Liège-Bastogne-Liège scrapbook: Lefevere’s paternal pride, white shorts are alright, Hirschi’s late lunch, and more

Here's your ultimate collection of stats, stories, and scraps from a big day with 'La Doyenne' for the men's peloton.

Photo: BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

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Liège-Bastogne-Liège – we all know the headlines from Sunday’s men’s monument.

Remco Evenpoel stole the show and Tadej Pogačar hit the pavement in two huge stories that could ripple through the whole season.

But beyond the biggest news, more sub-plots and asides came out of “La Doyenne” than Sunday’s parcours had climbs.

Here’s your scrapbook of stats, storylines, and scraps from the last monument of the spring:

First, here comes the stat-attack:

  • Evenepoel joins Moreno Argentin, Eddy Merckx, Rik van Looy, and Ferdi Kübler as a world champion to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the rainbow jersey.
  • Evenepoel was the first male rider to defend his Liège title since Michele Bartoli in 1988.
  • Santiago Buitriago became the first Colombian to hit the podium in “La Doyenne.”
  • Evenepoel was the first reigning world champion to win a monument since Peter Sagan rode the rainbow stripes to victory at Paris-Roubaix in 2018.
  • Evenepoel became the first world champion to win in white shorts since Paolo Bettini at the 2006 Giro di Lombardia.
  • All four men’s monuments have now been won solo this season.

Lucky 21 goes Femmes

Number 21 – it’s the one for winners. (Photo: TOM GOYVAERTS/ Getty Images)

The lucky streak of bib number 21 switched peloton Sunday.

Until Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the number 21 dossard had sat proud on the back of every male monument winner so far this season. Mathieu van der Poel, Tadej Pogačar, and Van der Poel again wore 21 through Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix respectively.

Tiesj Benoot broke the spell of the men’s peloton’s luckiest number when he wore 21 into Liège in seventh-place Sunday.

But that bib’s monument magic wasn’t done altogether.

Instead, that sprinkle of success transferred to Demi Vollering, who pinned that very number to her back before she blazed to victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes.

Evenepoel saves Quick-Step, Lefevere purs with paternal pride

Lefevere’s frown turned upside down Sunday. (Photo: TOM GOYVAERTS/ Getty Images)

Patrick Lefevere was purring with what seemed paternal pride Sunday after he saw Remco Evenepoel salvage Quick-Step’s spring for a second year in a row.

But of course, the ever-grumpy sexagenarian still had a few barbs to throw into his happy comments after “La Doyenne.”

“Last year we also had a difficult spring and here we are again, Remco wins again,” Lefevere told Sporza. “But now the critics will stand up again and say that Remco won because of Pogačar’s crash.”

Lefevere hadn’t kept quiet at his dismay this spring when Soudal Quick-Step dribbled through a dismal northern classics campaign, and he again served Julian Alaphilippe a flurry of jabs across various media networks.

Evenepoel turned his garrulous team boss’ frown turned upside down Sunday.

Lefevere struck a rare note of pride bordering on the paternal when he lavished praise on team darling Evenepoel and his support crew.

“We had a plan to go into La Redoute and we executed it. The team is very well organized and has done an excellent job. They trained together on Mount Teide for three weeks and are together practically every day,” Lefevere said.

“Of course, people don’t see it, but Remco and the team have only been home for four days this year. Training camps, altitude training, course reconnaissance. It’s all part of it and it’s good to see it paid off in the race.”

Kron’s lucky escape

Andreas Kron went barreling into a hedge and was left upended Sunday.

Andreas Kron saw a lucky escape after he skidded across the greasy tarmac in the final 20km of Sunday’s race and went head-first into a hedge.

The young Dane was barreling along in the chase group in the rainsoaked final of “La Doyenne” when cameras suddenly cut to scenes of a stray Lotto-Soudal bike, a concerned bunch of onlookers, and a pair of cycling shoes poking above some garden greenery.

“I was talking on my radio, was holding the handlebar with only one hand, hit a pothole, and crashed,” Kron said. “Luckily, I’m OK apart from some abrasions and soreness.”

Kron counts himself fortunate after what first appeared to be a severe crash. However, after finishing 10th in Strade Bianche and fourth in Amstel Gold, the 24-year-old may rue his upside-down ending to the spring.

Tratnik, Van Wilder, and the Giro’s two superdomestique in waiting

Tratnik made for a Slovenian steamroller Sunday. (Photo: JASPER JACOBS/ Getty Images

Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič could see two new superdomestique at their side at the Giro d’Italia.

Jumbo-Visma’s new recruit Jan Tratnik and Quick-Step climbing prodigy Ilan van Wilder delivered two of the rides of the day Sunday and look in sizzling form ahead of their anticipated starts at the corsa rosa.

Tratnik launched a long-range raid fitting of his absent compatriot Tadej Pogačar, put Simone Velasco in the hurt box, and still hung strong for 25th in Liège.

Meanwhile, Van Wilder delivered the climb of his young career on La Redoute to set Evenepoel on track for his winning attack.

The 22-year-old grimaced and gurned himself to a standstill at the front of the pack in service of Evenepoel in what could be a preview of many more monster pulls in the Italian Alps next month.

And while we’re here  – chapeau to you, Mr. Velasco.

The Italian stalwart put his Astana-Qazaqstan jersey into the day’s early break, doggedly hung onto Tratnik’s steamroller attack, and still finished top-20 in the final shakeout.

Look out for that guy at the Giro next month.

The new class of the climbing classics

Sorry, Ben Healy, if you’re not 23, you’re not getting on the podium. (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

The modern Ardennes classics are most definitely a young man’s game.

The podium Sunday was made up entirely of 23-year-olds.

Behind them, fourth place went to Ben Healy, the 22-year-old breakout star of the spring. The likewise year 2000-born Mattias Skjelmose kicked for ninth in a result he may deem disappointing after he had looked in the mix for the final podium.

And fifth-placed Valentin Madouas, aged 26?

After bothering the podium of marquee classics since the turn of the decade, the Frenchman made for something of a veteran in Liège’s upper echelon Sunday.

Hirschi’s late lunch

Hirschi packed a hefty late lunch Sunday. (Photo: GCN / Eurosport)

Marc Hirschi broke the mold of all things aero and near-empty pockets in the modern pro peloton Sunday.

The Swiss star seemed to get a full late lunch from his team car in the final 50km of the race and was seen unceremoniously stuffing fistfuls of fuel into his jersey while he dangled toward the back of the favorites’ group.

What the heck was Hirschi piling into those pockets for the final hour of racing?

Whatever it was, it seemed to work – his late lunch delivered him to a 10th-place finish for one of his best results of the season.

White shorts are alright – in the correct conditions

Clean white = yes. Dirty white = maybe not. (Photo: TOM GOYVAERTS/ Getty Images)

Last but certainly not least, the thorny issue of Evenepoel’s white shorts.

It takes a brave world champion to trade the go-to black bibs for a fresh pair of pearly white nicks, and Evenepoel gave it a go Sunday.

“Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a special race,” he explained. “For such a beautiful race, I think you can also do something special.”

Social media duly exploded with a mixture of raw rage and starry-eyed praise at the 23-year-old’s sass.

When sparkly clean and paired with Evenepoel’s white rainbow-streaked bike, it was no doubt a winning look.

Six hours later when mucky grey with Belgian rain and road spray, it was maybe … less loveable.

“In the peloton, I only received positive comments from other riders,” Evenepoel said Sunday afternoon. “No one contradicted my choice, so it seemed that the combination of the rainbow jersey and the white pants was liked by everyone.”

Fortunately, Evenepoel had the foresight to switch out of his semi-seethrough garb to save everyone’s blushes before he topped the podium Sunday.

In this writer’s book, white is definitely alright. But maybe save those special white bibs for the dry days, eh, Remco?

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