Cycling

Simon Gerrans wins Liege race

Simon Gerrans (AFP Photo)
Simon Gerrans (AFP Photo)

Ans - Simon Gerrans became the first Australian to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.

The Orica-GreenEDGE rider timed his attack to perfection on the tough uphill finish in Ans at the end of 263km of racing.

Spanish Fleche Wallonne winner Alejandro Valverde took second with Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski coming home third in the 100th edition of one of the five 'Monuments' of cycling.

Before the race, the 2012 Milan-San Remo winner Gerrans admitted he wasn't as well suited to 'La Doyenne' (the oldest race) as he was to the Amstel Gold Race.

Gerrans's best previous result had been a sixth place in 2009, whereas he had three times finished third at Amstel.

But while all his major rivals raced at Fleche on Wednesday, Gerrans was resting and it paid off.

In a thrilling finale pure climbers Julian Arredondo and Domenico Pozzovivo attacked on the Roche-aux-Faucons climb just over 20km from home.

They held their lead for almost 10km before a determined but reduced peloton of around 30-35 riders caught them.

Italian Pozzovivo attacked again, though, on the final categorised climb, the Cote Saint-Nicolas, alongside compatriot Gianpaolo Caruso.

They gained a gap of 12sec before the true attacks for home behind them started to eat into their lead on the final uncategorised ramp in Ans.

Last year's winner Dan Martin made a break inside the final kilometre and caught Pozzovivo as Caruso kicked again.

But on the final tight left-hand bend, Irishman Martin incredibly crashed leaving Caruso out in front but with three chasers closing quickly.

Valverde brought Gerrans and Kwiatkowski up to Caruso's wheel with just a couple of hundred metres left but at that point, the Australian knew he had the best sprint finish.

Valverde's second place completed a highly impressive Ardennes campaign for the Movistar team leader, who was also fourth at Amstel.

Omega Pharma's Kwiatkowski was just as consistent having finished fifth at Amstel and third at Fleche.

Home favourite Philippe Gilbert, the winner at Amstel for the third time in his career, was a disappointing eighth.

Results from the 100th edition of the 263km Liege-Bastogne-Liege race:

1. Simon Gerrans (AUS/OGE) 6hr 37min 43sec,
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) same time,
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) s.t.,
4. Giampaolo Caruso (ITA/KAT) s.t.,
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) at 3sec,
6. Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED/GRM) s.t.,
7. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/TIN) s.t.,
8. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) s.t.,
9. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 5,
10. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 6,
11. Jelle Vanendert (BEL/LTB) 8,
12. Enrico Gasparotto (ITA/AST) 10,
13. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) s.t.,
14. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) s.t.,
15. Bauke Mollema (NED/BKN) 12

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