The last winner of the Tour de France, the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE), conquered the 107th edition of the Liege-Bastogne-Liège, the ‘Dean’ of the classic cyclists, ahead of the world champion, the French Julian Alaphilippe.
Pogacar was the strongest sprint among a group of five runners, including Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, fourth.
At 22, the Slovenian phenomenon becomes the youngest winner in the ‘Dean’ since it was achieved in 1977 by Frenchman Bernard Hinault, who was also the last Tour winner to also win in Liege (1980).
“I knew Alaphilippe had a long sprint; I got on his wheel and was able to overcome him,” said Pogacar, who finished third in another short sprint last year won by compatriot Primoz Roglic and in which Alaphilippe was already second.
The Frenchman surrendered to the young Pogacar. “It is a phenomenon. Everyone knows his results in recent years, since he became professionals, obtaining results in his first races: podium in the Vuelta a España in his first participation in a big one, the last Tour … and many other careers. “
“Tadej has been ready” on the sprint, Alaphilippe continued. “He launched it properly, from behind (…) I don’t have the feeling of having made a mistake. Pogacar managed the sprint and timing well. Congratulations to him.”
– Valverde at the foot of the podium –
Third after the 259-kilometer race was another French rider, David Gaudu, ahead of the veteran former Spanish world champion. The ‘Bala’, quadruple champion in Liege, could not celebrate his 41 years on the podium this Sunday. Canadian Michael Woods, who caused the final break, finished fifth.
“Of course I would have liked to be on the podium and winning would have been the milk, but they have left me all the weight in the sprint,” Valverde said after the race, who was “happy” with fourth place.
Third in the previous edition of the ‘Dean’ last October, Pogacar conquered his first classic on a sunny day.
Last Wednesday, the young Slovenian could not start the Walloon Arrow after the health authorities denied his team participation because of a positive control for covid-19 in the team.
In this 107th edition of the last classic of the European spring, one of the five most important of the cycling season, the Ineos (Tao Geoghegan Hart, Michal Kwiatkowski) were in charge of dynamiting the race.
The first time 35 kilometers to the finish line, without being able to surprise the rest of the favorites. The second time, in the climb of les Forges, where the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz escaped from the leading group before being caught in the climb of Roche-aux-Faucons.
The Ecuadorian, who finished in 29th position in his first Liège-Bastoña-Liège, was later disqualified for having placed himself in an illegal position on the bicycle for a few seconds, sitting on the horizontal bar of his bike, something that the UCI has prohibited from the beginning. of this month.
In that ascent, the last of the eleven present on the route, Canadian Michael Woods (5th at the finish line) started the definitive escape, which soon took shape with a score of seconds ahead.
In the sprint that Valverde tackled at the head, Pogacar was placed on the wheel of Alaphilippe, whom he surpassed by centimeters over the finish line.
jm / iga / mcd-gh
– Classification of the 107th edition of Liege-Bastoña-Liège:
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO / UAE), the 259 km in 6:39:26.
2. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/DEC) m.t.
3. David Gaudu (FRA/FDJ) mt
4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) m.t.
5. Michael Woods (CAN/ISR) m.t.
6. Marc Hirschi (SUI/UAE) a 07.
7. Tiejs Benoot (BEL/DSM) 07.
Bauke Mollema (NED / TRE) 07.
9. Maximilian Schachmann (GER / BOR) 09.
10. Matej Mohoric (SLO / BAH) 09.
11. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL / INE) 09.
12. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN / AST) 09.
13. Primoz Roglic (SLO / JUM) 09.
14. Esteban Chaves (COL / BIK) 09.
15. Guillaume Martin (FRA / COF) 09.
16. Davide Formolo (ITA / UAE) 09.
17. Jack Haig (AUS / BAH) 12.
18. Adam Yates (GBR / INE) 37.
19. Michael Matthews (AUS / BIK) 1:21.
20. Patrick Konrad (AUT / BOR) 1:21.
jm / iga / gh