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Liège - Bastogne - Liège: 257.5km

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Barry Ryan

Liège - Bastogne - Liège, the Doyenne of the classics.

  1. 257.5km remaining from 257.5km

    10:34:08 CEST

    Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The peloton has just set off from Place Saint-Lambert in Liège ahead of the départ réel, which is set for 10.40 CET.

  2. 10:36:35 CEST

    As the bunch pedals the 6.9km out of town, they are bathed in pleasant, if not exactly warm, sunshine. The temperature is a brisk 9.5° for now and there is very little wind. There are some dark clouds in the skies over the Ardennes this morning too, however, so there may yet be rain this afternoon.

  3. 10:42:48 CEST

    There are 11 categorised climbs on the menu today, the first of which, the Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne, comes after 70km, as the race winds down towards Bastogne. All of the other listed climbs come on the return leg, but it should be noted that there are far more than 11 hills on today's route. The roads through the Ardennes go up and down constantly, and there is scarcely a metre of flat in the second half of the route today.

  4. 10:46:32 CEST

    • Crash

    The race proper may not yet have started, but the day is already over for Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The Basque was a faller in the neutralised zone and has withdrawn from the race. The extent of injury is not yet clear.


  5. 257.5km remaining from 257.5km

    10:47:55 CEST

    The 2012 Liège-Bastogne-Liège gets underway with 199 riders, and one non-starter, the unfortunate Igor Anton.

     

  6. 10:49:53 CEST

    The attacking starts almost as soon as the flag is dropped. Plenty of teams are desperate to get a man up the road early on to take the heat off their leaders, and the first rider to get a significant gap is Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM). He has 15 seconds over the peloton after 3km.

     

  7. 10:52:36 CEST

    The news is reaching us that Igor Anton sustained a broken collarbone in his crash. The Basque team had already suggested that Anton would not be at the Giro d'Italia this year, as he focuses exclusively on the Vuelta a Espana, but this crash is the final confirmation.


  8. 247km remaining from 257.5km

    10:59:04 CEST

    Marczynski's solo attack has come to an end, as he is swallowed up a group of 20 or so riders which has formed just off the front of the peloton.

  9. 11:04:03 CEST

    Not surprisingly, the peloton was loathe to allow a group of that size go clear, and they have been duly brought to heel, with Preben Van Hecke (TopSport Vlaanderen-Mecator) the lone survivor out in front.

     

  10. 236km remaining from 257.5km

    11:13:00 CEST

    Van Hecke's lone move is reined in just past the 21km mark, and now there is a two-man counter attack trying to get clear. The big favourites will be hoping that the day's early break goes clear soon so that the race can setlle down behind. So far, there's been precious little respite since leaving Liège.

  11. 11:15:12 CEST

    Speaking of big favourites, Fleche Wallonne winner Joaquim Rodriguez has a further reason for high morale this weekend. The Spaniard penned an extension to his deal with Katusha on Friday, which will keep him at the Russian squad until the end of 2013.

  12. 11:21:24 CEST

    Rodriguez's Fleche Wallonne win could scarcely have been more timely for Katusha. On Monday afternoon, it was revealed that Denis Galimzyanov had tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test. The following day, the young sprinter confessed to using EPO and then distanced his team from any involvement in a remarkable handwritten open letter. Given that Galimzyanov's professional development has taken place largely under the aegis of Katusha, at the outfit's Continental and WorldTour squads, the Russian team must still face some very uncomfortable questions about the environment it has fostered.


  13. 250km remaining from 257.5km

    11:22:50 CEST

    Gruppo compatto out on the road once again, 27km into the race.

  14. 230km remaining from 257.5km

    11:23:44 CEST

    Gruppo compatto out on the road once again, 27km into the race.

  15. 11:34:08 CEST

    Joaquim Rodriguez may be the principal favourite following his win at Fleche Wallonne, but Philippe Gilbert (BMC) showed signs of a return to form with 3rd place on Wednesday, and he is also hoping that the chilly temperatures might halt Rodriguez's progress on the road back to Liege this afternoon.

  16. 11:37:39 CEST

    Theories continue to abound this weekend as to the reasons behind Philippe Gilbert's rather inauspicious beginning to life at BMC. Gilbert's father Jeannot told L'Equipe that his new bike position was partly to blame, saying that there was a 1.5cm difference in size between Gilbert's new BMC and the Canyon he rode to victory last spring. Not exactly music to Andy Rihs's ears...

  17. 11:40:01 CEST

    Meanwhile, Gilbert fan club member Rene Caillet insisted to La Derniere Heure that his man and his BMC cohorts had been over-worked at the team's training camps in Denia this winter. "I carried out my own inquiries," he claimed. "I found out that Lelangue had burned them at the training camps in Spain."

  18. 11:42:15 CEST

    Joaquim Rodriguez was rather more succinct in his appraisal of his rival, telling L'Equipe: "Philippe is just less good than he was last year, and I'm just as strong."


  19. 219km remaining from 257.5km

    11:43:44 CEST

    Gilbert and Rodriguez can compare notes on their relative form in the finale this afternoon, but right now on the road, a three-man group has finally forced its way clear of the peloton.

  20. 217.5km remaining from 257.5km

    11:45:44 CEST

    • Break

    Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Simon Geschke (Argos) and Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs) broke clear at the 38km mark, and they now have a lead of 35 seconds over the peloton. The pace seems to be settling down behind, and this could be our 'échappée matinale.

  21. 11:52:48 CEST

    1:05 the advantage now for Cataldo, Geschke and Ista, who are steadily pulling away from the peloton.

  22. 12:00:12 CEST

    • Attack

    Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Gregory Habeaux (Accent-Willems) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi) have clipped off the front of the peloton and are trying to get across to the break. They're currently 1:15 behind.

  23. 209km remaining from 257.5km

    12:01:48 CEST

    Situation:

    Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Simon Geschke (Argos) and Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs)

    Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Gregory Habeaux (Accent-Willems) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi) at 1:10

    Peloton at 2:15

  24. 12:09:34 CEST

    A very sudden and very heavy rainshower has soaked the peloton, but now there are blue skies overhead once again. It looks set to be changeable afternoon in the Ardennes. The current temperature is a chilly eight degrees.

  25. 12:11:11 CEST

    Honig, Habeaux and Bazzana have succeeded in making the juncture with the leaders, and they are all continuing to stretch out their advantage over the peloton.
     

  26. 200km remaining from 257.5km

    12:12:20 CEST

    Situation:

    Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Simon Geschke (Argos) and Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs), Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Gregory Habeaux (Accent-Willems) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi)

     

    Peloton at 6:10

  27. 12:20:18 CEST

    The start line at Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a veritable who's who of the biggest names in cycling. Check out our exclusive gallery here.

  28. 12:24:23 CEST

    The peloton have temporarily laid down arms after the stop start beginning to proceedings. Their deficit is now 9:35 as the six escapees continue to press further up the road.


  29. 188km remaining from 257.5km

    12:29:38 CEST

    • Climb

    The six escapees are on the day's first categorised climb, the Côte de La Roche-en-Ardenne, and the advantage is touching 10 minutes as they approach the summit.

  30. 12:38:54 CEST

    Situation:

    Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Simon Geschke (Argos) and Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs), Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Gregory Habeaux (Accent-Willems) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi)

     

    Peloton at 11:30

  31. 12:40:40 CEST

    Euskaltel-Euskadi have confirmed that Igor Anton broke his left clavicle in his fall in the neutralized zone. "It was a most stupid fall," directeur sportif Gorka Gerrikagoitia told Biciciclismo. "He got just tangled up and went down."

  32. 178km remaining from 257.5km

    12:48:45 CEST

    There is finally the beginnings of a reaction from the peloton as the break's advantage stretches out to 12:35. There's certainly no need to up the pace too much just yet, but BMC, Katusha, Movistar and RadioShack-Nissan will be among the teams who will want to keep tabs on this move nonetheless.


  33. 12:56:09 CEST

    Frank Schleck and Chris Horner are the nominal leaders for RadioShack-Nissan today, but 2009 winner Andy Schleck might have a certain degree of freedom. The Luxembourger has been a largely anonymous figure in 2012 to date, but he normally sparkles into life for the Ardennes classics, and he was duly on the attack at Fleche Wallonne during the week. He

    spoke to Cyclingnews before the start, as did Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo)

    , who was a solid 6th on the Mur de Huy.


  34. 12:57:37 CEST

    The Katusha squad of Joaquim Rodriguez are currently directing traffic at the front end of the peloton, 12 minutes behind the six-man breakaway group.

  35. 13:06:23 CEST

    Liege-Bastogne-Liege marks the end of the spring classics, and as if to remind us that the big stage races are on their way, AS reports this morning that the wildcards for the Vuelta a Espana are set to be revealed on Monday. According to AS, the four invitees will be Caja Rural, Andalucia, Cofidis and Argos-Shimano, but the official announcement has yet to be made of course.

  36. 159km remaining from 257.5km

    13:15:29 CEST

    The six escapees reach the symbolic (though of course not actual) midway point of Bastogne, and as if to forewarn them of the difficulties to come, they are buffeted by heavy rainfall as they roll through the streets. From here, the race will follow a longer and decidedly more exacting road back up to Liege. 

  37. 13:21:54 CEST

    It seems as though an Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider has featured in every break of every race this spring, and doing the honours for the squad today is Dario Cataldo. Patrick Lefevere's men have appeared almost to have an extra gear to everyone else at times thus far in 2012. 26 wins to date from ten different riders is a statistic that speaks volumes. Although Cataldo has yet to get off the mark himself, he was a very strong performer at the Volta a Catalunya, finishing 2nd on stage 2 and 9th overall.


  38. 13:23:42 CEST

    Sylvain Chavanel leads the line for Omega Pharma-QuickStep today, although it remains to be seen what he has left in the tank after a hectic campaign in Flanders earlier in the month. His friend and teammate Jerome Pineau was aggressive here last year, and he might well be on the offensive in the final 100km again this time around.

  39. 155km remaining from 257.5km

    13:25:28 CEST

    The six escapees are safely through the feedzone at Bastogne and rifling through the contents of their musettes as we speak. Meanwhile, Katusha's tentative pressing behind has seen their gap tumble to just inside the 10-minute mark.

  40. 13:26:32 CEST

    Situation:

    Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Simon Geschke (Argos) and Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs), Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Gregory Habeaux (Accent-Willems) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi)

     

    Peloton at 9:55

  41. 13:27:28 CEST

    Two time winner Sean Kelly was at the start in Liege this morning. The Irishman commented on the form of defending champion Philippe Gilbert and how the Belgian may have to race today.

  42. 13:28:44 CEST

    Kelly:

    “The interesting thing is whether Philippe will be good enough. He’s been coming good in the last few weeks but is he going to be good enough for today? That’s the one big question.

    “Then you have the rest. You have Rodriguez, you have Sanchez, Schleck who will be there, and Valverde. He’s been off the pace a little though.

    “Last year Gilbert could have ridden away earlier but he knew that even with the two Schlecks, he was in such good shape that they weren’t’ able too attack.

    “This year is a more level playing field. Gilbert will be there and we’ll see if he’s improved but he wont have that killer punch that he had last year and that will give the other guys much better chances. He has to ride conservatively and save as much as possible and follow. If he gets to the sprint, because he’s going to arrive with guys like Schleck, then he’s probably the fastest. He can’t afford to go on the attack early, not the current form he’s in.”
     

  43. 13:38:52 CEST

    Katusha's tempo at the front is beginning to make inroads into the break's lead. Their advantage is down to 8:20 as the sextet pedal towards the day's second categorised climb, the Côte de Saint-Roch (1km at 11%), which comes after 115km of racing. A long series of drags and false flats follows before the Côte de Wanne (160km) denotes the beginning of serious hostilities.

  44. 13:40:59 CEST

    The sole leader of the Radioshack-Nissan team will be Fränk Schleck. The elder of the Schleck brothers expects himself to be one of the top contenders for the win in Ans, and his record in the race suggests as much. The 32-year-old has finished on the podium in Ans three times, with his second place last year behind Philippe Gilbert his best result to date.

    “We've never been far behind in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. We will surely try to win the race,” he said at the start this morning.
     

  45. 13:42:03 CEST

    Fränk Schleck leads the RadioShack-Nissan challenge today. The elder of the Schleck brothers expects himself to be one of the top contenders for the win in Ans, and his record in the race suggests as much. The 32-year-old has finished on the podium in Ans three times, with his second place last year behind Philippe Gilbert his best result to date.

     

    “We were never far behind in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. We will surely try to win the race,” he said at the start.
     

  46. 13:42:58 CEST

    A late reconnaissance didn’t teach the Schleck anything new and he was not overly concerned by the forecast of rain. “It’s bad because there’s not a lot of people happy that it rains. It’s the same for everybody. During the reconnaissance we didn’t see any major changes. We know the route well enough. There’s not a lot of flat roads, especially near the finish,” Fränk Schleck said.

  47. 13:46:08 CEST

    Schleck was coy about listing the main favourites for victory. “We know the favourites and we know the guys who will be at the rendezvous. Anything’s possible. There’s a lot of guys,” he said, although he didn’t feel that there were any contenders a level above the rest. “No. There are still some really strong riders and we’ll see that. The form is good. At the start of the season I was bothered by some illness but now it’s alright. I feel ready.”

  48. 142km remaining from 257.5km

    13:47:27 CEST

    Our six escapees have covered 115km in the first three hours of racing, an average speed of 38.3km/h.

  49. 13:53:04 CEST

    The peloton is currently 7:50 behind the break, where the Accent-Willems duo of Gregory Habeaux and Kevin Ista are particularly prominent.

  50. 13:56:26 CEST

    Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) led the breakaways over the summit of the Côte de Saint-Roch. The German has looked comfortable every time the road has gone upwards today - he was first to the top of the Côte de La Roche-en-Ardenne earlier on. Habeaux and Cataldo were just behind him over the top.

  51. 14:06:54 CEST

    Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is one of a number of riders hoping to take advantage of a relative power vacuum at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race with plenty of contenders but perhaps no outstanding favourite. “There isn’t, because Gilbert isn’t the man he was last year and while Rodriguez was very strong at Flèche on a finish that was perfect for him, he wasn’t as good at Amstel,” said Nibali in this morning’s Gazzetta dello Sport. “Liège will thus be a very open race, and in the finale the man who could become most dangerous might be Samuel Sanchez.”

  52. 14:09:22 CEST

    At this point in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the selection is often made from the back, and the Côte de Saint-Roch has already begun separating the wheat from the chaff in the peloton. A sizeable group of riders has been jettisoned out the rear of the bunch, and they'll have their work cut out to get back on.

  53. 131km remaining from 257.5km

    14:11:50 CEST

    Near the mid-point of the race, the gap between the peloton and the break is 6:45.

  54. 14:14:52 CEST

    Nibali has long declared that a formal decision on whether he would ride the Giro d'Italia would be taken after Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but in spite of his stablemate Ivan Basso's struggle to find full fitness, the Sicilian appeared to rule out the possibility this morning. "I'm following my original programme," he told Gazzetta. "I'll be back at the Tour of California, then I'll ride the Dauphiné and the Tour."

     

  55. 14:17:31 CEST

    We may have an announcement on Nibali's long-term future in the coming days, however. Linked with Astana in the early months of the season, Nibali is now understood to be on the verge of agreeing a new deal with Liquigas. The final details may well be sketched out on his flight back to Italy tonight. “We might have the decisive meeting on the plane home,” he said. “I don’t think there’ll be big problems.”

  56. 14:32:10 CEST

    24 hours after Andy Schleck talked to Cyclingnews about Kim Andersen not being used at the Tour, Johan Bruyneel was in defiant mood, telling Cyclingnews that his decision to leave Andersen at home during the Tour de France was final.

    “It’s the plan we set out with in the past at the beginning of the year and I have the people I’ve worked with for a number of years who have shown that they know how to manage a big tour and with those people there I’m sure that everybody will have the necessary support they need to make the right decisions,” he said.

    “I’m not going to go into any controversy, that’s my version and I’m not going to go into Andy said this or that. The decision has been made and the decision stays like it is.”

  57. 108km remaining from 257.5km

    14:34:45 CEST

    Europcar and Liquigas are now on the front end of the peloton helping Katusha organise the pursuit as the escapees head towards the Côte de Wanne and the symbolic beginning of the business end of the race. The gap is 7:40.

  58. 14:38:29 CEST

    There's a small platoon of RadioShack-Nissan jerseys up near the front end of the peloton too. Positioning is crucial as this point in the race, as the weaker riders sit up and let gaps open on the sinuous roads, and it's important for the contenders that they don't get caught behind here.

  59. 14:40:17 CEST

    A delegation from Rabobank are trying to clear a path for Bauke Mollema near the front of the bunch as Katusha string things out once again. The pace is ratcheting upwards on the approach to the Cote de Wanne (2.7 km at 7.3 %), and we can expect another selection to be made from the back of the bunch here.

  60. 101km remaining from 257.5km

    14:41:42 CEST

    Our six escapees are on the lower slopes of the Cote de Wanne, with 6:40 in hand over the peloton. Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet) sets the pace, tapping out a sensible rhythm.

  61. 14:43:14 CEST

    It's such a narrow road up the Cote de Wanne, and it will be fascinating to see what happens in the main peloton when they hit the climb.

  62. 14:47:44 CEST

    A pair of Saur-Sojasun riders are setting the tempo on the front of the peloton on the Cote de Wanne. The French Pro Continental outfit has the promising Julien Simon in its ranks today, it will be fascinating to see what he can conjure up later on.

  63. 14:49:54 CEST

    The six escapees are over the top of the Cote de Wanne, with a lead of 5:25 over the Saur-Sojasun-led peloton. Meanwhile, at the rear of the bunch, a number of riders are beginning to feel the effects of the pace and gradient. It will be a smaller peloton that hits the Stockeu wall in a few kilometres' time.

  64. 14:53:41 CEST

    Liquigas-Cannondale and RadioShack-Nissan are pushing the pace at the head of the peloton over the top of the Wanne and through the forest on the road to Stavelot and the Cote de Stockeu. Interestingly, we have yet to see BMC force things on the front.


  65. 91km remaining from 257.5km

    14:55:25 CEST

    The break hits the Cote de Stockeu (1km at 12.2 %) with a lead of 4:38 over the peloton.

  66. 14:56:40 CEST

    Meanwhile, Rigoberto Uran (Sky) was among the riders dropped on the Cote de Wanne, the Colombian is clearly still suffering from his fall at Fleche Wallonne during the week.

  67. 14:58:28 CEST

    Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) comes a cropper at the front of the race. The German hits the deck on a left-hand bend just before the Stockeu begins in earnest. He's back on his bike and receiving hearty cheers as he sets off, but he'll have his work cut out to make it back up to his erstwhile companions.


  68. 15:00:16 CEST

    Cataldo and Bazzana are tapping out the pace at the head of the break over the top of the Stockeu, and are threatening to press clear of the rest.

  69. 15:01:25 CEST

    4:10 is the gap back to the main peloton on the Cote de Stockeu, where Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) lurks near the front for the first time, accompanied by Greg Van Avermaet.

  70. 15:02:36 CEST

    Further down the field, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has pulled over with a mechanical problem. He doesn't seem overly worried, but the Spaniard will have to expend quite a bit of energy to get back up to the front.

  71. 86km remaining from 257.5km

    15:04:15 CEST

    Dario Cataldo has ridden Bazzana off his wheel at the foot of the Côte de la Haute-Levée (3.6km at 5.7%), but he keeps looking around in the hope that some reinforcements make their way back up to him. The peloton is 3:48 behind, with RadioShack-Nissan setting the tempo.

  72. 15:05:51 CEST

    Honig, Harbeaux, Ista and Bazzana duly make it across to Cataldo as the Haute-Levee kicks in. The unfortunate Geschke, meanwhile, ploughs a lone furrow over the short cobbled section in Stavelot.

  73. 15:08:20 CEST

    Geschke is duly swallowed up by the main peloton on the Haute-Levee, where Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Nissan) is setting a testing rhythm, with Chris Horner tucked comfortably on his wheel. The RadioShack-Nissan tempo is having an effect, with the bunch strung out and rider intermittently being jettisoned casually out the back.

  74. 81km remaining from 257.5km

    15:13:14 CEST

    Over the Haute-Levee, the break has a lead of 3:04 over the peloton. A small group including Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) has attempted to counter.

  75. 15:15:11 CEST

    Just as that counter move peters out, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) jumps off the front, but the peloton is scrambling to organise the chase behind.

  76. 15:18:38 CEST

    Rolland has been joined in his effort by Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar) and David Lelay (Saur-Sojasun), and the trio has a small gap over the peloton.

  77. 78km remaining from 257.5km

    15:21:18 CEST

    RadioShack-Nissan are continuing to be very active on the front of the peloton, where Jens Voigt is setting the pace.


  78. 15:22:29 CEST

    The rain is staying away for now, but there are some laden clouds hovering menacingly overhead.


  79. 15:26:21 CEST

    Kiryienka is a very useful ally for Alejandro Valverde to have up the road at this stage in the game, and the man from Belarus is obviously keen for this move to stay clear of the peloton, he's contributed richly to the pace-setting.

  80. 74km remaining from 257.5km

    15:28:16 CEST

    The three-man counter move has over a minute in hand on the peloton as the race approaches the Col du Rosier. It's not the steepest of climbs, but at 4.4km in length, it can still take a toll.

  81. 15:31:31 CEST

    Pierre Rolland looks comfortable as he leads the trio of counter-attackers on the lower slopes of the Col du Rosier. Meanwhile, an attack from Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has quickly been snuffed out by Lotto-Belisol, who are now leading the peloton in the service of Jelle Vanendert.

  82. 15:32:57 CEST

    RadioShack-Nissan have melted away from the front of the bunch now, and the red and black of BMC is now contributing to the pace-setting.

  83. 71km remaining from 257.5km

    15:34:15 CEST

    Lelay, Kiryenka and Rolland have almost made the juncture to the five leaders, meaning that they have almost two minutes in hand over the peloton with a shade over 70km to race.

  84. 15:35:57 CEST

    Habeaux leads the break over the Rosier, just as the counter-attack latches on to the back. With 70km to race, we have eight riders out in front, two minutes clear of the peloton.

  85. 15:37:30 CEST

    The eight men in the break are Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs), Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Gregory Habeaux (Accent-Willems), Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar) and David Lelay (Saur-Sojasun).

  86. 15:40:37 CEST

    Pierre Rolland wasted no time in injecting some urgency into the pace of the break when he made it across. His Europcar teammate Thomas Voeckler has been in fine form in recent weeks, and he is looking to bridge a 32-year gap to the last French winner of La Doyenne, Bernard Hinault in the snow-struck epic of 1980.

  87. 67km remaining from 257.5km

    15:43:02 CEST

    Lotto Belisol are wise to the danger posed by Kiryenka and Rolland, and they have taken primary responsibility for the pursuit. The gap is 1:28 with a little under 10km to go to the next categorised climb, the Côte du Maquisard (2.5km at 5%).

  88. 15:46:18 CEST

    A few leaden drops of rain beginning to fall as the skies darken over the Ardennes. Rolland has been particularly generous with his efforts since coming across to the break.

  89. 15:53:27 CEST

    The escapees begin the climb of the Côte du Maquisard, and Kiryienka is beginning to put his companions under pressure. Honig is quickly dropped, while Habeaux is dangling off the back.

  90. 15:54:16 CEST

    As Lelay comes through for a turn on the front, Habeaux is distanced more emphatically.

  91. 15:55:53 CEST

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is back towards the rear of the peloton. He's well wrapped up against the cold and rain, but he doesn't appear to be enjoying this turn in the conditions. It's raining steadily rather than heavily as the bunch crosses the top of the climb.

  92. 15:57:27 CEST

    Rolland and Kiryienka have been the main drivers of this breakaway since they got across, and they're pushing on the pace ahead of the climb of Mont Theux.

  93. 57km remaining from 257.5km

    16:02:16 CEST

    The bunch has been riding in and out of rainshowers for the past 20 kilometres, but with slate grey skies over Liege, the weather conditions look set to remain treacherous for the remainder of the race.

  94. 16:05:50 CEST

    The breakaway begins the climb of Mont Theux (2.7 km 5.9 %). The Redoute may be more storied, but Mont Theux has itself seen some great moments, and not always in April. Miguel Indurain launched a surprise attack here at the end of the opening week of the 1995 Tour de France to deal an important psychological blow to his rivals on the eve of the first long time trial.

  95. 16:07:34 CEST

    Indurain did not win the stage or take the yellow jersey that day, however, after his breakaway companion sat on and then duly pipped him in the sprint in Liege. The rider? Johan Bruyneel, then of ONCE, with an earlier manifestation of his "you might as well win" philosophy.


  96. 49.5km remaining from 257.5km

    16:09:06 CEST

    After his teammate Habeaux bid farewell to the break, Accent-Willems' Kevin Ista is the next man to suffer with the pace on Mont-Theux.

  97. 16:10:39 CEST

    Philippe Gilbert is at the back of the peloton on Mont Theux, he's sitting up waiting for the team car.

  98. 16:12:16 CEST

    A change of eyewear and a chat with directeur sportif John Lelangue for Gilbert. In spite of the cold and rain, Gilbert had been riding short-sleeved, and he is wisely pulling on a pair of armwarmers as he begins to ride back up to the bunch.

  99. 16:13:01 CEST

    The bunch has been reduced to around 60 riders and is spread across the road, and Gilbert is having little difficulty in latching back on.

  100. 16:13:57 CEST

    French champion Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) may well be feeling the effects of his action-packed spring. He has been consistently towards the rear of the bunch in the past hour of racing, even if he is grimly maintaining contact.

  101. 16:15:51 CEST

    The troika of counter attackers have been the most active on the front of the break since they came across, and there are now just five riders at the head of the race: David Lelay (Saur-Sojasun), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar), Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi).

  102. 44km remaining from 257.5km

    16:19:20 CEST

    The breakaways still have 1:30 in hand with 8km to go to La Redoute, but the pace will surely begin to pick up again in the main bunch on the approach to this crucial strategic springboard.


  103. 16:21:16 CEST

    Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank) has countered off the front of the peloton on the rain-soaked roads between Mont Theux and the Redoute. With temperatures of 6 degrees celsius and a steady drizzle falling from the heavens above, this is going to be a very testing finale to Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

  104. 216.5km remaining from 257.5km

    16:24:19 CEST

    There's been a perceptible rise in pace in the peloton, with BMC on the front. A line of lime green Movistar helmets stand out against the gloom on the left-hand side of the road, shepherding their man Valverde into positioning ahead of La Redoute.


  105. 16:25:29 CEST

    Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank) is alone 50 seconds behind the leaders, while the BMC-led bunch is just another 20 seconds further back.

  106. 37km remaining from 257.5km

    16:28:58 CEST

    The break approaches the foot of the Côte de La Redoute (2km at 8.8 %), while GreenEdge leads the bunch behind in support of Simon Gerrans and Michael Albasini.

  107. 16:29:37 CEST

    Bazzana is instantly in difficulty in the break, but the real action is unfolding behind as Katusha prepare the terrain for Rodriguez.

  108. 16:30:14 CEST

    In the front row of the peloton, Philippe Gilbert sits alongside Vincenzo Nibali, eyeing one another up.


  109. 16:31:25 CEST

    Van Avermaet sets the pace for Gilbert, with Vanendert and Nibali lined up on his wheel.


  110. 16:32:24 CEST

    No surprises up front, where Rolland pushes clear with Kiryienka on his wheel. Lelay struggles to stay in touch.

  111. 16:33:49 CEST

    • Movistar Team's 2012 Jersey

    A mechanical problem for Alejandro Valverde at the most inopportune time. He stops to change his bike just at the steepest point of the Redoute as the gaps begin to open in the main peloton.

  112. 16:35:30 CEST

    It's Tejay Van Garderen who is driving the pace for Philippe Gilbert in the main bunch over the Redoute. Vanendert is tucked on Gilbert's wheel, with Nibali behind him and the remainder of the main favourites stretched out behind but still in contact.

  113. 16:36:05 CEST

    Valverde is battling his way back up to the front, we're waiting to see if he has managed to make contact with the Gilbert group.

  114. 30km remaining from 257.5km

    16:38:00 CEST

    Up front, Rolland, Kiryienka and Cataldo have shed themselves of Lelay, and they have 43 seconds in hand on the Van Garderen-led main group.

  115. 16:39:28 CEST

    Van Garderen was impressive on La Redoute. His long effort was steady rather than searing, but it has thinned out the peloton to some extent ahead of the finale. The next major rendezvous is the Côte de La Roche aux Faucons, almost 15km away.

     

  116. 16:40:17 CEST

    That's not to say that it's a flat run-in all the way to the climb, and as if to illustrate the point, a flagging Cataldo is losing a couple of lengths every time the road goes upwards.

  117. 16:41:35 CEST

    Van Garderen is continuing to do the work on the front of the bunch on this rolling section of the route. There are still around 60 riders in that group, even if they are snaked out in one long line.

  118. 16:42:21 CEST

    Rolland and Kiryienka certainly appear to be the strongmen of the break, but Cataldo is hanging on in there.

  119. 16:44:30 CEST

    Van Garderen leads Mauro Santambrogio at the head of the peloton, with Philippe Gilbert tucked on their wheel. After a spring of expectation, BMC are finally looking to take a classic by the scruff of the neck, but it's worth noting that most of the contenders are all still seem to be safely in this sizeable group. Nibali, Cunego and Rodriguez are certainly all visible and comfortable around 10 riders back.


  120. 27km remaining from 257.5km

    16:46:39 CEST

    Van Garderen's efforts are whittling away at the break's lead, but they still have 35 seconds in hand. Behind him, split in the peloton looks to have reduced the numbers in the Gilbert group to around 40 riders.

  121. 16:48:44 CEST

    Simon Gerrans, Vincenzo Nibali, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Samuel Sanchez, Giovanni Visconti, Damiano Cunego, Jelle Vanendert, Dan Martin, Ryder Hesjedal, Thomas Voeckler and Joaquim Rodriguez are all present and correct. The grand absentees are Frank Schleck and Alejandro Valverde, who failed to make the split that formed under Van Garderen's impetus.

  122. 24km remaining from 257.5km

    16:50:02 CEST

    The sun is beginning to poke through the clouds and the rain has stopped as the trio of breakaways zip across some dry roads for a change. Their advantage is down to just 20 seconds over the BMC-led pursuit as they grind on towards the Côte de La Roche aux Faucons.

  123. 16:51:54 CEST

    This has been a mammoth effort from Tejay Van Garderen. The question is, will Gilbert be able to finish it off on the Côte de La Roche aux Faucons and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas?

  124. 16:52:48 CEST

    Onto the climb of Côte de La Roche aux Faucons for the break. 1.5 km at an average of 9.3 %.

     

  125. 20km remaining from 257.5km

    16:53:38 CEST

    Rolland attacks on the climb as the peloton tugs at the coattails of Kiryienka and Cataldo.


  126. 16:54:32 CEST

    Vincenzo Nibali hits the front of the chase group and sets off in pursuit of Rolland. Vanendert and Gilbert are digging in to stay on Nibali's wheel, and they have a small gap over the rest of the group behind.

  127. 16:55:32 CEST

    Vanendert goes over the top of Rolland, and there's quite a selection being made on the climb. Gilbert, Nibali, Robert Kiserlovski and Thomas Voeckler are all up here too.

  128. 16:56:08 CEST

    Nibali leads over the top of the climb ahead of Vanendert, Gilbert and Rolland. The Sicilian throws himself into the descent in a bid to open out a gap.

  129. 16:58:43 CEST

    This is a clever move from Nibali, who has opened out a decent gap on the descent as confusion reigns in the chase group behind.

  130. 17km remaining from 257.5km

    17:00:21 CEST

    There isn't a lot of cohesion as Thomas Voeckler attempts to bring a chase group across with Kiserlovski, Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), Dani Moreno (Katusha), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana), Rodriguez and Philippe Gilbert. They're a little under 10 seconds down on Nibali.

  131. 17:02:15 CEST

    This chase group is continuing to form and fragment, but its last iteration contained the Astana pair Gasparotto and Iglinskiy, Katusha's Rodriguez and Moreno, and Thomas Voeckler. Gilbert, Cunego and Samuel Sanchez are in the group just behind them, but all the while Nibali's gap is continuing to open.


  132. 15km remaining from 257.5km

    17:03:43 CEST

    23 seconds the gap for Vincenzo Nibali as the pursuit ebbs and flows behind. Astana have the numbers behind, but they may wonder if they have a rider who can finish off the work on Saint-Nicolas when faced with Rodriguez, Gilbert et al.

  133. 17:07:03 CEST

    The chasers are still scrambling to form a coherent chase behind Nibali, as two groups merge. Gilbert is the lone BMC man, along with Cunego, Mollema, Dan Martin and Ryder Hesdejal (Garmin-Barracuda), Rodriguez and Moreno (Katusha), Iglinskiy, Kiserlovksi and Gasparotto (Astana), Rolland and Voeckler (Europcar) and Samuel Sanchez.


  134. 11km remaining from 257.5km

    17:07:53 CEST

    Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is also among the chasers, who now number around 15.

  135. 17:09:03 CEST

    Nibali now has 37 seconds in hand over the chasers, but Joaquim Rodriguez and Maxim Iglinskiy have clipped off the front of the Gilbert group in pursuit.

  136. 17:10:43 CEST

    Dan Martin has now decided that the Gilbert group is going nowhere fast, and he slips off the front in the company of Pierre Rolland in pursuit of Rodriguez and Iglinskiy.

  137. 8km remaining from 257.5km

    17:12:47 CEST

    Vincenzo Nibali begins the Cote de Saint Nicolas, 1.2km at 8.6%, with 40 seconds in hand on Rodriguez and Iglinskiy.

  138. 17:13:05 CEST

    Nibali is suffering but maintaining his advantage.

  139. 17:14:01 CEST

    Iglinskiy has dropped Rodriguez on the Cote de Saint-Nicolas! The Catalan doesn't look like he's going to complete a Fleche-Liege double, and this is playing into the hands of Nibali, who now has 45 seconds in hand.

  140. 17:14:53 CEST

    Gilbert is struggling at the back of his group. His dreams of a repeat victory are going up in smoke here, while Vincenzo Nibali grinds away towards the summit.

  141. 5km remaining from 257.5km

    17:15:53 CEST

    Meanwhile Dan Martin leads Rolland up to Rodriguez. The Irishman looks to be the strongest of the pursuers, but he still has Iglinksiy ahead of him and Nibali has all of 46 second in hand with just over 5km to go.

  142. 17:17:20 CEST

    Nibali is safely over the top of the climb, while Iglinskiy chases on grimly behind. The official gap is 45 seconds, and if that is the case, then the Sicilian is surely going to win La Doyenne.

  143. 17:18:00 CEST

    Dan Martin, Rolland and Rodriguez have been joined by Voeckler, Cunego and Vanendert in the third group on the road.

  144. 17:19:15 CEST

    Those time gaps from the race organisers were not accurate, and Iglinskiy is just 7 seconds behind Nibali. He can see the lime green colours of the Liquigas man just ahead of him up the road. This is a thrilling pursuit match through the streets of Liege.

  145. 17:20:15 CEST

    Iglinskiy catches Nibali with 1300 metres to go, just as the road begins to climb towards Ans.

  146. 17:20:49 CEST

    And underneath the red kite, Iglinskiy edges away from Nibali and the Kazakh looks to be soloing towards the biggest win of his career.

  147. 17:21:22 CEST

    Nibali is battling gamely, but he's not going to make it back on here.

  148. 17:23:07 CEST

    We wondered if Astana had a leader to see off the likes of Rodriguez, Gilbert and Nibali in the finale, and Iglinskiy has given a fairly emphatic answer here. The gap he has opened out over Nibali in the final kilometre is scarcely believable.


  149. 17:23:25 CEST

    Maxim Iglinskiy wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

  150. 17:23:55 CEST

    Vincenzo Nibali crosses the line a dejected second place, 20 seconds down on Iglinskiy.

  151. 17:25:08 CEST

    It's all come back together for the sprint behind, and it's Iglinskiy's Astana teammate Enrico Gasparotto who takes third place. The Kazakh team has certainly had the winning formula in the Ardennes this week.

  152. 17:26:01 CEST

    Gilbert was distanced by that group in the finale, and he rolls in by himself, his classics campaign at an end. He is warmly applauded by the home fans as he crosses the line, and then chased by a gaggle of home journalists as he rolls on towards his team bus.

  153. 17:30:01 CEST

    Result:

     

    1 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana
    2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 00:20
    3 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana 00:36
    4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar
    5 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Barracuda

     

  154. 17:34:51 CEST

    The 31-year-old Iglinskiy's best finish in Liege before this was 22nd in 2009, although the Kazakh has been a consisent if unspectacular classics performer in recent seasons. His last big win came two years ago at Strade Bianche, but he was second in Tuscany this March, and was 11th and 13th at Amstel and Fleche respectively earlier this week.

  155. 17:35:35 CEST

    Result:

    1 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana 6:43:52
    2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:21
    3 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana 0:00:36
    4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
    5 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Barracuda
    6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank
    7 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
    8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
    9 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda
    10 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol

  156. 17:37:21 CEST

    Thanks for joining us for our live coverage of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as a surprise winner brings the curtain down on a spring classics campaign full of talking points. Stayed tuned to Cyclingnews throughout the day for full results, report and pictures, as well as all the news from Belgium.