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Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Tadej Pogačar edges out Julian Alaphilippe in sprint

David Gaudu finishes third in five-man sprint, Primož Roglič was dropped on final climb of the day.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) nabbed sprint victory from Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in an attack-riddled edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.

The world champion looked to be on the way to victory with a strong acceleration only for the Tour de France champion to kick from off his wheel to win by half a wheel.

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) crossed the line third.

“I’m without words. I love this race, and to win like this against those names is incredible,” Pogačar said after the race.

When asked if he was “the king of cycling,” Pogačar countered, “I don’t know about that … but I am living cycling dreams.”

Pogačar could not race Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday after a COVID-positive in the team bubble. The UAE-Emirates team was cleared to race Friday night, giving Pogačar the opportunity to better his third place at last year’s race and win his first monument.

“We were really disappointed we could not start Flèche because we had really good riders for the race, it would have been a good opportunity,” Pogačar said. “We were really motivated for today, so we’re really happy it went like this. Now, time with family and rest. The restart and prepare for the Tour de France.”

The final five that contested the sprint had gone clear after a searing attack from Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) at around 14-kilometers to go on the final climb of the race.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), racing on his 41st birthday, was forced into leading out the sprint going into the final kilometer. Woods moved first before Alaphilippe came up from fourth-wheel with a stinging surge. However, Pogačar chose the perfect wheel to follow and came around the Frenchman in the final 50 meters to snatch victory from beneath his nose, scoring a narrow win.

“I knew Alaphilippe would go longer, so I stayed behind him and I was just lucky in the end that it was a good wind for me because I was coming with speed,” Pogačar said. “It’s unbelievable.”

The result will make for a grim deja vu for Alaphilippe, who lost out on victory at last fall’s Liège after his wayward sprint and early celebration saw him finish fifth.

Defending champion Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) couldn’t match the pace when the race lit up on the Roche aux Faucons climb and led a strong chase group, but never made it back into contention.

Early moves start on the Stockeu

Astana-Premier Tech started the early attacks at 80km to go with a pair of riders hitting out over the Côte de Stockeu only to be pulled back. Veterans Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) and Greg Van Avermaet were next to try short attacks.

Another wave of moves over the long Rosier climb saw a trio go off in pursuit of the day’s early breakway of seven, with Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious), Mark Donovan (Team DSM) and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) chasing down the early escapees.

Ineos Grenadiers play the numbers but miss the selection, Roglič dropped

After Deceuninick-Quick-Step had done much of the controlling all day,  Tao Geoghegan Hart and three of his Ineos Grenadiers cohorts cranked the tempo in the bunch over the climb of the Redoute, reeling in scattered riders from the day’s early attacks.

Ineos kept numbers on the front through to the Côte des Forges at 25km to go before Geoghegan Hart, Richard Carapaz and Adam Yates again surged to pull clear a strong selection of around 10.

Carapaz attacked soon after the front group came together and went away solo. The Ecuadorian built a strong gap but was caught on the final climb of the Roche-aux-Faucons as Deceuninck-Quick-Step and UAE-Team Emirates cranked up the pace.

The winning selection was made at the top of the steep climb. Woods put in a searing turn of pace on a tough ramp with Pogačar, Alaphilippe, Valverde and Gaudu countering. The fivesome initially dangled just seconds ahead of the bunch, but Gaudu and Alaphilippe picked up the pulling to make the escape stick.

Roglič struggled to respond to the acceleration as two UAE-Team Emirates riders sat on his wheel.

The Jumbo-Visma leader put the motor into the chase, but with the attack group of five working together well and UAE Emirates disrupting the chase for Pogačar, the defending champ saw his chances dashed, finishing 13th.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Results

Stage
RankNameTeamTime
1POGAČAR TadejUAE-Team Emirates6:39:26
2ALAPHILIPPE JulianDeceuninck - Quick Step0:00
3GAUDU DavidGroupama - FDJ0:00
4VALVERDE AlejandroMovistar Team0:00
5WOODS MichaelIsrael Start-Up Nation0:00
6HIRSCHI MarcUAE-Team Emirates0:07
7BENOOT TiesjTeam DSM0:07
8MOLLEMA BaukeTrek - Segafredo0:07
9SCHACHMANN MaximilianBORA - hansgrohe0:09
10MOHORIČ MatejBahrain - Victorious0:09
11KWIATKOWSKI MichałINEOS Grenadiers0:09
12FUGLSANG JakobAstana - Premier Tech0:09
13ROGLIČ PrimožTeam Jumbo-Visma0:09
14CHAVES EstebanTeam BikeExchange0:09
15MARTIN GuillaumeCofidis, Solutions Crédits0:09
16FORMOLO DavideUAE-Team Emirates0:09
17HAIG JackBahrain - Victorious0:12
18YATES AdamINEOS Grenadiers0:37
19MATTHEWS MichaelTeam BikeExchange1:21
20KONRAD PatrickBORA - hansgrohe1:21
21ARANBURU AlexAstana - Premier Tech1:21
22SKUJIŅŠ TomsTrek - Segafredo1:21
23PARET-PEINTRE AurélienAG2R Citroën Team1:21
24WELLENS TimLotto Soudal1:21
25NEILANDS KristsIsrael Start-Up Nation1:21
26BARGUIL WarrenTeam Arkéa Samsic1:21
27KELDERMAN WilcoBORA - hansgrohe1:21
28VINGEGAARD JonasTeam Jumbo-Visma1:21
30FRAILE OmarAstana - Premier Tech1:21
31HIGUITA SergioEF Education - Nippo1:21
32CLARKE SimonTeam Qhubeka ASSOS1:44
33KNOX JamesDeceuninck - Quick Step1:44
34TEUNS DylanBahrain - Victorious1:45
35GEOGHEGAN HART TaoINEOS Grenadiers1:47
36HERMANS QuintenIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux2:42
37HERRADA JesúsCofidis, Solutions Crédits2:42
38DONOVAN MarkTeam DSM2:43
39KAMP AlexanderTrek - Segafredo3:06
40VAN AVERMAET GregAG2R Citroën Team3:06
41SIMON JulienTeam Total Direct Energie3:06
42ROTA LorenzoIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux3:06
43PICHON LaurentTeam Arkéa Samsic3:06
44BARCELÓ FernandoCofidis, Solutions Crédits3:06
45CONCI NicolaTrek - Segafredo3:06
46WIRTGEN LucBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB3:06
47GESINK RobertTeam Jumbo-Visma3:06
48COSNEFROY BenoîtAG2R Citroën Team3:06
49TUSVELD MartijnTeam DSM3:06
50HONORÉ Mikkel FrølichDeceuninck - Quick Step3:06
51SBARAGLI KristianAlpecin-Fenix3:06
52ROSA DiegoTeam Arkéa Samsic3:06
53ZAKARIN IlnurGazprom - RusVelo3:06
54TULETT BenAlpecin-Fenix3:06
55SCHELLING IdeBORA - hansgrohe3:06
56JORGENSON MatteoMovistar Team3:06
57POWER RobertTeam Qhubeka ASSOS3:06
58VALGREN MichaelEF Education - Nippo3:06
59GESCHKE SimonCofidis, Solutions Crédits3:06
60POZZOVIVO DomenicoTeam Qhubeka ASSOS3:06
61ARU FabioTeam Qhubeka ASSOS3:06
62MOLARD RudyGroupama - FDJ3:06
63COSTA RuiUAE-Team Emirates3:06
64FERRON ValentinTeam Total Direct Energie3:06
65ALMEIDA JoãoDeceuninck - Quick Step3:06
66SEIGLE RomainGroupama - FDJ3:06
67SÁNCHEZ Luis LeónAstana - Premier Tech3:06
68VANHOUCKE HarmLotto Soudal3:06
69HAMILTON ChrisTeam DSM3:06
70IMPEY DarylIsrael Start-Up Nation3:06
71VERONA CarlosMovistar Team3:06
72VANENDERT JelleBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB3:06
73JUUL-JENSEN ChristopherTeam BikeExchange3:06
74HAMILTON LucasTeam BikeExchange3:06
75NIEVE MikelTeam BikeExchange3:06
76FERNÁNDEZ RubénCofidis, Solutions Crédits3:06
77HENAO SergioTeam Qhubeka ASSOS3:06
78LATOUR PierreTeam Total Direct Energie3:06
79PADUN MarkBahrain - Victorious3:06
80VANSEVENANT MauriDeceuninck - Quick Step3:45
81BAKELANTS JanIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux4:15
82OWSIAN ŁukaszTeam Arkéa Samsic4:15
83MADOUAS ValentinGroupama - FDJ4:15
84MERTZ RémyBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB4:15
85MONIQUET SylvainLotto Soudal4:15
86GODON DorianAG2R Citroën Team5:02
87BERNARD JulienTrek - Segafredo5:02
88JANSSENS JimmyAlpecin-Fenix5:02
89LUTSENKO AlexeyAstana - Premier Tech5:02
90CHERNETSKI SergeiGazprom - RusVelo5:02
91MARCZYŃSKI TomaszLotto Soudal5:02
92VLIEGEN LoïcIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux6:17
93VAN POUCKE AaronSport Vlaanderen - Baloise6:58
94OOMEN SamTeam Jumbo-Visma6:58
95BURGAUDEAU MathieuTeam Total Direct Energie7:56
96PEREZ AnthonyCofidis, Solutions Crédits7:56
97VELASCO SimoneGazprom - RusVelo7:59
98ARNDT NikiasTeam DSM7:59
99HOWES AlexEF Education - Nippo7:59
100DE BOD StefanAstana - Premier Tech7:59
101GOLDSTEIN OmerIsrael Start-Up Nation7:59
102GILBERT PhilippeLotto Soudal7:59
103SPRENGERS ThomasSport Vlaanderen - Baloise7:59
104BOOKWALTER BrentTeam BikeExchange7:59
105LADAGNOUS MatthieuGroupama - FDJ7:59
106LAMMERTINK MauritsIntermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux7:59
107CAICEDO Jonathan KleverEF Education - Nippo7:59
108O'CONNOR BenAG2R Citroën Team7:59
109POELS WoutBahrain - Victorious7:59
110ARMÉE SanderTeam Qhubeka ASSOS7:59
111DOUBEY FabienTeam Total Direct Energie7:59
112KANGERT TanelTeam BikeExchange7:59
113EG NiklasTrek - Segafredo7:59
114LEDANOIS KévinTeam Arkéa Samsic7:59
115BENEDETTI CesareBORA - hansgrohe7:59
116MAS EnricMovistar Team7:59
117MEURISSE XandroAlpecin-Fenix9:32
118SERRANO GonzaloMovistar Team9:32
119SCHÄR MichaelAG2R Citroën Team9:32
120HOLLENSTEIN RetoIsrael Start-Up Nation9:32
121GRELLIER FabienTeam Total Direct Energie9:32
122MOLLY KennyBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB10:28
123PAASSCHENS MathijsBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB10:28
124DUNBAR EddieINEOS Grenadiers10:28
125HUYS LaurensBingoal Pauwels Sauces WB10:28
126HERREGODTS RuneSport Vlaanderen - Baloise12:13
127FABBRO MatteoBORA - hansgrohe12:13
128MERTENS JulianSport Vlaanderen - Baloise12:13
129ARCAS JorgeMovistar Team12:13
130RIES MichelTrek - Segafredo12:13
131CARR SimonEF Education - Nippo12:13
132LAENGEN Vegard StakeUAE-Team Emirates12:13
133RIOU AlanTeam Arkéa Samsic12:13
134ROWE LukeINEOS Grenadiers12:13
135GOŁAŚ MichałINEOS Grenadiers12:13
136APERS RubenSport Vlaanderen - Baloise12:13
137GUERNALEC ThibaultTeam Arkéa Samsic12:13
138SERRY PieterDeceuninck - Quick Step12:13
139CRADDOCK LawsonEF Education - Nippo12:13
140VERMAERKE KevinTeam DSM12:13
141GRIGNARD SébastienLotto Soudal12:13
142HOFSTEDE LennardTeam Jumbo-Visma12:13
143ROCHAS RémyCofidis, Solutions Crédits12:13
144STRAKHOV DmitryGazprom - RusVelo12:13
145BENNETT SeanTeam Qhubeka ASSOS12:13
146VAN DER SANDE ToshLotto Soudal12:13
147COLMAN AlexSport Vlaanderen - Baloise12:37

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.