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Primoz Roglic put the heartbreak of the Tour de France behind him with a stunning victory over Julian Alaphilippe at the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his first monument victory.
It was a bad day for Alaphilippe, who had the win settled but put his hands up well before the line and was pipped by a sliver of a wheel by the Slovenian. Making Alaphilippe’s Liege even worse, he was later relegated for abruptly changing his line in the middle of the sprint, nearly crashing Marc Hirschi. He was given the last place in his group, 5th.
Hirschi continued to impress, finishing in second after playing an aggressive role in the finale. In third was Tour champion Tadej Pogacar.
How it happened
As usual, it all came down to the final 30 kilometers of La Doyenne. Deceuninck-QuickStep controlled the peloton, reeling in attacks from Michael Albasini, Louis Leon Sanchez, and more. None got far.
Tom Dumoulin led the peloton up Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, setting up Roglic, but it was Alaphilippe and Hirschi who were the real aggressors. With 500m left in the climb, Alaphilippe set off, closely followed by the young Sunweb rider and Ineos’ Kwiatkowski.
Hirschi, Roglic, Tadej Pogacar, Alaphilippe rolled over the top together, followed a few seconds later by EF’s Mike Woods and Kwiatkowski.
Kwiatkowski made it across, Woods didn’t quite. But it was a short-lived time at the front for Kwiatkowski. When the attacks kicked off again he was sent backward.
Alaphilippe and Hirschi showed they were the strongest every time the road pointed uphill, but could not gain real separation from their breakaway companions.
Behind, a strong chase group formed, led by Mathieu van der Poel, a last-minute addition to Liège who won a stunning stage of the BinckBank Tour just a day before.
The leading four worked well together, taking equal pulls as the kilometers ticked down. With 5km to go the gap was 20 seconds.
Van der Poel wasn’t giving up. He launched out of the chase, pulling Dumoulin behind him, in a last-ditch effort to get across. But it was too late, or more accurately, too little.
Matej Mahoric was the next to make a bridge attempt, and this one proved successful. He made it across within the final kilometer and blasted past the four leaders, who raced to hop on his wheel.
Alaphilippe was the first there, and he used Majoric’s speed to kick off his own sprint. He accelerated along the right-side barriers then made an abrupt swing left, touching Hirschi’s wheel and nearly crashing both Hirschi and Pogacar. Coming to the line Alaphilippe had a narrow lead, but he put his hands up well ahead of the line. Roglic came around to the right and with a bike throw pipped the world champion right at the finish.
1 – ROGLIC Primož (Team Jumbo-Visma) in 6:32:02
2 – HIRSCHI Marc (Team Sunweb) at same time
3 – POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates) at same time
4 – MOHORIC Matej (Bahrain – McLaren) at same time
5 -ALAPHILIPPE Julian (Deceuninck – Quick Step) at same time
More to come>