Vinokourov leaves no doubts with Liège-Bastogne-Liège win
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vinokourov leaves no doubts with Liège-Bastogne-Liège win

by VeloNation Press at 11:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Alexandre Vinokourov - Liege-Bastongne-Liege winTeam Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov took his second win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège today, marking his biggest win since returning from a doping suspension last year, while erasing all doubts as to whether he could still perform at the top level of the sport. Seconds later the Kazakh's breakaway companion Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) crossed the line in second place, with Caisse d’Epargne’s Alejandro Valverde finishing third by out sprinting a chase group containing Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).

“It’s a beautiful victory for me. A nice victory for the Astana Team and for me,” Vinokourov said after the race.

"Since my comeback in August 2009, I have dreamed of a great victory that would give credit to my decision to return to competition," he continued. "I always said that if I came back, it was not to make up the numbers. My victory today is the reward for all the sacrifices I made to again be one of the best of the bunch. It is a dream!"

The final Classic of the spring officially began when a break of seven formed early on in the race.  The move included Thomas De Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen), Maxime Bouet (AG2R), Alan Perez (Euskaltel), Jussi Veikkanen (Française des Jeux), Dries Devenyns (Quick Step), Niki Terpstra (Milram) and Mauro Finetto (Liquigas-Doimo).  After a long battle to get across to the leaders, Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet) made it a grand total of eight up front, which was also the maximum amount of minutes the group was allowed.

The break begins to fade

The break arrived at the first climb of the day, the Côte de la Roche, with six minutes in hand.  Two climbs later, on the Côte de Wanne, the break had three and a half minutes with nearly 100 kilometers remaining.  The climb proved to be too much for Finetto, with the young Italian having the dubious honor of being to the first to lose contact.  Behind in the peloton Saxo Bank’s Jens Voigt went on the attack and managed to catch the breakaway’s next victim, Bouet, on the Col du Rosier with 75 kilometers remaining.  Next the German rode by Veikkanen, but he couldn’t make the junction and was caught 14 kilometers later.

Maxime Monfort (HTC-Columbia) countered the catch of Voigt and quickly gained 40 seconds on the peloton up the Maquisard Pass.  Ahead, the leading five began to increase the pace as their gap fell to just 60 seconds with less than 60 kilometers to go.  Monfort had nearly made his way across when Devenyns attacked ahead on the Mount Theux climb.  His move caused the break to splinter and get absorbed by the peloton, while the Quick Step rider and Bellemakers, who was trailing a few seconds behind, were the only two left.  However, Bellemakers could only manage to hover in no man’s land for a few kilometers before being caught.

Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) countered when the break was caught over the top of the climb.  His effort set off a flurry of moves, but the peloton wouldn’t let a group go as they approached the la Redoute climb.  Bert Scheirlinckx (Landbouwkrediet) was the sole survivor, and was left to make his way across to the leader alone.

Favorites remain attentive

RadioShack took the reins on the approach to la Redoute and quickly wiped away both escapees, with the Milram team then taking over control at the base of the climb.  Chris Horner (RadioShack) was attentive early on the climb, with Alberto Contador (Astana) and Gilbert also making their way to the head of the race.  Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas) was the first to attack up la Redoute, with Carlos Barredo going next, managing to catch and pass the Italian.  Behind, Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Tony Martin and former Giro d’Italia winner Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) jumped out of the peloton.  A few others made it across to the threesome and were left with a small gap over the peloton at the 31 kilometer mark.

Tankink ended up riding away from the front group after la Redoute, while the rest of the leaders were brought back into the fold.  With 28 kilometers left to race, Serguei Ivanov (Katusha) was the next to try his luck, while ahead Tankink reached the base of the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons with 37 seconds to the good.

Behind, Saxo Bank’s Jakob Fuglsang led out his teammate Andy Schleck for an attack on the climb he used to launch his victory just one year ago.  Gilbert followed the Luxembourger closely , and the pair quickly rode past the Dutchman, while world champion Evans led the chase in the group of favorites.  Contador was the next to jump from the group, and easily made his way to the leaders as they crested the top of the climb, giving Vinokourov a free pass to sit on wheels behind.

A bold move

Several others rode across to the trio, including Evans, Joquin Rodriguez, Kolobnev, Valverde, Vinokourov and Paul Martens (Rabobank).   Vinokourov attacked the front group at the 18 kilometer mark, with Kolobnev wasting no time in bridging across to the Kazakh.  Gilbert was next to try his hand, putting in two successive attacks to leave the chasing group behind.  Valverde quickly bridged to the Belgian, and the pair worked well together trying to eat away at the advantage of the leading duo.  Evans was the last to bridge to the chasers, with the trio chasing hard to close the 14 second gap to the leaders.

At the base of the Côte Saint-Nicolas, the final climb of the race, Vinokourov and Kolobnev had increased their advantage to 25 seconds on the three chasers.  Evans led the group at the base of the climb, with the trio looking a bit labored as the kilometers ticked away.  Ahead, Vinokourv tested Kolobnev’s legs with 6 kilometers left, but the Katusha rider could follow without a problem.  Valverde put in a hard attack on the climb which detached Evans, but drew two sharp surges from the Belgian, who rode away with 20 seconds to make up on his own.

Up front Kolobnev led the pair under the one kilometer to go banner, while Gilbert began to pay for his previous efforts on the final drag up to the finish.  Vinokourov attacked Kolobnev 600 meters from the line and won with a comfortable margin over the Russian.  Gilbert was caught inside the last kilometer by his former breakaway companions, and was unable to come over the top of Valverde in the sprint for third.

2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège results:
1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
2. Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) @ 6s
3. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) @ 1m 4s
4. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
5. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing)
6. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
7. Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
8. Christopher Horner (RadioShack) @ 1m 7s
9. Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank)
10. Alberto Contador (Astana)



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