Poels seals prestigious Liege win for Team Sky

Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:36pm EDT
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April 24 (Reuters) - Team Sky claimed their first major classic win when Dutchman Wout Poels prevailed in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day race on Sunday, the fourth of five 'Monuments' of the season.

The lanky Poels jumped away from a group of four late attackers with 250 meters to go in a 248-km ride from Liege, beating Swiss Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Portuguese former world champion Rui Costa (Lampre) who finished second and third.

Spain's Samuel Sanchez (BMC), the 2008 Olympic champion, took fourth place while hot favorite Alejandro Valverde, who was gunning for a second consecutive Fleche Wallonne-Liege double, ran out of gas and finish 12 seconds off the pace in 16th.

Organizers were forced to change the course after snowfalls in the Ardennes region blocked some roads.

"The team were on top of everything for the whole day. The clothing and fuelling was crucial and the riders worked together really well. It was a fantastic performance," said Team Sky sports director Kurt-Asle Arvesen.

"I was really happy to see that we had numbers after the Cote de La Redoute and that meant we could start playing our cards. Lars Petter (Norhaug) and Wout said they were feeling good, Sebastian (Henao) and (Michal) Kwiatkowski were doing a good job for the team," he added.

"Wout then opened up his sprint early at the end and proved beyond any doubt he was the strongest rider in the race. He pulled off an amazing win."

(Writing by Julien Pretot, editing by Ed Osmond)