Australian Gerrans wins Liege classic in sprint finish

Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:05pm EDT
 
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By Alasdair Fotheringham

LIEGE, Belgium (Reuters) - Simon Gerrans outpowered favorite Alejandro Valverde of Spain to become Australia's first winner of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege Classic on Sunday.

After the hilly 263-km course had shredded the lead group to two dozen, the Orica-GreenEdge rider tore ahead of Valverde and Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski in the final kilometer to win the centenary edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the last major one-day Classic of the first half of the 2014 season.

"I wasn't expecting to see such a big group coming in together, but it seemed like everyone was a little more tired than expected and no-one had the legs to break away," Gerrans, the Australian national champion and winner of another cycling 'Monument', the Milan-San Remo Classic in 2012, told reporters.

"I myself was not feeling to good with about 30 kilometers to go, I said I wasn't feeling so good, but the team stuck by me and that gave me the extra confidence.

"My card to play in this race was try to be in a small group and see if there was a sprint, and that was what happened."

Third in the hilly Dutch Classic Amstel Gold last Sunday, the 33-year-old added: "I've had some very special victories in my career, including stage wins in all three Grand Tours, but I always thought to win in Liege everything would need to unfold perfectly."

"Winning here is always special, but to get the hundredth edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege really puts my name in the history of the race."

On a day when several of the favorites suffered bad luck or injuries, defending champion Dan Martin of Ireland crashed on the last corner when making a late attack.   Continued...

 
Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans of Australia (C) celebrates on the podium after winning the Liege-Bastogne-Liege Classic cycling race, flanked by second-placed Movistar team rider Alejandro Valverde of Spain (L) and third-placed Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland (R) in Ans, near Liege April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule