1. Maxim Iglinskiy (AST)
2. Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ)
3. Enrico Gasparotto (AST)
4. Thomas Voeckler (EUR)
5. Daniel Martin (GRM)
Enrico Gasparotto, meaning Astana have scooped two of the top three places
Kazakh Maxim Iglinskiy has won Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Second Nibali at 19 sec.
Iglinskiy away alone now, looking like he’s got this one in the bag
Iglinskiy has dropped Nibali just before the final km banner!
Iglinskiy reaches Nibali and accelerates almost immediately.
Iglinskiy is getting closer and closer to Nibali on the long, long ascent to Ans and the finish
Iglinskiy at less than 15 seconds with less than 3kms to go. Nibali is looking back
They’ve stopped the Liquigas car following Nibali and Iglinskiy (AST) is closing the gap behind Nibali.
Martin and Rolland have caught Rodriguez. Iglinskiy is closing the gap on Nibali. Maybe 15 seconds between the two.
Iglinskiy drops Rodriguez. Gilbert in difficulties behind
Just 25 seconds over Rodriguez and Iglinsky for Nibali as he goes up the Cote de Saint Nicolas
Nibali has passed the Standard de Liege stadium and fast approaching the Cote de Saint Nicolas.
Nibali has a gap of 40 seconds on his two closest chasers, Martin and Rolland counter from Gilbert’s group
Rodriguez and Iglinsky counter attack behind Nibali. Gilbert’s group fuses with the bigger chase group behind. So the situation is Nibali ahead, Rodriguez and Iglinsky chasing, then Gilbert’s group following.
Nibali has 16 seconds on a small group of seven including Gasparotto, Iglinksy, Rodriguez and Scarponi, then 22 seconds for Gilbert’s group.
Nibali has opened an definitive gap. Gilbert, Gasparotto, Iglinsky, Sanchez, Rodriguez, Kiserlovski, Mollema, Rolland, Voeckler, Scarponi, Van Den Broeck, Nocentini, Hesjedal, Martin, and Vanendert. 15 kilometres to go.
With 18.5 kilometres to go, Nibali attacks alone
Nibali drives over summit of Cote de Roche aux Faucons and moves away on the descent
Rodriguez dropping back, also Samuel Sanchez
Rolland is caught as Gilbert, Nibali and Vanendert move off the front
Nibali attacks on the front, closing gap on Pierre Rolland
14 seconds for the leaders at the foot of the Cote
Van Garderen and Santambrogio are leading on the descent. Nibali and Sanchez are also in the Gilbert group.
Just 20 seconds for the three breakaways on the BMC-led group
Frank Schleck is in a second group behind the BMC-led group. 25 kilometres to go.
Bunch in three parts as they cross the Cote du Sprimont and head down the long, sweeping descent towards the Cote de Roche aux Faucons. BMC driving heard on the front. Break at 37 seconds.
First three riders - Rolland, Cataldo and Kiryienka - have 45 seconds on the bunch led by BMC. Cote de Sprimont, an unclassified climb, is shortly about to come up.
Three riders on the front: Cataldo, Rolland and Kiryienka. Gilbert always there in the front of the pack of perhaps 40 riders, with a BMC rider ahead of him.
Valverde has a mechanical, has to continue on a team-mate’s bike
Rolland and Kiryienka alone at the front. Other three dropped. BMC force the pace behind.
BMC with Van Garderen driving, Gilbert close to front, ditto Valverde
Bazzana dropped from break, Moreno (Katusha) attacks with a Garmin-Barracuda rider from the pack
GreenEdge lead the pack at the foot of La Redoute.
The five leaders have 55 seconds at the foot of the Redoute
Christensen caught as the bunch races through Remouchamps, immediately before La Redoute. Still five riders ahead.
Big crowds on La Redoute
Christensen is at 55 seconds, the bunch at 1-05. 40 kilometres to go.
Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank), already on the attack in Fleche Wallone early on, has just broken away from the pack to try and reach the five ahead.
A balmy six degrees out there right now. Nine degrees this morning. Nice.
2011 LBL winner Philippe Gilbert has dropped back to his team-car to change his glasses and put on some arm-warmers. Showery weather out there. 1-30 for the break.
One kilometre from the summit of the Mont-Theux, Kevin Ista (ACC) has been dropped too. The bunch is at 1-20.
Just 50 kms left to race now
The break has reached the Mont Theux and the three late arrivals to the break (Kiryienka, Le Lay and Rolland) are doing all the work on the front. Habeaux not looking too happy at the back.
Next up is Mont-Theux, scene of the famous attack by Miguel Indurain en route to his fifth Tour de France win in 1995. Only one rider could follow Big Mig when he took off, Johan Bruyneel (now a manager at RadioShack), and he said later it was like ’trying to follow a motorbike’. He still managed to beat Indurain, and take the yellow jersey though, at the finish.
Gap is stable at 1-30. Very unpredictable weather out there, at the front of the bunch it doesn’t look like it’s raining, but at the back another shower has just started.
Habeaux has got back on to the front group, but no such luck for Honig
Reinier Honig (LAN) has been dropped from the break. Habeaux (ACC) not having a good time either.
For the first time since live tv coverage began, Lotto-Bellisol are on the front en masse. Five on the front. Jelle Vanendert, second in Amstel and fourth in Fleche, and Jurgen Van Den Broeck are the team’s two leaders,
The eight leaders are on the Cote du Maquisard, seventh of today’s 11 climbs. Kiryienka on the front. 1-30 on the bunch.
Appropriately enough, it’s started to rain just as the race reaches Spa.
The eight riders in the break are Pierre Rolland (EUR), Vasil Kiryienka (MOV) and David Le Lay (SAU), Dario Cataldo (OPQ), and Kevin Ista (ACC), Reinier Honig (LAN), Ista’s team-mate Gregory Habeaux (ACC) and Alessandro Bazzana (TTI). Interesting to see if Kiryienka is there to act as support for Valverde a bit later on? Gap stable at around 1-24 at km 190.
1-30 for the eight leaders
The three counter-attackers have joined the five, making for a front group of eight.
The five breakaways have crossed the summit of the Col du Rosier, and the three counter-attackers are getting closer and closer to them. Bunch at 2-20.
1-20 for the three counter-attackers. Bunch at 2-29. The five men in the break are on the six kilometre Col du Rosier - the longest climb in the race.
The chase group of Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar) and David Le Lay (Saur-Sojasun) is gaining time on the five leaders.
Sammy Sanchez, tenth in last year’s Liege, is back in the bunch following his mechanical on the Stockeu.
Rolland makes a brief dig off the front of the bunch as they go over the top of the Haut Levee, two other riders with him. 80 kilometres to go now. Roads still dry but big rainclouds looming.
Habeaux is the first rider from the five-man break across the summit of the Haut Levee (km 172) Honig second, Cataldo third. Bunch at less than three minutes.
One of the strongest riders in the early break but a crash victim on the Stockeu, Geschke caught by the bunch
Just like on the Stockeu, RadioShack (Horner and Jan Baklandts above all) are putting the hammer down on the Haut-Levee. Euskaltel riders dropping back to help Sanchez.
Cataldo has been rejoined by the rest of the break (Ista, Honig, Habeaux and Bazzana) barring Geschke, so five riders are on the front as they go up the Haut Levee. Ista’s doing a lot of the work. Bunch still together. Apart from Sanchez having a mechanical, and Uran in difficulties, not too many conclusions to draw from the first really nasty climb of the LBL 2012.
The first rider in the break, Dario Cataldo, is alone on the front as he goes up the Haut Levee. Geschke, who crashed at the foot of the Stockeu, is 3-00 down on the Italian
RadioShack on the front, Cunego close behind
Sanchez has a mechanical half-way up the Stockeu and is dropped
Cataldo is first across the summit of the Stockeu, and grabs a bottle from a team assistant as he does so.
Geschke’s back up again, and riding. Gives the cameras a thumbsup. But he’s a long way behind the break now.
Geschke, probaby the best climber of the six ahead, has crashed at the foot of the Stockeu, just when he was leading, skidding on the right-hand bend. He’s now sitting on the side of the road.
Next up is the Stockeu, one of the toughest single climbs in the whole of Belgium. Although short, just one kilometre long, it has an average of 12.2 percent, as well as a singularly tough descent.
Uran has just been dropped from the bunch on the Wanne. Not looking like his day.
Geschke gets the maximum number of points yet again at the top of climb number three, the Cote de Wanne. Ista second, Bazzana third. Bunch at 5-23
Saur-Sojasun are driving on the front. Brice Feillu and Julien Simon must be feeling strong today.
A kilometre from the summit of the Cote de Wanne for the six leaders. Meantime, the bunch has just hit the foot of the climb at full gas.
Uran: Looking Towards The Giro
Fifth in last year’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Rigoberto Uran’s crash and injury in Fleche Wallone has meant the Columbian says he is not looking for a big result today.
“To be honest, I’m looking more towards getting at good result at the Giro d’Italia than at Liege-Bastogne-Liege,” Uran tells letour.fr . “But I’ll do all the work I can to help my team-mates get a good result.”
Uran needed stitches in his leg after Wednesday’s crash in the frenetic first hour of Fleche Wallone. “It’s not too bad, but I missed the reconnaissance of the race on Thursday because I was injured and I’ll have to see how I’m feeling on the day.”
The six race leaders are at the foot of the Cote de Wanne, LBL’s climb number three. Just to refresh people’s memories, they are Dario Cataldo (OPQ), Simon Geschke (ARG) and Kevin Ista (ACC), Reinier Honig (LAN), Ista’s team-mate Gregory Habeaux (ACC) and Alessandro Bazzana (TTI). Geschke has taken top points in the first two climbs of the day.
Not too bad despite the heavy rain showers. Certainly not as tough as at Fleche for now. The road surfaces look pretty dry. Six riders out in front all moving through fairly smoothly. Gap is still dropping though, back down to 7-30. The bunch is not hanging about by any means.
After the brief respite, Katusha have started to drive yet again on the front, with Radio-Shack Nissan adding some firepower. We are at km 148.5 and the gap has dropped to 7-45.
One reason for the sudden increase in the time gap is that the bunch were sitting up briefly to answer calls of nature and hand over spare race clothing. No rain out there or at the finish, although it’s chilly.
The gap is beginning to increase significantly again, it’s up from 6-40 to 8-10.
Gap is up to 7-40
Surprised by his strong ride in Fleche Wallone, where he took sixth, Dan Martin (Garmin-Barracuda) has good morale for this Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
“I was surprised I did so well because I wasn’t feeling great at all, but I guess that’s the same for everybody and made me ride more conservatively.”
“I was trying to get to the front to help these guys [team-mate Ryder Hesjedal] and I rode my own pace, rode easy and just sprinted with 250 metres to go. Ryder did the same kind of thing a couple of years ago, and went from 20th to tenth , so I did the same thing.”
As for Liege, this is his fifth participation. He abandoned last year because of a crash in Fleche but the previous three years had ridden and completed the course.
“Every year I’m getting stronger, but this is definitely the hardest of the year. Harder than Lombardy. It’s because of the way it’s raced. There’s the bad weather, it always takes ages for the break to go, and then the racing starts at the Cote de Wanne, 100 kilometres from the finish, and it doesn’t stop.”
“It’s going to be a difficult day on the bike. My form’s good, but you can never tell what happens. In Classics like this, it all depends which side of the bed you get out of.”
Km 129.5 and the gap is 7-25
The gap has risen slightly to 7-20. Katusha are once more massing at the front of the bunch.
The lead six are now at km 131.5, in the village of Limerle, meaning they’ve now raced more than half of the 257.5 kilometres on the menu in today’s LBL.
And is now at 6-45
It’s stopped raining at the finish. But there’s some very sinister looking clouds lurking around out there. Not much wind, though. It’s hard to believe that last year Liege was held in Belgium’s hottest ever weather for April.
The Cote de Saint Roch, second climb of the 11 on the menu today, has caused a big chunk of the peloton to split off the back of the bunch. This is the first time this has happened in Liege this year. But it won’t be the last.
He missed out on Fleche Wallone but garnered a 20th place in Amstel, and Milan-San Remo winner Simon Gerrans is racing Liege-Bastogne-Liege as one of GreenEdge’s top contenders.
“Everyone in the team’s got good morale,” Gerrans told letour.fr. “We’ve had a good season so far and and I’d like nothing more than end my Classics season the way I started it.”
“But obviously there’s some of the best bike riders in the world here and everybody he would like to win, so it’s a tough race.”
“I only did Amstel because I didn’t come off the Tour of the Basque Country in the best shape possible, the weather was terrible there, so my final preparation for the Ardennes hasn’t been great, but so far I can’t complain about the season.”
“Since they brought it in a few years back, the most critical point in Liege-Bastogne-Liege has always been the Cote de Roche Aux Faucons (km 238), that’s where all the big attacks have gone in the last few years and it’s where you’ve got to be at the front.”
Just like on the first climb of the day, Geschke gets the points at the top of the Cote de Saint-Roch (km 116.5). Second was Habeaux, and third Cataldo. Their gap on the bunch is exactly 8-00.
The average speed of the race for the first three hours has been 38.3 kmh.
The six leaders are at km 114.5 about to start the climb of Cote de Saint-Roch. Lots of fans out there.
Km 106. Ten kilometres before the second climb (Cote de Saint-Roch) of the day, the gap is now 8-20.
Despite his impressive win at the Fleche Brabançonne last week, a fifth place in Amstel Gold and an eighth place in the Tour of Flanders, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) does not consider himself to be one of the top favourites for Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
“I’m confident for Sunday [today]” he told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure on Sunday. “Liege-Bastogne-Liege is a race which I’m taking with a great deal of respect and a great deal of humility.”
“I’m in good condition, my form can’t have dried up just like that, but I’m not one of the favourites. Don’t forget my best result here is tenth.”
Voeckler says his big favourite for today’s race is Philippe Gilbert, “and don’t forget Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Bellisol). Above all they understand each other really well.”
A curious piece of data: since 2007 (inclusive) either Andy or Frank Schleck have finished in the top five of LBL
Gap at 8-35
The bunch is now at 9-05
Whilst AG2R-La Mondiale manager Vincent Lavenu doesn’t have a real favourite for LBL this year, he is still very confident about what one of this riders at least, Tour de France 2009 leader Rinaldo Nocentini, could achieve. “I am sure he could get a good result, his condition is improving fast. He had a major injury 18 months back (he broke his leg in two places) and he took a long time to return to form. But in the last few weeks, he’s done very well, second in a stage of the Criterium, ninth in Amstel Gold and twelfth at Fleche. Sure, he’s not as fast as Gilbert or Rodriguez at the finish, but he can make it into the top five.”
The six leaders are now in Bastogne, km 98 of the race
At km 86, the gap is 10-15
Of last year’s top ten, those taking part in 2012 are as follows. Names are preceded by their position in last year’s race.
1. Phillipe Gilbert
2. Frank Schleck
3. Andy Schleck
5. Rigoberto Uran
6. Chris Anker Sorensen
7. Greg Van Avermaet
8. Vincenzo Nibali
10. Samuel Sanchez
12-00 for the bunch
Having reached a maximum gap of 12-35, the gap is beginning to come down. Katusha driving behind.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege was first held in 1892, and this is the 98th time the race has taken place. However, it’s only been a professional race 86 times. (Four of the other times were for amateurs and seven for ’independents’ [non-sponsored pros])
As a professional event, there have been 48 victories for Belgium. The other country ’scores’ are Italy: 12; Switzerland 6; France 4; Holland 3; Ireland, Germany, Spain, Luxemberg and Kazakstan 2 each; and America, Russia and Denmark 1.
Bunch is now at 12-35
There are three former winners in the race this year: Alejandro Valverde (2006 and 2008), Andy Schleck (2009) and Philippe Gilbert (2011).
Today’s winner will take home 20,000 euros. Second place will be worth 10,000 euros. And the third man on the podium gets 5,000 euros. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s raining hard at the finish.
And we’ve reached our first climb of the day, La Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne at km 70 and Geschke was the first rider through. Second was Habeaux and third was Honig. The bunch is at 9-55.
Three times a winner in the Tour of Lombardy and a winner of an Amstel Gold, Damiano Cunego says he has recovered from his crash in Amstel last Sunday - and the proof is a second place at the Tour of Trentino in Italy this week, as well as a stage win.
As Lampre sports director told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure on Sunday, “our team can be based around three riders, not just Damiano, but also Michele Scarponi and Diego Ulissi” - ninth in Fleche Wallone.
“But as we aren’t favourites, we’ll watch and wait. It’s not up to us to control the race.”
For Cunego, the proof he can be a factor in LBL is that he has raced well in Trentino. “I rode there in 2006, when I was third in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. So my confidence is high.”
In La Derniere Heure’s interview with Philippe Gilbert (BMC) today, the Belgian recognises a second straight win in LBL would be a great way to finish the spring: “I’ve just had two top ten places [in Amstel and Fleche Wallone], but that’s not the same as being the winner. We couldn’t say that Liege this year is like a last chance saloon for me, though. Why evaluate the season after three months? This is the last classic in spring, and it’s important for me, but I’ve not been lucky. I’ve not had the build-up for this race that I wanted..”
Gap is rising fast. Up to 9-35.
And the gap for the six riders on the front is now 8-05
If Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) wins today, it will be the ninth time a Fleche winner has then gone on to win LBL in the same year.
For the record, the winners of the Fleche-Liege double are
1951: Ferdi Kubler
1952: Ferdi Kubler
1955: Stan Ockers
1972: Eddy Merckx
1991: Moreno Argentin
2004: Davide Rebellin
2006: Alejandro Valverde
2011: Philippe Gilbert
The three counter-attackers have bridged across to the front group. So that means we have Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma), Simon Geschke (Argos), Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet), Gregory Habeaux and Kevin Ista (both Accent Jobs) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1) leading the race. The bunch is at 6-10.
Blue skies at the moment in the race, but a few drops of rain shortly before. Eight degrees. No wind.
Four minutes 30 for the bunch
The three leaders are at km 48 and have 2-30 on the bunch
Three riders are trying to bridge across the front trio: Reinier Honig (Lanbouwkrediet), Gregory Habeaux (Accent Jobs) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1) at 1-10 and at 2 minutes the bunch.
Gap rises to 1 minute 5 seconds for three leaders - Cataldo, Geschke and Ista
All of the riders who finished in the top ten of Fleche 2012 are also racing in Liege.
Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Simon Geschke (Argos) and Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs). Bunch at 35 seconds.
Three riders have moved ahead at km 38, and are opening a gap fast
37 kilometres into the race and the bunch is still all together.
A former double winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2006 and again in 2008, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) would usually be one of the big favourites. But his lowkey performances in Amstel and Fleche have made him an outsider at best.
“The thing is I was ill before the Ardennes Classics, I had ‘flu,” Valverde told letour.fr. “I’m not in the form I’d like to be. But there are other races and other years.”
“I’ll try to do my best, but Liege is a race where there are no hiding places. My favourite for today? Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). He might have missed out on Fleche, but he’ll be up there for sure."
He will be the first reigning national champion to win the LBL since Adri Van Der Poel of Holland in 1988.
If Gilbert wins today, he will be the first rider to win the LBL in the Belgian national champion’s jersey since Eddy Merckx in 1971
The five have been brought back, and just one rider is off the front now
The five riders are still off the front but the gap is not opening up
Five riders off the front.
We’re now at km 21 and two riders are trying to get off the front
The lead group has been caught apart from Preben Van Hecke (TopSport)
For Katusha leader and 2012 Fleche Wallone winner Joaquím Rodríguez, nothing compares to the Ardennes Classics, he far prefers them more than the Tour or the Vuelta or the World Championships - but when asked why, at first he pretends not to know.
“I couldn’t tell you – it’s like if I asked why you preferred blondes or brunettes,” he jokingly says to letour.fr
“Seriously, though, these are races I’ve loved since I was a kid, I would sit and watch them at home with my family, and I really do prefer them to any others. When it comes to cycling, this is my ‘magic week’.”
Rodríguez knows which is his favourite hotel room, though – that would be room 11 in the Belgian hotel belonging to Valerio Piva, his Katusha manager, near Liege and where Katusha have been staying for the last week. Room 11 is, according to Piva, the ‘lucky room’ – which Cipollini used the night before winning the 2003 World Championships, Bartoli before taking Liege-Bastogne-Liege twice in the 1990s, Argentin before winning Liege four times between 1985 and 1991, Kim Kirchen before winning Fleche in 2008 and Rodriguez himself before taking Fleche in 2012. (For the record, Xavier Florencio is his room-mate. )“Here’s hoping it brings me the same kind of luck tomorrow,” Rodríguez says, “if I win again, I’ll buy it off Valerio for keeps!”
Although clearly in good spirits, Rodríguez is keeping his feet on the ground when it comes to tomorrow’s race.
“I love this race and I’ve always done pretty well in it,” the 32-year-old says, “But I know how hard it is, and I’m going to race tomorrow as if I hadn’t won Fleche Wallone.”
“From the La Redoute(km 223) climb onwards is where it really gets tough, but this year, with the bad weather that’s forecast, your team-mates will have worked a lot harder beforehand, they’ll have dropped back, and there will be a much smaller group of favourites in the front group. It’s going to be a lot harder to control than when it’s dry.
17 seconds advantage for the lead group.
It’s over for Marczynski, but we have a group of 20 riders sheered off the front.
No other non-starters apart from Anton. So we have 199 riders in this year’s L-B-L, in 25 different teams.
Weather at the finish is not good, it’s started raining
Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Igor Anton, who crashed and abandoned before racing proper got underway, has a broken left collarbone.
Only ten seconds now for our lone attacker
After three kilometres of racing, we’ve got one rider up the road: Tomasz Marczynski (Vancansoleil), with the bunch at 20 seconds.
After two kilometres of racing, two early attackers have already been caught. And now there’s a lone move...
The 98th edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege is now officially underway.
Basque rider Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has crashed before racing proper got underway and has abandoned
The famous Côte de Saint-Nicolas, at km 252, 5.5 kilometres before the finish at Ans and one of the race’s ’flashpoints’ for final attacks.
The first climb on today’s race will the Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne after 70 kilometres of racing.
Just like at Fleche Wallone 2012 and at Liege last year, there will be a King of the Mountains competition once again...last year’s winner was Belgian Thomas De Gendt. This year there are eleven classified climbs.
Weather is Liege is cloudy with sunny spells, but chilly. 9.5 degrees. There is a slight breeze.
The pack is on the move. Racing proper gets underway at 1040 local time.
The pack will be moving off shortly and ride 6.9 kilometres through Liege before racing proper gets underway
Hello and welcome to the live coverage of the 98th edition of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic