Race Report: After his podium places in Strade Bianche, Flèche Wallonne and Amstel Gold, Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang jumped to the top place with a solo finish in Liège. The Swiss born Dane dropped his break companions and rode the final wet fourteen kilometres alone for the victory.
Jakob Fuglsang crowned his Spring campaign with a fine solo win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) was second, 27 seconds behind, with his teammate Maximilian Schachmann winning the sprint for third place at nearly a minute.
World champ well wrapped up
Toms Skujins keeping dry
Shortly after the start, a leading group of six riders formed: Kevin Deltombe (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), Jérémy Maison (Arkéa-Samsic), Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ), Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Gobert), Mathijs Paasschens (Wallonie-Bruxelles). They were joined by Lilian Calmejane (Total-Direct Energie) and Kenny Molly (Wallonie Bruxelles), to make a leading group of eight. They managed to take a maximum lead of near 11 minutes over a wet and cold peloton.
Wanty’s Pasqualon leading the break
The cold and rainy weather proved too much for some riders: Antwan Tolhoek (Jumbo-Visma) and Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) abandoned early and with one hundred kilometres to go; World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) also called it a day. Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) crashed and was taken to the hospital.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step on the front
Bernard went solo
Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Bahrain-Merida were in control of the peloton and many riders were dropped on the climbs. At the front, Bernard was the strongest and split the break to go solo followed by Paasschens. They were all caught 75 kilometres from the finish by what was left of the main peloton. The race was now a case of who could hang on to the wheel’s of Deceunick – Quick-Step who was working hard for Alaphilippe.
Wet fans on the St. Roche climb
Not to be the day for Gilbert and Alaphilippe
A group of 20 riders broke free and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) put in an attack, but everything came back together 60 kilometres from the finish on the Col du Rosier. EF Education First were out to show their hew found confidence. Tanel Kangert (EF Education First) and Omar Fraile (Astana) attacked to be joined by Carlos Verona (Movistar), Winner Anacona (Movistar), Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-Scott), David De la Cruz (Sky), Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal), Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida) and Alessandro De Marchi (CCC). Ten dangerous men with a lead of 30 seconds.
CCC’s De Marchi in the split
At the start of the La Redoute the leaders had 45 seconds, but there were no moves from any of the favourites. After the climb, Kangert rode off the front, and eventually on the Côte de Forges it was Patrick Konrad who crossed to Kangert.
Kangert was keen to show
Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) joined in the chase with 23 kilometres to go, as the peloton looked at each other. Wellens and Impey made contact with the leaders. With a difference of 12 seconds, both groups started the Roche-aux-Faucons, the last climb of the day. Wellens went solo, but was caught at the top by the front of the peloton.
The Fuglsang attack
Jakob Fuglsang attacked on the steep ramps of the Roche-aux-Faucons, only Michael Woods and Davide Formolo were able to follow the Dane as Alaphilippe was in trouble. On a false flat, shortly after the summit, Fuglsang first dropped Woods and then Formolo. The Italian and the Canadian had no answer to the Dane and the light blue Astana jersey got further and further away.
Formolo and Woods
It was good-bye from Jakob
On a wet descent, 4.5 kilometres from the finish, Fuglsang skidded and nearly fell, but managed to stay upright. He kept the power on and rode into Liège with a 25 second lead, heading for the new finish.
And the big win
Davide Formolo managed to hold off the chasers to finished second at 27 seconds. Half a minute later Maximilian Schachmann sprinted in at the head of the chase group to put two Bora-Hansgrohe riders on the podium. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) took 4th with Woods 5th.
Second place for Formolo
2019 Liège winner: Jakob Fuglsang (Astana): “It’s fantastic, I’m so happy. It’s the biggest one-day victory in my career, to finish this great week with this result is very special. At one moment I looked back and then I knew it was possible and I tried to keep going. There was one scary moment in the downhill, but luckily I was able to get my bike back under control. I was feeling good all day and I tried to stay out of trouble and to stay warm. It was the perfect scenario for me because it was a very hard race.”
A hard final for Fuglsang
1. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana in 6:37:37
2. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:27
3. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:57
4. Adam Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott
5. Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First
6. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 1:00
9. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida at 1:05
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 1:26
11. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:29
12. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky
13. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
14. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
15. Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar
16. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
17. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
18. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
19. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Gobert
20. Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Col) EF Education First
21. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
22. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
23. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott at 2:09
24. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis
25. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ.