Vinokourov Wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile) has won Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Vinokourov took a two-up sprint from Jens Voigt (CSC) to win the 260-km race in 6:29:09. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) finished third at 0:14.
The race was ridden in fair, windless conditions. After a couple of abortive sallies, Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile) and Benjamin Noval (Discovery Channel) attacked at 29 km. At 43 km, Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telekom) and Johan Verstrepen (Landbouwkrediet) joined the pair. By the Cote de la Roche at 82 km, the break led the bunch by 8:35. Phonak, Lampre, and Illes Balears led the pack.
After 100 km, the peloton began to chase. At the Cote de Saint Roch (128 km), the escapees? advantage was down to 7:00. Christophe Brandt (Davitamon), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Steve Zampieri (Phonak), and Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step) attacked from the bunch. The resulting combustion reduced the break?s lead to 5:00.
On the Cote de Wanne (171 km), with the break?s lead down to 2:40, Wesemann and Noval dropped their companions. Behind, Peter Luttenberger (CSC), Marc Lotz (Quick Step), Pieter Weening and Karsten Kroon (both from Rabobank), Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile), and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) attacked. Eventually, Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Mirko Celestino (Domina Vacanze), Santiago Botero (Phonak), Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon) and Voigt joined them.
On the Cote de Stockeu, the pursuit was 1:20 behind the leaders. The peloton was split into several groups, although a regroupment would occur later. Voigt and Botero powered the chase group, which consisted of Voigt, Botero, Celestino, Weening, Kroon, Bettini, and Wegmann on the Haute Levee (183 km).
On the Cote du Rosier (192 km), the chase group caught Wesemann and Noval. Vinokourov led a parade of riders to the leaders. On the Vecquee (206 km), 30 riders, including defending champion Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Fleche Wallonne winner Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), led the field.
On the Vecquee, Voigt attacked, and only Vinokourov could follow. The pair led by 1:00 as they approached the Cote de la Redoute, but a chase group composed of Botero, Martin Perdiguero (Phonak), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Cadel Evans (Davitamon), David Etxebarria (Liberty Seguros), Rebellin, and Boogerd closed to within 0:22 of the leaders. The pursuit, however, came no closer.
With 20 km left, Vinokourov and Voigt led the pursuit by 1:24, but Kroon, Weening, and Patrik Sinkewitz got within 0:45 of them on the Cote de Sart-Tilman (246 km), but the chase lost momentum again. At the base of St. Nicolas (254 km), Vino and Voigt led by 1:13.
Vino made the first move. Voigt covered him. With the chasers closing quickly, the pair sparred. Voigt led the pair into the last turn. Vinokourov drew alongside the German and then exploded. The Kazakh won by a bike length.
Many of the combatants in Liege-Bastogne-Liege with cross swords in other races, such as the Tour of Romandy, which begins on April 26. How will they fare? Check in at Roadcycling.com and find out!