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Liège - Bastogne - Liège 2013

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from Liège - Bastogne - Liège, the final spring classic of 2013.

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from the final one day classic of the spring campaign.

You join us in an overcast but dry Liege for the start of the 261.5km race. It's chilly but there's no wind at the moment. No rain forecast at the moment but that could certainly change later on this afternoon.

The race has just started with 199 riders leaving the centre of Liege. For a complete start list click here. And if any of the riders didn't sign on, we'll let you know as soon as we can.

The first 7.3 km of the course are neutralised and will take the peloton to the outskirts of the city. From there, we're likely to see a number of early attacks as the main break of the race tries to establish itself. Don't be surprised to see a break establish a large lead in the first half of the race. Most of the climbs are situated in the final half of the race.

Let's go guys #opqs no guts no glory

@PatLefevere Sun, 21st Apr 2013 09:24:35

That's Patrick Lefevere,  team boss for Omega Pharma QuickStep.  The Belgian squad have enjoyed a strong start to the season in other areas but their Spring Classics campaign has been a major let down. Tom Boonen was off the pace and eventually crashed out of the Tour of Flanders and none of the other riders on the team have been able to fill the vacuum. Today's their last chance to win a major one-day spring race.

In terms of the course, there's been much debate over the fact that the Roche aux Faucons has been removed - due to roadworks.

Despite the loss of this climb, the course still offers compelling and numerous opportunities to split the race. To replace the Faucons, race organisers ASO have brought in the Colonster, a 2.4km climb (average gradient of 6 per cent) situated 17 kilometers to go.

The new climb certainly won't be as decisive but with La Redoute at 223km and Côte de Saint-Nicolas at 256km still on the course, and the final climb towards Ans, the race has plenty of opportunities to attack. The lead group tackling those final set of climbs may be slightly larger though.

So all 199 riders have signed on and we've a full house for this year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The rain is still holding off, and there's little wind at the moment. To be honest the conditions are perfect for a break to jump clear and establish a healthy lead over the peloton.

@dnlbenson tuned in to your coverage on cyclingnews, gerrans my fav but watch out for Nibali and Dan Martin

@bb_projects Sun, 21st Apr 2013 09:32:51

Nibali certainly is a hot favourite for today. His Trentino win was very impressive - despite Wiggins' mechanical problems on the last stage. The Italian has had a strong start to the season, in a way mirroring Evans' 2011 early campaign.

 

It will be interesting to see how Nibali fairs today. He's not raced any of the Ardennes, so he's up against a new field, and I think the last winner of Trentino and Liege was Vino....

 

Nibali was of course second last year, chased down by the eventual winner Iglinskiy, who is a teammate today. Without further delay, and to stop me from waffling on, here's what Nibali himself has to say about the race and his chance.

We've already seen a few attacks from the bunch in the very early stages, but as yet no one has been able to force their way clear. As we speak, there's another tentative move off the front of the peloton but it doesn't look like that's going to work either.

Nibali isn't the only favourite for today's race. It's a pretty even field with a number of riders on a level par in terms of form and fitness. Yesterday we shot these images at the teams' presentation in Liege.


Katusha looked in good spirits after their win in Fleche Wallonne courtesy of the pint-sized Daniel Moreno. Teammate and friend of Joaquin Rodriguez, the Spaniard timed his effort perfectly mid-week. Today's a totally different proposition but at least the team can ride without too much pressure now.

Sky are in a different position all together. They've had a poor spring (at least in the one day arena) and today marks their last chance to come away with a podium. Yes, they had a podium in Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Fleche in March but they'll want a result in a monument.

Their Ardennes squad is a lot stronger than their cobbled classics team and they've drafted  in Chris Froome for today. There's not been a lot of talk about the proposed Tour de France captain but we know he can match Nibali on the climbs. Could today be his day?

Here's what Richie Porte had to say about the race and Sky's chances.

And of course there's the world champion Philippe Gilbert. The Belgian is without a win this season and came up short in Fleche. Today's a race that probably suits him more, as he's got a few more strings to his bow than just a fast uphill finish. He'll be a marked man of course but if there's a small group coming to the line, he's a better bet for the sprint than Nibali and Froome.

Gilbert said on Friday that the race is going to be far more tactical than previous years due to the nature of the new course.

After 10 of racing we have our first break of the day. We'll bring you the names as soon as we have them.

241km remaining from 261km

Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Bart De Clercq (Lotto), Vincent Jérôme (Europcar), Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling), Frederik Veucheulen (Vacansoleil) and Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM Cycling). The six leader have a gap of 2 minutes. So that's our break for the majority of the race.

Alberto Contador also lines up for today's race. The Spaniard has had a mixed start to the season and has been fairly inconsistent. He is of course looking to peak for the Tour de France so his form is behind some of the Giro contenders. It will be interesting to see how he shapes up against Froome in that department though.

 

After today Contador will take a break from racing but here's what he said at yesterday's teams' presentation.

Contador starts as number 61 in the race.  Number 71 is Andy Schleck. It seems like an age since we saw the two of them compete for the top honours in a major race. Since then Contador has been suspended, Schleck has broken his hip, changed teams, and seen his brother suspended too.


It's been a tough 18 months, two years for the RadioShack leader, but he's slowing coming back to full health and fitness. It may take him another season until he reaches the level of 2009-2011 but he's moving in the right direction.

 

Perhaps the biggest question over his future is where he'll be riding next season. It looks as though RadioShack will pull out and it's up in the air as to whether Becca will want to finance the team on his own again.

25km remaining from 261km

The six leaders have now built up an advantage of 5;45. We can probably expect that to nearly double in the next 30-40 kilometres of racing.

Slightly off topic but here's what Neil Stephens had to say about racing in the 1990s. It's laughable really. His team press officer once said [2011] that there was too much bullshit in cycling. I wonder if that applies here too.

231km remaining from 261km

30km into the race and the gap has moved out to 8'10.

Happy birthday Angelo Zomegnan, 58 today.

Alejandro Valverde is also on the start list today. The Movistar leader has an impressive track record in the race, mainly before his suspension.

 

In Amstel last weekend he made the podium and he'll be looking for a similar result today. He was 1st in 2006 and 2008.

Veuchelen, 34, has been in a number of breaks throughout the spring classics. He's on the front of the break now taking a turn. He won the KOM in last year's Paris-Nice.

With two men on the break IAM Cycling are doing everything asked of them in their bid to win a wildcard place in this year's Tour de France. It's going to be tough for them, with just three spaces up for grabs and three French team vying for the invites but the Swiss team are certainly on the front foot.

De Clercq is probably the most accomplished rider in the break though. The Lotto ride has made the top 20 in a couple of grand tours and won a stage of the 2011 Giro d'Italia. He's had a number of placings so far this season, mainly after helping team leaders like Juren Van den Broek in the Tour of San Luis.

217km remaining from 261km

The leaders have pushed their advantage out to 14 minutes and it's sparked a reaction from the peloton, with Katusha coming to the front to set the pace.

Similar ambitions call for similar tactics and Astana follow suit, along with a couple of Sky riders, and move up to the front of the peloton. No sign of BMC yet, who did the majority of the work during Fleche Wallonne earlier in the week.

The climbs on today's route:

 

Km 70 : Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne (2,8 km, 6,2%)
Km 116.5 : Côte de Saint-Roch (1 km, 11 %)
Km 160 : Côte de Wanne (2 km, 7,3 %)
Km 166.5 : Côte de Stockeu (1 km, 12,2 %)
Km 172.5 : Côte de la Haute-Levée (3,6 km, 5,7 %)
Km 185 : Côte du Rosier (4,4 km, 5,9 %)
Km 197.5 : Côte du Maquisard (2,5 km, 5 %)
Km 208 : Mont-Theux (2,7km, 5,9 %)
Km 223 : Côte de la Redoute (2 km, 8.8 %)
Km 244.5 : Côte de Colonster (2,4 km, 6 %)
Km 256 : Côte de Saint-Nicolas (1,2km, 8,6 %)

The climb of Mont-Theux usually doesn't play a huge part in the race but today, with the change of route, it could become crucial.  A number of riders and teams will see that as a potential launch pad to attack and therefore anticipate the moves that will surely come on the Côte de la Redoute.

Peter Stetina (Garmin Sharp)

“The goal is to win the race. That’s why we’re here. This is Dan’s big goal of the year and Ryder is coming up – they’re looking the best. I play a support role or an attacking role, whatever is needed. We have our climbing team here so it’s how we do it."

“It’s the riders who make the race, not the course. Technically, it could be harder because there’s more time now after La Redoute. Maybe there’ll be attacks going instead of the strong names over Redoute and then you rest and then the strong names up Colonster. I think it makes it more tactical but that makes it harder.”

The leaders are already on the first climb of the day. The Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne (2,8 km, 6,2%).

At the start this morning  Jane Aubrey, CN's Australian Editor spoke to Marcus Burghardt (BMC)

“I think that the new final is going to suit us pretty well. To have two strong guys in the final is better than if you only have one and hopefully we can play two cards," he said.

“Okay we have had no big wins in the Classics but we’ve shown that we’re always there. We had a pretty strong on Wednesday and it’s a big motivation for today. If we race like we did there as a strong team then I think we can do a good job here.”

Liege factoids: 10,000 Philippe Gilbert fans are expected on the Redoute this afternoon. A ‘test run’ for what is effectively a massive party on the climb took place on Friday with 750 guests There is also a special new enlarged beer tent for 550 VIPs. Previous police estimates for the previous years have been that some 8,000 fans have assembled on the Redoute, but this year with Gilbert in the rainbow jersey they are expecting more.

Impress (or annoy) your friends and family with another Liege fact: 

A reigning World Champion has won LBL five times in the past: Ferdi Kubler in 1952, Rik Van Looy in 1961, Eddy Merckx in 1972 and 1975 and Moreno Argentin in 1987.
 

The peloton have pegged the leaders back to 12'15.

This will be Philippe Gilbert’s eleventh Liege-Bastogne-Liege. His previous results are 2003: abandon; 2004: 40th at 1-05 behind Rebellin; 2005: abandon; 2006: 38th at 4-33 behind Valverde; 2007: 15th at 15sec behind Di Luca; 2008: 92nd at 8-11 behind Valverde; 2009: 4th at 1-24 behind Andy Schleck; 2010: 3rd at 1-04 behind Vinokourov; 2011: winner; 2012: 16th at 1-27 behind Iglinskiy.
 

 

Le Tour report that De Clerq was first to the top of the climb and for his efforts he'll be given 500 Euro.

Away from Liege, we've created this page for all our Sea Otter 2013 coverage. It's packed with tech and race news.

Our latest exclusive from Sea Otter is about HED's new wide, tubeless Ardennes Plus wheels

Tenth and first Belgian in LBL last year, Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) says that after his below-expectations race in Fleche Wallonne, where he crashed and then had a puncture just before the second ascent of the Mur de Huy, he is back on form for Liege-Bastogne-Liege - where once again his brother Dennis is also part of the same line-up.

“I’m over it, and Sunday will be another day,” he told the Derniere Heure on Saturday. “It’s a much more tactical race than Fleche Wallonne, particularly with out the Roche-aux-Faucons. Overall, it’s easier, which makes it a more open race.”

The secret to a successful Liege for him, Vanendert says, “will be to climb the Saint-Nicolas the fastest possible and without any rivals alongside. I’m in good shape, I’ve felt good in the last two races I’ve done and Liege-Bastogne-Liege is long but that doesn’t worry me.”

In any case, he says, it will be up to the other teams to control the race, not Lotto-Belisol. “Sky, Katusha and BMC will have to do that. But I recognise I need a result here so that we can talk about the Classics being a success for me, and that concerns me.”
 

RadioShack’s Maxime Monfort is arguably the rider who knows the Liege-Bastogne-Liege the best - ‘Max’ lives on the Cote de Sprimont, the unclassified climb that comes after the Cote de La Redoute.

Given he prefers stage racing, Monfort says “I’m not under real pressure at Liege, a few years back I tried to make it an objective, but I always feel real pleasure racing on these climbs that I know so well.”

As for RadioShack he says “we know that if Andy isn’t in top shape we don’t really have anybody as a favourite, but as a group we’re strong. Ben Hermans has been in good form up to now. We’re all able to attack, with greater or lesser degrees of success. It’s up to us to take the initiative.”
 

Katusha are still on the front doing the lion share of the work. The gap to the six-man break is now at 11'45.

Over on the Cyclingnews Facebook page, people are posting their favourites for today's race.

You can post their, or let me know your thoughts here on Twitter.

173km remaining from 261km

173 km to go. A long way but the gap is starting to drop steadily, Movistar the latest team to join the chase. The gap has dropped to 11'05, having peaked at 14 minutes earlier in the race.

Now 52 years old, former World Champion Moreno Argentin remains one of the big stars of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, having taken the race four times - one less than record-holder Eddy Merckx.

Recently interviewed by Belgian newspaper Le Soir, Argentin - who was one of the occupants of the famous lucky ‘Room 11’ in the Malpertuis hotel, run by Katusha’s Valerio Piva when he won Liege four times and Fleche Wallone three times.

“The first time I raced in La Doyenne, I finished 20 minutes down on the winner, Silvano Contini” - in 1982 - he told Le Soir. “But that was like a wake-up call and made me realise what I had to do to become a real rider. You really learn your metier in the Belgian Classics, at least that’s the case for one-day specialists, starting with E-3 and going all the way through to Liege.”
 

In 1984, when he took his first Liege victory, Argentin says he thinks “my success made all the Italian emigrants proud. Belgium was a country which took in a lot of Italians when we were going through difficult economic times” - and specifically in the case of Liege, Saint Nicolas is known as ‘the Italian climb’.
However, Argentin remains convinced that as a test of riders real condition La Redoute remains the ideal climbing thermometer. “It was there that I used to know if Claudy Criquielion” - his toughest rival - “was on a good day or not. And the same will go for Philippe Gilbert this year.”
Argentin himself still lives in Italy and is currently in the process of constructing a “Campus Argentin”, a sports residence with its own velodrome and hotel, in the town of Alleghe near Venice. It should be built by 2015.

 

Just under 100 km of racing completed and the break have now reached the southern most part of the course, with the hardest half still to come. The lead has levelled off at 11'15.

@dnlbenson I would love to see Moreno unleash his great form that he showed on wednesday - also have a soft spot for the World Champ!

@shawry_07 Sun, 21st Apr 2013 12:01:50

Away from Liege, away from Europe even and if you're wondering what Lance Armstrong is up to these days.... He's a drummer . Check out this video from last night.

I think Di Luca is a part-time drummer as well...

Anyway back to the racing here at Liege-Bastogne Liege. We have  six man break clear with a lead of just over 11 minutes. Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Bart De Clercq (Lott), Vincent Jérôme (Europcar), Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling), Frederik Veucheulen (Vacansoleil) and Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM Cycling)

The Côte de Saint-Roch (1 km, 11 %), at 116.5km is the next climb on the race course. It comes 145km from the finish but it will  help to soften up the peloton before they tackle more important climbs later on.

The leaders have already gone through the feeding zone and now the bunch pass through as well.

@dnlbenson I am pulling for vanendert. That would be great for him and the team. Also hoping Schelck can finish

@philgrant80 Sun, 21st Apr 2013 12:12:36

156km remaining from 261km

The gap has dipped below 10 minutes for the first time since it peaked out at 14 minutes. It's not at 9'20 with Katusha and Movistar dragging the peloton towards the second climb of the race.

De Clerq takes a long pull on the front of the break, with Lang coming through. The escape group still look pretty fresh despite having been out there since the early stages in the race. Unfortunately for them, there's no let up in the race from here on in. The climbs come thick and fast and even the sections between the climbs aren't flat. It's up and down all the way back to Liege.

The peloton continue to chip away at the break's lead, it's now at 8:45.

Almost all the climbs of #lbl can be explored here. http://t.co/XIS1N1dD7I . no update on the 2013 route.

@cyclingthealps Sun, 21st Apr 2013 12:40:40

There are a string of riders, just below the main favourites who are worth watching. Top of that list is Daniel Martin. The Irishman was fourth in Fleche and had a strong ride her last year, instigating a number of moves in the finale of the race. Once again he'll lead the Garmin team with Ryder Hesjedal who attacked in Fleche Wallonne last year but had mechanical this time around. Both riders are well suited to the course here.

Carlos Alberto Betancur and Sergio Henao are also two very dangerous riders and have the climbing ability and kick to distance their rivals. Both had very strong rides in Fleche as well.

Euskaltel head into the race with a three-ponged attack. Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez, the former Olympic champion leads with Igor Anton and Mikel Astarloza. Valverde was the last and only Spanish winner in 2008 and 2006.

Armee was first over the last climb and as a result will pick up 500 Euro.

A reminder of the climbs to come:

Km 160 : Côte de Wanne (2 km, 7,3 %)
Km 166.5 : Côte de Stockeu (1 km, 12,2 %)
Km 172.5 : Côte de la Haute-Levée (3,6 km, 5,7 %)
Km 185 : Côte du Rosier (4,4 km, 5,9 %)
Km 197.5 : Côte du Maquisard (2,5 km, 5 %)
Km 208 : Mont-Theux (2,7km, 5,9 %)
Km 223 : Côte de la Redoute (2 km, 8.8 %)
Km 244.5 : Côte de Colonster (2,4 km, 6 %)
Km 256 : Côte de Saint-Nicolas (1,2km, 8,6 %)

123km remaining from 261km

123km to go and the gap to the six leaders is still at 8'45.

117km remaining from 261km

Katusha and Sky continue to do the majority of the pace setting on the front. Still little sign from the BMC team. The gap has come down a little more, and is sitting at 8'15.

The break are losing ground in substantial chunks, the peloton having shaved off another 30 seconds. The gap is down to 7'40.

The rain is still holding off and we've 109 km to until the finish.


BMC have now come to the front of the peloton, keep to have Gilbert in a good position before the next climb. They've been joined by a train from Movistar, who are doing the same for Valverde.

Astana are hovering in the background but BMC and Movistar continue on the front. We're coming to the point where the race will change, the climbs come thick and fast and all the leaders will want to be present and on the front of the peloton. The break has 6'52

None of the teams have committed too much yet. Katusha and Movistar did a lot of the early pace setting but BMC have since moved into the frame. There's been no sign of Sky or Blanco though, and they'll be saving all their powder for the final set of climbs.

The six leaders have started the Côte de Wanne (2 km, 7,3 %).

Lang is on the front at the moment and leading the break on the climb.

The sting has certainly gone out of the break though and a couple of riders are starting to miss the odd turn.

Blanco and Garmin have started to move up but it's now BMC who are stamping their authority on the race. The bunch are now on the Côte de Wanne, with the break 6'11 clear.

RadioShack's Ben King is at the back of the bunch hand looking for his team car. He'll be riding a support race for Monfort today.

The pace in the bunch isn't electric but BMC and Movistar are doing enough to stretch the peloton. The wearing down process is well under way.

Contador is without any teammates at the moment but he's close to the front.

Over the top of the climb and Movistar lift the pace.

A reminder of the next section of climbs: Km 166.5 : Côte de Stockeu (1 km, 12,2 %)
Km 172.5 : Côte de la Haute-Levée (3,6 km, 5,7 %)
Km 185 : Côte du Rosier (4,4 km, 5,9 %)
 

93km remaining from 261km

The break is starting to split on the climb of the Côte de Stockeu. Two riders have been dropped but they should be able to make contact on the descent. Lang and Armee are the two riders off the back.

Movistar are breaking the race apart on the climb though. The Côte de Stockeu is always key and Movistar are using it to turn the screw. The peloton is still over a 100 strong but the pace is going to cause a number of riders some serious problems.

Côte de la Haute-Levée (3,6 km, 5,7 %) is the next climb and the break have reached the lower slopes.

Lang is slowly coming back to the leaders but it's a big ask for the IAM Cycling rider. He's clearly struggling.

Vasili Kiryienka is at the back of the bunch. His work for the day is probably over.

Clercq and Jerome have done most the work in the last few km, their class showing in the break.

Lang is about 40 meters back. It's going to be tough for him to come back now.

Fumeaux is on the radio, probably asking his team director if he should carry on working or miss turns in order to aid Lang making contact again.

Gilbert has taken off his arm warmers and moves to the front of the peloton. Astana and Lampre have moved up as well for the first time in the race, Valverde having called his troops off the front.

 

Lang has made it back to the front, so we have 6 leaders again. Their advantage is at 5'29.

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke is at the back of the peloton. The pace has eased off, not one team really wants to take up the pace setting.

The stalemate sees Blanco try something with Slagter attacking. He's looking back to see who will come with him but at the moment he's on his own.

Grivko has made a move from the bunch in at attempt join the Blanco leader but there's a big counter attack from the peloton with around 20 or so riders going clear. Surely that's too many?

It's starting to come back together but the stop start pace is going to mean that a counter attack will succeed.

87km remaining from 261km

87km to go , the gap at 4'52.

The break pass through the second feedzone of the race.

At the moment Chris Froome is in the middle of the pack. The Sky leader came to Belgium yesterday after a stint of training at home in Nice.

 

At the front of the bunch Omega lead the peloton through the feedzone.

The six leaders are now on the Côte du Rosier. Lang does the right thing and moves closer to the front because if he starts to slide back he can at least start from near the front of the group.

79km remaining from 261km

The gap has levelled off again at 4'55.

There's a surge to the front from Saxo Bank with two of their riders moving to the front. Contador will want to make this race as hard as possible.

It's not just about Contador. Riis has lots of pieces: Kreuziger, Sorensen and Roche are all here.

The injection of pace brings BMC and Astana back to life and immediately 15 seconds are shaved off the lead. Saxo Bank won't be concerned with that, they'll want to soften up the bunch for one of their leaders later on.

The leaders are now on the Côte du Maquisard,their lead at just over 4 minutes. The peloton still really haven't committed that much.

 

But Roche is now on the front sharing the pace with Sorensen.

Saxo Bank continue with their pace setting on the front of the peloton. They're the only team willing to take up the responsibility of the pace setting at the moment.

70km remaining from 261km

70km to go, and the gap is down to 2'56. The work from Saxo Bank clearly having an effect.

Astana have joined Saxo Bank on the front, with the bunch stringing out.

Rolland is close to the front of the peloton. The Frenchman had a strong race last year and has targeted this event as his first major objective of the season.

The last climb was the Rosier, apologies, and the leaders are now on the Côte du Maquisard. The two IAM Cycling riders are on the front and setting the pace but the bunch are closing in on them now. Radioshack have moved Monfort into a good position at the front of the peloton.

The average gradient is 5 per cent a number of riders will be suffering in the bunch. Astana take up the pace but all the main favourites are in contention still. At the back  of the bunch riders are sprinting to keep in contact.

63km remaining from 261km

63km to go and Armee has been dropped. He's not going to come back.

Sky have now moved up.

Gilbert meanwhile is happy to sit in 20th position or so. He's keeping out of trouble.

Andy Schleck is near the front of the peloton as well. He's having  a decent ride by his standards this season.

Four climbs left in the race: 

 

Km 208 : Mont-Theux (2,7km, 5,9 %)
Km 223 : Côte de la Redoute (2 km, 8.8 %)
Km 244.5 : Côte de Colonster (2,4 km, 6 %)
Km 256 : Côte de Saint-Nicolas (1,2km, 8,6 %)
 

De Clercq has problems with his gears and has to drop back. That could be his day over.

Team Sky have moved all their riders to the front of the peloton. They take on the responsibility on so many occasions but in one day races they've still not managed to put it all together. Is today their day?

The leaders are now on the Mont-Theux.

De Clerq has his team car with him now and the mechanic is looking at the rear mech. It looks like he's made it back to the leaders, which is a great ride in itself.

55km to go and the gap to the leaders is still around the 55km mark.

De Clercq is forced to stop again though.

He's got to stop again though. Just give him a new bike.

At last he receives a new bike and he's chasing once again.

Last really classic duel on La Redoute, a very one-sided one between VDB and Bartoli in 1999 http://t.co/NyRJ1QPYYq

@friebos Sun, 21st Apr 2013 14:45:12

The race radio says 2'24 but I think that gap is a lot lower than that. Nibali, by the way, has moved up towards the front of the peloton, Sky still doing most of the work.

52km remaining from 261km

2'20 is the gap with 52.7km to go.

1'27 now. 

The Côte de la Redoute is next and will be the launchpad for a number of moves.

De Clercq has made it back to the leaders once again.

Sky are doing all the work now and Uran, Froome and Porte are at the back of the train.

The leaders are starting to stretch, and free-wheel. It's not going to be long until the catch is made.

Gilbert is being ushered to the front by his team as well. Sky look so dominant at the moment but will it last?

Last year's winner is near the back of the bunch at the moment.

More movement from the middle of the pack as more riders fight for position in attempts to move up. Uran and his teammates dont have that problem though. They've blocked off the front of the bunch and are setting their tempo.

Lampre, AG2R, Omega, BMC they're all competing for position on the road leading into the Côte de la Redoute.

Contador has just one teammate at the moment. Gilbert has three but there's no sign from Astana yet.

42km remaining from 261km

42km to go and the gap is down to 1 minute.

Onto the climb for the four leaders.

A huge peloton is about to hit the climb.

There's been a crash. Amador , Navarro have crashed.

That was in the middle of the peloton and a number of riders have been held up.

Sky lead onto the climb.

And Sky attack sending a rider up the road. it's Siutsou

Jerome has attacked from the leaders.

The peloton is splitting on the climb though with Monfort having a mechanical as well.

Sky are blocking the road and Gilbert has moved up and so has Contador.

The Sky rider has been joined by two riders, Rui Costa is one of them.

No significant gaps at the moment though.  It's Lopez from Sky with Rui Costa and Fuglsang.

The three leaders have about 15 meters on the chasers.

Gilbert is in second place, with a Lampre rider doing the chasing at the  moment. Cunego.

37km remaining from 261km

It's up to BMC and Lampre to do the chasing.

The counter attack from Cunego is failing to establish themselves but they still have a gap.

It looks like the three leaders have been caught by counter attacking group.

Seven riders in this group now: bardet, Cunego, Fuglsang, Lopez, Frank confirmed.

Losada and Costa are there too.

Cunego has done well to move into this break. A number of teams have made the split, so RadioShack will probably have to chase, Omega and Blanco too.

33km remaining from 261km

It's come back but Lopez goes again and Bardet tries to go with him.

Cunego is also in the mix again.

Will this trio work together? It looks like they have a small  gap on the chasers.

Fredrigo in the chase now, along with Ten Dam.

Fuglsang, Ten Dam, Fredrigo, Losada, Costa are the chasers with Cunego, Bardet and Lopez up the road.

 

BMC are doing the chasing.

Cunego the most experienced rider in the break knows this race well. He's pushing along in the leading trio.

Now the two groups have merged.

All the responsibility is on BMC's shoulders. They've missed this move and have to do all the chasing.

Gilbert's men are doing a good job though, the gap is no more than 5 seconds.

Bardet isn't giving up though and pushes the pace up again. 27km to go.

Sky can sit back now with BMC on the front of the peloton.

Gilbert has five men on the front at the moment.

24km remaining from 261km

24km to go. Andy Schleck and Hesjedal both still in the peloton but quite far back. Uran too.

BMC look to have done the job and caught the dangerous move.

Gilbert has kept his men on the front.

Garmin have moved up with Dan Martin.

Inside the final 20km and the race is wide open. The peloton is still around 50-60 strong.

And onto the new climb, the Côte de Colonster.

Movistar, Grivko and Katusha move to the front.

One or two BMC riders are being dropped.

Moser is suffering and Sky up the pace now.

The race is certainly splitting.

There's a group of around 12 clear but Contador attacks.

18km remaining from 261km

18km to go and Contador has attacked.

He lines out the field but can't get a gap yet.

Hesjedal moves to the front now.

The bunch is all back together again.

Although Hesjedal is forcing a split here.

Uran is in the mix too.

And now Rolland attacks and he has a gap.

Hesjedal is leading the chase with Rolland.

Gilbert and Valverde are marking each other at the moment.

Uran leads Hesjedal, Contador and four more riders, but Rolland is still clear.

There are groups all over the road.

Hesjedal has gone clear.

Rolland caught and now the Canadian leads the race.

Astana are leading the peloton with the Contador group in the middle.

15km remaining from 261km

15km to go and Hesjedal is the lone leader in Liege.

The final climb to come: Côte de Saint-Nicolas (1,2km, 8,6 %)

Hesjedal is arched over the bars and time trialing towards the final climb. He has 11 seconds on the chase.

Can the Canadian hold on? It's a big ask.

It's all going to come back together, surely. The Contador group is 6 seconds back with the peloton a further 3 seconds down.

Hesjedal has 21 seconds on the bunch according to race radio.

Uran Contador, Anton, Caruso are in the chase group. And Rui Costa.

He has 20 seconds on the bunch as he descents to the foot of the last climb.

A brave effort from the Garmin leader as the chasers start to watch each other.

10km remaining from 261km

Gutsy move by @ryder_hesjedal ... Dude has some cojones.

@Vaughters Sun, 21st Apr 2013 15:53:07

10km to go and BMC are trying to organise a chase.

Hesjedal hits the foot of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas

His lead is down to 15 seconds.

And now it's 17 with 9.5km to go.

The gap increases, it's 21 seconds.

He takes a huge risk around a right hand corner but holds it together.

And Katusha join the chase.

Onto the final climb now for Hesjedal.

The chase group has been caught. So just the Canadian up ahead.

7km remaining from 261km

Just 7km to go.

Grivko pulls over, his work done.

Hesjedal needs a few more seconds here. The gap is still 18 seconds though.

Astana hit the climb.

The gap is 14 seconds.

Two Astana riders are clear and Moreno crashes.

Dan Martin moves to the front and slows things down. Hesjedal has 9 seconds.

Sky move to the front.

Attack from Betancur.

The AG2R rider is clear.

He's about to latch onto Hesjedal.

Scarponi and Martin are up there with Betancur.

And Gilbert and Nibali attack.

Gilbert has blown and Valverde comes over the top.

5km to  go . And Hesjedal has been joined by Martin and a handful of other riders.

Six riders in the lead; Martin, Hesjedal: Scarponi Rodriguez I think for Katusha and Bentancur.

It all  means that Astana have to chase again.

Martin attacks.

He's brought back and with 3.2km to go the race is wide open.

Gilbert is chasing back  with the Astana team.

8 seconds for the leaders.

Hesjedal is doing the work for Martin but with Scarponi, Valverde and Bentancur in this group, along with Rodriguez it's too close to call.

Valverde is in second position.

And Rodriguez attacks.

Scarponi chases.

1km to go.

Rodriguez goes early, he doesnt want Gilbert to come back into the race.

Now Dan Martin is coming over.

It's Martin and Rodriguez.

Scarponi has Valverde with him further back.

Martin and Rodriguez side by side.

And now Martin attacks.

he's clear and heading to the line!

Dan Martin wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Perfect tactics from Garmin and a fantastic win for the Irishman.

That as cool and calculating from Martin, he drew alongside Rodriguez in the finale after the Spaniard had attacked, there was a quick glance across before the Garmin rider stamped on the pedals and soloed to the win. Rodriguez was left to pick up second place.

A lot of the credit has to go to Ryder Hesjedal. The Candian attacked on the penultimate climb and then helped Martin keep the final group together before the last drag up to the finish line. Garmin's second Monument is that.

Valverde finished in third.

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

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our report right here, with full results included.

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