Bob Jungels wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege after solo attack
Jungels wins his first monument with a brave attack, after the penultimate climb of Cote de la Roche-aux-Facons
La Doyenne, the oldest one-day races in the cycling calendar started its 104th edition today. The world´s best climbers were ready to tackle the 258.5 demanding kilometres with no less than eleven climbs. One of the iconic climbs, “La Redoute”, which the peloton knew from Fleché Wallonne on Wednesday awaited the riders shortly before the finale. But before the peloton had to manage climbs like the “Saint-Roche” (1km, 11,2%) or after 180km of racing the “Ferme Libert” with more than 12%. The finale metres to the finish line in Ans, close to Liege, went shortly uphill and showed after about 6:30 hours in the saddle, who was the best rider today in Liege – Bastogne – Liege.
Right after the start a group of nine riders established the breakaway of the day and the gap increased to more than six minutes, back in the main bunch and Quick-Step Floors took control over the pace. After the first climb of the day, the Cote de Bonnerue, the nine escapees had an advantage of five minutes. But shortly before the tough climb “Ferme Libert”, at the 180km mark, breakaway fell apart and only five riders were able to stay at the front.
Before the iconic climb “La Redoute”, the peloton increased the pace to bridge the gap. On the climb one rider launched an attack and built a small gap over his opponents. With 25km the soloist had 30 seconds gap but the peloton with Quick- Step Floors and Team Movistar pulled hard to catch the escapees.
On the second last climb first serious attacks were launched and the bunch felt apart in different groups.
The first to attack was Philippe Gilbert on the penultimate climb of the Cote de la Roche-aux-Facons, his lead was short lived as Team Sky's Sergio Henao countered taking Alaphilippe with him.
Behind the favorites followed, at the very front the 25 year old rider from Luxembourg, Bob Jungels went on the attack after cresting the penultimate climb of the Cote de la Roche-aux-Facons and no one chased. He quickly built up a lead of over 30 seconds.
Behind there were counter attacks from Valverde, Alaphilippe and Bardet, but none of them managed to get away.
After cresting the final climb of Saint Nicolas, Jungels had 19 secs at with 5 kms to go and pressed on.
Behind the favorites attacked each other, but it was too late, Jungels crossed the line 37 seconds ahead of the fragmented peloton.
EF Drapac's Canadian rider Mike Woods finished second, with Bardet just behind in third.
“I did not think I could win until I saw no one at the finish,” Jungels said afterwards. “I felt good all day. I just cannot believe it – it is unreal. I have been waiting for such a big result for a while. The team have had a super spring campaign. I am super happy.”
The Luxembourg rider became the third from his country and the first since Andy Schleck in 2009 to win the oldest classic on the calendar.
VIDEO: 2018 Liege-Bastogne-Liege Highlights
2018 Liege-Bastogne-Liege Top 10 Results
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:39
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7 Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott
9 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team