Gerrans enters the legend

Stage summary27.04.2014The race- Liège / Ans

On the final straight in Ans, Simon Gerrans became the first ever Australian to claim Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Winner of Milan-San Remo, of stages on the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta, the Orica-Greenedge rider adds this 100th edition of La Doyenne to his already impressive list of victories. Gerrans made the best of his sprinting qualities to beat Alejandro Valverde and Michal Kwiatkowski to the line. After 6 men enjoyed a long breakaway, the main favourites ended up watching each other and Gerrans made the best of his speed to triumphantly lift his arms to the Belgian sky.

No Froome, no Betancur

For a very special edition, a very special guest was present at the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège to launch the start of the 100th edition of the race. Indeed under the eyes of King Philippe of Belgium, the 197 riders took off just after 10:00 for a 263-km ride down south to Bastogne and back up to the finish line in Ans. A lot of big names were at the start of this special event but not Christopher Froome (SKY) having chosen to withdraw due to a mild chest infection. Also failing to start was recent Paris-Nice winner Carlos Betancur (AG2R), ill and feverish. Six in the lead At km 12, six riders bunched up at the front of the race. Lang (IAM), Koch (CAN) and Venter (MTN) were the first to take off and were rapidly caught by three other men: Bono (LAM), Jakobs (TSV) and Minnaard (WGG). After covering 39.5kms during the first hour of racing, their advantage over the pack reached 14'20. That gap grew to a maximum 15'50 at the top of the first climb of the day, the Côte de La Roche-en-Ardenne (km 70). Just after entering Bastogne, the northernmost point of the race, the leading six battled it out for the 5000€ up for grabs at the intermediate sprint symbolically placed at km 100. Meanwhile the pack remained 15'05 adrift.

Adios Purito

Making the best of the tailwind, and while riders from teams BMC, Movistar, Lotto-Bellisol and Garmin-Sharp moved to the front of the pack, the speed increased and the gap really started dropping on the way back up north. The first of the 6 escapees to be dropped was Minnaard on the climb up the Côte de Wanne (km 167). On the following ascent, serious business started in the pack as the speed increased drastically. The likes of Rodriguez (KAT) and Van den Broeck (LTB) were among the few to struggle, the Spaniard even quitting several kilometres later. At km 177, a first serious upset shook the pack when World champion Rui Costa (LAM) hit the ground and was also forced to quit.

Bono, last man to survive

On the climb up the Côte de la Redoute, the escapees started struggling and Matteo Bono pulled away. Just after reaching the top on his own, the Italian was eventually caught by Jacobus Venters, both men having a slim 1'05 over the pack. Meanwhile Warren Barguil (GIA) was the first to shake the peloton, taking off on a counter-attack and taking with him Arredondo (TFR) and Bakelants (OPQ). A vain effort however… In the Côte des Forges, Matteo Bono continued his effort alone, dropping Venters and reaching the top with a 40” lead over the pack. The Italian was eventually caught by the pack of favourites just before the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.

Attacking in vain

The battle between the top guns started then, when Pozzovivo and Arredondo took off. Behind them Sanchez first, and then Nibali and Kreuziger gave it a go. But they were rapidly caught back. The leading two continued their efforts at the front but never managed to have a big enough gap. They were finally caught with 12kms to go.

All together in final kilometres

Close to fifty riders remained bunched together just before the last climb of the day, the Côte de Saint-Nicolas where Gianpaolo Caruso (KAT) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AGR), again, tried their luck. An impressive move that almost paid off. After enjoying a 10” lead with one kilometre to go. They were caught by title-holder Dan Martin (GRS). A fine move by the Irishman that ended up dreadfully as he crashed on the last left turn. Time then came for a sprint between the favourites.

Gerrans sprints to glory

Making the best of his qualities, Simon Gerrans (OGE) powered to the line, beating in style Alejandro Valverde and Michal Kwiatkowski. After winning Milan-San Remo in 2012, the Australian who had finished 6th of Liège in 2009 (his best position) claims this 100th edition.

The race in pictures

photo27/04/2014 

© A.S.O.

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The race Liège / Ans

route key moments

Honours list 2014

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