Liège-Bastogne-Liège glory for Pogacar

April 21 st 2024 - 16:48

A brilliant Liège-Bastogne-Liège performance on Sunday saw Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) take the win as he proved far too strong for his rivals in La Doyenne. After a jubilant Pogacar raised his arms aloft on the Quai des Ardennes in Liège, he was followed over the finish line by Romain Bardet (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) 1’39” behind in second and Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin - Deceuninck), who headed a bunch sprint for third. Pogacar blasted away from his rivals on La Redoute and went on to secure his sixth Monument title, matching the tally of World Champion Van der Poel.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2024 - Extended Highlights

254.5km of tough racing ahead
The full contingent of 175 riders on the entry list started the 110th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, departing from the Quai des Ardennes at 10.10am, with 254.5km of tough racing awaiting the peloton over the hard climbs of the last Monument of the spring.

4 + 5 = 9
Gil Gelders (Soudal Quick-Step), Rémy Rochas (Groupama - FDJ), Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché - Wanty) and Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies) were the four riders who attacked early and they led by 15" at km 3.5. Fabien Doubey (TotalEnergies), Enzo Leijnse (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL), Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan Team), Iván Romeo (Movistar Team) and Loïc Vliegen (Bingoal WB) then joined the early breakaway at km 6. Danny van der Tuuk (Equipo Kern Pharma) valiantly chased for several kilometres to join them, though his efforts were eventually unsuccessful, so it was a group of 9 determined riders who stayed clear.

UAE Team Emirates at the front
Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates colleagues rode with him at the front of the peloton, ensuring they were in control, whilst the bunch was 3’ adrift of the breakaway after 30km of racing. That gap was slightly reduced to 2’35” by km 52, but then steadily grew - and as the breakaway left Bastogne with 155km of racing to go they had a lead of 4'10".

Crash causes a split
With 100km to go the 9 rider-breakaway’s gap was down to 1'10" and the riders faced cross-head winds as they made their way north from Bastogne to Liège. Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin - Deceuninck) was just behind a crash which involved three riders, Chris Hamilton, Toon Clynhens and Junior Lecerf. Van der Poel was not impacted by that first crash, before another big accident in the bunch with 98km remaining saw him lose ground as the peloton was split in two. A large group was delayed by that crash, notably including Van der Poel and Valentin Madouas. Ahead, the group including Pogacar continued its efforts before approaching the Mont-le-Soie climb.

The breakaway is caught
Leijnse, Calmejane, Vliegen and Romeo could not keep up the pace on the Mont-le-Soie ascent and soon the remaining escapees were chased down. As the surviving breakaway riders started the Côte de Wanne ascent their lead on the peloton was just 14", but early on that climb they were swallowed up by the peloton. Gelders, Rochas, Scaroni, Doubey and Ourselin caught by the bunch on the first slopes of the Côte de Wanne, at km 166.

Pidcock stops then counter attacks
A mechanical problem for Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers) saw him stop for a bike change and temporarily fall behind the Van der Poel group. There were around 50 riders in this trailing group - including Van der Poel and Simon Yates (Team Jayco AlUla) - which continued to lose ground, with a 1’10” deficit at km 174, as the UAE Team Emirates kept the pressure on up front. Pidcock recovered and then launched out of the Van der Poel group on the Côte de Stockeu to try to join the Pogacar group and he was followed in that move by Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain - Victorious) and Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step). Rémy Rochas and Romain Grégoire (Groupama – FDJ) also managed to join Pidcock and Vansevenant’s chasing group and 71km from the finish the peloton was all back together.

Pogacar explodes on La Redoute
The teams were fighting for prominence at the front of the peloton ahead of the Côte de La Redoute climb. Then Pogacar exploded on La Redoute at 34.5 km from the finish and was only followed initially by Richard Carapaz (EF Education – EasyPost), who eventually could not stay with him. As he went over the summit of Côte de La Redoute Pogacar was 8" clear and he increased his advantage on the descent. That lead increased to 50'' within 4km after La Redoute, Pogacar confidently leading the way ahead of a group including Vansevenant, Bernal, Carapaz, Van Gils and Lutsenko.

Counter attack
Several more riders joined the chasing group, namely Healy, Grégoire, Benoot, Vlasov, Skjelmose, Almeida, Hirschi, Bardet, Cosnefroy and Paret-Peintre. Irish champion Healy and the leader of the dsm-firmenich team Bardet set out in pursuit of Pogacar, joined in the chase by Grégoire and Cosnefroy, but they were still 1' behind the race leader as they reached Côte des Forges. Bardet attacked for second on the final Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons climb and made it on to the podium again after his 3rd place in the Doyenne in 2018. Van der Poel completed the 2024 Liège-Bastogne-Liège podium securing third in a bunch sprint to the line. Maxim Van Gils in 4th and Aurélien Paret-Peintre in 5th completed the top 5.

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