Rebellin Wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has become the first cyclist to win the Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the same season. The Italian outsprinted Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 6:20:09. Boogerd finished the race in second at 0:02, and Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile) took third in the 258.5-km event at 0:04. Rebellin has taken the lead in the World Cup.
From the start, the racing was fast. The day's first major break occurred at 60 km, when Jurgen Van de Walle and Raivis Belohvosciks (both from Chocolade Jacques), Bram Tankink (Quick Step), Laurent Lefevre (Brioches La Boulangere), Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel), and Marcel Strauss (Gerolsteiner) sallied off of the front. By the turnaround at Bastogne, the escapees had run up a 10-minute lead. Phonak, CSC, Rabobank, and Lotto began to chase, and attrition in the break took its toll. With 64 km left, only Tankirk and Strauss remained in front, and the break led the bunch by only two minutes.
With 52 km left, Jorg Jaksche, Kurt-Asle Arvesen (both from CSC), and Alexander Botcharov (Credit Agricole) bridged up to Tankirk and Strauss. Tankirk and Strauss were dropped on La Redoute, and the bunch caught the break on the descent. Attacks occurred from La Redoute to the Cote du Sart Tilman. Boogerd punctured and needed help from his teammates to get back into the race.
On the Cote du Sart Tilman (240 km), Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) and Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick Step) attacked. Lotto, Saeco, and Fassa Bortolo chased and caught the pair on the Cote de Saint Nicolas with 6 km left.
Peter Van Petegem (Lotto) attacked on the Saint Nicolas. Boogerd countered and took Rebellin and Vinokourov with him. With 1.5 km left, Vinokourov made the first attack. Rebellin forced Boogerd to chase. The Dutchman caught the Kazakh with one km left. Vinokourov tried one more attack, but the other two caught him. With 500 m remaining, Boogerd attacked. Rebellin, as he had been at the Amstel Gold Race a week before, was on the Dutchman's wheel. As he did at Amstel Gold, Rebellin came around Boogerd in the last 200 m to win.
In the World Cup, Rebellin's second victory in eight days gave him 100 points and the overall lead with 200 points. Boogerd's second runner-up finish in a week gave him 70 points for the race and 140 for the season, and Steffen Wesemann's (T-Mobile) 15 points for 11th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege put him in third place with 131 points.
The World Cup now adjourns until after the Tour de France. Rebellin has said that his season's goals are the remaining World Cup races and the Giro d'Italia. Rebellin has declared that his aims for the Giro are stage wins and the maglia rosa. Will he attain them? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!