Liège Race Takeaways: Remco Rules The Ardennes!
Three Quick Thoughts: Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Liège Three Quick Thoughts: Spencer Martin gives us his quick analysis of Sunday’s Ardennes Monument and how World Champion, Remco Evenepoel and his Soudal Quick-Step team dominated on the road to Liège. And what we can take from Tadej Pogačar’s crash.
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Remco Evenepoel laid down a brutal attack that dropped every other contender on the La Redoute climb before soloing to victory at Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The winning ride both netted him his second consecutive victory at the brutal Monument, and showed he is on track for a successful GC campaign at the upcoming Giro d’Italia.
Below are my quick three thoughts:
Liège-Bastogne-Liège Top Five:
1) Remco Evenepoel +0
2) Tom Pidcock +1’06
3) Santiago Buitrago +1’06
4) Ben Healy +1’08
5) Valentin Madouas +1’24
Pidcock tried, but nobody seemed capable of stopping the inevitable
1) The most surprising thing about the race wasn’t how it was won, but the fact that nobody seemed capable of stopping the inevitable
- Remco Evenepoel won his second consecutive Liege title in almost exactly the same fashion he won his first back in 2022: Attacking towards the top of the (in)famous La Redoute climb with roughly 34 kilometers remaining. And just like 2022, he briefly had company, before simply riding clear of his companions to a solo victory. He made Tom Pidcock, the only rider strong enough to stick with him for a kilometer or two following La Redoute today, look like a club rider as he tapped out a steady tempo to leave him in the dust.
- The shocking thing wasn’t that he got away clear on La Redoute for a solo win, but that everyone else in the race seemed resigned to their fate of being dropped by Evenepoel on the climb.
- Evenepoel’s Quickstep team telegraphed the move from over a 100 kilometers remaining, yet, outside of a brief Jan Tratnik attack, everyone seemed willing to stick to their wheel and wait for the climb, despite knowing that they had almost no chance of matching his pace.
How far can Remco Evenepoel go?
2) Remco Evenepoel is quickly closing the gap to the sport’s most prolific riders
- The win begins to build a palmarès for the 23-year-old Belgian that starts to match the very best in the sport. For example, in the last twelve months, Evenepoel has won two Monuments (2xLiege), a World Championship, and a grand tour (La Vuelta). Not even the mighty Tadej Pogačar can boast of a similarly sparkling haul over the same time period.
- Perhaps the most shocking thing about Evenepoel’s record is that with four career Monument starts, he now has two wins, meaning he has a staggering 50% win rate. This would be absurd for anyone but is even more impressive considering Evenepoel lacks a top-tier sprint and has to win every major race solo.
- And while Evenepoel isn’t capable of holding the explosive form he initially shows after leaving altitude training camps for a full three-week grand tour, judging from what we saw today, he certainly looks on track to add another grand tour to his haul at May’s Giro d’Italia.
Pogačar’s broken wrist likely robbed us of an all-time great battle
3) Tadej Pogačar’s broken wrist likely robbed us of an all-time great battle & adds uncertainly to his Tour de France campaign
- The only thing that could take away from Evenepoel’s peerless ride was the fact that he didn’t get an opportunity to face off against Pogačar on the race’s final climbs due to the Slovenian crashing and breaking his wrist early in the race due to a tire blowout.
- Of course, Evenepoel couldn’t control this and, at least in theory, shouldn’t be penalized for it, but it will inevitably take a bit of shine off what was a very impressive ride that very well could have seen him drop Pogačar and enter himself into the conversation for the best current rider in the sport.
- We will never know what would have happened had Pogačar not crashed, but for the second time in a month, cycling fans have been robbed of historically great one-on-one battles between generational talents.
- Not only did Pogačar miss out on a chance to win his fifth career Monument and make a statement in a head-to-head battle with Evenepoel, but he now finds himself recovering from surgery with just over two months remaining before the Tour de France.
- Compare this to his biggest GC rival Jonas Vingegaard, who is building toward peak Tour form without interruption due to his controlled training camps.
- This will almost certainly affect each rider’s form at July’s Tour de France and shows the inherent risk involved with Tour de France contenders multi-tasking and chasing victories across different disciplines and events.
Will we see a Pogačar/Vingegaard Tour battle in 2023?
# You can read the full ‘PEZ Race Report’ HERE. #
# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #
Mother of Remco Evenepoel, Agna Van Eeckhout with Remco’s wife, Oumii Rayane and team manager Patrick Lefevere
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