On the same day that he turned 41, Alejandro Valverde gave all his followers a fantastic race in the oldest classic on the international circuit. Liège-Bastogne-Liège was resolved with a fourth place for the Murcian which does not even remotely describe the emotions experienced during the final kilometers, the decisive ones in a long day of almost 259.
La Roche-aux-Façons dynamited the group of favorites, although the race was launched earlier from La Redoute due to the high pace imposed by INEOS. Valverde, who until then had shown excellent legs, jumped on the wheel of Woods, Pogaçar, Gaudu and Alaphilippe to open a gap that no one behind could save. Only 13 kilometers remained.
Before, Carlos Verona had done a fantastic job hunting down a dangerous group of cyclists like Adam Yates, Carapaz or Pogaçar. The young Slovenian, winner of the last Tour de France, ended up beating Alaphilippe and Gaudu in a sprint that Valverde launched from afar, as in Innsbruck. Without a podium but with the certainty that Alejandro Valverde remains one of the best cyclists in the peloton for more than a decade and a half later.
Quotes: “I think we’ve done a good job, staying with the top contenders and fighting for the win until the very last meters. I want to thank, and congratulate, the whole team for their job: they’ve really been there at all times, both in the pursuit of the early break and the late moves, Verona giving me a good hand in the end – I was able to join the selection at the Roche, but I was maybe left all responsibility on my shoulders for the sprint and just kept the lead for as far as I could go. Of course I’d have liked to make the podium, and winning would have been even better, but we must accept this result as it is and feel happy.”
Photo: Bettini Photo