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Liege-Bastogne-Liege

03:49:09

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Remco Evenepoel wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege!



He has time to enjoy his moment as the first Belgian winner in eleven years, while a spectator jumps onto the course and runs behind him wearing a t-shirt reading "Climate Justice Now". Box office stuff from Evenepoel. In the sprint for the podium places Fuglsang leads out Woods, then Wout van Aert looks to be taking the runner up spot, but it's Quinten Hermans who steals second, with Van Aert in third, making it a Belgian 1-2-3.

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3km to go: Remco punches the air

And points to his head. Showboating? Maybe. He certainly thinks he’s got this. And he’s probably right. Wearing number 13 hasn't hurt him today, that's for sure.

4km to go: Is it in the bag?

Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora Hansgrohe) has had enough of the others’ dithering but he doesn’t seem to have the legs to bring Remco back on his own and he’s fighting through excruciating pain just to keep the gap at 30 seconds. The stragglers are almost a minute in arrears.

8km to go: Remco is on a mission

Time trialling his way through the Liege suburbs. His advantage did come down to 21 seconds but as the chasers slow to recover, up it goes to half a minute again.

10km to go: Bahrain Victorious back on the front

But it’s hard to see them bringing the boy back. The peloton is maybe 20 riders strong as they take on some of the last unclassified climbing metres of the race. Ten seconds of the gap is gone in a flash, but they’re having to suffer to take them. Wout van Aert has been dropped.

15km to go: The elastic snaps

And a still-seated Remco doesn’t look back, as Armirail watches him disappear up the road. “They’re not going to catch him” says Adam Blythe. Movistar have been doing the work but halfway up the climb, the peloton are largely looking at each other. Cosnefroy and Madouas have both been dropped.

20km to go: Evenepoel catches Armirail

He doesn’t seem too fussed about keeping the Frenchman’s company, but Armirail will do his back to hold Remco’s wheel. 35 seconds the gap as they arrive at the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons (1.3km à 10.5%).

22km to go: Evenepoel hunting for Armirail

He locks onto and overtakes Sylvain Moniquet, which means there’s only Armirail ahead of him, by about twenty seconds, on the road. The peloton, being pulled by Mikel Landa, is about thirty seconds off Remco’s wheel. One climb to go, the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.

29km to go: Ferocious attack from Remco Evenepoel!

That was a massive move from the young Belgian, just before the top of La Redoute. He really punched the pedals to the point where his back wheel span out. He’s going for it on the descent, that gap is very real already, and he's already caught Paul Ourselin from the break. Behind they’re watching each other more than him. Will they live to regret that?

30km to go: AG2R take over on La Redoute

Benoit Cosnefroy wants to make up for the disappointment of Amstel Gold - he’s definitely due a big one. The breakaway is splitting up on the climb, and it’s Armirail who is going to lead over the top, and over a hundred “Phil”s painted onto the road.
The man himself, Mr Gilbert, soaks up the applause at the back of the peloton. There will be no final flourish from him but a lap of honour seems appropriate.

Pidcock and Mollema have also been dropped.

37km to go: Wout Poels’s turn to test their legs

Though Movistar are trying to keep things under control at the front of the peloton. It looks like the breakaway will make it onto and up La Redoute. We’re nearly onto the iconic climb, one of the greats of world cycling. Remco is now very visible, as is Wout van Aert.

43km to go: Julian Alaphilppe out of the race

The World Champion is reported to be in an ambulance, but conscious. We wish him well. That surely means QuickStep are all in for Remco Evenepoel now.
Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) tries an attack on the Côte de Desnié, looking to split this race apart. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo Visma) is obliged to chase the Basque rider down. Mauri Vansevenant chases for QuickStep and Remco isn't far behind. The Bahrain Victorious surges have really whittled down the peloton and brought the break's lead back down to 98 seconds.

45km to go: Gilbert’s last dance

The current rider most synonymous with this race, who is taking part for the last time, has just shown his face at the front. Philippe Gilbert was raised near La Redoute, which we're not far from the foot of, and made his name with a famous victory eleven years ago. What a time this would be to take his second. As they prop up the basement of the team standings and stare relegation in the face, Lotto Soudal certainly could do with it...

50km to go: Most riders back in the bunch

Including Valverde, Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Bauke Mollema (Trek Segafredo). We’ve seen a replay showing Romain Bardet climbing into a ditch to help a rider who we think was Julian Alaphilippe. While that could have been a lot worse and looked like it was, it was clearly not kind to everyone.
Bahrain Victorious still doing most of the work at the front of the peloton. The breakaway has reduced to six riders, including all three WorldTour men, and their gap has certainly stabilised and is perhaps increasing slightly. It's back at 3 minutes.

59.4km to go: Massive crash in the peloton!

Really horrific scenes involving as many as 25 riders on a 70kph descent. EF seem to be among the most impacted, with at least five of their riders, including Rigoberto Uran off the road, though most seem to be walking wounded.
Rob Hatch and Adam Blythe still trying to work out what happened and count the cost. Looked like a Bahrain Victorious rider was first to hit the deck, while Tom Pidcock went flying into the trees. Valverde is chasing, with the help of Carlos Verona (Movistar) as is Valentin Madouas (Groupama FDJ) Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Domenico Pozzovivo. Looking to see where Julian Alaphilippe is.
The race rolls onto the Col du Rosier (4.4km à 5.7%).

62km to go: Crash in the peloton!

Two riders caught out with some complicated road furniture. Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost) one of them.

70km to go: The Côte de la Haute-Levée

And straight away they’re onto another climb. Not a big one, averaging 7% across its 2.2km, but they all add up. Five more big ones to go, this is a really attritional race.

75km to go: The Cote de Stockeu

LBL really is the climbers’ Monument and apart from La Redoute, the Cote de Stockeu is one of those ramps synonymous with it. It’s only 1km long but it AVERAGES 12.4% so it’s a very real test. Eddy Merckx famously made use of it throughout his five victories at La Doyenne. There’s even a statue at the top, that the break has just passed, dedicated to the Cannibal.
Harm Vanhoucke pulled the breakaway up, hard enough that Planckaert and Tizza have fallen away. It’s Quickstep-Alphavinyl setting the pace of the peloton.
77km to go: Who’s up the road?
It was a bit of a tussle to get into the break of the day. Eventually two groups did become one. They are:
Bruno Armirail (Groupama FDJ)
Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto Soudal)
Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal)
Jacob Hinsgaul (Uno X Pro Cycling)
Baptiste Planckaert (Intermarche Wanty Gobert)
Fabien Doubey (TotalEnergies)
Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies)
Kenny Molly (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB)
Marco Tizza (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB)
Luc Wirtgen (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB)
Pau Miquel (Equipo Kern Pharma)
The lead is 3’19.

Bienvenue au dernière Monument du printemps

The oldest of the Monuments and, perhaps unfairly, today the least loved, La Doyenne is nonetheless entirely worthy of its status at the top table of the one-day classics. Beyond the industrial suburbs of Liege, is the most elegant, understated rolling countryside of the Ardennes.
The main news to report is that defending champion, UAE Team Emirates leader and strong favourite, Tadej Pogacar, withdrew yesterday and flew back to Slovenia following the sudden death of his fiancee’s mother.
The startlist is no less Grand Tour-y, even without the presence of Pogacar. There are a lot of riders who can win this… After Dylan Teuns’ victory at La Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday, is he the big favourite for today? What about Julian Alaphilippe, who celebrated too early two years ago? Could Alejandro Valverde roll back the years? Romain Bardet achieved his first stage race win in 9 years at the Tour of the Alps - he must be among the favourites.

Who is riding?

Good golly, who isn’t? It’s a startlist brimming with talent and featuring five of the six previous winners, with only the 2020 champion Primoz Roglic sitting this one out. Joining the defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) at the startline will be the record four-time winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) of Spain, the Danish 2019 champion Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech), the 2018 winner Bob Jungels (Ag2R-Citroen) of Luxembourg, and the Dutch 2016 winner Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious).
Other standout names include the French world champion Julian Alaphilippe and his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team-mate Remco Evenepoel of Belgian, Milan-San Remo winner Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) of Slovenia, Belgian champion Wout van Aert and his Danish colleague Jonas Vingegaard (both Jumbo-Visma), the Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe), Spain’s Enric Mas (Movistar), and the Italian veteran Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan), who finished runner-up exactly a decade ago.
Ineos Grenadiers are on a roll with consecutive victories in the Amstel Gold Race, De Brabantse Pijl and Paris-Roubaix ahead of Wednesday’s La Fleche Wallonne. While they won’t be among the favourites in La Doyenne, they have a versatile team that includes British duo Tom Pidcock and Geraint Thomas, Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski (the Amstel Gold winner who has twice finished third in Liege), and the in-form Colombian Dani Martinez, winner of the recent Itzulia Basque Country.
Read Felix Lowe's full preview here

What is the route?

The men’s race is 257.1km long and features 10 categorised climbs and numerous lumps and bumps (for a total elevation gain of 4,500 metres) as the riders go on an anti-clockwise loop south of Liege. With the exception of the Cote de La Roche-en-Ardenne, all of the climbs come on the homeward leg once the race returns north after passing through Bastogne after the opening 100 kilometres.
After the Cote de Saint-Roch, Cote de Mont-le-Soie, Cote de Wanne, Cote de Stockeu and Cote de Haute-Levee comes the longest climb of the day, the Col du Rosier, which is 4.4km long at 5.9%, followed by the leg-sapping Cote de Desnie ahead of the decisive final climb combination.
A slight tweak to the course this year brings the penultimate climb, the Cote de la Redoute (2km at 8.9%) six kilometres closer to the finish. This is followed by a 16km run to the foot of the final climb, the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons (1.3km at 11%), which had proved to be the pivotal moment in recent years. After a short decent, it’s followed almost instantaneously by another uncategorised lump that rises for one kilometre at 6% before the downhill ride towards Liege and the flat home straight.
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