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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|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge||6:37:43|
|2||Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team|
|3||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|4||Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha|
|5||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale||0:00:03|
|6||Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp|
|7||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|8||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team|
|9||Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha||0:00:05|
|10||Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:00:06|
|11||Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol||0:00:08|
|12||Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:00:10|
|13||Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|14||Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar|
|15||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||0:00:12|
|16||Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|17||Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp - Endura|
|18||Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr|
|19||Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing|
|20||Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling|
|21||Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida|
|22||Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|23||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar||0:00:17|
|24||Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano||0:00:19|
|25||Julian David Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing|
|26||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||0:00:23|
|27||Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|28||Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:00:31|
|29||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano||0:00:48|
|30||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:00:51|
|31||Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team||0:00:56|
|32||Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team||0:01:09|
|33||Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha|
|34||Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica Greenedge||0:01:11|
|35||Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol||0:01:27|
|36||Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar|
|37||Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||0:01:29|
|38||Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||0:01:31|
|39||Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp||0:01:37|
|40||Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica Greenedge||0:02:26|
|41||Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica Greenedge|
|42||Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|43||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol|
|44||Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha|
|45||Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team|
|46||Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team||0:02:51|
|47||Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|48||Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|49||Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|50||Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha||0:02:53|
|51||David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura||0:03:33|
|52||José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp - Endura|
|53||Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr|
|54||Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp - Endura|
|55||Daan Olivier (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano|
|56||Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia|
|57||Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura||0:03:33|
|58||Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka|
|59||Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia|
|60||Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing||0:03:33|
|61||Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|62||Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing|
|63||Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|64||Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team Katusha|
|65||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano|
|66||Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|67||Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr||0:03:47|
|68||Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale||0:03:54|
|69||Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team|
|70||Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky||0:05:16|
|71||Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale|
|72||Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|73||Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|74||Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin Sharp|
|75||Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team|
|76||Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|77||Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp||0:05:16|
|78||John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team||0:06:19|
|79||Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ.fr||0:07:10|
|80||WoutPoels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|81||Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing||0:08:05|
|82||Alex Howes (USA) Garmin Sharp|
|83||Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia|
|84||Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling|
|85||Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team||0:08:07|
|86||Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team|
|87||Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team|
|88||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team||0:08:28|
|89||Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica Greenedge||0:08:52|
|90||Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert||0:09:20|
|91||Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling||0:09:26|
|92||Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ.fr|
|93||Francis De Greef (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert||0:10:01|
|94||Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||0:10:12|
|95||Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge||0:10:43|
|96||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida||0:11:41|
|97||Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|98||Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|99||Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|100||Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|101||Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol|
|102||Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp - Endura|
|103||Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp|
|104||Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Colombia|
|105||Rory Sutherland (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:11:41|
|106||Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale|
|107||Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar|
|108||Jaco Venter (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka|
|109||Edward Beltran (Col) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|110||Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ.fr|
|111||Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge||0:12:01|
|112||Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar|
|113||Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale||0:12:08|
|114||Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida||0:12:11|
|115||Christian Meier (Can) Orica Greenedge||0:12:15|
|116||Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|117||Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia|
|118||Frantisek Padour (Cze) Team NetApp - Endura|
|119||Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team|
|120||Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing Team|
|121||Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|122||Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling|
|123||Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team|
|124||Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team|
|125||Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka|
|126||Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team|
|127||Matej Mohoric (Slo) Cannondale|
|128||Karsten Kroon (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|129||Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar|
|130||Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|131||Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale|
|132||David Tanner (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team|
|133||Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale|
|134||Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|135||Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team|
|136||Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano||0:13:27|
|136||Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin Sharp||0:13:47|
|DNF||Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin Sharp|
|DNF||Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia|
|DNF||Juan Esteban Arango Carvajal (Col) Colombia|
|DNF||Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Jérôme Gilbert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida|
|DNF||Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Nelson Simoes (Por) Lampre-Merida|
|DNF||Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling|
|DNF||Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling|
|DNF||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale|
|DNF||Michel Koch (Ger) Cannondale|
|DNF||Jean-Marc Marino (Fra) Cannondale|
|DNF||Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|DNF||Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|DNF||Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|DNF||Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky|
|DNF||Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Cheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-Shimano|
|DNF||Andy Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Arthur Vanoverberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar|
|DNF||Natnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar|
|DNF||Erick Rowsell (GBr) Team NetApp - Endura|
|DNF||Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Bruno Pires (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|DNF||Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Laurent Mangel (Fra) FDJ.fr|
|DNF||Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ.fr|
|DNF||Songezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Jack Bobridge (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky|
|DNF||Joshua Edmondson (GBr) Team Sky|
|DNF||David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky|
|DNF||Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|DNF||Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Giant-Shimano|
|DNF||Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|DNF||Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol|
|DNF||Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Belisol|
|DNF||Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol|
|DNF||Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Andres Torres Agudelo (Col) Colombia|
|DNF||Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol|
|DNF||Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNS||Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky|
|DNS||Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale|
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