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Liège–Bastogne–Liège began in 1892 and is the oldest of the monuments of cycling. The race follows a 95 km route from Liège to Bastogne, and a winding 163 km route back to Liège with some killer hills in between.
I love seeing a favorite win just as much as I love a seeing a left-field suprise come out of the woodwork. We were treated with that couple times this spring with Nuyens at Flanders and Van Summeren at Roubaix. A favorite such as Gilbert in the Ardennes is under immense pressure to perform and the all the teams are racing against him in their efforts to beat him. His sweep of the Ardennes Classics shows how much of a champion he really is. I can’t remember seeing physical domination like we’ve witnessed with Cancellara and Gilbert in a long long time. What a show!
The overall strategy for most of the teams was to isolate Gilbert and not deliver him to the finish. He’s too powerful on these short sharp climbs and he’s proven that no one will out muscle him. The Schlecks couldn’t have played it any better. Two-on-one with less than 20km remaining – sensational. Andy attacked at the base of the Cote de Saint-Nicolas but dropped Fränk (as well as Van Avermaet (BMC) who had been out in a break for 100km) while Gilbert easily hung on. Fränk caught back on and would have needed to recover.
Up until this point the Schlecks had played their cards as well as they could. However, in the final few kilometers I don’t know what they were thinking working with Gilbert and delivering him to the final corner without another couple attacks. In professional cycling, two on one should always win. The good ol’ one-two is the oldest play in the book. Who knows…perhaps they were happy to give Gilbert the win for future favors? They were certainly graceful in their defeat.
Gilbert will have won 46,000 Euro this week. He would have had to split that with his teammates however. If you’re wondering how it pay and prize money works, I’ve written about it here (How Much Money the Pros Make).
Gerro on the Cote de la Redoute (just a few kilometres away from Philippe Gilbert’s native town, Remouchamps)
Côte de la Roche aux Faucons – where the action took place and Gilbert and the Schlecks broke away with 21km remaining.
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 6:13:18
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana 0:00:24
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky
6 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
7 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing 0:00:27
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:29
9 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM 0:00:39
10 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
12 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling (at least Gerro won 500 Euro. I won nothing!)
DNF Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
DNF Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
DNF Luke Roberts (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard
Enjoy your ANZAC day and remember those who fought for our freedom. Ride safe.
P.S. Cadel’s BMC SLR01 auction is already at $13,600! Spread the word to your friends with deep pockets!