Simon Gerrans emerged victorious in this year’s 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic today.
The Australian rider found the impetus to nix Alejandro Valverde and Michal Kwiatkowski on the line with a perfectly timed attack in the final meters.
Meanwhile, defending champion Daniel Martin, who looked poised to win his second title, was beset by tragedy, as the Irish rider crashed in the final turn.
In addition, the late breakaway companions, Giampaolo Caruso and Domenico Pozzovivo, finished in fourth and fifth position, after the duo enjoyed a brief period out front after they managed to ride clear on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas – before being reeled in the final few hundred meters.
The first breakaway group containing Pirimin Lang, Michel Koch, Jaco Venter, Matteo Bono, Pieter Jakobs and Marco Minnaard got underway early in today’s stage. And, after 36 kilometers of racing, the escapees succeeded in building up a lead of 11:20 over the peloton – a gap that would later swell to a massive 15:50 advantage by the time they approached the first climb of the day at the 70 kilometer mark.
However, as the reached the climb of the Côte de Wanne, their lead had been reduced to under 10 minutes, wherein Minnaard was the first rider to loose contact with his fellow breakaway companions.
In the meantime, as the peloton reached the Province de Liège, a crash claimed pre-race favorite Roman Kreuziger.
From there, teams took turns trying to control the breakaway, with riders like Thomas Dekker (Garmin) and Steve Cummings (BMC) holding the front for majority of the first 130 kilometers of racing.
The Côte de Wanne proved to be a far more challenging climb for the main field, as more riders such as Samuel Sanchez and Michael Rogers were forced to take up duties at the front as well.
As the race tackled the climbs of the Stockeu and the Côte de la Haute-Levee, the peloton became enlivened – leaving little chance for the stragglers to remain onboard. Such was the case for last year’s runner-up – Joaquim Rodriguez, as the Katusha rider was seen shaking his head in exhaustion along the climb(s).
In addition, World Champion Rui Costa saw his race ambitions disappear as well, after he fell off the pace during the remaining 75 kilometers.
Meanwhile, the breakaway group’s lead had been reduced to just five minutes, as flurry of attacks and counter-attacks from within the chase group kept the pace high on the climb of the Côte de la Vecquee.
As the race turned up the climb of the La Redoute, Tony Martin took up the pace setting at the front, with Valverde, Kwiatkowski, Valverde, Nibali and Dan Martin all in close proximity. At that point, the escapees saw their advantage cut to just 1:40 by the time they reached the summit.
From there, Warren Barguil attempted a brief attack of his own. However, his efforts were quickly thwarted by Jan Bakelants and Julian Arredondo.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2014 Results
AUS 1 GERRANS, Simon (ORICA GreenEDGE) 6:37:43 ESP 2 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) POL 3 KWIATKOWSKI, Michal (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP) ITA 4 CARUSO, Giampaolo (KATUSHA) ITA 5 POZZOVIVO, Domenico (AG2R LA MONDIALE) + 3 NED 6 SLAGTER, Tom Jelte (GARMIN SHARP) CZE 7 KREUZIGER, Roman (TINKOFF-SAXO) BEL 8 GILBERT, Philippe (BMC RACING) ESP 9 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA) + 5 FRA 10 BARDET, Romain (AG2R LA MONDIALE) + 6
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