Valverde wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Martin, Kwiatkowski round out podium

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the fourth time in his career, topping Quick-Step Floors' Dan Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) with his signature late attack.

But the victory was shrouded in sorrow as the peloton mourned the loss of Italian Michele Scarponi, who was killed while training the day before the race. Valverde dedicated the victory to the fallen Astana rider, and promised to donate his prize money to Scarponi's family.

"This win is for Michele Scarponi. He was a good friend of mine," Valverde said, fighting back the tears. "It hurts to think he's gone, I'll miss him. I'll give all my prize money from this victory to his family. This win is also dedicated to him."

Valverde went into the race as the overwhelming favourite after winning Flèche Wallonne for the fifth time, but his victory was in doubt as Cannondale-Drapac's Davide Formolo put in a strong solo attack that lasted until 500m to go.

Martin jumped across to the Italian, who quickly faded back, but Valvede latched onto Martin's wheel at the final turn and from there was unstoppable.

"The team was fantastic, we worked excellently. We controlled the break because it was dangerous," Valverde said. "On the last climb Dan Martin attacked really hard but I managed to reach him at the right moment to then sprint to the finish line."

How it happened

The race started following a minute's applause in memory of Michele Scarponi and with the eight riders from the Astana squad standing at the front of the bunch in the Place de Saint-Lambert. Then having re-donned their helmets and glasses following the homage to their fallen colleague, the 200-strong peloton was off.

The biggest difference to 2016 was, without a doubt, the weather. It was snowy and freezing cold in 2016, to the point where the race was shortened slightly. This time conditions, although chilly, were not nearly as hard. This allowed for a much more tactical event, rather than the race of survival that Liège-Bastogne-Liège became last year.

The early move formed almost as soon as the race had begun, with Tiago Machado (Katusha), Anthony Perez and Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Mekseb Debesay (Dimension Data), Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal), Nick Van Der Lijke (Roompot), Fabien Grellier (Direct Energie) and Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue Sport) gaining a large early margin.

The tailwind on the outward leg helped somewhat, and their advantage rose quickly. By the time the eight reached the race's most southerly point at Bastogne and then turned north, their advantage was up to 13 minutes.

The rolling terrain on the approach to the Cote de Pont, the curtain-raiser at 168 kilometres from the final crucial segment of the race, saw Debesay fall off the pace. But the remaining seven forged on, steadily shedding minutes as they toiled over the steep Cote de la Ferme Libert and into the rolling terrain that followed.

In the peloton, a brief early dig by 2014 winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) briefly shook up the peloton, but although Mikaël Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale) managed to catch him, it quickly fizzled out. The lead had shrunk to six minutes with 60 kilometres to go, but the mood in the peloton seemed relatively - and strangely - calm, with Movistar and Quick-Step Floors tapping out a steady rhythm.

48 kilometres from the finish, on the relatively benign slopes of the Cote de la Maquisard, the main race finally came alight, as Nathan Haas, who had ridden strongly in Amsel Gold, and Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing Team) together with Pierre La Tour (AG2R La Mondiale) stomped out of the peloton. For Movistar, Carlos Alberto Betancur controlled the break.

On the Cote de la Redoute, Liège-Bastogne-Liège’s most emblematic climb, as the leading break disintegrated completely, Sebastian Henao (Team Sky) and Laurens de Plus (Quick-Step) stretched out the peloton and finally regained contact with the Haas group. But lone leader Anthony Perez (Cofidis) had a lead of just under four minutes with 31 kilometres left to race – higher than the top favourites would perhaps have liked. The size of the bunch as it wound over the unclassified climb of the Sprimont following La Redoute, was certainly higher than usual, with roughly 120 riders still in contention.

With all the breakaway riders, barring an exhausted Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue), still in the hunt for Perez, the Frenchman could not ease back, and the peloton, powered by Quick-Step Floors and BMC, relentlessly stripped away their advantage. By the foot of the Cote de la Roche-Aux-Faucons, just two minutes separated Perez from the bunch where Valverde remained comfortably in contention.

The second Cofidis rider, Rossetto, opted to give lone chase to his teammate on the second to last classified climb of the course, and finally joined forces with Perez, and then left him behind.

With 9km to go, the peloton was just a dozen seconds behind, and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) launched a solo attack from the peloton to join Rossetto, but the peloton was closing in, and picked off the rest of the early breakawa.

Wellens' presence breathed some new life into the breakaway, and they reached the Saint Nicolas climb with 13 seconds on the Sky-led bunch. The leaders quickly faded rapidly on the climb and were caught back, and Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) put in an attack that was marked by Sergio Henao (Sky) and reeled in. As they crested the climb, Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) countered and opened up a solid lead.

Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) attacked from the chasing bunch to try to catch Formolo, but exploded and dropped back before 1km to go.

Formolo was suffering with just four seconds under the banner, as behind Dan Martin put in his move with 800m to go. But Valverde rode the Orica-Scott chase up to the two attackers, and then out-sprinted Martin to win La Doyenne for the fourth time.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team6:24:27 
2Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors  
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky0:00:03 
4Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb  
5Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
6Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
7Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott  
8Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott0:00:07 
9Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac  
10Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe  
11Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
12Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
13Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky  
14Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates0:00:10 
15Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team  
16Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo0:00:14 
17Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJ  
18Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
19Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
20Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe  
21Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac  
22Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb  
23Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac  
24Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:24 
25Omar Fraile (Spa) Dimension Data0:00:28 
26Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo  
27Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Orica-Scott0:00:34 
28Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:51 
29Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:54 
30Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
31Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
32Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport  
33Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe  
34Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Quick-Step Floors  
35Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
36Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
37Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
38Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb  
39Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac  
40Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
41Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data  
42Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
43Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension Data  
44Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-Alpecin  
45Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac  
46Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin  
47Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb  
48Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates  
49Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
50Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data0:01:00 
51José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin  
52Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team  
53Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo  
54Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team0:01:08 
55Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:56 
56Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie  
57Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:02:13 
58Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team  
59Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team  
60David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors0:03:22 
61Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:03:29 
62Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data0:03:38 
63Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe  
64Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha-Alpecin0:03:50 
65Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
66Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac  
67Stefan Denifl (Aut) Aqua Blue Sport  
68Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Drapac0:04:42 
69André Cardoso (Por) Trek-Segafredo  
70Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe  
71Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij0:04:50 
72Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:05:01 
73Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:05:31 
74Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team  
75Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
76Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
77Yoann Bagot (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
78Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky0:05:35 
79Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky  
80Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
81Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:05:41 
82Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie0:06:14 
83Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:07:27 
84Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:07:40 
85Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
86Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ  
87Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
88Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo  
89Sebastian Henao (Col) Team Sky  
90Mark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport  
91Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ  
92Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
93Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates  
94Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
95Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain-Merida  
96Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
97Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal  
98Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
99Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
100José Mendes (Por) Bora-Hansgrohe  
101Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
102Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky  
103Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Sunweb  
104Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky  
105Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe  
106Amael Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team  
107Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale-Drapac  
108Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ  
109Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ  
110Kevin Reza (Fra) FDJ  
111Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team  
112Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie  
113Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie  
114Alberto Losada (Spa) Katusha-Alpecin  
115Ángel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha-Alpecin  
116Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team0:07:52 
117Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:08:41 
118Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie0:09:15 
119Antoine Warnier (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:10:39 
120Bryan Nauleau (Fra) Direct Energie  
121Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
122Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Direct Energie  
123Gregory Habeaux (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
124Christophe Masson (Fra) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
125Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
126Matteo Bono (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
127Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
128Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) FDJ  
129Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
130Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Bahrain-Merida  
131Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
132Matvey Mamykin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:10:44 
133Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:11:32 
134Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team0:13:11 
135Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
136Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport  
137Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
138Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe  
139Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-Scott  
140Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data  
141Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
142Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
143Michel Kreder (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport  
144Romain Guillemois (Fra) Direct Energie0:13:32 
145Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
146Pierre Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:13:55 
147Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
148Petr Vakoc (Cze) Quick-Step Floors0:14:09 
149Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:14:41 
150Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
151Rein Taaramäe (Est) Katusha-Alpecin  
152Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:15:35 
153Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott0:16:39 
DNFLudovic Robeet (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFMeiyin Wang (Chn) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFMartijn Budding (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFEtienne Van Empel (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFSjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFTim Ariesen (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFSteven Lammertink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFBert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFCedric Pineau (Fra) FDJ  
DNFThomas Deruette (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFDimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFKevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFLars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFConor Dunne (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFDaniel Pearson (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFPeter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFDaryl Impey (RSA) Orica-Scott  
DNFDario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFMarc Soler Gimenez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFEros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step Floors  
DNFOlivier Pardini (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFJesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFKenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFDamien Howson (Aus) Orica-Scott  
DNFChristopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-Scott  
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) Team UAE Abu Dhabi  
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFFloris Gerfs (Ned) BMC Racing Team  
DNFSindre Skjoestad Lunke (Nor) Team Sunweb  
DNFAlbert Timmer (Ned) Team Sunweb  
DNFSøren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFGregory Daniel (USA) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFEnric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Quick-Step Floors  
DNFLuis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team  
DNFNikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFJérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFFabien Doubey (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFXandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFAxel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFJerome Cousin (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFMekseb Debesay (Eri) Dimension Data  
DNFBen O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data  
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo  

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