Daniel Martin wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Irishman adds first Monument victory to palmares

Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) won a thrilling Liege-Bastogne-Liege, powering clear of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in the final few hundred meters to seal his first Classics victory. The Irishman was set up for the win by teammate Ryder Hesjedal who attacked on the penultimate climb of the race and then held a crucial chase group together before the final drag to the finish in Ans.

Martin, who came into the race as one of the favourites following his fourth place in La Fleche Wallonne, jumped onto Rodriguez's wheel when the Spaniard attacked with one kilometre to go and then distanced the Spaniard with the line in sight.

"I can't believe it, I'm really in shock," said Martin. "I've never seen the team ride so strong - they kept me protected all day. It felt like one of the easiest races I've ever did. It really is incredible, I'm so happy."

When an early break of Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Bart De Clercq (Lotto Belisol), Vincent Jérôme (Europcar) plus IAM Cycling teammates Jonathan Fumeaux and Pirmin Lang reeled in on the lower slopes of the Côte de la Redoute the real racing began in earnest. Team Sky, BMC and Katusha had controlled much of the early action up until that point but with a race route altered due to road works, caution appeared to temper the peloton's aggression. An early attack from the favourites on the Côte de la Redoute would have been foolish, but when David Lopez attacked on the lower slopes of the climb panic began to reign.

Sky boxed the front, and only a prowling Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was allowed to move up but in the heat of the moment Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Rui Costa (Movistar) were able to join Lopez.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), keen to remind everyone and even himself of the abilities he once had, launched himself up the road in pursuit. It wasn’t the Cunego of old, though, and even with the help of Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Mathias Frank (BMC) and Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ) the merging groups were only given a maximum of 18 seconds.

Behind them Astana and BMC mustered the troops while Garmin-Sharp kept their powder dry.

Even when Cunego led a second raiding party Garmin-Sharp kept their sharp wits about them, only Alex Howes playing a role as he brought his leaders to the front.

Contador plays his hand

Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) was the first genuine contender to attack from the field on the Côte de Colonster. The Spaniard had played down his chances on the eve of the race and there was certainly a spark missing from his normally distinctive attacks. He lumbered rather than led and was quickly bridged to by Ryder Hesjedal, Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale), Rigoberto Uran (Sky), Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) and Rui Costa (Movistar). So much for the pre-race prediction that the Colonster was not decisive enough to force a split.

World champion Philippe Gilbert was unable to follow, and although Pierre Rolland (Europcar) briefly threatened, the Frenchman was brought to heel by the top of the climb.

Hesjedal had no intention of being so subservient and attacked Contador and his companions before the top of the climb. The Canadian flew down the descent as if his life depended on it, forcing BMC and Astana to regroup. The move dragged the Giro d’Italia champion 20 seconds clear and with Martin marking moves in the peloton Garmin’s cards were beginning to pay off.

The team had been in a similar position with Martin and Hesjedal at the front of the race last year but this time the pair looked far more assured and when Hesjedal was eventually caught by Betancur, Valverde, Martin, Rodriguez and Scarponi on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas, the Canadian remained at the front of the race and kept the group clear.

By now even the leaders were starting to show their fatigue. Valverde gripped the bars and hoped that a sprint would ensue, while Rodriguez looked back and saw that Astana and BMC were closing in. It was now or never and with 1km to go the Spaniard attacked. Scarponi was the first to respond before Martin leapfrogged the Lampre man. Martin then took over and in the space of 500 meters the Irishman went from the doldrums of Classic nearly-man to a Monument champion.

The early stages

It took a number of attacks to get there, but after 10km of racing the day's break established itself under overcast skies in the way out of Liège.

Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Bart De Clercq (Lotto), Vincent Jérôme (Europcar), Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling), Frederik Veucheulen (Vacansoleil) and Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM Cycling) were the chosen six, the peloton content to let them move ahead of the race rather quickly. With 44km of racing done, and with the breakaway having gained 14 minutes over the bunch, Katusha moved to the front of the chase, pegging the six back to around 12 minutes. And only with around 100km of racing complete, did the gap finally dip below 10 minutes.

The Côte de Wanne saw BMC and Movistar with a concerted effort at the front of the peloton with the breakaway's advantage hovering around six minutes, but the bunch was stretched in the process. Next up, the Côte de Stockeu forced the breakaway to split under pressure, with Lang dropping behind but eventually making contact again with 90km to go and the gap at 5:29.

The Col du Rosier, the highest point in the race at 565 metres marked the spot for Team Saxo-Tinkoff, as they accelerated off the front of the bunch via Mads Christensen and Chris Anker Sørensen. The move took another 15 seconds off the six leaders' advantage and with 70km to go, the breakaway had just 2:56 over the peloton. Through Spa and the Côte du Maquisard was next, this time Astana leading the charge up the climb, with RadioShack and Sky in the wheels behind.

Armee was dropped from the front group on the Maquisard and seemed content to let his companions drive on ahead, the peloton continuing to close in with four climbs left in the race. De Clercq was next to drop out of the breakaway, suffering mechanical issues and receiving assistance from neutral service and eventually the team car with a spare bike. At least 30 seconds back, the Belgian's day looked to be over with 57km to go. De Clercq made it back to the lead group seven kilometres later, but the quintet’s lead had been cut considerably, now down to 1:28 following the Mont-Theux.

Sky firmly had charge of the pace-setting for the peloton, with Froome and Porte the last of their intact squad at the front of the bunch. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was hovering nearby, as was Philippe Gilbert (BMC) with his home town just ahead with thousands of fans awaiting his arrival, while Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) was one of the last men in the bunch.

The Côte de la Redoute ahead, the jostling for position at the front of the bunch began in earnest, with Sky gaining company from Lampre-Merida, AG2R La Mondiale, Omega Pharma-QuickStep and BMC. The gap continued to drop under these conditions and with 41km to go, it was down to a minute.

Andrei Amador (Movistar) crashed on a left-hand bend with 40km to go, taking several Cofidis riders with them, no doubt causing concern for Alejandro Valverde's chances.

The ascent of the Redoute brought multiple attacks, first from Vincent Jerome (Europcar) with David Lopez (Sky), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) joining him in the charge.

Full Results
1Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp6:38:07 
2Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha0:00:03 
3Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:09 
4Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale  
5Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
6Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:18 
7Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
8Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp  
9Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team  
10Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
11Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ  
12Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
13Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
14Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
15Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
16Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling  
17Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:00:21 
18Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:00:26 
19Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano0:00:56 
20Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
21Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
22Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling0:01:00 
23Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
24Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar  
25Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:01:03 
26Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha  
27Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:01:06 
28Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
29Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard  
30Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
31John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
32Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team  
33Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge  
34Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
35Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ  
36Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling0:01:14 
37Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
38Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
39Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
40Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ0:01:18 
41Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard0:01:20 
42Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
43Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard0:01:24 
44Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
45Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ0:01:25 
46Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar0:01:30 
47Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp0:01:34 
48Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
49Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
50Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team  
51Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge0:01:40 
52Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha0:01:49 
53Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling  
54Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:02:12 
55Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling Team0:02:15 
56Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
57Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
58Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
59Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:02:21 
60Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:28 
61Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:04:40 
62Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
63Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
64Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling  
65Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony0:04:51 
66David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling0:04:53 
67Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha  
68Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:05:16 
69Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard  
70Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
71Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
72Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
73Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
74Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar  
75Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha  
76Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team  
77Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
78Bram Tankink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
79Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha0:05:26 
80Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha  
81Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard0:05:33 
82Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
83Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp0:07:51 
84Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:07:57 
85Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:09 
86Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team0:08:20 
87Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
88Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
89Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
90Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
91Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
92Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
93Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Crelan-Euphony  
94Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling0:08:29 
95Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
96Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar  
97Francis De Greef (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
98Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky Procycling  
99Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
100Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling  
101Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha  
102Mads Christensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
103Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
104Rémi Cusin (Fra) IAM Cycling  
105Christian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdge  
106Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ  
107Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin-Sharp  
108Anthony Charteau (Fra) Team Europcar  
109Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
110Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team  
111Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
112Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
113Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ  
114Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
115Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
116Brian Vandborg (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
117Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
118Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
119Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
120Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
121Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
122Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
123Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:09:20 
124Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:09:35 
125Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:09:54 
126Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:11:38 
127Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
128Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:12:52 
129Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
130Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling0:13:37 
131David Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team0:14:39 
132Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
133Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
134Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
135Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
136Simone Stortoni (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
137Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:16:08 
138Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack Leopard  
139Gaetan Bille (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
140Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
141Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
142Michel Koch (Ger) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
143Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack Leopard  
144Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
145Thierry Hupond (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano  
146Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
147Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
148Gilles Devillers (Bel) Crelan-Euphony0:16:43 
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFStefano Agostini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFVincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFDavide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar  
DNFDavid Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar  
DNFVasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky Procycling  
DNFRichie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling  
DNFJonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Sky Procycling  
DNFStephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team  
DNFGianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFAlex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFAndrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team  
DNFImanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFPablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFAngel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFMarc Goos (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMatteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFMattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFAlexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ  
DNFLaurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ  
DNFJonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFAlexandr Pliuschin (Mda) IAM Cycling  
DNFTosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFTim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFRuben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFBen Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFSteven Caethoven (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
DNFTim De Troyer (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
DNFThomas Degand (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
DNFJean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
DNFJérôme Gilbert (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
DNFWill Routley (Can) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
DNFStaf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
DNFPim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFSander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFSander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFEliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFStijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFArthur Vanoverberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFWilliam Clarke (Aus) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFPatrick Gretsch (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFYann Huguet (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFFrancois Parisien (Can) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFThomas Peterson (USA) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFJoeri Bueken (Bel) Crelan-Euphony  
DNFReinier Honig (Ned) Crelan-Euphony  
DNFEgidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Crelan-Euphony  
DNFChristophe Premont (Bel) Crelan-Euphony  
DNFKlaas Sys (Bel) Crelan-Euphony  
Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne
1Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol1 
Côte de Saint-Roch
1Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise1 
Côte de Wanne
1Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling1 
Côte de Stockeu (stèle Eddy Merckx)
1Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol1 
Côte de la Haute-Levée
1Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team1 
Col du Rosier
1Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling1 
Côte de Maquisard Côte de Maquisard
1Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol1 
1Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling1 
Côte de la Redoute
1Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team1 
Côte de Colonster
1Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling1 
Côte de Saint-Nicolas
1Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp1 
Côtes classification
1Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling3pts
2Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol3 
3Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp1 
4Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling1 
5Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team1 
6Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team1 

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