fin) Landbouwkrediet    
DNF Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
DNF Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
DNF Cédric Pineau (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Thomas Degand (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent    
DNF Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team    
DNF Iván Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Leopard Trek    
DNF Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek    
DNF Anders Lund (Den) Leopard Trek    
DNF Stefan Denifl (Aut) Leopard Trek    
DNF Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
DNF Kjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Procycling    
DNF Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
DNF Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling    
DNF Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Caleb Fairly (USA) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad    
DNF Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team RadioShack    
DNF Nelson Oliveira (Spa) Team RadioShack    
DNF Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team RadioShack    
DNF Jesús Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team    
DNF José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
DNF Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo    
DNF Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Simone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Dominik Nerz (Ger) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
DNF Brian Vandborg (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
DNF Luke Roberts (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard    
DNF Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard    
DNF Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Saxo Bank Sungard    
DNF Mads Christensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard    
DNF Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Julien Vermote (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team    
DNF Yuriy Trofimov (Rus) Katusha Team    
DNF Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
DNF David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - ISD    
DNF Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Gert Dockx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling    
DNF Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank Sungard    
Côte de Saint-Roch
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4  pts
2 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 2  
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 1  
Côte de Wanne
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4  pts
2 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 2  
3 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 1  
Côte de Stockeu (Stèle Eddy Merckx)
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4  pts
2 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 2  
3 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 1  
Côte de la Haute-Levée
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4  pts
2 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 2  
3 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 1  
Col du Rosier
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4  pts
2 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 2  
3 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 1  
Col du Maquisard
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4  pts
2 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 2  
3 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad 1  
Mont-Theux
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana 4  pts
2 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 2  
3 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 1  
Côte de la Redoute
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana 4  pts
2 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 2  
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 1  
Côte de la Roche aux Faucons
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 4  pts
2 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 2  
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 1  
Côte de Saint-Nicolas
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 4  pts
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 2  
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek    
Mountains classification
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 24  pts
2 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana 8  
3 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 6  
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 6  
5 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 6  
6 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 5  
7 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 3  
8 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 2  
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 2  
10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 2  
11 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 2  
12 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad 1  
13 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 1  
14 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 1  
15 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 1