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Pogacar attacks to solo to Liège-Bastogne-Liège Victory

Tadej Pogacar won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race on Sunday with a solo break, 30km from home, before dedicating victory to the mother of his girlfriend who died on the eve of the 2022 event

Pogacar attacks to solo to Liège-Bastogne-Liège Victory

Ahead of his Giro d'Italia and Tour de France double bid, the 25-year-old Slovenian blew the opposition away with an acceleration that none could answer on the 254-kilometre race in the Ardennes forests that marks the end of the spring classics.

Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winner Mathieu van der Poel, bidding to become the first man since the legendary Eddy Merckx in 1975 to win three of the major one-day races in the same season, was a commendable third.

Frenchman Romain Bardet was second, also solo, 1 minute 39 seconds off the pace with Van der Poel leading a bunch home at 2min 2sec.

Pogacar fell in the race last season and suffered a broken wrist, which blighted his Tour de France bid.

"It was an emotional day of riding for me," a drained-looking Pogacar said after raising his arms and pointing to the sky, dedicating victory to the mother of his girlfriend Urska Zigart, also a pro rider.

"Not just because of my hand but also because two years ago just before the race Urska's mother died, so I was riding for her today."

Pogacar also won the Liege-Bastogne in 2021. Sunday was his sixth one-day Monument victory, with three wins at the Tour of Lombardy and a 2023 Tour of Flanders triumph.

"Coming in alone was great. It's really special to come in alone on such a long race. It's a beautiful race and I'm happy to win it again," said the UAE Team Emirates rider.

Pogacar came into the race fresh from altitude training and at the start line said he had "no regrets about not racing la Fleche", referring to the frozen and drenched midweek race in the same region.

"I wore lots of layers today. It's still really cold," said the winner. "I rode hard up the hills, played it safe on the downhills, but at the end I was just suffering," he said of his long winning dash.

This was a seventh win in just 10 days of competitive racing for Pogacar this year. He starts the Giro d'Italia on May 4 in a bid to become the first man to win the Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998.

He will be making his Giro debut, but he won the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021, and was runner-up to Jonas Vingegaard in 2022 and 2023.

Defending Liege-Bastogne champion Remco Evenepoel, former winner Primoz Roglic and Vingegaard would all have been suited to Sunday's course but all were out injured after a mass fall at the Tour of the Basque Country.

In the women's race a tight finish in downtown Liege was clinched by Australian Grace Brown ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini and Demi Vollering.

Brown had been on a long range escape until a group of pursuers caught up 6km from the end, but then unleashed her remaining energy for a late, winning burst to the line.

2024 Liège-Bastogne-Liège Top 10

1  POGACAR Tadej UAE Team Emirates 6:13:48
2  BARDET Romain Team dsm-firmenich PostNL 1:39
3  VAN DER POEL Mathieu Alpecin - Deceuninck 2:02
4  VAN GILS Maxim Lotto Dstny 2:02
5  PARET-PEINTRE Aurélien Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team 2:02
6  VANSEVENANT Mauri Soudal Quick-Step 2:02
7  MADOUAS Valentin Groupama - FDJ 2:02
8  LUTSENKO Alexey Astana Qazaqstan Team 2:02
9  BILBAO Pello Bahrain - Victorious 2:02
10  PIDCOCK Thomas INEOS Grenadiers 2:02

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