Wout Poels triumphed in a four-man sprint at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday to deliver Team Sky’s first ever monument victory.

After nearly 250 kilometers in wintry conditions that forced organizers to make alterations to the route, the 28-year-old joined a small escape on the penultimate climb of the race. Michael Albasini (Orica – GreenEdge) led the initial move, and Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing) and Rui Costa (Lampre – Merida) jumped clear as well to make for a quartet of breakers inside the final three kilometers.

Several pre-race favorites, among them defending champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), were tucked into the peloton behind — but the pack did not mount much of a concerted chase effort. The escapees held out all the way to the finish line, and Poels was the strongest in the closing meters of the race, besting Albasini in the sprint with Costa in third.

Poels, who was hugged by his Sky boss Dave Brailsford after the race, became only the fourth Dutchman to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège, though for Poels it’s already the fifth victory on the year.

“It’s really nice, I’m really happy. I honestly can’t believe that I won today, so I’m really happy,” Poels told Belgian TV after his win.

Top 10

    • 1. Wouter POELS, TEAM SKY, in 6:24:29
    • 2. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at :00
    • 3. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :00
    • 4. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at :04
    • 5. Ilnur ZAKARIN, TEAM KATUSHA, at :09
    • 6. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :11
    • 7. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF, at :12
    • 8. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, TEAM KATUSHA, at :12
    • 9. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :12
    • 10. Diego ROSA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :12

 

Not long after a bundled-up peloton rolled out from Liège to face the cold, snow, rain, and even hail at times, seven riders jumped clear to form the early breakaway.

Inside the final 50km, the escape group, which at one point held a 10-minute lead, started to split up.

On the tough La Redoute climb 40km from the finish, there were just two left up the road: Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis). However, Movistar and then Etixx – Quick-Step drove a hard pace in the peloton to reel in the move 24km from the line.

With 18km to go, Movistar’s Carlos Betancur went on the attack, but he was reeled in 2km later. Katusha’s Ilnur Zakarin and Astana’s Diego Rosa were next to go on the move on the Saint Nicolas climb, but their escape attempt didn’t last long either.

It was Albasini who finally made a significant attack stick with just three riders able to hold his wheel when he jumped away on the Côte de la Rue Naniot, the day’s final categorized climb before the uphill finish in Ans.

The pack hesitated in pursuit, allowing the move to build an advantage as the finish line neared. Zakarin tried to bridge from the bunch but couldn’t close the distance. As the quartet rounded the final corner, it was clear that the win would come from the escape group. Poels opened up his sprint 200 meters from the line, and although fast-finishing Albasini tried to overtake him, the Sky rider wouldn’t be denied.

“It was a really hard day,” Poels said. “I like the last climb, we got away there. It was really hard conditions.

“I didn’t feel super any more but everybody was really tired.”

Albasini said after the sprint that he’d chosen the wrong gear for the finale, but tipped his cap to the race winner regardless.

“I thought I was the strongest but maybe I did too much in the final,” said the 35-year-old. “In the sprint I had a too small gear. You can’t do a sprint with agility in 250 meters, I should’ve changed gear earlier.

“That was a mistake in the end but he [Poels] did a great sprint.

“After 250km it’s freshness that counts more than a sprinter’s ability.”

Liege-Bastogne-Liege results

    • 1. Wouter POELS, TEAM SKY, in 6:24:29
    • 2. Michael ALBASINI, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at :00
    • 3. Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :00
    • 4. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at :04
    • 5. Ilnur ZAKARIN, TEAM KATUSHA, at :09
    • 6. Warren BARGUIL, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :11
    • 7. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF, at :12
    • 8. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, TEAM KATUSHA, at :12
    • 9. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :12
    • 10. Diego ROSA, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :12
    • 11. Tanel KANGERT, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :12
    • 12. Enrico GASPAROTTO, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :12
    • 13. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :12
    • 14. Michael VALGREN, TINKOFF, at :12
    • 15. Patrick KONRAD, BORA-ARGON 18, at :12
    • 16. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :12
    • 17. Dylan TEUNS, BMC RACING TEAM, at :12
    • 18. Arnold JEANNESSON, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :12
    • 19. Stephen CUMMINGS, DIMENSION DATA, at :12
    • 20. Lars Petter NORDHAUG, TEAM SKY, at :12
    • 21. Alex HOWES, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at :12
    • 22. Jelle VANENDERT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :12
    • 23. Julian ALAPHILIPPE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :12
    • 24. Manuele MORI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at :40
    • 25. Giovanni VISCONTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :40
    • 26. Sam OOMEN, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :40
    • 27. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :40
    • 28. Daniel MORENO FERNANDEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :40
    • 29. Jan BAKELANTS, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :47
    • 30. Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:18
    • 31. Louis MEINTJES, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 1:29
    • 32. Huub DUYN, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 1:29
    • 33. Simon GERRANS, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 1:29
    • 34. Daniel NAVARRO GARCIA, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 1:29
    • 35. Andriy GRIVKO, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:29
    • 36. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, TEAM SKY, at 1:29
    • 37. Lawson CRADDOCK, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 1:41
    • 38. Toms SKUJINS, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 1:51
    • 39. Pieter SERRY, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:53
    • 40. Floris DE TIER, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 1:53
    • 41. Stefan DENIFL, IAM CYCLING, at 1:53
    • 42. Igor ANTON HERNANDEZ, DIMENSION DATA, at 1:53
    • 43. Robert KISERLOVSKI, TINKOFF, at 1:56
    • 44. Ben SWIFT, TEAM SKY, at 1:56
    • 45. Mikael CHEREL, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:56
    • 46. Enrico BATTAGLIN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 1:56
    • 47. Daniel MARTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:56
    • 48. Tim WELLENS, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 1:56
    • 49. Maurits LAMMERTINK, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 1:56
    • 50. Carlos Alberto BETANCUR GOMEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 2:01
    • 51. Vincenzo NIBALI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 2:21
    • 52. Tomasz MARCZYNSKI, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 2:21
    • 53. Merhawi KUDUS GHEBREMEDHIN, DIMENSION DATA, at 2:22
    • 54. Luis Angel MATE MARDONES, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 2:35
    • 55. Diego ULISSI, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 2:40
    • 56. Adam YATES, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 2:49
    • 57. Anthony ROUX, FDJ, at 2:51
    • 58. David DE LA CRUZ MELGAREJO, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 2:51
    • 59. Gaetan BILLE, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 2:51
    • 60. Ryder HESJEDAL, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 3:00
    • 61. Laurens DE PLUS, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 3:11
    • 62. Jean-Christophe PERAUD, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 3:39
    • 63. Domenico POZZOVIVO, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 4:02
    • 64. Pieter WEENING, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 4:17
    • 65. Loic VLIEGEN, BMC RACING TEAM, at 4:33
    • 66. Steve MORABITO, FDJ, at 4:33
    • 67. Christopher JUUL JENSEN, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 4:33
    • 68. Jakob FUGLSANG, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 4:33
    • 69. Sebastian HENAO GOMEZ, TEAM SKY, at 4:38
    • 70. Jan POLANC, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 5:27
    • 71. Emanuel BUCHMANN, BORA-ARGON 18, at 5:27
    • 72. Odd Christian EIKING, FDJ, at 5:27
    • 73. Chris Anker SÖRENSEN, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 5:27
    • 74. Laurent PICHON, FDJ, at 5:27
    • 75. Benoît VAUGRENARD, FDJ, at 5:27
    • 76. Pierrick FEDRIGO, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 5:27
    • 77. Paul MARTENS, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 5:27
    • 78. Robert GESINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 5:27
    • 79. Sander ARMEE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 5:27
    • 80. Bertjan LINDEMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 5:27
    • 81. Yury TROFIMOV, TINKOFF, at 5:27
    • 82. Salvatore PUCCIO, TEAM SKY, at 5:27
    • 83. Michal GOLAS, TEAM SKY, at 5:27
    • 84. Cyril GAUTIER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 5:27
    • 85. Peter STETINA, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 5:27
    • 86. José Joao PIMENTA COSTA MENDES, BORA-ARGON 18, at 5:27
    • 87. Preben VAN HECKE, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 5:27
    • 88. Florian VACHON, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 5:27
    • 89. Romain SICARD, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 5:47
    • 90. Rudy MOLARD, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 5:47
    • 91. Richie PORTE, BMC RACING TEAM, at 5:47
    • 92. Ivan ROVNY, TINKOFF, at 5:47
    • 93. Kanstantsin SIUTSOU, DIMENSION DATA, at 5:47
    • 94. Simon GESCHKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 6:11
    • 95. Matteo BONO, LAMPRE – MERIDA, at 6:49
    • 96. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, TEAM KATUSHA, at 6:50
    • 97. Christian MEIER, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 7:18
    • 98. Ben HERMANS, BMC RACING TEAM, at 7:18
    • 99. Serge PAUWELS, DIMENSION DATA, at 7:24
    • 100. Pieter VANSPEYBROUCK, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 7:24
    • 101. Alberto LOSADA ALGUACIL, TEAM KATUSHA, at 7:24
    • 102. Tosh VAN DER SANDE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 7:49
    • 103. Ben GASTAUER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 7:49
    • 104. Antwan TOLHOEK, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 8:01
    • 105. Maxime BOUET, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 8:17
    • 106. Thomas VOECKLER, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 8:19
    • 107. Bjorn THURAU, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 8:31
    • 108. Pawel POLJANSKI, TINKOFF, at 8:42
    • 109. Anthony DELAPLACE, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 9:07
    • 110. Bartosz HUZARSKI, BORA-ARGON 18, at 9:31
    • 111. Eliot LIETAER, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 10:31
    • 112. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, at 10:31
    • 113. Rafal MAJKA, TINKOFF, at 10:31
    • 114. Yoann BAGOT, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 10:31
    • 115. Fredrik LUDVIGSSON, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 10:31
    • 116. Lawrence WARBASSE, IAM CYCLING, at 10:31
    • 117. Joseph ROSSKOPF, BMC RACING TEAM, at 10:31
    • 118. Rory SUTHERLAND, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 10:31
    • 119. Nicolas EDET, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 11:35
    • 120. Guillaume MARTIN, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 11:35
    • 121. Nathan BROWN, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 11:47
    • 122. Johannes FRÖHLINGER, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 12:25
    • 123. Silvan DILLIER, BMC RACING TEAM, at 12:48
    • 124. Julien VERMOTE, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 12:48
    • 125. Ruben FERNANDEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 12:48
    • 126. Alessandro DE MARCHI, BMC RACING TEAM, at 12:53
    • 127. Anthony TURGIS, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 12:56
    • 128. Julien SIMON, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 12:56
    • 129. Vegard Stake LAENGEN, IAM CYCLING, at 12:56
    • 130. Reinier HONIG, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 13:27
    • 131. Thomas DE GENDT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 13:36
    • 132. Laurent DIDIER, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 13:36
    • 133. Brice FEILLU, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 14:06
    • 134. Fumiyuki BEPPU, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 14:06
    • 135. Otto VERGAERDE, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 14:06
    • 136. Simon CLARKE, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 14:06
    • 137. Chad HAGA, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 14:06
    • 138. Tim DECLERCQ, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 14:06
    • 139. Sindre SKJOESTAD LUNKE, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 14:06
    • 140. Jacques JANSE VAN RENSBURG, DIMENSION DATA, at 14:06
    • 141. Mathew HAYMAN, ORICA – GreenEDGE, at 14:06
    • 142. Oliver ZAUGG, IAM CYCLING, at 14:06
    • 143. Paul VOSS, BORA-ARGON 18, at 14:06
    • 144. Angel VICIOSO ARCOS, TEAM KATUSHA, at 14:06
    • 145. Cesare BENEDETTI, BORA-ARGON 18, at 14:06
    • 146. Sergey LAGUTIN, TEAM KATUSHA, at 14:06
    • 147. Koen BOUWMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 14:06
    • 148. Johnny HOOGERLAND, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON, at 14:06
    • 149. David TANNER, IAM CYCLING, at 14:06
    • 150. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 14:42
    • 151. Kiel REIJNEN, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 14:44
    • 152. Sébastien MINARD, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 14:44
    • 153. Caleb FAIRLY, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at 14:44
    • 154. Jérémy ROY, FDJ, at 14:44
    • DNF Imanol ERVITI, MOVISTAR TEAM
    • DNF Petr VAKOC, ETIXX – QUICK STEP
    • DNF Tiago MACHADO, TEAM KATUSHA
    • DNF Rein TAARAMAE, TEAM KATUSHA
    • DNF Valerio CONTI, LAMPRE – MERIDA
    • DNF Mario Jorge FARIA DA COSTA, LAMPRE – MERIDA
    • DNF Pavel BRUTT, TINKOFF
    • DNF Dario CATALDO, ASTANA PRO TEAM
    • DNF Paolo TIRALONGO, ASTANA PRO TEAM
    • DNF Omar FRAILE MATARRANZ, DIMENSION DATA
    • DNF Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT, DIMENSION DATA
    • DNF Jack HAIG, ORICA – GreenEDGE
    • DNF Daryl IMPEY, ORICA – GreenEDGE
    • DNF Jérôme BAUGNIES, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
    • DNF Mark MCNALLY, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
    • DNF Marinus Cornelis MINNAARD, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
    • DNF Frederik VEUCHELEN, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
    • DNF Tony GALLOPIN, LOTTO SOUDAL
    • DNF Bart DE CLERCQ, LOTTO SOUDAL
    • DNF Gregor MUHLBERGER, BORA-ARGON 18
    • DNF Dominik NERZ, BORA-ARGON 18
    • DNF Jarlinson PANTANO GOMEZ, IAM CYCLING
    • DNF Clement CHEVRIER, IAM CYCLING
    • DNF Vicente REYNES MIMO, IAM CYCLING
    • DNF Lilian CALMEJANE, DIRECT ENERGIE
    • DNF Jeremy CORNU, DIRECT ENERGIE
    • DNF Fabien GRELLIER, DIRECT ENERGIE
    • DNF Fabrice JEANDESBOZ, DIRECT ENERGIE
    • DNF Perrig QUEMENEUR, DIRECT ENERGIE
    • DNF Angelo TULIK, DIRECT ENERGIE
    • DNF Tom Jelte SLAGTER, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM
    • DNF Benjamin KING, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM
    • DNF Michael WOODS, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM
    • DNF Jack BOBRIDGE, TREK – SEGAFREDO
    • DNF Bram TANKINK, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
    • DNF Dennis VAN WINDEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
    • DNF Alexey VERMEULEN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
    • DNF Michel KREDER, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON
    • DNF Nick VAN DER LIJKE, ROOMPOT – ORANJE PELOTON
    • DNF Arthur VICHOT, FDJ
    • DNF Kévin REZA, FDJ
    • DNF Sander HELVEN, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
    • DNF Jens WALLAYS, TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
    • DNF Kevin LEDANOIS, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT
    • DNF Armindo FONSECA, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT
    • DNF Julien LOUBET, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT