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Remco Evenepoel wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) claimed the biggest victory of his career to date at Liège-Bastogne-Liège after he soloed clear atop the Côte de la Redoute with 29km remaining.

The sheer difficulty of the oldest Monument traditionally calls on contenders to mete their efforts out carefully but Evenepoel showed no inhibitions when he powered away from the group of favourites on the race’s emblematic climb, the Côte de La Redoute. He was not to be seen again by his rivals until he mounted the podium in Liège.

Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) won the group sprint for second place ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) at 48 seconds, but that joust was a mere footnote as Evenepoel notched up the first Monument win of his career in his belated first appearance at La Doyenne.

Evenepoel’s victory saved his QuickStep-AlphaVinyl team’s Spring Classics campaign, but came after his teammate Julian Alaphilippe left the race in an ambulance following a mass crash ahead of the Col du Rosier.

For Evenepoel, the victory also appeared to mark the final, triumphant step in his long recovery from the heavy crash that ended his challenge at the 2020 edition of Il Lombardia. Although he has been a regular winner since his return to the peloton, the 22-year-old had also suffered high-profile setbacks in major events, but his dominance here brooked no argument.

He was in a race of his own from the moment he hit the front on La Redoute, climbing from the saddle and burning Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) off his wheel.

“I think today was my best day on the bike maybe ever. The perfect day to have my best day on the bike, I guess,” said Evenepoel.

“It’s incredible. I’ve been suffering a lot, mentally and physically, over the last year and a half. Finally, this year I feel that everything is going well, everything is getting stable, and I’m getting back to the best Remco again. [QuickStep] always believed in me, even when I had difficult days like in Tirreno.”

Evenepoel’s fierce attack near the top of the Redoute saw him force his way clear of the group of favourites, and he proceeded to pick his way through the remnants of the day’s early break. He would drop the last survivor of the move, Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), on the final ascent of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons with 14km remaining.

Evenepoel had a lead of half a minute over his pursuers at the base of that climb and when he extended that advantage on its steep slopes, the run-in to Liège became something of a coronation. Indeed, he was already punching the air in celebration with a little under 3km to go.

Ironically, Evenepoel was perhaps aided by the presence of his rival Van Aert in the chasing group, given that few wanted to help bring the Belgian champion to a sprint in Liège.

When Van Aert was distanced by accelerations from Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) on the unclassified hill at Boncelles with 10km remaining, for instance, Evenepoel’s advantage briefly dipped inside 20 seconds. But when Van Aert clawed his way back on over the other side, the momentum ebbed from the chase, and Evenepoel’s lead stretched out accordingly.

Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) made an attempt to clip away for a podium spot in the finale, but he was clawed back on the outskirts of Liège, and a 13-man sprint ensued, with the surprising Herman and Van Aert beating Daniel Martínez (Ineos), Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) to the podium.

“I tried to hang with the best on the steep climbs but there was just one really strong guy in front of us that was better than the others,” said Van Aert.

The day belonged to Evenepoel, who became the first Belgian winner since Philippe Gilbert in 2011. He was perhaps also the first winner to show his hand so openly on La Redoute since the late Frank Vandenbroucke in 1999. On that occasion, Vandenbroucke opted to desist and wait to unleash his winning move on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas. Here, Evenepoel simply never let up.

“With a headwind, it was really difficult to keep pushing,” he said. “But I knew that everybody was suffering the whole day.”

How it unfolded (opens in new tab)

The absence of defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) changed the complexion of La Doyenne, even if the race’s intrinsic difficulty remained resolutely in place.

A rapid start saw some 46km covered in the opening hour of racing, and the early break took shape in instalments, with 11 riders eventually forming the échapée matinale: Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Jacob Madsen (Uno-X), Sylvain Moniquet, Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal), Pau Miquel (Equipo Kern Pharma), Baptiste Planckaert (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Fabien Doubey, Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies), Marco Tizza, Kenny Molly and Luc Wirtgen (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces).

Their lead stood at 6:05 come the first climb of the Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne after 76km before the increasingly rugged terrain and the growing urgency in the peloton began to take effect.

QuickStep-AlphaVinyl and Bahrain Victorious were laid down the tempo on the early climbs and by the time they hit Stavelot with 75km remaining and swung onto the Côte de Stockeu, the break’s advantage had been pared down to inside three minutes.

The Stockeu was followed in quick succession by the Côte de la Haute-Levée, and that combination whittled the break down to six riders, as Armirail, Moniquet, Vanhoucke, Ourselin, Doubey, and Wirtgen forged ahead.

The race took on an altogether different guise with a little over 60km remaining, however, when the peloton was hit by a mass crash on the rapid run-in to the base of the Col du Rosier, with Julian Alaphilippe among the heaviest fallers. The world champion was forced to abandon, while others such as Romain Bardet (DSM) and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost) also saw their challenges end here.

Only a third or so of the peloton managed to escape getting caught up in the incident, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), and Tom Pidcock (Ineos) among those who later succeeded in chasing back on to the Bahrain Victorious-propelled peloton.

Despite the crash, there was little let up at the head of the bunch, and Bahrain Victorious stepped up their onslaught on the Côte de Desnié, where Mikel Landa launched a volley of attacks.

The Basque made no fewer than four accelerations, prompting immediate reactions on each occasion, and his aggression also whittled the bunch down to just 40 or so riders as the race entered the final 40km, while the break’s lead was now at 1:38.

QuickStep-AlphaVinyl took up the reins on La Redoute, however. While Armirail dropped his breakaway companions and pushed on alone, Evenepoel bided his time behind until the steepest portion of the climb has passed before he unleashed a vicious attack near the summit that nobody could follow.

Evenepoel then picked his way through the stragglers from the break on the subsequent, unclassified Sprimont as he zoomed his way across to the lone leader Armirail. By the time he joined Armirail at the head of the race with 21km remaining, he had 30 seconds in hand on a reduced peloton, where Ineos, Movistar, Jumbo-Visma and Bahrain Victorious were leading the pursuit.

Evenpoel – with Armirail just about holding his wheel – hit the foot of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons with 15km to go with 38 seconds in hand on the pursuers, and the Belgian dropped his companion almost as soon as the gradient stiffened. Despite the severity of the gradient, he was able to remain seated all the way to the summit. From there, his victory was never in doubt.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 6:12:38
2Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:00:48
3Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
4Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
5Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) Bora-Hansgrohe
6Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
7Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
8Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-EasyPost
9Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
10Michael Woods (Can) Israel-Premier Tech
11Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
12Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team
13Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Israel-Premier Tech
14Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:52
15Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkea-Samsic 0:01:36
16Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
17Robert Stannard (Aus) Alpecin-Fenix 0:02:30
18Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
19Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
20Quentin Pacher (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
21Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) TotalEnergies
22Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
23Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
24Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
25Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM
26Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
27Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Cofidis
28Jonas Gregaard (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
29Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
30Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
31Sylvain Moniquet (Bel) Lotto Soudal
32Sam Oomen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
33Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 0:02:34
34Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
35Simon Geschke (Ger) Cofidis 0:04:34
36Paul Ourselin (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:05:03
37Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
38Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team
39Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
40Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
41Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
42Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
43Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
44Marc Soler (Spa) UAE Team Emirates
45Nicholas Schultz (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco 0:07:35
46Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
47Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
48Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
49Valentin Ferron (Fra) TotalEnergies
50Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
51Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
52Fabien Doubey (Fra) TotalEnergies
53Hugo Houle (Can) Israel-Premier Tech
54Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana Qazaqstan Team
55Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
56Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis
57Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
58Bob Jungels (Lux) AG2R Citroen Team
59Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
60Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:07:58
61Floris De Tier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
62Mikaël Cherel (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
63Pau Miquel Delgado (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
64Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
65Simon Guglielmi (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
66Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo
67Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Team
68Matthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal
69Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-EasyPost
70Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team
71Winner Anacona (Col) Arkea-Samsic
72Paul Lapeira (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
73Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Movistar Team
74Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel-Premier Tech 0:08:05
75Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal
76Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:10:06
77Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:10:55
78Cesare Benedetti (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
79Viktor Verschaeve (Bel) Lotto Soudal
80Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
81Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis
82Jan Maas (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco 0:13:45
83Mathijs Paasschens (Ned) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
84Jay Vine (Aus) Alpecin-Fenix
85Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
86Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
87Kevin Vermaerke (USA) Team DSM
88Eugenio Sanchez Lopez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
89Tom Paquot (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
90Ruben Apers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
91Tony Gallopin (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
92Simone Velasco (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
93Dario Cataldo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
94Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
95Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
96Kenny Molly (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
97Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
98David de la Cruz (Spa) Astana Qazaqstan Team
99Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
100Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers
101Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers
102Ibon Ruiz Sedano (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
103Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
104Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM
105Raul Garcia Pierna (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma 0:15:15
106Matis Louvel (Fra) Arkea-Samsic 0:15:17
107Remy Mertz (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 0:17:29
108Fredrik Dversnes (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 0:21:30
109Jacob Madsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
110Jenno Berckmoes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
111Vito Braet (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
112Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
113Torjus Sleen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
114Danny van der Tuuk (Ned) Equipo Kern Pharma
115Anders Halland Johannessen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
116Francisco Galvan Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma 0:21:35
DNFGeorge Bennett (NZl) UAE Team Emirates
DNFBrandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates
DNFJulian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNFIlan Van Wilder (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNFOier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFLuis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFOmer Goldstein (Isr) Israel-Premier Tech
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel-Premier Tech
DNFDaryl Impey (RSA) Israel-Premier Tech
DNFRomain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM
DNFLeon Heinschke (Ger) Team DSM
DNSJai Hindley (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFWilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFIde Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFOmar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFCarlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFFabio Felline (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNFAleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNSTiesj Benoot (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
DNFTimo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
DNFJos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
DNFJonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma
DNFMichael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNFAlexandre Balmer (Swi) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNFChristopher Juul-Jensen (Den) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNFJesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
DNFVictor Lafay (Fra) Cofidis
DNFDorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
DNFLarry Warbasse (USA) AG2R Citroen Team
DNFSébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFElie Gesbert (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
DNFLukasz Owsian (Pol) Arkea-Samsic
DNFRuben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFSimon Carr (GBr) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFOdd Christian Eiking (Nor) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFBen Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFRigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFTobias Halland Johannessen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFIdar Andersen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFBaptiste Planckaert (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFCorne van Kessel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFGeorg Zimmermann (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFJimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFScott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFJeremy Cabot (Fra) TotalEnergies
DNFFabien Grellier (Fra) TotalEnergies
DNFCristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) TotalEnergies
DNFJohan Meens (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
DNSKamiel Bonneu (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFAlex Colman (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFGilles De Wilde (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFJulian Mertens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFUrko Berrade Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma

Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne - km 76.7
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 1

Côte de Saint-Roch - km 124.1
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fabien Doubey (Fra) TotalEnergies 1

Côte de Mont-le-Soie - km 167.9
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Paul Ourselin (Fra) TotalEnergies 1

Côte de Wanne - km 176.2
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal 1

Côte de Stockeu (Stèle Eddy Merckx) - km 182.8
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal 1

Côte de la Haute-Levée - km 187
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal 1

Col du Rosier - km 201.2
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 1

Côte de Desnié - km 214.5
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fabien Doubey (Fra) TotalEnergies 1

Côte de la Redoute - km 227.7
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 1

Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons - km 243.8
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 1

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.

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