Fuglsange Wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Fuglsange Wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège

After a spring season filled with near misses, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) finally got his big Classics win. The second-place man at Strade Bianche and La Flèche Wallonne soloed away near the top of the  Roche-aux-Faucons climb and wasn’t seen again.

Fuglsang took first with a 27-second advantage over Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe), whose teammate Maximilian Schachmann rounded out the podium at 57-seconds down.

Wet conditions made the already insanely difficult 256-kilometer race in Belgium a little more dreary Sunday. Both Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) were among several to abandon along the route.

One early break after another was closed down before Fuglsang, Formolo, and Michael Woods (EF Education First) got away on the Roche-aux-Faucons climb with about 15 kilometers to go. The trio didn’t last long together though, Woods dropped off near the top of the climb. Then, just a few moments later, Fuglsang pulled away from Formolo.

Things didn’t get better for Formolo and Woods from there.  As Fuglsang powered towards his solo win, a strong pursuit group was forming behind the three leaders. The chase group swept up Woods, but Fuglsang stayed strong and his gap hardly budged over the final 10 kilometers.

Disaster nearly stuck though, his biggest challenge in his run up to the finish proved to be a wet corner with about five kilometers to go.

Thankfully, he stayed upright and crossed the finish line with plenty of time to zip up and celebrate his first career Classics title.

A Bad day for former winners Dan Martin and Alejandro Valverde

Both former winners, Martin (UAE Team Emirates) and Valverde (Movistar) had disappointing days at the 2019 edition of the race. Both men abandoned well before the final.

Valverde, four-time winner of  Liège, got out of the saddle with 100km left to race. Valverde last won in 2017 and was looking to match the record held by Eddy Merckx with a fifth career Liège win.

Martin abandoned even earlier in the race while passing through the first feed-zone. The Irishman was still recovering from an illness.

Is the New Finish Better?

Liège has long been criticized for its stale finish; the race was often decided in a climber’s sprint on the final rise to the line. The flatter finish for 2019, removing the famous Côte de Saint-Nicolas climb, moved the finish line to Liège for the first time in almost 30 years.

But, is the new finish better? Or just different? It’s too soon to tell given the wet and cold conditions iced the racing. That said, Fuglsang attacking for the win on the Roche-aux-Faucons, a relatively long-range move, was exciting. Hopefully, 2020 will tell us more.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2019 Results

1 FUGLSANG Jakob (Astana Pro Team)
2 FORMOLO Davide (BORA – hansgrohe)
3 SCHACHMANN Maximilian (BORA – hansgrohe)
4 YATES Adam (Mitchelton-Scott)
5 WOODS Michael (EF Education First)
6 GAUDU David (Groupama – FDJ)
7 LANDA Mikel (Movistar Team)
8 NIBALI Vincenzo (Bahrain Merida)
9 TEUNS Dylan (Bahrain Merida)
10 POELS Wout (Team Sky)