Simons Gerrans Makes History At Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Gerrans_Liege_2014
by Barnaby CHESTERMAN

ANS, Belgium, April 27, 2014 (AFP) – Simon Gerrans became the first
Australian to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.

The Orica-GreenEDGE rider timed his attack to perfection on the tough
uphill finish in Ans at the end of 263km of racing.

“It’s an incredible victory, it’s a dream come true to win
Liege-Bastogne-Liege,” said the 33-year-old.

“It unfolded perfectly with me in the final. Everybody was really tight
coming into the finish and I was perfectly placed to finish it.”

Spanish Fleche Wallonne winner Alejandro Valverde took second with Poland’s
Michal Kwiatkowski coming home third in the 100th edition of one of the five
‘Monuments’ of cycling.

Before the race, the 2012 Milan-San Remo winner Gerrans admitted he wasn’t
as well suited to ‘La Doyenne’ (the oldest race) as he was to the Amstel Gold
Race.

Gerrans’s best previous result had been a sixth place in 2009, whereas he
had three times finished third at Amstel.

But while all his major rivals raced at Fleche on Wednesday, Gerrans was
resting and it paid off.

“It’s incredible, I don’t know what I feel right now,” he said.

“It’s a really tough race at the end, so thanks to my team. They got me to
the final.

“I didn’t have good legs but I kept going and thanks to the team I could
win.

“You never know in a final like this, the last climb is very tough. I did
my best to get to the final bend with the leader.”

In a thrilling finale pure climbers Julian Arredondo and Domenico Pozzovivo
attacked on the Roche-aux-Faucons climb just over 20km from home.

They held their lead for almost 10km before a determined but reduced
peloton of around 30-35 riders caught them.

Italian Pozzovivo attacked again, though, on the final categorised climb,
the Cote Saint-Nicolas, alongside compatriot Gianpaolo Caruso.

They gained a gap of 12sec before the true attacks for home behind them
started to eat into their lead on the final uncategorised ramp in Ans.

Last year’s winner Dan Martin made a break inside the final kilometre and
caught Pozzovivo as Caruso kicked again.

But on the final tight left-hand bend, Irishman Martin incredibly crashed
leaving Caruso out in front but with three chasers closing quickly.

Valverde brought Gerrans and Kwiatkowski up to Caruso’s wheel with just a
couple of hundred metres left but at that point, the Australian knew he had
the best sprint finish.

“I was confident I could beat these guys in a small sprint but after 263km
of racing anything’s possible so I just gave it my maximum,” added Gerrans.

Valverde’s second place completed a highly impressive Ardennes campaign for
the Movistar team leader, who was also fourth at Amstel.

Omega Pharma’s Kwiatkowski was just as consistent having finished fifth at
Amstel and third at Fleche.

Home favourite Philippe Gilbert, the winner at Amstel for the third time in
his career, was a disappointing eighth.

Results from the 100th edition of the
263km Liege-Bastogne-Liege race which finished in Ans, Belgium on Sunday:

1. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) 6hr 37min 43sec, 2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV)
same time, 3. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) s.t., 4. Giampaolo Caruso (ITA/KAT)
s.t., 5. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) at 3sec, 6. Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED/GRM)
s.t., 7. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/TIN) s.t., 8. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) s.t.,
9. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 5, 10. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 6, 11. Jelle
Vanendert (BEL/LTB) 8, 12. Enrico Gasparotto (ITA/AST) 10, 13. Damiano Cunego
(ITA/LAM) s.t., 14. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) s.t., 15. Bauke Mollema (NED/BKN)
12

Selected others
19. Frank Schleck (LUX/TRE) s.t., 30. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 51, 39.
Daniel Martin (IRL/GRS) 1:37

Did not finish
Andy Schleck (LUX/TRE), Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT), Rui Costa (POR/LAM),
Richie Porte (AUS/SKY)

Did not start
Chris Froome (GBR/SKY)

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