Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) won the 100th edition of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege after just getting the better of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – QuickStep) in a drama filled small group sprint. Defending champion Daniel Martin (Garmin Sharp) crashed on the final corner, less than 300m from the line leaving the door open for Gerrans to claim the victory. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had enough reason to be pleased with their efforts today as Jaco Venter rode superbly in the break for over 220km’s.
Attacking the peloton with only 13km done, Venter got away with Matteo Bono (Lampre), Pieter Jacobs (Topsport-Vlaanderen), Michel Koch (Cannondale), Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Primin Lang (IAM Cycling). The 6 riders set off with 250km ahead of them, opening up a lead of just over 15 minutes before the peloton began its chase.
As the kilometers and Cote’s came and went, the riders in the break started to show signs of fatigue, dropping back to the peloton one by one. Venter and Bono would prove to be the strongest as they were the final 2 riders remaining from the break with 40km to go. Venter would be the next rider to drop with Bono being reeled in not long after.
Sergio Pardilla and Louis Meintjes from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were still in the main group of favourites up until 10km’s to go. Meintjes had taken a tumble earlier in the day though just as the pace was really turned up, a superb team effort got Meintjes back into the bunch though. Pardilla and Meintjes would later finish in 58th and 61st respectively, 3’33” down on Gerrans.
Rider – Jaco Venter
It was definitely one of my hardest and most special days on a bike. It was such a good feeling riding up La Redoute with all the people going crazy. I really wanted to be in the break today and after 18km we finally got away but i knew then it was going to be a hard fight. We got a nice gap just over 15 minutes but chances of staying away were still very small. I am still really happy with how the day turned out.
Directeur Sportif – Jens Zemke
We are happy with today, Jaco spent 220km in the lead and in the end only the Lampre rider was with him. This move gave us a lot of exposure today and that was our goal for today. To try and make a result at this race is a bit of a far stretch now, maybe next year or possibly 2 years from now we can expect a result.
The guys did a good job today, Louis had to have a bike change about 90km from the finish. The team did a great job to look after him and get him back to the bunch. That definitely cost a lot of energy though, maybe he would have made it to the finish in the first group without this mishap, i dont know.
Sergio was also riding well today, both him and Louis came in three and a half minutes down. I think this was really good because we should not forget that we were at the start line with 6 Africans at one of the biggest and hardest world tour races. So this tells us we are standing in good stead for the future.
At the end of the day both Doug and I are very happy with the race today. Jaco had his best day of the year so far today and he really fought hard all day long. It was not easy in the break today and was one of the strongest.
Staff: Jens Zemke (Directeur Sportif), Bastian Buffel (Soigneur), Hagen Bernutz (Soigneur), Jim Bryan (Mechanic), Werrner Lenk (Mechanic)