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Daniel Martin wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège

By:
Daniel Benson & Jane Aubrey

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
1 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 6:38:07  
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:00:03  
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:09  
4 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale    
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
6 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:18  
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp    
9 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team    
10 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
11 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ    
12 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
13 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
14 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
15 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
16 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling    
17 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:21  
18 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:00:26  
19 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 0:00:56  
20 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
21 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
22 Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling 0:01:00  
23 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
24 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar    
25 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:01:03  
26 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha    
27 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:06  
28 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
29 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard    
30 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
31 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
32 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team    
33 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge    
34 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
35 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ    
36 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:14  
37 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
38 Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
39 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
40 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ 0:01:18  
41 Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard 0:01:20  
42 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
43 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard 0:01:24  
44 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
45 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ 0:01:25  
46 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar 0:01:30  
47 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp 0:01:34  
48 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
49 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
50 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team    
51 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge 0:01:40  
52 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 0:01:49  
53 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling    
54 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:02:12  
55 Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:02:15  
56 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
57 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
58 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
59 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:02:21  
60 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:28  
61 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:04:40  
62 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team    
63 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
64 Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling    
65 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony 0:04:51  
66 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling 0:04:53  
67 Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha    
68 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:05:16  
69 Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard    
70 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
71 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
72 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
73 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
74 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar    
75 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha    
76 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team    
77 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
78 Bram Tankink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
79 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha 0:05:26  
80 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha    
81 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard 0:05:33  
82 Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack Leopard    
83 Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp 0:07:51  
84 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:07:57  
85 Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:08:09  
86 Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team 0:08:20  
87 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
88 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp    
89 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
90 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
91 Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
92 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
93 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Crelan-Euphony    
94 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling 0:08:29  
95 Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
96 Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar    
97 Francis De Greef (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
98 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky Procycling    
99 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
100 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling    
101 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha    
102 Mads Christensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
103 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
104 Rémi Cusin (Fra) IAM Cycling    
105 Christian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdge    
106 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ    
107 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin-Sharp    
108 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Team Europcar    
109 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
110 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team    
111 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
112 Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
113 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ    
114 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
115 Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
116 Brian Vandborg (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
117 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
118 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
119 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
120 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
121 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
122 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
123 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:09:20  
124 Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:09:35  
125 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:09:54  
126 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:11:38  
127 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise    
128 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:12:52  
129 Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
130 Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:13:37  
131 David Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:14:39  
132 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
133 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
134 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
135 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
136 Simone Stortoni (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
137 Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:16:08  
138 Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack Leopard    
139 Gaetan Bille (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
140 Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
141 Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
142 Michel Koch (Ger) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
143 Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack Leopard    
144 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
145 Thierry Hupond (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano    
146 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
147 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise    
148 Gilles Devillers (Bel) Crelan-Euphony 0:16:43  
DNF Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Stefano Agostini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar    
DNF David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar    
DNF Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky Procycling    
DNF Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling    
DNF Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBr) Sky Procycling    
DNF Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
DNF Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team    
DNF Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Marc Goos (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Jonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Alexandr Pliuschin (Mda) IAM Cycling    
DNF Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Steven Caethoven (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
DNF Tim De Troyer (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
DNF Thomas Degand (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
DNF Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
DNF Jérôme Gilbert (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
DNF Will Routley (Can) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
DNF Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
DNF Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise    
DNF Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise    
DNF Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise    
DNF Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise    
DNF Arthur Vanoverberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise    
DNF William Clarke (Aus) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Yann Huguet (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Francois Parisien (Can) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Joeri Bueken (Bel) Crelan-Euphony    
DNF Reinier Honig (Ned) Crelan-Euphony    
DNF Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Crelan-Euphony    
DNF Christophe Premont (Bel) Crelan-Euphony    
DNF Klaas Sys (Bel) Crelan-Euphony    
Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne
1 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 1  
Côte de Saint-Roch
1 Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise 1  
Côte de Wanne
1 Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling 1  
Côte de Stockeu (stèle Eddy Merckx)
1 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 1  
Côte de la Haute-Levée
1 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 1  
Col du Rosier
1 Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling 1  
Côte de Maquisard Côte de Maquisard
1 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 1  
Mont-Theux
1 Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling 1  
Côte de la Redoute
1 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 1  
Côte de Colonster
1 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 1  
Côte de Saint-Nicolas
1 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 1  
Côtes classification
1 Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling 3 pts
2 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 3  
3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 1  
4 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 1  
5 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 1  
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 1