Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Remco Evenepoel soloes to stunning victory, saves Quick-Step spring
Quinten Hermans and Wout van Aert sprint out of chase group for second and third to make it an all-Belgian podium.
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Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) took an emphatic solo victory to claim his first monument at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The Belgian launched a stinging attack on La Redoute with 30 kilometers to go, dropping the rest of the best. Even with slowing down in the final meters to savor his win, Evenepoel crossed the line 48 seconds ahead of the chasers.
It was an all-Belgian podium with Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) taking second in the sprint from the chase group while Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) came across the line for third.
Evenepoel made his race-winning move on the upper slopes of the Côte de la Redoute after his team had shut down a number of dangerous moves. Nobody could follow his brutal acceleration over the top of the climb and he wouldn’t be seen again.
🏆 🇧🇪@EvenepoelRemco remporte #LBL !
🏆🇧🇪 @EvenepoelRemco wins #LBL! pic.twitter.com/0sWuhXc3bl
— Liège-Bastogne-Liège (@LiegeBastogneL) April 24, 2022
After catching and passing several members of the original breakaway, Evenepoel went it alone over the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. His advantage dropped to as little as 18 seconds at one point but a powerful ride and disunity in the chase group saw him gain close to a minute by the end.
Van Aert led the sprint from the chase behind, but he didn’t have the legs to take it all the way to the line and was passed by Hermans for second place.
“It was amazing. It was really hard and with the headwind it was really difficult to keep pushing but I knew that everybody had been suffering the whole day. It was quite a hard day and a long day as well. I think today was maybe my best day on the bike, maybe ever. It was the perfect day to have the best day on the bike,” Evenepoel said.
“I have been suffering mentally and physically for the last year and a half. Finally this year I feel that everything is going well and everything is getting stable and I’m getting to the best Remco as well. I’ve been showing the best Remco since turning pro so I’m really happy and proud to win this race.
How it happened
The oldest monument of them all saw a fast start with a five-man group going up the road early on. Six more riders would eventually bridge the gap to make it an 11-man move.
Once the break had finally formed, the race settled down as the peloton focused on saving its collective power for the tough climbs to come. It would not be an easy day out for those up front, though, and some found the effort of getting into the break left them without the energy to keep in touch.
As the race entered the final 70 kilometers, there was a clear tension in the bunch. It came to a head with just under 60k remaining as a touch of wheels to the right of the bunch sparked a massive crash that saw riders sent into the ditches on the side of the road.
With narrow roads, the incident ricocheted across the peloton, and those that didn’t fall found themselves behind it. Among the crashing riders was world champion, and pre-race favorite, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).
🏁 🇧🇪@EvenepoelRemco s’impose en solitaire à Liège ! 💪
⏪ Revivez le dernier kilomètre de #LBL 2022.
🏁 🇧🇪@EvenepoelRemco takes the win in Liège! 💪
⏪ Relive the last kilometre of #LBL 2022. pic.twitter.com/CWJwvVlsoW
— Liège-Bastogne-Liège (@LiegeBastogneL) April 24, 2022
Tour of the Alps winner Romain Bardet (Team DSM) was also caught in the fall and went to check on Alaphilippe before attempting to return to the race. Alaphilippe would leave the race in an ambulance, but French television later reported that he was conscious, though he was complaining of back pain.
Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) crashed in the pileup, too.
There was a brief lull in the action following the crash, allowing the break to maintain its dwindling advantage and give an opportunity to some of the fallen riders to get back on.
The pause in the action didn’t last long and Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) tried to instigate a big move with 43 kilometers to go. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and Carlos Verona (Movistar) went with him but the attack would not get far with the likes of UAE Team Emirates and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl working hard behind.
Evenepoel strikes out alone
Attacks continued to come off the front of the peloton as it approached the Côte de la Redoute, but nothing would stick. Up front, Bruno Amirail (Groupama-FDJ) decided to ditch the rest of the breakaway, going it alone over the top of the climb.
The action would light up again for the peloton as it hit the upper slopes of La Redoute at just under 30 kilometers to go with Evenepoel launching a stinging attack.
Evenepoel linked up with Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies) but the TotalEnergies rider could do little more than hang onto his wheel. He eventually dropped Ourselin on an unclassified climb with 24k to go, quickly catching and passing Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto Soudal) on the same ascent. He soon had Amirail in his sights and with around 22k remaining he had bridged up to the Frenchman.
Behind, it was Movistar, Bahrain-Victorious, and Ineos Grenadiers setting the pace in what remained of the peloton. Despite the collective effort of the bunch, Evenepoel continued to extend his lead and he had some 37 seconds with 15k to go.
Amirail would only survive until the foot of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons as Evenepoel pushed on alone. Under the strain of the climb, the group managed to cut about 10 seconds from Evenepoel’s lead, but he would soon be over the top and he threw himself right into the descent.
With 10 kilometers to go, the main group of favorites behind Evenepoel finally sprang into action with Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech) initiating a flurry of moves that would temporarily drop Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and his teammate Jakob Fuglsang.
The accelerations saw Evenepoel’s lead cut to less than 20 seconds, but he was able to extend it again once he hit the flat run into Liège. There were some more attacks from the chase, including a strong one from Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) but the efforts would only be for second place.
Evenepoel knew he had it and he started to celebrate with more than two kilometers to the finish line. Fortunately for the Belgian, he suffered no mishaps in the final meters and he crossed the line for victory.
Results will be available once stage has completed.