Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 2017 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
- Liege-Bastogne-Liege preview
- Final start list
- Astana decide to start in Liege-Bastogne-Liege despite Scarponi's death
- Kwiatkowski aiming high in Liege-Bastogne-Liege
- Valverde prepared to take up mantel as top favourite for Liege-Bastogne-Liege
- New trio of Ardennes climbs forms first major challenge for 2017 Liege-Bastogne-Liege
The clock is ticking down to the start of this year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
The riders are at the start, signing on and preparing for arguably the hardest Classic of the season.
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of all the action from the 258km race.
It is cold but dry and sunny in Liege as riders make their final preparations for the race.
The women also race the first edition of their Liege-Bastogne-Liege today.
We will bring as much information on the women's race as possible too.
This 103rd edition of the race will start in the centre of the city, with riders covering 6.8km of neutralised riding before the official start.
Following the tragic death of Michele Scarponi, a minute of remembrance will be held before the start.
The Astana riders lined up at the front of the peloton, with applause from the riders, official and crowd remembering Scarponi.
The Astana riders are wearing black armbands and several were in tears as everyone applauded. A huge photo of Scarponi was shown on the start podium.
The Astana riders at the head of the peloton as everyone remembers Michele Scarponi.
The women's race is also underway.
They rolled out of Bastogne and will cover many of the same climbs of the men before the finish in the Liege suburb of Ans.
The men are still in the neutralised sector, wrapped up well against the cold temperature of 5C.
Cyclingnews understands that all the prize money from the men's race will be donated to Scarponi's family.
Départ réel donné! They're off! Right on schedule, the race starts.
The men face 258km of racing and must climb ten cotes (hills) today.
The first cote of the race is at the 70km point. Eight of the climbs are in the final 90km and come one after another.
This year's route has been changed slightly, with three new climbs forming the first decisive moment of the racing.
For all the information on the new climbs and how it could impact the racing, click here to read Alasdair Fotheringham's detailed recon of the new route.
This is the new and very challenging Côte de la Ferme Liberte (1.2km, 12.1%).
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is the first to attack when the flag is dropped but he is chased down by two riders sand the peloton.
In the women's race, the peloton is all together after 12km of the 135km race.
We have anew attack of eight riders trying to go away.
The eight are: Bart De Clercq, Nick van der One, Tiago Machado, Anthony Perez, Stéphane Rossetto, Mekseb Debesay, Aaron Gate and Fabien Grellier.
The eight lead the peloton by 30 seconds. We could have the early attack of the race.
242km remaining from 258km
The break has flown. The eight riders have opened a 4:00 lead after the peloton let them go.
Olivier Pardini of the WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect team is trying to chase across but is 1:00 behind.
The big-name contenders for final victory are all in the peloton, staying warm and safe until the final 90km of the race and the testing final hills.
In the women's race Lizzie Deignan suffered a mechanical problem but is now back in the bunch.
The race is still all together.
In the men's race Olivier Pardini is slipping back to the peloton. He's failed to get acros to the break of eight riders.
They lead the peloton by 7:30, with five kilometres separating toe the two groups out on the road.
212km remaining from 258km
After the opening hour of racing the average speed is 41.4km/h.
The riders face another six hours or so in the saddle.
The riders in the break are 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).
The peloton is riding steady, letting the break go out to 10:00 after 55km of racing south towards Bastogne.
Alasdair Fotheringham, our man on the ground at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, spoke to several riders at the start today.
2014 winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) predicted a different race and an unusual favourite.
"They’ve changed the route a bit, and that could make for a different race," he said.
"But in any case my favourite today’s not Alejandro Valverde, it's Michael Albasini!"
We will see later is he is proved to be right.
The peloton is lined out as the Movistar team sets the tempo to protect Valverde's chances.
The gap is still at 10:00.
@TeamCOFIDIS Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 09:57:16
Olivier Pardini (WB Veranclassic) is still chasing the break. He has made a huge effort and so only 20 behind now.
The women have covered 70km of their 135km race.
Two riders are out front: Aude Biannic (FDJ) and Jeanne Korevaar (WM3 Energie).
They have a lea of 1:20 as the first climb - the Cote de la Vecquee, approaches.
182km remaining from 258km
The men are approaching their first climb -the Cote de Roche.
Milan-San Remo winner Michel Kwiatkowski has a flat but quickly changes a wheel and is back chasing the peloton.
Cyclingnews spoke to Kwiatkowski on before the news of Scarponi's death.
Click here to read about him 'aiming high' at Liege-Bastogne-liege.
The Cote de Roche seems to have been cruel to Olivier Pardini (WB Veranclassic).
He could see the breakaway ahead of him and closed to just a few seconds, only to lose ground as he suffered due to his 60km solo effort.
The women's race has covered 80km.
Surprisingly Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Canyon SRAM) has climbed off.
The nasty Cote La Vecquee is causing huge damage to the women's peloton.
@LiegeBastogneL Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 10:24:47
The Cote de La Vecquee is the first of four categorised climbs in the women's race. However they have covered many lesser climbs already.
Sadly for Pardini he failed to make it across to the break and is slipping back to the peloton.
He gave it everything for 60km but struggled to close the gap on the first cote of the race.
After the long ride south, the men have reached Bastogne and turn north for the much tougher and much hillier ride to the finish.
They face nine of the ten categorised of the race in the second part. The next one will be the côte de Saint-Roch at km 116.
@LiegeBastogneL Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 10:45:10
The break in the men's race has reached the feed zone after 100km of steady work together.
Their lead remains at over 13 minutes.
Tiffany Cromwell has been caught on the Redoute but the famous climb has split the peloton.
Annemiek van Vleuten attacks on the top of the La Redoute.
With 32km left to race, we are in the finale of the women's race now.
Orica-Scott has several riders in the select group of 30 riders at the front of the women's race.
Annemiek van Vleuten was the first to the top of the La Redoute.
Boels-Doleman is leading the peloton after chasing down Annemiek van Vleuten.
The next climb is the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons, with just 20km to race.
Before the start of the men's race this morning, the riders held a moving moment of remembrance.
Click here to read more and see a brief video captured by the race organisers.
The break in the men's race begin the Côte de Saint-Roch (1 km, 11,2%) climb number two of ten for them.
Roxane Knetemann (FDJ) has attacked alone and has opened a 15-second gap.
With the men still with 140km to race, we will focus more on the finale of the women's race.
@TeamSunweb Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 11:12:03
Knetemann has been caught as the climb hurts.
Kasia Niewiadoma launches a new attack.
Sadly race organiser nor the UCI has managed to secure any live coverage for the first ever edition of the women's race.
Cyclingnews will have a full report and a photo gallery as soon as possible after the finish.
A select group has formed over the top of the climb.
In there are Deignan, Vande Breggen, Niewiadoma, Longo Borghini and Moolman.
Orica-Scott are forced to lead the chase.
@OricaScott Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 11:23:28
We expect the Cote de Saint Nicolas -with just 5km to go be decisive.
Only Annemiek van Vleuten is missing from the attack and so Orica-Scott are trying to close the gap before the Saint Nicolas.
@LiegeBastogneL Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 11:26:50
Boels-Dolesman have Deginan and Anna van der Breggen in the five-rider attack.
They have a great chance of another Women's WorldTour win.
The gap to the chasers is growing gradually. It is up to 50 seconds.
The five are about to hit the Saint Nicolas climb.
The chase group is large but seems to lack the strength to close the gap.
@TourDeJose Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 11:35:58
Orica-Scott are putting up a fierce chase but the gap is still close to 50 seconds.
A new update indicates that the five might not stay away. The chasers are closing the gap on the Saint Nicolas.
The steep climb is splitting the attack and the chase.
Deignan and Longo Borghini are struggling up front.
Niewiadoma leads over the top. She seems one of the strongest today.
Vleuten, Ensing and Longo Borghini are chasing but Van der Breggen has attacked!
@LiegeBastogneL Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 11:45:29
The Olympic champion leads by just eight seconds.
Two kilometres to go. Van der Breggen is on the final gradual climb to Ans.
Can she complete a historic triple?
Here she comes! The European champion wins it alone!
Lizzie Deignan takes the sprint for second place from Niewiadoma.
The chase group finished 30 or so seconds behind.
Anna van der Breggen makes history by completing the Ardennes triple. She also won the women's Amstel Gold Race and Fleche-Wallonne.
Anna pointed to the sky as she crossed the finish line.
@LiegeBastogneL Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 11:53:03
After that thrilling finale to the women's race we get back up to speed with the men's racing.
With 105km to go, the eight-rider break still leads by 11:00 minutes.
@TeamCOFIDIS Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 12:09:28
@TourDeJose Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 11:59:21
The eight rider are working together but the pace is rising in the main peloton.
The gap is down to 11:25. The chase is on, with Team Sky helping Movistar with the pace.
@quickstepteam Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 12:14:02
Quick-Step also have riders on the front.
@LottoJumbo_road Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 12:21:22
In truth there are now 90km left to race as the break hits the Côte de Pont.
This is the first of three new climbs that will kick off the race on the new route.
@AquaBlueSport Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 12:25:33
@quickstepteam Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 12:31:51
The break is now on the Côte de Bellevaux, the second climb of this early triplette.
The third climb, the Côte de la Ferme Libert is up next, it is by far the hardest of the three.
Behind, some 10:00 minutes behind, the peloton hits the Cote du Pont.
Pete Kennaugh has done a lot of work for Team Sky and so slips out of the back.
There has been a crash over the top of the Cote du Pont.
Axel Dumont of AG2R went down as parked cars reduced the width of the road.
Dumont is not seriously hurt but he is holding his shoulder. His race seems over.
upfront Mekseb Debesay (Dimension Data) has been dropped by the break.
To make things worse he briefly went the wrong way and lost more time.
The peloton is lined out after the crash, with Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) on the attack on the Côte de Bellevaux.
This is an interesting move.
Gerrans has been jonied by Mickaël Chérel of Ag2R but the peloton is chasing them.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 12:45:29
78km remaining from 258km
The break tops the final climb of this early triplette, the Côte de la Ferme Libert.
It is a tough one and should cause the main peloton some problems.
@nygaardbn Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 12:50:23
@AquaBlueSport Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 12:50:44
Gerrans is back in the peloton after his spell out front.
Nobody seemed to want to go with him.
70km remaining from 258km
The riders upfront have passed through the second feed.
We're going to begin the big final climbs soon, it's time to fuel up.
The peloton is also at the feed, with riders grabbing their musettes.
Movistar is leading the peloton but other teams are also helping with the chase.
They are seem worried about committing to the chase due to the expected head wind.
Crash for Pantano of Trek. He seemed to flip over the roadside barrier.
He is up and chasing but calls for his team car.
He gets some spanner work from his mechanic and then jumps away back into the peloton.
Can Dan Martin win a second Liege-Bastogne-Liege?
He likes his chances. Click here to read our exclusive interview with the 2013 winner.
@Ride_Argyle Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 13:09:24
Peter Vakoc is now on the front of the peloton leading the chase for Quick-Step leader Dan Martin.
He is swapping turns with the Movistar riders.
59km remaining from 258km
Next cote is the Col du Rosier.
The race is getting serious as the gap falls to 6:30.
Despite his spectacular spring, Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet is in the BMC team and has not ruled out a result. He spoke briefly to Belgian television before the start.
“It’s great to be here. I’m not the big pre-race favourite but I hope to do a good ride and do something,” he said.
“My legs aren’t as strong as they were for the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix but they’re still there. Lets see what I can do.”
Dan Martin also spoke to Cyclingnews before the start of the race.
He was happy the weather was dry this year.
"I’m a lot happier with the weather this year, it’s a really important race on the calendar, and it’s a pleasure to be here today," he said.
"I’m in good condition, I’ve had good results all years, and the team’s had incredibly good results. To continue that chain is a very difficult challenge and missing Julian [Alaphilippe] is not ideal either. But we’ve got a great team spirit."
In other racing news, Sacha Modolo won the final stage to Zagreb at the Tour of Croatia.
Vincenzo Nibali won overall, thanks to taking some vital bonus seconds mid-stage.
For a brief results from the Tour of Croatia, click here.
@TrekSegafredo Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 13:37:58
The peloton passes over the top of the Col du Maquisard.
Next up the big one: the Côte de La Redoute.
Here we go. We have some attacks.
Several riders jump away, chasing an Latour of AG2R.
Brambilla is there for Quick-Step, Benedetti for Bora-hansgrohe.
@BMCProTeam Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 13:44:25
Nathan Haas is in the move for Dimension Data, Betancur is marking the move for Movistar.
Now Team Sky and Orica will have to chase.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 13:48:11
The break is about to start the Redoute. Here we go!
The seven counter-attackers lead the peloton by 25 seconds.
That should help them stay away on the Redoute.
The break still leads by 4:55. Could they stay away?
The chasers also start the Redoute, with Haas asking Fraile to set the pace.
However the peloton is just behind them.
@EquipeFDJ Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 13:53:31
All the big-name favourites are at the front of the peloton.
Sebastian Henao kicks off the action for Team Sky.
The peloton catches the attackers over the top of the Redoute but the race is alive now.
@TrekSegafredo Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:03:15
30km remaining from 258km
Upfront the break has exploded after the Redoute.
Perez is out front but other riders are coming back to him. They need to ride together if they want any chance of staying away.
Five riders are chasing Perez but the gap is down to 3:30 as the peloton ups the speed.
Quick-Step is leading the peloton.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:09:33
The peloton is lined out at speed as they fly to the foot of the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons. It starts in 7km.
Perez is tucked low on is bike, pedalling from his top tube. He is 25 seconds ahead of the five riders from the early break.
The peloton is only 2:10 behind.
The Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons is a 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 11%.
Quick-Step is leading the peloton but there is no sign of Valverde and Kwaitkowski upfront.
20km remaining from 258km
On the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons the break is about to come back together but their lead is below 2:00.
BMC lead the peloton behind with Van Avermaet, Di Marche and Sanchez.
Matthews is also there.
Here we go! Henao kicks off the attacks.
Dumoulin is also there, with Caruso but Henao kicks again.
Roman Kreuziger is there and ups the pace, stretching the line.
We have a split. Eight or so riders are with Kreuziger.
@TeamSky Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:22:08
But other riders are coming back up.
Upfront only Machado and the two Cofidis riders are left out front.
Perez cracks and is dropped. His race is over after a aggressive ride out front.
The strongest riders are emerging now as the climb hurts the legs.
Wellens is trying to drag a move clear.
We have another move of eight riders but Quick-Step is chasing.
16km remaining from 258km
Cannondale has 2 riders in the move, including Woods.
They start to work together, they could go away. They lead by 150m now.
Everything will be decided on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas - 1.2 kilometre-long climb at 8.6%, with just 5km to go.
This is a classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Stéphane Rossetto of Cofidis remains out front but he is about to be caught by the attackers.
He's done a brave ride.
Behind Sky and Movistar lead the chase, with Moscon doing a massive turn for Kwiatkowski.
Now Rojas takes over for Valverde.
@Movistar_Team Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:30:59
@TeamSunweb Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:30:28
@EquipeFDJ Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:30:37
Villela is also there for Cannondale.
This is looking good for the US team. A big win would be great for them.
The race is on the back roads below the Saint Nicolas.
@TeamCOFIDIS Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:34:11
Rosetto has been joined by Tim Wellens.
The Belgian looks strong but can he stay away to the finish over the Saint Nicolas?
7km remaining from 258km
Rosetto is glued to Wellens' wheel. They lead by 13 seconds as the Saint Nicolas begins.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:37:09
The other riders in between have been caught.
All the big names are at the front waiting to attack.
They can see Wellens.
Woods passes Wellens pushing the big ring! He goes clear.
Henao and Albasini come up and past him.
Henao seems super strong.
Henao kicks again on the famous curving road but other riders have come up to them.
Now Formolo kicks off the front as the gradient eases and the cobbled descent begins.
He's giving everything to open a gap.
@Ride_Argyle Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:42:44
2km remaining from 258km
Kreuziger is chasing for Albasini but Formolo is flying down the descent alone.
He faces just the gradual climb to the finish in Ans.
Fraile of Di Data jumps away in pursuit of Formolo. But all the big favourites are just behind him.
They can see Formolo now. He's fading.
Formolo is fighting to stay away. 1km to go!
Dan Martin hits out in pursuit of Formolo!
Valverde is chasing him!
Valverde catches Martin just in time.
The Spaniard is strongest and wins again!
That's his fourth win of La Doyenne.
He is in tears and shouts out that his win is for Scarponi.
Valverde caught Martin just before the final left turn and then sprinted clear to win.
@TeamSky Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:50:01
This is the provisional top ten:
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 6:24:27
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 0:00:03
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
5 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:07
9 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
@TourDeJose Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:56:29
Valverde could hardly talk as he dedicated is win to Scarponi and his teammates.
@Vaughters Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 14:58:27
Thanks to his win Valverde also jumps up the UCI WorldTour rankings to second place behind Greg van Avermaet (BMC).
Valverde celebrates with his family and teammates before the podium ceremony.
Michel Kwiatkowski and Dan Martin fill the podium places for third and second. Valverde takes the top step, shaking hands with them in congratulation.
He lifts the winner's trophy above his head but the celebrations are muted after Sacrponi's death.
He poses holding four fingers for his four wins at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Valverde dedicated his victory to Michele Scarponi and said, as he had promised, that he'd give his prize money to Scarponi's family.
“This win is for Michele Scarponi. He was 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.”
Asked about the race, Valverde said: “The team was fantastic, we worked excellently. We controlled the break because it was dangerous."
“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.”
We have the first images of the finish, showing how Valverde beat Dan Martin with a late attack.
This shot shows how close the race was today.
Dan Martin attacked first with 80m to go and powered past late attacker Davide Formolo. Valverde jumped after Martin and caught at the turn. using his speed to sprint away to win.
Behind Michel Kwiatkowski won the battle for third place from a small group as other riders fought and sprinted for positions in the top ten.
@Movistar_Team Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 15:13:14
Those statistics from Movistar indicate Valverde's success in the Ardennes Classics.
He has taken three Fleche-Wallonne - Liege-Bastogne-Liege doubles and nine wins in the Ardennes.
He is one victory below Eddy Merckx for the number of his Ardennes victories and his wins at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
@TeamSky Sun, 23rd Apr 2017 15:29:25
This shot shows just how close the other riders were at the finish. Everything was decided in the final kilometre after a tactical and aggressive race came back together.
Kwiatkowski explained that he didn't have a great day and why, because of a head wind and a strong riders in the move, it was so difficult to pull the break back.
“The breakaway got so much time very quickly. We expected Movistar to control it easily and they would bring it back before the real race started. But it was so difficult to chase them down, and we were trying to cooperate together with a couple of teams. The pace was so hard and nobody was really able to make the difference," he said.
"Sergio was a real team-mate today. I told him that I was feeling good and he was there to support me at the end. I’m happy we worked so well together.”
The man of the day, close up: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) was one of the revelations today. The Australian handled the cotes well and sprinted hard in the finish straight to take fourth place.
“The plan was to go for Warren (Barguil) today, but he said on the second to last climb that he wasn’t feeling good,” explained Matthews after the finish.
“I tried to keep him motivated to try to get him up there to go for the win, I know that if sometimes you motivate your team mates you can give them the push that they need."
"On Saint-Nicolas he said over the radio that he really wasn’t good so we decided to go for me. From then it was just about trying to survive and see what I could do in the finish."
"I gave everything that I could, it wasn’t enough for the podium but for a super hard final I am really pleased to take 4th.”
Davide Formolo tried to attack alone over the Saint Nicolas climb. It was a brave and strong move but he was swept up with less than a kilometre to go.
"I saw that there was a bit of hesitation by the bunch at the top of the Saint Nicolas. I felt good and so I said: OK. All in! I’ll take a risk to finish alone; everything or nothing," he explained via his team.
"I got away and then I was looking for the last corner to the left, pushing to get there. The problem was that someone had hit my gears on the La Redoute climb and so I had to push a big gear all the way up the final climb."
"This is just my second Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I can only thank the team because they let me do this race. I was there and so if I could do this it’s thanks to the team."
The 2017 Liege-Bastogne-Liege in five photos
1. The Astana team and the rest of the peloton emotionally remembers Michele Scarponi at the start.
2. The eight-rider break of the day almost stayed away.
3. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) jumped from a counter-attack to the remains of the break but was caught on the Saint Nicolas climb.
4. Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) made a brave solo attack over the top of the Saint Nicolas and was only caught with less than a kilometre to go.
5. Dan Mar