Gerrans wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2014

Martin crashes in final attack

Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) won a nail-biting finale to the last Spring Classic of 2014, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, topping Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) with a perfectly timed attack in the final meters.

Gerrans had kept his nose out of the wind for much of the day, not panicking when the other favourites sent numerous attacks off the front. Gerrans only made himself known after the final corner when he jumped onto the front to start his sprint. Once he was there nobody could touch him, not even the in-form Valverde.

The Orica-GreenEdge rider had to thank the huge efforts of his teammates, who ensured that the numerous escapees were ultimately brought back and he gave Pieter Weening a huge hug after the finish. This win is Gerrans’ second monument victory after he won Milan-San Remo in 2012.

“To win any Liège-Bastogne-Liège is very special, but the fact it’s the 100th edition really puts my name in the history of the race, it’s a real honour. Our team got some fantastic results in 100th edition of Tour last year, and now to do that again - maybe that’s a good omen.”

Movistar rider, Valverde looked disappointed with second as he stood on the podium. The Spaniard went into the race as the outright favourite, after his commanding victory at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Even against Gerrans, it was thought that Valverde might have the speed to overhaul him, but it wasn’t to be.

"Everyone asks you to win, but we're taking about Liège-Bastogne-Liège - it's extremely difficult to make it," Valverde said. "People may be accustomed to see me winning, but I'm really happy with this second place. One, two and four in these three classics - I don't think there are many people who can achieve that. I think I rode well today, I kept the position I had to, but there was so many people fighting for victory today, so nervous and out of control. I must be thankful towards the Izagirre brothers, because they calmed things down pushing at the front. The team was sensational, just like every day."

Kwiatkowski didn’t stand a chance against Valverde and Gerrans, but the 23-year-old managed to hang onto their coattails as they flew past a lagging Damiano Caruso (Katusha). The Ardennes have been a very successful week for Kwiatkowski, and third place at Liège sees him make his first podium at a monument.

"I believed the chance would be for the bunch sprint and I was waiting to see how we could make it," Kwiatkowski said. "I believe in my possibilities, and especially today I am satisfied with what I did. Last year I made good results in these races but couldn't finish well here. So it was a little disappointing. But this year I prepared in a different way and today was my best day on the bike out of all the Ardennes Classics. It gives me great morale for the future knowing this."

Defending champion Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) looked perfectly poised to win his second title in Ans, after he chased down Caruso and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) on the final climb. He was in the wheel of Caruso going into the final corner when his back wheel went from under him and sent him tumbling to the ground.

“I’m obviously devastated,” Martin told the press after he stepped off the Garmin-Sharp bus.

“It’s one thing to make a mistake or know what you’ve done but we figure that there’s a patch of oil or something. I think I had tears in my eyes before I even hit the floor. There aren’t really words for it. To race for seven hours and for that to happen on the last corner…. it’s poetry.”

How it unfolded

The 100th edition of one of cycling's most iconic and prized events began in the centre of Liège under calm blue skies. 'A beautiful day of racing' was how defending champion Dan Martin described it and he wasn't far wrong. The king of Belgium brought the sunshine with him as he attended and when the peloton rolled out the only notable absentees were Chris Froome and Carlos Betancur, both too ill to race.

Pirimin Lang (IAM Cycling), Michel Koch (Cannondale), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Pieter Jakobs (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Marco Minnaard (Wanty Groupe Gobert) initiated the break of the day and after 36km of racing had built up a lead of 11:20. That soon rose to a peak of 15:50 by the first climb of the day after 70km.

However on the Côte de Wanne some of the shoulders within the break began to slowly drop. Their lead had dipped under the ten minute barrier with Minnaard the first rider to slip backwards.

Back in the bunch, just as they reached the province de Liège, a crash took down pre-race favourite Roman Kreuziger. Omega Pharma Quickstep, looking to keep Kwiatkowski out of danger moved to the front but they also saw Jan Bakelants fall.

Up until that point it had been other teams who had controlled the break with Thomas Dekker (Garmin) and Steve Cummings (BMC) on the front for the majority of the first 130 kilometres of racing.

The Côte de Wanne was a far more significant climb for the bunch when moments later there was a split – partly a result of the earlier crash – with Samuel Sanchez and Michael Rogers among those that were forced to chase.

It was as if the race woke up from its slumber, the peloton aware that the Stockeu would offer them the first chance to shed the weak, before the Côte de la Haute-Levee would leave the stragglers with little chance to make it back.

One of those stragglers was Joaquim Rodriguez. The Katusha hotshot beginning to crumble with a shake of the head and wry smile as his team huddled around him.

It was game over for last year's runner-up, a timely reminder that Liège offers no hiding place, and on the crest of the climb Europcar looked to turn the screws and make sure the Spaniard never saw the front again.

World Champion Rui Costa saw his race chances evaporate soon after, falling with 75km remaining. The break were now five minutes clear but the tension in the bunch saw the field splinter as attacks and counter moves stretched along the landscape.

The pace remained high on the Côte de la Vecquee, allowing the field to take stock and ready themselves for La Redoute.

The climb, awash with more than 10,000 passionate fans, saw Tony Martin set the pace on the front of the peloton. Valverde, Kwiatkowski, Valverde, Nibali and Dan Martin: they were all present and near the front as the break – which exploded on the climb - saw their advantage cut to 1:40 by the summit. Warren Barguil attempted to cause a split but when he looked back he found himself alone until Jan Bakelants and Julian Arredondo closed the gap. Only the QuickStep rider persisted.

Bakelants didn’t get far before the peloton caught him once again. The former under-23 Liège - Bastogne - Liège champion soon found himself waiting for the car with yet another mechanical problem. Minus Bakelants, the peloton continued to encroach on the advantage of the one remaining leader. After the demise of Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Bono was beginning to look like the team’s only chance for glory.

Behind Bono the action was really beginning to hot up on the Côte des Forges, as the favourites began attacking each other. Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) looked like he might be attempting to emulate Ryder Hesjedal’s move of 2013. The young American drew a few riders with him, but Movistar and BMC were still had numbers and he only achieved in bringing the peloton closer to Bono.

As the race edged closer to the final ascents of the day the dig off the front became ever increasing. Arredondo saw another opportunity on the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons, this time he took Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) along for the ride. The duo built up a small lead that had the following group of favourites a little worried. BMC sent Samuel Sanchez off in pursuit, but he’d left it too late and had to wait for the other’s to bring the pair back.

With only the Côte de Saint-Nicolas remaining, the group became one again, leaving us with a mouth-watering number of possibilities for the finish. Movistar and Orica-GreenEdge shared the efforts on the front with BMC as they drove their way up the final climb. Determined to make a move stick, Pozzovivo went again, following the wheel of Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha). As the favourites looked at each other to see who would make the first move, the two riders built up a small lead.

Dan Martin finally took the initiative to chase them down and finally joined forces with Caruso towards the top of the final unclassified ascent into Ans. The Garmin rider looked like he might be onto his second consecutive victory until he crashed out on the final corner. With Martin down, the race came down to a bunch sprint. Gerrans put in a strong effort to hold off Valverde, with Kwiatkowski slipping into third over Caruso, for the second race running.

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Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge6:37:43 
2Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team  
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
4Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha  
5Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:03 
6Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp  
7Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo  
8Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
9Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha0:00:05 
10Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:06 
11Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:00:08 
12Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:10 
13Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
14Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar  
15Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:00:12 
16Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
17Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp - Endura  
18Anthony Roux (Fra)  
19Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
20Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling  
21Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida  
22Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling  
23Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar0:00:17 
24Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano0:00:19 
25Julian David Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing  
26Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:00:23 
27Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling  
28Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo0:00:31 
29Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano0:00:48 
30Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:51 
31Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team0:00:56 
32Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:01:09 
33Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha  
34Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica Greenedge0:01:11 
35Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol0:01:27 
36Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  
37Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:01:29 
38Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:01:31 
39Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp0:01:37 
40Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica Greenedge0:02:26 
41Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica Greenedge  
42Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
43Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
44Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha  
45Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
46Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team0:02:51 
47Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
48Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
49Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
50Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha0:02:53 
51David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura0:03:33 
52José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp - Endura  
53Arnold Jeannesson (Fra)  
54Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp - Endura  
55Daan Olivier (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano  
56Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia  
57Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura0:03:33 
58Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka  
59Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia  
60Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing0:03:33 
61Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
62Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
63Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
64Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team Katusha  
65Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano  
66Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
67Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr0:03:47 
68Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:54 
69Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team  
70Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky0:05:16 
71Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale  
72Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
73Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
74Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin Sharp  
75Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team  
76Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
77Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp0:05:16 
78John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team0:06:19 
79Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ.fr0:07:10 
80WoutPoels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
81Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing0:08:05 
82Alex Howes (USA) Garmin Sharp  
83Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia  
84Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling  
85Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team0:08:07 
86Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team  
87Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
88Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team0:08:28 
89Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica Greenedge0:08:52 
90Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:09:20 
91Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling0:09:26 
92Laurent Pichon (Fra)  
93Francis De Greef (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:10:01 
94Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:10:12 
95Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge0:10:43 
96Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida0:11:41 
97Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
98Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
99Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
100Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
101Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
102Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp - Endura  
103Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp  
104Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Colombia  
105Rory Sutherland (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo0:11:41 
106Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale  
107Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar  
108Jaco Venter (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka  
109Edward Beltran (Col) Tinkoff-Saxo  
110Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra)  
111Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge0:12:01 
112Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar  
113Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale0:12:08 
114Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:12:11 
115Christian Meier (Can) Orica Greenedge0:12:15 
116Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
117Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia  
118Frantisek Padour (Cze) Team NetApp - Endura  
119Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
120Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing Team  
121Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
122Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling  
123Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
124Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team  
125Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka  
126Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team  
127Matej Mohoric (Slo) Cannondale  
128Karsten Kroon (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo  
129Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar  
130Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling  
131Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale  
132David Tanner (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
133Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale  
134Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
135Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
136Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano0:13:27 
136Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin Sharp0:13:47 
DNFRamunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin Sharp  
DNFJoaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha  
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Team Katusha  
DNFFabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia  
DNFJuan Esteban Arango Carvajal (Col) Colombia  
DNFBenat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFJérôme Gilbert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFSébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFRui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida  
DNFMarco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFNelson Simoes (Por) Lampre-Merida  
DNFBjörn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFMichel Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFJosé Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFThomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling  
DNFJulien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFJérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling  
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale  
DNFMichel Koch (Ger) Cannondale  
DNFJean-Marc Marino (Fra) Cannondale  
DNFMichal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFTony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFSerge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFRichie Porte (Aus) Team Sky  
DNFDaniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFCheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-Shimano  
DNFAndy Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFCalvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFVictor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFEdward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFArthur Vanoverberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFYukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar  
DNFNatnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar  
DNFErick Rowsell (GBr) Team NetApp - Endura  
DNFEdwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFBruno Pires (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFLaurent Mangel (Fra)  
DNFJussi Veikkanen (Fin)  
DNFSongezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFJack Bobridge (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFIan Boswell (USA) Team Sky  
DNFJoshua Edmondson (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFDavid Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky  
DNFMichael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFThomas Peterson (USA) Team Giant-Shimano  
DNFMichael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFJurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFSander Armee (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFBart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFAndres Torres Agudelo (Col) Colombia  
DNFTosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFJacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNSChristopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky  
DNSCarlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale  


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