Jakob Fuglsang (Team Astana) took the biggest win of his career at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, soloing to victory from the top of the Côte de Roche-aux-Faucons. Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe), one of the men he left behind, took second, while Formolo's teammate Max Schachmann sprinted to third from an elite chase group.
The win caps a wonderful spring for Fuglsang and his Astana team. It's his third win of the season and Astana's 23rd, but the Dane has so often been a nearly man in the classics with three podium places so far. Victory at the final classic of the spring is just reward for his efforts.
In a race which fizzled at times but never really detonated, the main action once again came on the day's final climb – despite the route revamp. Michael Woods (EF Education First) kicked off the action on the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons after an earlier attack group had been caught.
Fuglsang was first to react, while the big favourite – and his spring nemesis – Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) faltered. Formolo went too, forming a lead trio over the top. The Dane kept pushing on though, eventually breaking his companions on the shallower rise at the summit.
From there it was all Fuglsang, with Formolo and Woods' solo efforts making no gains, and an elite chase group including Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) failing to make headway either.
Barring a near-disastrous rear wheel slide on the final descent – "a scary moment, but a bit of adrenaline for the last part" he said later – it was plain sailing to the finish for Fuglsang.
"It's an amazing feeling," he said after the finish. "I'm glad my wife was right [about me being able to win here], and I will always listen to her from now on.
"On the last climb, I had the team leaving me in the perfect position," he added. "Before the climb, they were a little bit everywhere most of the day but in the important moment they were there and they did an amazing job.
"Gorka [Izagirre] led me into Roche-aux-Faucons in a perfect way and when Woods launched his attack it was a perfect way for me to jump with him. I knew it from Friday when we saw the parcours that I could not wait, so I said 'on the first part of the Roche-aux-Faucons I have to do a selection if I cannot go alone.'
"I tried and I looked back and saw [Woods] was gone. Formolo also let me get 2-3 metres and then I knew that now I had to leave everything out, now I have to die before the top and try to keep going."
How it happened
It was a damp and chilly morning in Liège as the peloton rolled out to begin the 105th edition of the oldest Monument on the calendar. Perhaps due to the poor conditions, it didn't take very long for the break to establish themselves, with little fight from the peloton in the early stages.
Four riders – Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ), Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Gobert) and Jérémy Maison (Arkéa-Samsic) – got away almost immediately, while Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Énergie), Kevin Deltombe (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and the Wallonie-Bruxelles duo of Kenny Molly and Mathijs Paasschens would soon link up to make it eight up front.
The opening stages – still wet and cold – were a quiet affair, with Deceuninck-Quick Step and Lotto-Soudal among the teams setting the pace at the head of the peloton. The break’s advantage reaches 10:30 at one point, but was just over six minutes as the eight men reached the southernmost point of the route in Bastogne.
Deceuninck-Quick Step upped the pace with around 110km to race, so much so that the peloton split. The resulting chaos left behind a reduced peloton of around 80 riders, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) the major victim, abandoning 105km from the finish. Another former winner, Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) had abandoned earlier on.
Gorka Izagirre (Astana) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) were among the riders caught out, later attacking across the gap to try and save their races. Up front, Bernard left the break behind on the Côte de Mont-le-Soie, going solo 95km from the line.
He would last out front until shortly after the Côte de Haute-Levée, when attacks from the peloton saw his gap evaporate. Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) was among the most active men as a large group broke away from the peloton. There were some elite names in the move, including Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), but the two groups soon came back together on the Col du Rosier.
On that same climb, with 64km to race, Tanel Kangert (EF Education First) and Omar Fraile (Astana) countered, kicking off yet more attacks from the peloton. The Movistar duo of Carlos Verona and Winner Anacona were there, as were Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team), Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale), David De La Cruz (Team Sky), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida), Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-Scott) and Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal).
The group worked well together, gaining 40 seconds on the peloton by the foot of La Redoute with 39km to race. There, it was Kangert who pushed on, but the climb passed with no attacks from the peloton.
On the way to the final climb of the day, the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, three riders made their way across to Kangert. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) made it a four-man group on the final climb of the day, but despite Wellens’ attack, they were all brought back by the Astana-led peloton.
Jakob Fuglsang, so often the bridesmaid this spring, followed an attack by Michael Woods (EF Education First), while Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) made it across to make it a lead trio.
Fuglsang was solo once again on the drag over the top though, shedding the duo and going for glory. Further back, a group including Nibali, Yates, Mikel Landa (Movistar), Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) got away from the peloton.
But Fuglsang was only gaining time on those behind. After podium places at Strade Bianche, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, the Dane wouldn’t be denied his big classic win here.
The Nibali group was working together, but Fuglsang wasn’t ceding any time – not to them, nor to Formolo. There was a hairy moment on the final descent when Fuglsang lost his rear wheel on some damp road markings, but he handled it masterfully, keeping it upright, and keeping his then-inevitable victory on track.
There were no such problems in the flat final 4km though, and he retained his advantage to the finish to seal the biggest win of his career.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||6:37:37|
|2||Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora - Hansgrohe||0:00:27|
|3||Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora - Hansgrohe||0:00:57|
|4||Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton - Scott|
|5||Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First|
|6||David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama - FDJ|
|7||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Movistar Team|
|8||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain - Merida||0:01:00|
|9||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain - Merida||0:01:05|
|10||Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky||0:01:26|
|11||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:01:29|
|12||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky|
|13||Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|14||Jay Mc Carthy (Aus) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|15||Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team|
|16||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick - Step|
|17||Laurens De Plus (Bel) Team Jumbo - Visma|
|18||Tadej Pogačar (Slo) Uae Team Emirates|
|19||Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team|
|20||Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Col) EF Education First|
|21||Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|22||Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha Alpecin|
|23||Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton - Scott||0:02:09|
|24||Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|25||Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama - FDJ|
|26||Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek - Segafredo|
|27||Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|28||Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|29||Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) UAE Team Emirates||0:02:12|
|30||Jan Bakelants (Bel) Team Sunweb||0:02:13|
|31||Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama - FDJ||0:02:15|
|32||Tanel Kangert (Est) EF Education First||0:02:17|
|33||Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team||0:02:26|
|34||Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek - Segafredo||0:02:28|
|35||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb||0:03:03|
|36||Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain - Merida||0:03:15|
|37||Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team||0:03:34|
|38||Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team Katusha Alpecin|
|39||Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|40||Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First|
|41||Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC Team||0:03:37|
|42||Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles||0:04:11|
|43||Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Team Dimension Data|
|44||Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team|
|45||Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|46||G Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First|
|47||Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:06:05|
|48||Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept - B&B Hotels||0:06:53|
|49||Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky||0:06:56|
|50||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb|
|51||Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb|
|52||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team|
|53||Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora - Hansgrohe||0:08:22|
|54||Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana Pro Team||0:09:20|
|55||Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team|
|56||Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team|
|57||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain - Merida|
|58||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick - Step|
|59||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Deceuninck - Quick - Step|
|60||Damien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton - Scott|
|61||Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek - Segafredo|
|62||Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise||0:09:48|
|63||Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Team Sunweb|
|64||Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|65||Dmitrii Strakhov (Rus) Team Katusha Alpecin||0:10:36|
|66||Lawrence Warbasse (USA) AG2R La Mondiale|
|67||David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team Sky||0:11:32|
|68||Winner Andrew Anacona (Col) Movistar Team||0:11:59|
|69||Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|70||Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton - Scott|
|71||Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team|
|72||Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain - Merida|
|73||José Gonçalves (Por) Team Katusha Alpecin||0:13:11|
|74||Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky|
|75||Edward Dunbar (Irl) Team Sky|
|76||Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|77||Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Team|
|78||Koen Bouwman (Ned) Team Jumbo - Visma|
|79||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Dimension Data|
|80||Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky|
|81||Nils Politt (Ger) Team Katusha Alpecin|
|82||Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|83||Paul Martens (Ger) Team Jumbo - Visma|
|84||Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Jumbo - Visma|
|85||Benjamin King (USA) Team Dimension Data||0:17:39|
|86||Nathan Haas (Aus) Team Katusha Alpecin|
|87||Justin Jules (Fra) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|88||Josef Černý (Cze) CCC Team|
|89||Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek - Segafredo|
|90||Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal|
|91||Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick - Step|
|92||Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team|
|93||Romain Sicard (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|94||Petr Vakoč (Cze) Deceuninck - Quick - Step|
|95||Clément Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:24:12|
|96||Romain Hardy (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|97||Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain - Merida|
|98||Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Team Katusha Alpecin|
|99||Arnaud Courteille (Fra) Vital Concept - B&B Hotels|
|100||Jacques Willem Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Dimension Data|
|101||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Jérémy Maison (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|DNF||Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|DNF||Mathijs Paasschens (Ned) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|DNF||Kenny Molly (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|DNF||Kevyn Ista (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|DNF||Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept - B&B Hotels|
|DNF||Kevin Reza (Fra) Vital Concept - B&B Hotels|
|DNF||Cyril Gautier (Fra) Vital Concept - B&B Hotels|
|DNF||Yoann Bagot (Fra) Vital Concept - B&B Hotels|
|DNF||Patrick Müller (Swi) Vital Concept - B&B Hotels|
|DNF||Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|DNF||Mathias Van Gompel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Florian Vachon (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|DNF||Amael Moinard (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|DNF||Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) Groupama - FDJ|
|DNF||Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|DNF||Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team|
|DNF||Elie Gesbert (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic|
|DNF||Paul Ourselin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Bryan Nauleau (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Fabien Grellier (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora - Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Team Dimension Data|
|DNF||Mathias Le Turnier (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Rob Power (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton - Scott|
|DNF||Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Sam Bewley (NZl) Mitchelton - Scott|
|DNF||Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain - Merida|
|DNF||Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|DNF||Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Angelo Tulik (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|DNF||Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick - Step|
|DNF||Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick - Step|
|DNF||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First|
|DNF||Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Mitchelton - Scott|
|DNF||Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek - Segafredo|
|DNF||Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team|
|DNF||Fabien Doubey (Fra) Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team|
|DNF||Jerome Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team|
|DNF||Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Team Dimension Data|
|DNF||Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Team Dimension Data|
|DNF||Nathan Brown (USA) EF Education First|
|DNF||Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama - FDJ|
|DNF||Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama - FDJ|
|DNF||William Bonnet (Fra) Groupama - FDJ|
|DNF||Marco Mathis (Ger) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek - Segafredo|
|DNF||Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team|
|DNF||Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Team Jumbo - Visma|
|DNF||Thomas Leezer (Ned) Team Jumbo - Visma|
|DNF||Robert Gesink (Ned) Team Jumbo - Visma|
|DNF||Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) CCC Team|
|DNF||Joseph Rosskopf (USA) CCC Team|
|DNF||Serge Pauwels (Bel) CCC Team|
|DNF||Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Peter Stetina (USA) Trek - Segafredo|
Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in August 2019 after working as a freelance journalist for seven years, including time spent working for Cyclingnews and sister magazine, Procycling.
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