Jungels caps off Quick Step’s brilliant Spring
April 22 nd 2018 - 17:08
Make it two Monuments and 27 victories this season for Quick-Step Floors, with Bob Jungels snatching the solo win on the 104th edition of La Doyenne! The Luxemburghese champion emulated Andy Schleck, who also built his 2009 Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory in the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. Jungels then held off everyone on his own in the final 20km to claim his biggest victory at 25 years old. Michael Woods (EF Education First) finished second ahead of Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale). After Julian Alaphilippe’s victory at La Flèche wallonne, Quick-Step made once again the most of their collective strength.
The thousands of spectators tuning in to Liège for the start of La Doyenne enjoyed a sunny Sunday and aggressive racing from the gun. After 5km of battle, Loïc Vliegen (BMC), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Mark Christian and Casper Pedersen (Aqua Blue Sport), Florian Vachon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Paul Ourselin (Direct Énergie), Mathias Van Gompel (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Antoine Warnier (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic) had managed to break away. Their gap rose to a maximum of 6’10 after 32km.
Break under control
Dan Martin’s UAE Team Emirates and Julian Alaphilippe’s Quick-Step Floors were the first teams to pull the peloton. The gap was down to 5’30” when the riders reached Bastogne and turned back to Liège, with 10 climbs still lying ahead of them. Atop the Côte de Saint-Roch (km 109), they maintained a 4’30” lead before a sequence of four climbs from Côte de Mont-le-Soie (km 152) until the Côte de la Ferme Libert (km 180) redefined the race situation.
With Lotto Soudal and UAE setting a hard pace, the pack cut the gap under 4 minutes 85km away from the finish. Casper Pedersen tried to go solo in the Côte de Bellevaux, opening a 20” gap before his former breakaway companions got back to him in the Côte de la Ferme Libert. Loïc Vliegen, Anthony Perez, Mark Christian, Jérôme Baugnies and Paul Ourselin proved to be the strongest in that climb. Vliegen was then dropped in the Col du Rosier.
Jungels goes solo
The peloton was only 1’45” behind the four remaining escapees when they tackled the iconic Côte de la Redoute, where Jérôme Baugnies went solo. The Belgian was eventually caught with 25km to go, just ahead of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) tore the race apart in the climb, before going solo after the summit, 19km away from the finish line. A group of 20 chasers, featuring four time winner or Liège Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and most of the favorites, wasn't able to collaborate properly behind him. 2013 winner Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) dropped out of contention due to a puncture with 8km to go.
The Luxemburghese champion enjoyed his all-rounder abilities to tackle the Côte de Saint-Nicolas with a lead of 50”. At the summit, despite attacks from Lotto Soudal’s Tim Wellens and Jelle Vanendert, he was still 20” ahead of his first chaser, Vanendert. The Belgian wasn’t able to close that gap in the final 5.5km and he saw Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) come back to him while Bob Jungels soloed to victory.