Wout Poels (Team Sky) won the 102nd edition of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege as the Dutchman out-sprinted Michael Albasini (Orica-Greenedge) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) to the finish line in Ans, Belgium.
This year’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege would be the ultimate test of mental and physical strength as apart from the challenging 253km course, riders also had to deal with below zero temperatures, wind, rain and snow throughout the day. The weather was so treacherous in fact that the organisers had to divert the race after 50km, shortening it by 30km, due to heavy snowfall in the area.
It became a race of attrition really, the weather and climbs just wore the riders down and this resulted in the peloton thinning out almost automatically. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, despite the bad weather, was actually looking really good heading into the deciding points of the race. Steve Cummings’ fine run of form continued as he quietly went about his business, moving around riders who were being shelled out of the back of the peloton one-by-one.
When the early break of the day was brought back with 23km to go, the peloton was largely reduced yet Cummings still had Igor Anton and Merhawi Kudus for company at the head of the race. Once the race went over the Cote de Saint-Nicholas at 7km to go though, it was down to 26 riders and our Brit was still very much in contention.
The race defining moment came on the new cobbled climb the organisers added to this year’s course, the Cote de la Rue Naniot, with just 3km to go. Poels, Albasini, Costa and Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing) got the gap on the main grup at the top. The quartet put 15″ into the chasers and this was enough to decide the victory down the road. Cummings had to dig deep on the final two climbs and eventually, he would finish in an honest 19th place on the day.
Jens Zemke – Sport Director
Finally, we can be satisfied, it was a solid performance by our boys today. Especially Steve, he was right up there finishing in the first group with all the big names there. With Steve you never know, he could always attack with 2 or 3km to go and succeed so we were part of the game today. In the last hour of racing we also still had 5 guys in the first group and this was after some terrible weather conditions. It was so cold, wet and snowing. It was horrible actually so I hope the boys can recover well now because some go to Romandie and others to Yorkshire, so we have a tough program coming up.