Gilbert the great!

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) TeamResult
1Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto6:13:18 
2Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek  
3Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek  
4Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana0:00:24 
5Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling  
6Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard  
7Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:27 
8Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:00:29 
9Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:00:39 
10Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
11Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha Team0:00:43 
12Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling  
13Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team  
14Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
15Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team  
16Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
17Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:00:47 
18Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad0:00:53 
19Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team0:00:57 
20Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team0:00:58 
21Nicki Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard  
22Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack  
23Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack0:01:01 
24Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
25Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling  
26Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team0:01:14 
27David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:16 
28Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team0:01:26 
29Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Cervelo0:01:40 
30Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
31Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek  
32Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana0:01:43 
33Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team  
34Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur - Sojasun0:02:10 
35Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:02:13 
36Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ0:02:29 
37Stephen Cummings (GBr) Sky Procycling0:02:31 
38Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Saur - Sojasun0:02:34 
39Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:36 
40Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
41Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Katusha Team0:02:38 
42Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack  
43Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team  
44Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana  
45Addy Engels (Ned) Quickstep Cycling Team0:03:00 
46Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
47Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
48Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Pro Team Astana0:04:03 
49Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team0:05:18 
50Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad  
51Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:06:42 
52Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad0:07:16 
53Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:07:18 
54Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Skil - Shimano0:07:35 
55Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet  
56Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team  
57Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
58Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad  
59Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek  
60Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
61Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
62Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
63David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
64Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
65Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team  
66Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
67Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
68Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
69Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team  
70Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Pro Team Astana  
71Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
72Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
73Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team  
74Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
75Peter Stetina (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
76Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
77Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
78Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ  
79Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale  
80Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
81Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team  
82John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
83Francesco Reda (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team  
84Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
85Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
86Matthew Busche (USA) Team RadioShack  
87Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad  
88Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
89Philip Deignan (Irl) Team RadioShack  
90Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Procycling0:11:02 
91Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:11:29 
92Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team0:13:33 
93Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
94Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ  
95Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
DNFRui Costa (Por) Movistar Team  
DNFDmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana  
DNFAndriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana  
DNFFredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana  
DNFRémi Cusin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFAlan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFMickaël Delage (Fra) FDJ  
DNFMatthieu Sprick (Fra) Skil - Shimano  
DNFCheng Ji (Chn) Skil - Shimano  
DNFThierry Hupond (Fra) Skil - Shimano  
DNFSimon Geschke (Ger) Skil - Shimano  
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Skil - Shimano  
DNFThomas Damuseau (Fra) Skil - Shimano  
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano  
DNFAleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFAnthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ  
DNFJulien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFGianni Meersman (Bel) FDJ  
DNFWout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFChristophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFDavid Lelay (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFMikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFGuillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFNicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFJon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFSerguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha Team  
DNFLuis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFStaf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFGeert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFPieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFPieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFJohan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFSander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFKevin Van Melsen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFArnoud Van Groen (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFSven Van Den Houte (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFGrégory Habeaux (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFArnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ  
DNFDieter Cappelle (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFEgoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFSébastien Joly (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
DNFYannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
DNFJean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
DNFLaurent Mangel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
DNFGeert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFReinier Honig (Ned) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFMatti Helminen (Fin) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFSébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFBert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFCédric Pineau (Fra) FDJ  
DNFThomas Degand (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFLuis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFIván Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFIvan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFJeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMartin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFFabian Wegmann (Ger) Leopard Trek  
DNFJens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek  
DNFAnders Lund (Den) Leopard Trek  
DNFStefan Denifl (Aut) Leopard Trek  
DNFMatthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
DNFKjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Procycling  
DNFDaniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling  
DNFJan Ghyselinck (Bel) HTC-Highroad  
DNFCaleb Fairly (USA) HTC-Highroad  
DNFMatthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad  
DNFSergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team RadioShack  
DNFNelson Oliveira (Spa) Team RadioShack  
DNFMarkel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team RadioShack  
DNFJesús Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team  
DNFJosé Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFCameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
DNFAndrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Lampre - ISD  
DNFJonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFDominik Nerz (Ger) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFEros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFBrian Vandborg (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard  
DNFLuke Roberts (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard  
DNFRafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard  
DNFVolodymir Gustov (Ukr) Saxo Bank Sungard  
DNFMads Christensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard  
DNFSimon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFJulien Vermote (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
DNFYuriy Trofimov (Rus) Katusha Team  
DNFAlessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
DNFManuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD  
DNFDavid Loosli (Swi) Lampre - ISD  
DNFJussi Veikkanen (Fin) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
DNFJurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
DNFJurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
DNFGert Dockx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
DNFFrancis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
DNFJan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
DNFXabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling  
DNFNick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank Sungard  
Côte de Saint-Roch
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team4 pts
2Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet2 
3Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne1 
Côte de Wanne
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team4 pts
2Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet2 
3Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team1 
Côte de Stockeu (Stèle Eddy Merckx)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team4 pts
2Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet2 
3Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet1 
Côte de la Haute-Levée
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team4 pts
2Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team2 
3Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet1 
Col du Rosier
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team4 pts
2Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team2 
3Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team1 
Col du Maquisard
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team4 pts
2Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team2 
3Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad1 
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana4 pts
2Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team2 
3Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team1 
Côte de la Redoute
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana4 pts
2Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team2 
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team1 
Côte de la Roche aux Faucons
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek4 pts
2Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto2 
3Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek1 
Côte de Saint-Nicolas
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto4 pts
2Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek2 
3Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek  
Mountains classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team24 pts
2Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana8 
3Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek6 
4Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto6 
5Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet6 
6Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team5 
7Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team3 
8Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team2 
9Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team2 
10Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek2 
11Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet2 
12Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad1 
13Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team1 
14Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team1 
15Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne1 

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