Maxim Iglinskiy pulls off Liège-Bastogne-Liège stunner
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maxim Iglinskiy pulls off Liège-Bastogne-Liège stunner

by Kyle Moore at 12:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Race Reports and Results, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Chases down Nibali in final 10 kilometers, then rides away, Gasparotto puts two Astana on the podium

Maxim IglinskiyMaxim Iglinskiy (Astana) pulled off a shocking victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, adding another triumph in the Ardennes for Astana in 2012, after Enrico Gasparotto took the Amstel Gold Race.

Iglinskiy appeared to be beaten by Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) - as did the entirety of the peloton - over the top of the penultimate climb of the day, the Côte de La Roche aux Faucons. The Italian rode away on the descent, as he often does, and quickly built a lead of over 30 seconds. With many tired legs in the depleted peloton, an established chase took a long period of time to form, and when it did, no one appeared strong enough to bring Nibali back.

With under 15 kilometers to race, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) finally emerged from the peloton with Iglinskiy in tow. For a while, Nibali managed to hold his gap as he worked up the Côte de Saint-Nicholas, the second-last climb of the day. As the chasing duo hit the drag, an exhausted Rodriguez was forced to drop back, and Iglinskiy set off alone in pursuit of the Liquigas-Cannondale rider.

Unfortunately for the Italian, the final climb was just a bit too long, and his energy began flagging as his elbows protruded and his head continuously dropped. Meanwhile, Iglinskiy’s form held, and helicopter shots showed the gap to be much smaller than previously thought. Nibali once appeared to give up, perhaps deciding to let the Astana rider attach. He pushed on however, with less than five kilometers to race, but Iglinskiy kept getting closer.

As the road through Liège ramped up towards the left turn to the finish, Iglinskiy bridged fully, then went right by Nibali. The Italian tried to hold his wheel but cracked almost immediately; Iglinskiy raced on to hit the line alone, throwing his arms in the air, and Nibali eased over the finish, 19 seconds later. Gasparotto took the sprint for third ahead of Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Dan Martin (Garmin-Barracuda).

The victory is much bigger than what he achived in the past, but Iglinskiy said that he received a confidence boost beforehand which made him think it could be possible. Double winner [and current Astana road captain] Alexandre Vinokourov called him from Turkey, where he is competing in the Presidential Tour there.

The message was that he could win Liège if 'I managed to keep my cool and didn’t panic,' Iglinskiy said. “When I went for it, chasing after Nibali, I thought I had no chance of victory. I though I was fighting for second.”

“But then I managed to catch him,I saw he wasn’t in a good place, and went for it straight away. It’s the biggest win of my career by a long way.”

The result was one which taught the Kazakhstan rider something about himself. “I thought I could do better in cobbled Classics like Ghent-Welvegem and E3 Harelbeke, not in a Monument like this one," he said. "But I was wrong.”

Sunny at the start, but rain appears imminent

Riders got underway in Liège under sunny skies, but darker clouds appeared on the horizon and many riders began the brisk day with extra layers. The peloton rolled away from the start with 200 riders, but would be down to 199 before the race could get underway in earnest. Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) came down in the neutral zone and was later reported to have suffered a broken clavicle.

The standard early-race attacks kept the pace high in the bunch from the drop of the flag, but small and large moves alike were all brought back as the peloton covered the first twenty kilometers. At the 38-kilometer mark, three men got away and the peloton’s muted response made it quickly clear that this would be the day’s featured escape. Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) and Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda’s) moved quickly off the front and soon had a minute’s advantage.

Sensing the opportunity, three more struck out from the peloton, and it wasn’t long before Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Gregory Habeaux (Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda’s), and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi) had made it to the front. The peloton continued to let them go, and the gap ballooned to over six minutes after 57 kilometers of racing.

The gap would top out at over 11 minutes before Katusha established itself at the front of the bunch, looking at the interests of Flèche Wallone champion Joaquin Rodriguez. With 150 kilometers to race, the gap was at a manageable eight minutes, with Cataldo and Geschke the primary engines in the break.

The tempo in both groups held firm over the first couple climbs, but riders began to suffer at the back of the main bunch over the Côte de Saint-Roch with 140 kilometers to race. After dropping to six minutes, the gap to the break went back up to 7 minutes 30 seconds. The peloton picked up the pace once again heading toward the base of the Côte de Wanne, widely known as the traditional commencement of full-on racing.

Rigoberto Uran (Sky Procycling) was questionable to start before the race, but while he did saddle up to start, he was one of the many riders who struggled with the pace on the Côte de Wanne. Over the top of the climb, the gap to the breakaway was down under five minutes, and the bunch began the descent on a winding, narrow road.

Coming into a corner, Geschke’s time in the break was up, as the Argos-Shimano rider came down hard on the descent. He got help from a fan at the side of the road as a cut over his eye began bleeding and, sitting at the side of the road, it appeared his day was done. But he was soon back on his bike, and even managed a thumbs-up and a smile as a camera moto caught up with him.

Weather worsens as climbing and racing pick up

Climbs came in quicker succession with 100 kilometers to race, and over the top of the Côte de Stockeu, Dario Cataldo appeared unquestionably the strongest of his breakaway mates, as he free-wheeled over the top and still dropped the remaining four with him. As the peloton sped toward the bottom of the climb, the gap had dropped to around four minutes.

As the 12 percent gradient of the Stockeu bit in to the peloton, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) suffered an ill-timed mechanical, and though he stayed relaxed as his team-mate Romain Sicard waited, his face revealed that he was more than perturbed with the timing of the problem.

Radioshack-Nissan took control at the front over the top of the climb and Geschke was soon reeled in after his crash. A new group of six tried their luck off the front of the peloton, under the impetus of Saur-Sojasun, and while it did not get far, it certainly would not help Sanchez in his efforts to return on his new bike. The peloton would not allow this six-man escape any room, but as it was being reabsorbed by the Lotto-Belisol-led bunch, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) accelerated away.

The Frenchman didn’t look too keen on going away alone, so he floated off the front momentarily before he was able to draw out Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar) and David Le Lay (Saur-Sojasun). This trio accelerated through a feed zone, quickly grabbing bags before the peloton moved through slowly. This in turn allowed Sanchez to bridge back to the bunch, but furthered the gap to the escaping trio.

As the peloton took on food, Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Nissan) took over pace-making with Greg Van Avermaet second wheel for BMC Racing. The gap to the original five-man breakaway was down to two and a half minutes, but the trio of Rolland, Kiryienka, and Le Lay pulled out to a minute.

On the Col du Rosier, Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan) was spotted at the back of the group, and Maxime Bouet (Ag2R-La Mondiale) put in a dig, though it was short-lived, as Lotto-Belisol took control at the front.

With 70 kilometers remaining, Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) began what would be a long turn at the front in support of Philippe Gilbert, who looked good and rode consistently in the top five at the front. The chasing trio soon made it across to the original breakaway of five, and the Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda’s riders seemed particularly pleased with the added reinforcements.

Astana began to bring its troops near the front as the Côte du Masquisard approached. Rain was falling steadily now as Kiryienka and Rolland seemed content to take the lion’s share of the work in the breakaway. Riders added rain gear, and some just hit the showers; the peloton had shrunk to less than fifty on the Mont-Theux with fifty kilometers to race.

Gilbert soon dropped back off the front to pay a visit to the team car, but had team-mate Amaël Moinard for company. Bookwalter led the bunch over the Mont-Theux and dropped back, and as the pace slackened a bit, Mads Christiensen (Saxo Bank) whistled off the front alone. Christiensen built 16 seconds on the group as Garmin-Barracuda and GreenEdge consolidated men at the front.

GreenEdge drives the group into the decisive final climbs

Moving toward the decisive Côte de La Redoute, both Schleck brothers appeared at the back of the peloton this time, and GreenEdge blazed toward the base as Voeckler was forced back with an ill-timed flat. The gap to the break, which had by this time splintered, had tumbled to 45 seconds, and Rolland wheeled away off the front, driving a pace that only Kiryienka could follow.

All the heavy favourites were at the front of the peloton by this point, including Gilbert, Nibali, and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol). Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) suffered a mechanical on the climb, and got an awkward bike change from team-mate Angel Madrazo. Cataldo had made it back to the leading duo as the climb flattened out, and with 33 kilometers to go, the gap remained 46 seconds. BMC Racing remained on the front of the peloton, this time with Tejay Van Garderen, and Gilbert back with him to follow.

At 26 kilometers to race, the gap was down to 32 seconds, and the peloton was reduced to about 30 men in with a chance. The gap tumbled the rest of the way as the nine-percent gradients of the Côte de La Roche aux Faucons bit in. With 20 kilometers to go, the peloton was shedding riders with consistency – first Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Nissan) and then Sergio Henao (Sky Procycling). Rolland’s energy reserves were almost endless, and the French Alpe d’Huez champion went away again as Frank Schleck was dropped for good.

Nibali was the first five-star favourite to put in a move on the penultimate climb, and the Italian quickly dispatched Rolland again as Gilbert tried to chase him down. Voeckler remained active in trying to keep Nibali close, along with Gasparotto and Dani Moreno (Katusha). Over the top of La Roche aux Faucons, Nibali didn’t have much of a gap, so he tried his patented escape on the descent, and quickly had achieved 16 seconds as Gilbert fell behind.

It became clear that the Belgian champion was running out of gas as two chase group consolidated with the singular goal of bringing back Nibali, who by now was fully committed. The first chase included two Astana riders, two Katusha riders and Voeckler, and the second contained Gilbert, Sanchez, Rolland, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), and Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) amongst others.

Nibali was reported by race coverage to have opened up a 30-second gap, and as the two chase groups combined into one, Rodriguez eventually hit out with Iglinskiy. Martin moved away with Rolland this time, and though the Irishman wanted the Frenchman to pull through, the Europcar rider had finally run out of reserves. Rodriguez fell back, as did Martin and Rolland, and the Iglinskiy – Nibali duel was set.

The Côte de Saint-Nicholas, just 1.2 kilometers at an 8 percent gradient, bit in to the Italian hard, and the determined Iglinskiy drew motivation from seeing the lime-green kit on the horizon. The Astana rider reeled in Nibali methodically and then quickly left him behind, taking La Doyenne, the biggest win of his career.


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Liege-Bastogne-Liege (WorldTour) Results: Liege to Ans (257.5km)

  Click on the arrowsat the top of the column to sort the race results.
Country Result Name Team Time
kaz KAZ 1 Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana Pro Team) 06:43:52
ita ITA 2 Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale) 00:00:21
ita ITA 3 Enrico Gasparotto (Astana Pro Team) 00:00:36
fra FRA 4 Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) s.t.
irl IRL 5 Daniel Martin (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
ned NED 6 Bauke Mollema (Rabobank Cycling Team) s.t.
esp ESP 7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) s.t.
ita ITA 8 Michele Scarponi (Lampre - ISD) s.t.
can CAN 9 Ryder Hesjedal (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
bel BEL 10 Jelle Vanendert (Lotto - Belisol Team) s.t.
ita ITA 11 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2R - La Mondiale) s.t.
fra FRA 12 Pierre Rolland (Europcar) s.t.
esp ESP 13 Daniel Moreno Fernandéz (Katusha Team) s.t.
cro CRO 14 Robert Kiserlovski (Astana Pro Team) s.t.
esp ESP 15 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha Team) 00:01:00
bel BEL 16 Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) 00:01:27
por POR 17 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Movistar Team) 00:02:11
fra FRA 18 Julien Simon (Saur - Sojasun) s.t.
aus AUS 19 Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge Cycling Team) s.t.
nor NOR 20 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky Procycling) s.t.
fra FRA 21 Arthur Vichot (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat) s.t.
ned NED 22 Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) s.t.
lux LUX 23 Frank Schleck (RadioShack - Nissan) s.t.
esp ESP 24 Oscar Gomez Freire (Katusha Team) s.t.
ned NED 25 Karsten Kroon (Team Saxo Bank) s.t.
ita ITA 26 Mauro Santambrogio (BMC Racing Team) s.t.
bel BEL 27 Maxime Monfort (RadioShack - Nissan) s.t.
bel BEL 28 Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) s.t.
col COL 29 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Sky Procycling) s.t.
bel BEL 30 Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) s.t.
den DEN 31 Chris Anker Sorensen (Team Saxo Bank) s.t.
rus RUS 32 Yuri Trofimov (Katusha Team) s.t.
fra FRA 33 Benoit Vaugrenard (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat) s.t.
fra FRA 34 Pierrick Fedrigo (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat) s.t.
ita ITA 35 Damiano Cunego (Lampre - ISD) s.t.
swe SWE 36 Thomas Löfkvist (Sky Procycling) s.t.
bel BEL 37 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto - Belisol Team) 00:02:19
ita ITA 38 Daniele Pietropolli (Lampre - ISD) 00:05:05
fra FRA 39 Jean-marc Marino (Saur - Sojasun) s.t.
blr BLR 40 Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar Team) 00:05:27
fra FRA 41 Remi Cusin (Team Type 1 - SANOFI) s.t.
fra FRA 42 Mickael Cherel (Ag2R - La Mondiale) 00:05:39
bel BEL 43 Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) s.t.
ger GER 44 Dominik Nerz (Liquigas - Cannondale) s.t.
bel BEL 45 Francis De Greef (Lotto - Belisol Team) s.t.
den DEN 46 Nicki Sørensen (Team Saxo Bank) s.t.
usa USA 47 Alex Howes (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
fra FRA 48 Christophe Le Mevel (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
bel BEL 49 Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony) s.t.
lux LUX 50 Andy Schleck (RadioShack - Nissan) s.t.
fra FRA 51 Hubert Dupont (Ag2R - La Mondiale) s.t.
ger GER 52 Fabian Wegmann (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
fra FRA 53 Alexandre Geniez (Argos-Shimano) s.t.
usa USA 54 Peter Stetina (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
ita ITA 55 Damiano Caruso (Liquigas - Cannondale) s.t.
pol POL 56 Maciej Paterski (Liquigas - Cannondale) s.t.
ned NED 57 Robert Gesink (Rabobank Cycling Team) s.t.
bel BEL 58 Jan Bakelants (RadioShack - Nissan) s.t.
bel BEL 59 Kevin De Weert (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) s.t.
ita ITA 60 Moreno Moser (Liquigas - Cannondale) s.t.
usa USA 61 Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) s.t.
den DEN 62 Mads Christensen (Team Saxo Bank) s.t.
ned NED 63 Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank Cycling Team) s.t.
esp ESP 64 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Rabobank Cycling Team) s.t.
ita ITA 65 Giovanni Visconti (Movistar Team) 00:05:45
ned NED 66 Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony) 00:07:29
bel BEL 67 Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) s.t.
bel BEL 68 Davy Commeijne (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony) 00:08:22
esp ESP 69 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Euskaltel - Euskadi) s.t.
esp ESP 70 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi) s.t.
fra FRA 71 Vincent Jerome (Europcar) 00:08:28
fra FRA 72 David Lelay (Saur - Sojasun) 00:08:30
bel BEL 73 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) 00:08:54
ita ITA 74 Manuele Mori (Lampre - ISD) s.t.
sui SUI 75 Michael Albasini (GreenEdge Cycling Team) s.t.
ned NED 76 Wout Poels (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) s.t.
fra FRA 77 Brice Feillu (Saur - Sojasun) s.t.
ita ITA 78 Diego Ulissi (Lampre - ISD) s.t.
esp ESP 79 Ángel Vicioso Arcos (Katusha Team) 00:11:04
ita ITA 80 Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) s.t.
ned NED 81 Rob Ruijgh (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) 00:12:18
ger GER 82 Paul Martens (Rabobank Cycling Team) s.t.
pol POL 83 Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) s.t.
bel BEL 84 Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) s.t.
bel BEL 85 Kevyn Ista ( – Willems Veranda’s) s.t.
fra FRA 86 Anthony Delaplace (Saur - Sojasun) s.t.
fra FRA 87 Jérémy Roy (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat) s.t.
ita ITA 88 Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1 - SANOFI) s.t.
ita ITA 89 Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) s.t.
ned NED 90 Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank Cycling Team) s.t.
fra FRA 91 Matthieu Sprick (Argos-Shimano) s.t.
por POR 92 Bruno Manuel Silva Pires (Team Saxo Bank) s.t.
ger GER 93 Johannes Frohlinger (Argos-Shimano) s.t.
sui SUI 94 Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1 - SANOFI) s.t.
nor NOR 95 Vegard Laengen Stake (Team Type 1 - SANOFI) s.t.
fra FRA 96 Romain Sicard (Euskaltel - Euskadi) s.t.
ukr UKR 97 Andriy Grivko (Astana Pro Team) s.t.
esp ESP 98 Xavier Florencio (Katusha Team) s.t.
uzb UZB 99 Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) s.t.
esp ESP 100 Xabier Zandio Echaide (Sky Procycling) s.t.
esp ESP 101 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Movistar Team) s.t.
kaz KAZ 102 Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana Pro Team) s.t.
rus RUS 103 Evgeni Petrov (Astana Pro Team) s.t.
can CAN 104 Christian Meier (GreenEdge Cycling Team) s.t.
irl IRL 105 Nicolas Roche (Ag2R - La Mondiale) s.t.
fra FRA 106 Cyril Gautier (Europcar) s.t.
ita ITA 107 Simone Stortoni (Lampre - ISD) s.t.
ita ITA 108 Salvatore Puccio (Sky Procycling) s.t.
fra FRA 109 Fabrice Jeandesboz (Saur - Sojasun) s.t.
rsa RSA 110 Daryl Impey (GreenEdge Cycling Team) 00:12:50
bel BEL 111 Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) 00:12:54
aus AUS 112 Simon Clarke (GreenEdge Cycling Team) 00:14:31
bel BEL 113 Dennis Vanendert  

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