Andy Schleck Wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) has won Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Schleck soloed away from Philippe Gilbert (Silence) in the last 20 km to take the rugged, 261-km classic in 6:34:32. Joaquim Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) finished second at 1:17, and Davide Rebellin (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) outsprinted Sergei Ivanov (Katusha) for third at 1:24.
During the first hour, things were quiet in the peloton. Marcel Wyss (Cervelo TestTeam) tried to escape, but the bunch snuffed out his attempt.
The quiet ended on the Cote de Ny (57.5 km). Cyril Gautier (Bouygues Telecom) attacked, and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) and Wyss joined him. Eventually, Hubert Du Pont (Ag2r) bridged up, and the quartet led the field by 8:11 at 138 km. At 161 km, the break's advantage maxed out at 11:01.
Quick Step, Saxo Bank, and Barloworld began to chase. Within 20 km, the bunch cut six minutes from the break's lead. On the Cote de Stockeu (178.5 km), Saxo Bank took command. With 67 km remaining, 4:30 separated bunch and break.
Katusha took over from Saxo Bank and cut the lead to 3:00 with 62 km left. Ten km later, the break was 1:30 ahead of the peloton. Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank) attacked, and Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) and Linus Gerdemann (Milram) followed. Caisse d'Epargne took over the chase and kept the trio within 0:30 of the bunch, with the three leaders 0:12 further up the road.
Gerdemann's group caught the leaders. Gautier attacked, while behind, Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) attacked from the peloton.
Wyss sat up and dropped back. On the Cote de la Redoute, the bunch reeled in the break. With 34 km to go, Alexandr Kolobnov (Saxo Bank) attacked. Jose Serpa (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) and Roman Kreuzinger (Liquigas) followed. Lampre and Caisse d'Epargne chased.
Gilbert countered and bolted past the break. He forged a 0:30 lead. Behind, a flurry of attacks took place. Serpa crashed on a left-hand turn.
On the Cote de la Roche aux Faucons (241.5 km), Andy Schleck made his move. At the summit, 0:11 separated him from Gilbert. With 19 km left, Schleck dropped Gilbert on the descent. Ivanov set out in pursuit, but the bunch caught him. The peloton could not agree on who would chase, and Schleck took time out of it.
With 15 km remaining, Schleck led the pursuit by 0:38. Five km later, the Saxo Bank man had extended his lead to about a minute. With six km left, he had 1:17 on the pursuit.
In the last km, Rodriguez got clear of the bunch, and Rebellin tried to do so. No matter. Schleck won easily.
Schleck attributed his success to his teammates. "The team worked fantastic behind," he said. (Three Saxo Bank men, including his brother Frank, blocked the pursuit.) "Without my teammates, this wouldn't have been possible."
Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the last major spring classic. The riders will begin to prepare for the Giro d'Italia, which begins on May 9, and for the Tour de France in July. How will they fare? Check on www.roadcycling.com and find out!