Gilbert Wins LBL, Ardennes Classics Triple
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Ardennes Classics triple.
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2011 and the Ardennes Classics triple. The Belgian, who took the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday and La Fleche Wallonne last Wednesday, took a three-up sprint to win the rugged, 255.5-km classic in 06:13:18. Frank Schleck and Andy Schleck (both from Leopard-Trek) finished second and third, respectively.
Fair skies and mild temperatures greeted the riders. Sebastian Delfoss (Landbouwkrediet) sallied off of the front in the third kilometer. Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and David Le Lay (Ag2r-La Mondiale) joined him, and eventually six other riders joined them. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Mathias Frank (BMC), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Tony Gallopin (Cofidis), Mickael Delage (Francaise des Jeux), and Yannick Talabardon (Saur-Sajasun) joined the nine escapees, and the break du jour had formed.
The bunch kept the break on a short leash, and the latter's lead maxed out at 3:40 at 154 km. Omega Pharma-Lotto paced the peloton, but when Leopard-Trek assumed command the fugitives' lead began to drop. The gap had fallen to 2:10 when the escapees reached the Cote de Wanne.
On the Cote de Stockeu, Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) and Lars-Peter Haugland (Sky) attacked from the peloton. The peloton rode down the move, and at the summit, 1:10 separated bunch and break. Haugland attacked again, and another break formed. Omega Pharma-Lotto led the pursuit.
On the Cote du Rosier, four members of the lead group were dropped. The break and the chase group merged. At the summit of the Col du Marquisard, the lead group led the field by more than a minute.
Omega Pharma-Lotto and Leopard-Trek chased. With 21 km left, Andy Schleck attacked on the Cote de la Roche aux Faucons. Frank Schleck and Gilbert followed. Behind, defending champion Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) punctured. The Kazakh got a quick bike change but was unable to join the trio.
Gilbert and the brothers Schleck cut through the remnants of the break and surged into the lead. For a time, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) hung on, but when Gilbert attacked on the Cote de Saint-Nicolas he and Andy Schleck were dropped. Schleck rejoined the leaders at the summit.
Andy led the trio into the final km. For some reason, he and Frank did not alternate attacks to wear out Gilbert. With 250 m left, the Belgian took matters into his own hands. He burst into the lead, and the Schleck brothers had no answer.
The three podium finishers were a mutual admiration society. Gilbert said, "Hats off to the Schleck brothers who took their responsibilities very well. They [and their team] did all the work when my teammates were in difficulty to bring back the breakaway. They are two classy riders." For his part, Andy Schleck said, "There was nothing that we could do. Gilbert is just a classy rider."
With the classics season ending, riders like the Schlecks and Gilbert will take on the Grand Tours. How will they fare in the 2011 Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out! Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for video highlights from