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Jungels wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Bob Jungels capped Quick-Step Floors’ remarkable Classics campaign by soloing to victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège after forging clear over the top of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons with some 18 kilometre still to race.

From there, the Luxembourg champion time trialled his way to the finish, dosing his effort carefully on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas and then making light work of the Côte de Ans to claim the honours, 37 seconds clear of Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), who escaped a fragmented chasing group in the closing kilometres.

"I made the most of my rouleur abilities in the finale. I needed to be very careful with how I used my strength, especially when we got to Saint-Nicolas," Jungels said. "I couldn't push too deep. And then I still feared being caught in the finale. It was the longest kilometre in my life. I only saw I could win when I entered the last curve, not before."

Jungels’ teammate Julian Alaphilippe crossed the line just behind them in fourth, pointing to his jersey as he did so. Buoyed by victory at Flèche Wallonne in midweek, the Frenchman was the centre of much attention in the build-up to this race, and his presence in the reduced chasing group was pivotal to Jungels’ victory.

Nobody, not least four-time winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), wanted to give the fast-finishing Alaphilippe a free ride to the finish, even if it was to the obvious detriment of organising a coherent pursuit.

The general lack of organisation among the chasers – allied to Jungels’ prodigious strength – meant that the Luxembourger had 53 seconds in hand come the Saint-Nicolas, where Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) set out in determined lone pursuit.

Vandendert’s ferocious acceleration saw him close to within 25 seconds near the summit, but he lacked the horsepower to match Jungels over the other side, and was already beginning to fade even before the drag to Ans began in earnest.

In the game of bluff and counter-bluff behind, meanwhile, few seemed fully committed to the chase, and Alaphilippe even looked to take advantage of the caginess by accelerating in pursuit of Vandendert with a shade under four kilometres to go. That move withered once Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Valverde bridged across, and as the chasers fanned across the road, it was already evident that Jungels would, barring a late collapse, win Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Woods and Bardet sensed a lull and stole away from the chasers on the approach to Ans, catching and passing Vandendert on the final drag before the left-hand turn onto the finishing straight, but by that point, Jungels was already home and hosed.

Jungels’ margin of victory was the biggest since his fellow countryman Andy Schleck’s startling solo victory in 2009, and like that lone raid nine years ago, the winning move took shape on the Côte de Roche-aux-Faucons.

Jungels set a fearsome tempo on the climb itself that only Woods, Sergio Henao (Sky) and Jakob Fulgsang (Astana) could follow. That quartet was pegged back just shy of the summit, but rather than relent, Jungels kept piling on the pressure as the road flattened out and dropped, suddenly opening a lead of 20 seconds over a leading group that had been pared down to 15 or so riders by the climb.

It seemed far too early and too audacious a move to succeed in a race that has rewarded a more conservative approach over the past decade or so, but Quick-Step are seemingly operating on another plane this Spring. In many respects, Jungels’ attack was a replica of the tactic that proved so successful for Niki Terpstra at the Tour of Flanders, while Alaphilippe performed a decent imitation of Philippe Gilbert’s man-marking behind to help him augment his buffer.

"It's the greatest one-day race to me, the most beautiful," Jungels said. "As a Luxembourger, I had lots of supporters cheering for me and my family also came to see me racing, so it’s very special to win here."

How it unfolded

It was a day of unseasonal warmth in the Ardennes, with a temperature of 19 degrees at the start on Liège’s Place Saint Lambert, which rose into the mid-twenties as the afternoon progressed. The opening kilometres saw nine riders – Florian Vachon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Loïc Vliegen (BMC), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Mark Christian, Casper Pedersen (Aqua Blue Sport), Paul Ourselin (Direct Énergie), Antoine Warnier (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic) and Mathias Van Gompel (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) – forge clear, building up a maximum advantage of 6 minutes and holding a buffer of 4 minutes until deep into the race.

As ever, the succession of climbs that followed the turn at Bastogne gradually began to take a toll on the peloton, though the severity of the parcours also means that few riders or teams are minded to show their hands until the last hour or so of racing. Instead, UAE-Emirates kept tabs on the break with Dan Martin in mind, before the Côte de la Redoute, with 35km to go, signalled the beginning of the denoument.

Up front, the impressive Baugnies was the final survivor of the break, dropping Christian, Perez and Ourselin on Le Redoute, while Enric Mas (Quick-Step) whittled down the main peloton with a brutal turn of pace-making that did for 2016 winner Wout Poels (Sky), among others.

Vincenzo Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida squad took over on the fast run-in to the Roche-aux-Faucons, catching Baugnies in the process, but the Sicilian would make little impact on the climb, and was himself distanced shortly after Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step) ignited affairs with a rasping but short-lived acceleration.

Sergio Henao was next to try his luck, and the Colombian was soon joined by Jungels, Woods and Fuglsang in opening a small gap at the front, while a number of contenders – Michael Matthews among them – lost contact behind. Jungels persisted in his effort over the top, and suddenly the race took on a new complexion, as the chasers scrambled to organise themselves behind.

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Dan Martin seemed the most determined of the chasers, or perhaps the most alert to the danger posed by Jungels, but their attempts to form a counter-attack ultimately came to nothing. Martin’s frustration would be compounded by a puncture 8km from the finish that ruled him out of the hunt for a podium berth.

Fuglsang eventually sent Astana teammate Davide Villella to the front to try to bring some order to the chase, but the other favourites seemed either to lack the teammates (in the case of Valverde and Bardet, for example) or the motivation (Dumoulin, for instance, had Michael Matthews in the third group) to contribute wholeheartedly to the chase.

Perhaps there was little to be done in any case. Jungels’ concession of ground on the Saint-Nicolas might briefly have raised hopes among the chasers, but a rider of his qualities was hardly likely to squander a head start of almost a minute, and so it proved.

"Bob Jungels was the strongest guy today. He deserves his victory. When he went clear on La Roche-aux-Faucons, the pace was really high," Bardet said. "We attacked in the finale and we weren’t able to see him so we knew we were racing for the second place because he’s such a class rider, we knew we couldn’t bridge the gap on the flat."

Jungels’ victory is the third by a Luxembourg rider at Liège-Bastogne-Liège after Marcel Ernzer in 1954 and Andy Schleck nine years ago, and it continues a startling period of success for Quick-Step Floors, who have now won 27 races in 2018 through 12 different riders. At times, they almost seem to be racing among themselves.



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Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors6:24:44
2Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:00:37
3Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors0:00:39
5Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
8Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott
9Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
10Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
11Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:45
12Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb0:00:48
13Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:51
14Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:01:06
15Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb0:01:24
16Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:44
17Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:02:08
18Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates0:02:41
19Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team0:02:50
20Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:02:53
21Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-Alpecin0:02:56
22Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
23Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:03:07
24Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
25Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
26Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
27Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
28Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
29Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
30Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data
31Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
32Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
33Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
34Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data
35Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
36Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
37Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
38Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
39Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team
40Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
41Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team
42Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott
43Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
44Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team
45Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:03:15
46Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:03:17
47Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
48Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:18
49Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
50Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-Alpecin0:03:22
51Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
52Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie
53Warren Barguil (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic0:03:24
54Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:03:25
55Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Trek-Segafredo0:03:34
56Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:03:37
57Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe0:03:42
58Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:04:01
59Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team0:05:25
60Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team
61Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:06:00
62Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo0:08:50
63Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb0:09:08
64José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team0:09:17
65Ian Boswell (USA) Katusha-Alpecin0:09:18
66Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport
67Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
68Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb0:09:24
69Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:10:11
70Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
71Mark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport
72Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal
73Paul Ourselin (Fra) Direct Energie
74Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension Data
75Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal
76Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
77Simon Gerrans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
78Paul Martens (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo
79Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
80Carlos Verona (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott
81Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
82Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data
83Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
84Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:11:36
85David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:11:43
86Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:12:03
87Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
88Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
89Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team
90Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data
91Elie Gesbert (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
92Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
93Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
94Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
95Bram Tankink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
96Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
97Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
98Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
99Amael Moinard (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
100Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott
101Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:12:47
102Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky0:14:06
103Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
104Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb0:14:32
105Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team Sunweb
106Edward Dunbar (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport
107Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
108Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:15:48
109Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
110Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
111Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
112Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
113Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
114Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie
115Fabien Doubey (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
116Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
117Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky
118Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
119Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
120Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:16:35
121Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:18:05
122Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates0:18:06
123Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky
124Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates0:18:15
125Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team
126Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
127Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin
128Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport
129Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
130Justin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
131Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
132Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
DNFRomain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFFloris De Tier (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFBert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFJos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFDanny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFAlexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFJonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFFlorian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
DNFBryan Nauleau (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFRein Taaramäe (Est) Direct Energie
DNFPiet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFDries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFMathias Van Gompel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFMaxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFThomas Deruette (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFLaurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
DNFAntoine Warnier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFGregory Daniel (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNFDaniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFMaxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFChristophe Masson (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFChristoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFJulien Mortier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFMatteo Bono (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNFFranco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
DNFRémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
DNFBen Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFBenoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFLéo Vincent (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFKim Magnusson (Swe) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNFKevin Ledanois (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFLoïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team
DNFRúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo
DNFJulien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFMaxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFScott Davies (GBr) Dimension Data
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
DNFCasper Pedersen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
DNFCalvin Watson (Aus) Aqua Blue Sport
DNFMichael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott


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