Valverde quit the race with around 100 kilometres to go, with TV images showing the Spanish star pulling over to the righthand side of the road and getting into a team car.
Valverde's abandon came after Deceuninck-QuickStep and Team Sky accelerated hard on a flatter section of the race before the ascent of the Cote de Mont-le-Soie and as rainy weather continued to lash the event, briefly splitting the race.
The reigning world champion has been a shadow of his former self in the Ardennes Classics this year, finishing well down on the leaders in Amstel Gold, finishing eleventh in Flèche Wallonne, in which he swallowed a bee. This is his first failure to finish in Liège-Bastogne-Liège since 2012 when he was disqualified after going off route by mistake.
Valverde is the second former winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège to quit Sunday's race after Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) quit at the first feed.
More to come...
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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