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Andy Schleck wins his first big race: Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Added: sunday 26 April 2009 at 23:24:00
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    Andy Schleck wins his first big race: Liège-Bastogne-LiègeAs I announced Wednesday in my article about the Flèche Wallonne, the third of the tryptic of classics, the Doyenne took place today: Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

    This race was won by the young Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank).

    The favourites

    Last year's winner, Alejandro Valverde was one of the favourites for today's race. When he celebrated his 29th birthday yesterday the people in the crowd of the team presentation sang him a Happy birthday to you when Daniel Mangeas announced his birthday.
    On his team's blog he said two days before the race: Everyone knows, since I keep saying it, that Liège-Bastogne-Liège is 'my' race and the more I ride on the roads of LBL the more I appreciate them. I hope they will bring me luck again this year, as they did the last three years.
    I'm not yet at 100% of my performance, but I hope that my motivation will be sufficient to get the little bit more I need to be in top form. It would be great to end this week with a third win in Liège!

    Unfortunately for him, he didn't succeed in that ...

    Cadel EvansAfter he won the Flèche Wallonne Davide Rebellin was of course one of the other favourites (he finished second last year) together with riders like the Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Cadel Evans (photo, Silence Lotto) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre NGC). The other big favourite, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) said before the start: my goal is to win. To make that possible I have to attack and not wait for the race to finish in a sprint. He knew he could count on the help of his brother Frank Schleck, the number two of the Amstel Gold Race Karsten Kroon and Alexandr Kolobnev.

    With 25 teams at the start, there were many riders willing to win the last classic of this season!

    The description of the race

    The start of the race was at about 10.15AM on the Place Saint-Lambert in Liège.

    Eleven climbs were to be taken in the 261 kilometers which seperated Liège via Bastogne from Ans: the Côte de Ny (1,8 km @ 5,7%), the Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne (2,8 km @ 4,9%), the Côte de Saint-Roch (0,8 km @ 12%), the Côte de Wanne (2,7 km @ 7%), the Côte de Stockeu (1,1 km @ 10,5%), the Côte de la Haute Levée (3,4 km @ 6%), the Côte du Rosier (4 km @ 5,9%), the Côte de la Vecquée (3,1 km @ 5,9%), the heavy Côte de La Redoute (2,1 km @ 8,4%), the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons (1,5 km @ 9,9%) and finally the Côte de Saint-Nicolas (1 km @ 11,1%) at 5,5 kilometers from the finish.

    Cyril GautierAfter about 60 kilometers 3 riders break away from the peloton for a pretty long solo leading the race: the French rider Cyril Gautier (photo, BBox Bouygues Telecom), the Swiss rider Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam) and the Belgian rider Nico Sijmens (Cofidis). At 135 kilometers from the finish the French rider Hubert Dupont of the AG2R La Mondiale team joined them and at that time their gap was 8 minutes. The gap with the peloton increased up to 11 minutes and 20 seconds before the Lampre NGC and Saxo Bank teams started the pursuit.

    Chris Anker SørensenThe first rider to get away from the peloton to get back on the 4 leading riders was Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank). Yes, indeed, the same Sørensen who did exactly the same in the Flèche Wallonne. Linus Gerdemann (Milram) and Dries Devenyns (QuickStep) joined him a bit later.

    At the foot of the Côte de la Redoute the 4 leading riders only had a 28 seconds gap on the peloton and 24 on their 3 followers.

    Once they were taken back a new group of 7 riders was formed: Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale) Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank), José Serpa (Serramenti Diquigiovanni) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank). A bit later they were suddenly jumped over by the Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert (Silence Lotto) who continues alone in the Côte de Sprimont.

    Andy SchleckThe same group, in the mean time completed by Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre NGC), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) and Christian Knees (Milram), is again jumped over by a rider who got away from the peloton in the climb of the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, the young Andy Schleck (photo, Saxo Bank). He finished 4th last year after having helped his brother Frank take the third place and this time he thus stuck to his word and attacked instead of waiting for a final sprint.

    Cuvée Frank & Andy SchleckPhilippe Gilbert kept looking behind him to see how fast the young rider from Luxembourg arrived and once they joined, Andy Schleck continued alone with still about 17 kilometers to go. At that time Laurent Jalabert said on France Télévisions that he had to give everything to stay ahead for at least about 10 kilometers since once he would be in the climb of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas he would have the power to stay ahead until the finish.
    He not only stayed ahead, Andy Schleck increased the gap and his team mates controlled the other riders to give him the chance to get even more time ahead. At the foot of the last climb the gap was up to 1'30" and the rider from Luxembourg finally crossed the finish line alone with a gap of one minute and 20 seconds. The Cuvée Frank et Andy Schleck (photo) which wasn't used at the World Championships in Varese has definitively been opened today!

    After an attempt by Cadel Evans, the Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez of the Caisse d'Epargne team decided to defend the interests of his team by going for the second place. A bit later Davide Rebellin took the third place before Philippe Gilbert and the Amstel Gold Race winner, Sergei Ivanov.

    The images

    Below you can find a video of the last few kilometers and Bjarne Riis' congratulating Andy Schleck. Too bad the brother hug is not included in this ...

    The man who's standing in the car following Andy Schleck when he crosses the finish line is Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam where the Tour de France will start in 2010.


    And here's a video which shows the atmosphere at the finish and the cérémonie protocolaire:

    The next important cycling event

    After the classics season the next important cyling event now is the Giro d'Italia, the 100-year old Giro, which will take place from Saturday 9 till Sunday 31 May 2009.

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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    this article appears in the following categories: Cycling general (except Tour de France) | share on Facebook | delicious | twitter | Google | technorati

Comments

Currently 2 comments!
  1. bonjour


    j ai suis vit cette course comme toute les course cycliste sur le satellite très belle course

    | philippe | tuesday 28 April 2009 at 13:27:44

  2. Comme a l ordinaire j étais devant ma télé , dommage pour VALVERDE...!!
    comme quoi il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l ours avant de l avoir tué!!!!
    Ils ont bien rusés les freres SHLECK, pendant que le cadet filait le grand frere freinait le peloton , enfin c est ce que j ai ressentie devant mon écran , les favoris était derriere Franck Schleck et personne n attaquait , pendant ce temps le petit frere a prit des mns d avance ...et trop tard pour les autres de remonter jusqu a lui dans les derniers kms

    | nath51300 | sunday 03 May 2009 at 22:43:17

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