Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2022.

The single moment that made ‘La Doyenne’: Evenepoel goes all-in

Remco Evenepoel’s peerless acceleration defined this year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège and saved his team’s Spring Classics.

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

In his young career, Remco Evenepoel has become known for the long-range attack and he put his signature move to good use at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

At 257.7 km with a total of 4342 metres of climbing, you might expect this year’s ‘La Doyenne’ to be rich with moments to choose from, but there was really only one ‘moment that made the race’, and for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, it’s a moment that saved a tricky Classics campaign.

All for one and one for all

Evenepoel, a future Monument winner, waves to the crowd before the race.

It has not been a vintage spring for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. Up until this weekend, the team’s only Belgian Classic trophy was taken by Fabio Jakobsen at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in February. Bad luck has beaten them to the punch at every event since, so despite the team’s assertions to the contrary, there was a lot riding on Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the final Classic and the oldest of the season’s five Monuments.

The Belgian outfit arrived in Liège with a two-pronged approach. World champion Julian Alaphilippe was an obvious headliner having come painfully close to victory here on multiple occasions, and then there was young phenom and prolific winner Remco Evenepoel. As one of the race’s 52 debutants, there was a faint question mark alongside his name, but race-specific inexperience plays an ever smaller role in the sport these days, so there was no reason to write him off.

The team stuck together near the front of the peloton for the first 200 km of the race, both Alaphilippe and Evenepoel well protected. But it was all change on the road to the Col du Rosier when a huge crash sent the peloton spilling across the tarmac. Alaphilippe was sent careening into a roadside ditch, and though he was quickly attended to by a benevolent Bardet (DSM), the world champion was out of the race.

With 55 km to go, it was all on Evenepoel and he was running out of support. But with Bahrain-Victorious still eager to do all the work, the young Belgian found himself in the perfect situation. All he needed now was a launchpad. And it was just 20 km down the road.

Mikel Landa and his Bahrain-Victorious teammates did a lot of work in an effort to weaken the peloton on the way to the final few climbs.

The many peloton-splintering attacks by Bahrain-Victorious had come to very little on the run-up to La Redoute, and at the foot of the iconic climb, the remnants of the breakaway was just under a minute off the front. Against all odds, serial attacker Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) held more or less the same advantage over the top.

Then, back in the peloton, Evenepoel put the hammer down so hard that he nearly knocked himself off balance.

The first few pumps of the pedals were so forceful that Remco’s rear tyre momentarily lost traction.

The whole peloton had been waiting for this moment and Nielson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) was quickest to react. Powless managed to grab onto Evenepoel’s wheel, but the Belgian’s acceleration was so huge and sustained that no one could hold on.

“It was amazing. It was really hard and with the headwind it was really difficult to keep pushing but I knew that everybody had been suffering the whole day,” Evenepoel said after the finish. “It was quite a hard day and a long day as well. I think today was maybe my best day on the bike, maybe ever. It was the perfect day to have the best day on the bike.”

The 22-year-old flew through the remaining 30 km, sweeping past the remains of the breakaway along the way, and with the chase stalling behind, Evenepoel had time to enjoy an emotional victory in Liège.

“I have been suffering mentally and physically for the last year and a half,” the young Belgian admitted. “Finally this year I feel that everything is going well and everything is getting stable and I’m getting to the best Remco as well. I’ve been showing the best Remco since turning pro so I’m really happy and proud to win this race.”

Who’s chopping onions?

Honourable mention: Farewell, Phil

The last Belgian to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège was none other than local-man Philippe Gilbert, whose 2011 win rounded out an epic Ardennes triple crown. 

This year, as one young Belgian took victory near the start of his career, another was racing his last ever Spring Classic on home roads – home roads plastered with a casual 700 Phils.

We are all Mikaël Cherel.

Editors' Picks