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Finally Fuglsang: Astana’s Dane wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Woods fifth

After several 2019 WorldTour podiums, Fuglsang prevails

After second place in Strade Bianche and Fleche Wallonne and third in Amstel Gold, Jakob Fuglsang got his satisfaction on Sunday, winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his first Monument triumph and arguably the biggest victory of his career. Having been Julian Alaphilippe’s sparring partner this season, the Dane was superior to the Frenchman in La Doyenne, the fourth Monument of 2019. Michael Woods was part of Fuglsang’s attack trio that went away on Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons late in the race, and he earned fifth place after coming runner-up last year.

Wearing a single leg warmer, Woods finished just ahead of David Gaudu. Photo: Sirotti

The Course

La Doyenne was 254 km long and featured 11 climbs, with the final three being key. First came the Cote de la Redoute (2 km of 8.9 percent) with 37 km remaining. The Cote des Forges (1.3 km of 7.8 percent) was next. Peaking with 12-km to go was the final prong on the trident: Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons, 1.3 km of 11 percent. The race ended on the Boulevard d’Avroy in the centre of Liège, instead of in the usual Ans finale.

Conditions were cold and rainy, so the riders were quite bundled.

The Breakaway

Twenty-seven kilometres into the race an octet of fugitives had built an 8:35 advantage.

Before the final 100 km, four-time winner Alejandro Valverde, who recently revealed he had swallowed a bee in the conclusion of Fleche-Wallonne, abandoned.

Trek-Segafredo’s Julien Bernard would head up the Côte de Stockeu solo with 80 km remaining solo, but action among the favourites would see him captured. A huge split in the peloton created a 30-strong group leading but a second group latched on before Col du Rosier, at 4.4 km the longest of the day’s climbs.

On the Rosier, a second breakaway formed. Deceuninck-Quick Step had to chase. They had dry roads on the Col du Maquisard.

Last Three Climbs

The ten-man coterie hit the Cote de la Redoute (2 km of 8.9 percent) with the chase 38 seconds back. EF Education First’s Tanel Kangert flew away. In the main chase group, Paris-Roubaix winner Philippe Gilbert lost contact. With Redoute done, Bora-Hansgrohe began to push the chase.

Before Cote des Forges (1.3 km of 7.8 percent), Astana whipped up the pace and only Kangert remained out front. Three others joined Kangert but the chase was breathing down their necks.

It was time for the big showdown on Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons (1.3 km of 11 percent). The breakaway was dispatched but Tim Wellens immediately attacked. Jakob Fuglsang, Michael Woods and Davide Formolo responded. Julian Alaphillipe had no answer.

Wout Poels of Sky tried to bridge, as did Movistar’s Mikel Landa, but it was Fuglsang bursting away from Woods and Formolo with 13 km to go.

It was a wild pursuit, with Fuglsang almost losing control on a descent. Formolo was closest, with Woods vying for third with Vincenzo Nibali, Mikel Landa and Adam Yates. However, it would be Bora with two men on the podium: runner-up Formolo and Max Schachmann. Woods placed fifth.

The WorldTour now turns its attention to stage races with only four one-day races until September. The first Grand Tour of the year, the Giro d’Italia, begins on May 11.

2019 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
1) Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark/Astana) 6:37:37
2) Davide Formolo (Italy/Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:27
3) Max Schachmann (Germany/Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:57
5) Michael Woods (Canada/EF Education First) s.t.