Evenepoel ‘magnifique,’ Pidcock ‘happy’ with first monument podium, Healy ‘gave it go’: What the stars said after Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Skjelmose 'disappointed' with finale, and Pidcock wisely chose not to chase and earns career-first monument podium: 'I think that plan paid off.'
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Remco Evenepoel was over the moon with a smashing victory Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
All eyes were on the rainbow jersey after Tadej Pogačar crashed out, and Evenepoel responded with a sledge hammer on La Redoute.
The world champion rode everyone off his wheel to celebrate victory at the line, and the race behind him was on for the podium. Tom Pidcock, Santiago Buitrago, and Ben Healy fought it out for only two spots.
Here’s what the main contenders had to say on a cold, wet afternoon in Belgium to close out the 2023 spring classics season in spectacular fashion:
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) — 1st
“It was a difficult race. The rain really made it challenging. My wheel was slipping on La Redoute, but just like last year, it was a huge effort from my team. It wasn’t easy to follow the attacks from Jumbo-Visma. I stayed calm and stuck to our plan. We wanted to go on La Redoute, and on the new climb afterwards, I went full-gas to gap everyone. That was the best place to make the difference. It was just magnificent to win for a second time.
“The big objective was to win with this special rainbow jersey. I really wanted to have that photo with the jersey, and now there it is. I feel sorry for Tadej. I heard there was a big crash, and it was too bad that he couldn’t continue in the race.
“It’s amazing. It was a super-hard race, with brutal conditions. I just wish Tadej the best and I hope he is OK. I want to thank my team because they put on a great show to support me, and it’s their victory as well. I am just so happy to win in this beautiful jersey. It is an amazing feeling.
“This is a big boost ahead of the Giro d’Italia. The recent altitude training camps went really well, and this victory, which shows that my form is there and feeds my confidence. I’m happy also for taking the victory in all-white today. Together with the team we wanted to do something special, so we decided to go for the white bib shorts. Now I have a nice picture to hang on the wall. It’s a big win for us, we’re going to celebrate it, and afterwards I’ll try to recover well and continue my preparations for the next goal.”
Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) — 2nd
“Today was hard, there are no easy races now. I measured my effort on La Redoute because I knew I could close the gap on the descent. I was on my limit on the next climb, and I knew that I commit full-gas and maybe end up with nothing, or wait a bit, and try to finish second. I still finished second, so I think that plan paid off.
“Of course, my ambition is to win and I want to win. Remco is incredibly strong today, and this is my first podium in a monument, so I can be happy with this. How as it against Remco? Hard. He asked me for a turn, and I said no. He went full-gas and then I got dropped. I didn’t have so much luck with this race before. I was ill the first year and didn’t start, and last year, I was also sick in the race. It’s my first successful Liège. I can take this as a positive.”
Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) — 3rd
“Maybe I opened the sprint too early. I knew Pidcock was faster than me, but I wanted to try. With 300 metres to go, the effort was endless, especially after a tough race and the week at the Tour of the Alps. This is my first podium in a Monument. I’m surprised to take it, and I’m super happy.”
Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) — 4th
“I didn’t quite have the legs to drop everyone on that last climb. Maybe in the final sprint I jumped a bit too early because I sensed a bit of hesitation, and maybe they would be looking at each other. I gave it a go. It would be nice to say maybe I could come to compete for the win in races like this in the future. If you told me that two weeks ago, I would have put my hand up for it.”
Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) — 9th
“I think we did a strong effort today. I can’t say if we deserved more, at the end, for what we did, but I really think both me and Cicco had the legs to finish LBL with a better result than 9th and 13th . That make us disappointed.
“At one point both me and Cicco were riding for second along with Pidcock and that was a dream scenario, but unfortunately riders came back to us and then they looked a lot to us. Even though we were strong, we were not that strong, so that was a disadvantage that we showed ourselves to be strong on La Redoute.
“If I look back, I’m really proud of my second place in Flèche and for the Ardennes campaign in general. And I think I had the legs for the podium today. I think I was amongst the best three riders today so of course I’m a bit disappointed about that. But that’s cycling sometimes and for sure we will come back to this race and hopefully prove that we’re better than 9th and 13th place.”