Cycling: Roglic claims last-gap Liege-Bastogne-Liege victory

(Reuters) - Tour de France runner-up Primoz Roglic won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege Monument classic over 257 kilometres on Sunday, pipping Julian Alaphilippe on the line just as the world champion was raising his arms in celebration.

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Tour de France - Stage 20 - Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles - France - September 19, 2020. Team Jumbo-Visma rider Primoz Roglic of Slovenia, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, reacts as he crosses the line. Pool via REUTERS/Marco Bertorello/File Photo

Frenchman Alaphilippe left his sprinting line in a group of five - hampering Swiss Marc Hirschi in the process - and with victory in sight he stopped pedalling, making a beginner’s mistake.

Slovenian Roglic, who lost the Tour’s yellow jersey in the final time trial earlier this month, pursued his effort all the way to the line and crossed first.

Alaphilippe was later demoted to fifth place - the last spot in the leading group - for moving out of his line and impeding Hirschi.

That meant Hirschi, the world championship’s road race silver medallist and recent winner of the Fleche Wallonne classic, was second with Tour champion Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia taking third place.

“It’s unbelievable, it was so close. Never stop believing It’s a few centimetres, it’s incredible that I managed to win,” said Roglic.

“In the end I managed to win something, no?”

For his first race in the world champion’s rainbow jersey, Alaphilippe certainly expected a different outcome.

The Frenchman’s big attack had been widely expected, and eventually came 500 metres from the top of the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons, the last climb, some 13 kilometres from the finish line.

Hirschi managed to follow, with Pogacar and Roglic joining them further down the road.

Another Slovenian, Matej Mohoric, then joined them in the final straight and launched the sprint that Alaphilippe initially thought he had won.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson