Tadej Pogacar humiliates everyone in Liège, but Van der Poel is the revelation of the day with third place Cycling

Tadej Pogacar humiliates everyone in Liège, but Van der Poel is the revelation of the day with third place

Tadej Pogacar humiliates everyone in Liège, but Van der Poel is the revelation of the day with third place

Tadej Pogacar won the 2024 Liège-Bastogne-Liège like it was a walk in the park. After a spectacular race with a long finale, he was ultimately the strongest, launching an expected attack and subsequent solo on La Redoute. As impressive as the Slovenian's new solo venture was, Mathieu van der Poel made perhaps an even more impressive mark, securing third place behind the also-escaped Romain Bardet from a distant position.

With 254.5 kilometers on the agenda, there was plenty of time to let a non-threatening group take the lead. Gil Gelders (Soudal-Quick Step), Rémy Rochas (Groupama-FDJ), Enzo Leijnse (dsm-firmenich PostNL), Christian Scaroni (Astana), Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Wanty), Ivan Romeo (Movistar), Fabien Doubey, Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies) and Loïc Vliegen (Bingoal-WB) were the fortunate ones. They gained a maximum lead of four and a half minutes.

Together they powered over the Côte de Bonnerue and Côte de Saint-Roch, with UAE-Team Emirates quickly positioning a man at the front, making no secret of their ambitions. Sjoerd Bax kept the gap stable before the peloton began to pick up steam towards the last hundred kilometers. An important phase with challenging climbs was approaching, and everyone wanted to be at the front. The gap to the leaders dropped rapidly, reaching just under a minute by the foot of the Côte de Mont-le-Soie.

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Van der Poel, Pidcock and others fell behind after a crash

Despite their efforts, the early breakaway received little TV coverage because, as the last hundred kilometers began, a minor crash occurred. Mathieu van der Poel managed to navigate around it but was not at the front at that time. This positioning ended his chances of winning, as shortly after a larger crash occurred. While there were no serious injuries, a significant number of riders, including Van der Poel, Tom Pidcock (INEOS), Valentin Madouas, Romain Grégoire (Groupama), Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA), and Pello Bilbao and Wout Poels (Bahrain), were delayed.

Not a real problem, except that Israel-Premier Tech decided to push hard at the front. By the start of the Côte de Wanne, the last of the breakaways were done for. Van der Poel and his companions were quickly put a minute and a half behind. End of the race? Not quite, because Israel-Premier Tech had burned out their men and UAE-Team Emirates took over again. They moved a bit slower, so several riders decided to bridge the gap on the Côte de Stockeu (twelve percent average!), including Pidcock, Grégoire, and Mauri Vansevenant, who rapidly made up time, also thanks to teammates who dropped back from the first group.

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Regrouping and refueling towards La Redoute

Van der Poel found himself with Vlasov and Bilbao, but they too pushed the pace. Bahrain and BORA took responsibility, and they all made it past the cars at the top of the Côte de la Haute-Levée. With seventy kilometers still to go—and thus a nearly thirty-kilometer chase—a moment to catch their breath came. UAE set the pace up the Col du Rosier, then the focus shifted to the combination of Côte de Desnié and La Redoute. It was a crucial time for those previously dropped to refuel after a tough segment.

At La Redoute, everyone was holding their breath in anticipation and rightfully so. Domen Novak took a strong turn for Pogacar before the fireworks started. Pogacar made his move, briefly joined by Richard Carapaz from EF, but it quickly turned into a solo effort. Behind him, the competition was evenly matched, but over ten kilometers, Pogacar had carved out a minute lead. At this stage, Van der Poel was still in contention for a podium spot, although first place seemed out of reach.

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Fierce battle for podium places, featuring Van der Poel

Ben Healy from EF was the first to break away from a large group of strong riders after La Redoute. The Irishman was joined by Romain Bardet (dsm), and soon after, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R) and Grégoire (Groupama) — two Frenchmen — joined them. Bahrain Victorious and INEOS Grenadiers each had a man leading the chase group, about fifteen seconds behind. Bahrain relied on Pello Bilbao for a shot at the podium, while INEOS had their hopes pinned on Egan Bernal and Pidcock. The looming challenge of Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, with its steep 1.3 kilometers averaging 11 percent and a grueling extension, was next.

The climb was a gritty man-to-man struggle, with Bardet ultimately the only one breaking away solo. The group behind him dwindled, featuring strong efforts from Healy, his teammate Carapaz, a resilient Bernal, Alexey Lutsenko, Tiesj Benoot, Maxim Van Gils, and Cosnefroy. Mattias Skjelmose, still affected by his previous ordeal with hypothermia in the Flèche Wallonne, struggled to keep pace. Van der Poel, riding an impressive race, hoped the group ahead would slow, allowing him a chance to compete for a top-ten finish.

On the extension of Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, Bardet impressively managed to stay ahead as the pace varied behind him. This gave Van der Poel the energy to join forces with Pidcock and Bauke Mollema and make a move. This set the stage for Pogacar, who effortlessly sailed to victory, while Bardet seized the moment amid the hesitations behind him to clinch silver. The sprint for third place was unexpectedly win by Van der Poel, capping off a bizarre race with a stellar finish.

Results Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2024 - men

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