Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) won the 100th edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classic and so jumped to second place in the individual ranking of the UCI WorldTour.
The Australian national champion timed his effort perfectly at the end of a tactically thrilling race in the Ardennes hills. His teammate Pieter Weening helped chase late attackers Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), then Gerrans sprinted to victory, beating Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
Gerrans is the first Australian winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and he added the oldest classic in the UCI WorldTour to a palmares that also includes the 2012 Milan-San Remo, the 2012 Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, stages at the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a Espana and Tour de France, plus this year’s Santos Tour Down Under –the opening race of the 2014 UCI WorldTour.
Gerrans scored 100 UCI WorldTour ranking points and now has a total of 264 points. He climbed from ninth place to second and is only 44 points behind UCI WorldTour leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), who has dominated the stage races in the first part of the season.
Valverde’s second place at Liege-Bastogne-Liege lifted him to third in the UCI WorldTour rankings, with 262 points. Tour of Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) slipped to fourth with 260 points.
The Omega Pharma-QuickStep team retained its lead in the team ranking with 693 points, while Spain remains top of the nation ranking with 805 points.
“This is an incredible victory, it’s a dream come true to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege,” Gerrans said.
“It’s was a very, very hard race and I’ve got to say thanks to team. I thought I didn’t have the legs with 30km to go but they stayed with me and helped me in the finale. I was confident I could beat these guys in a small sprint and it went perfectly.”
Next up the Tour de Romandie
Many of the riders who fought for victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege will head to Switzerland for the six-day Tour de Romandie race that begins on Tuesday.
This year’s marks the 68th edition of the Swiss race and the route visits several parts of the western part of Switzerland, including a stage finish in Aigle, the home to the UCI headquarters.
The race begins with a 5.5km prologue time trial in Ascona near Locarno followed by three mountain stages to Sion, Montreux and Aigle. Stage one includes the Col du Simplon mid-stage, while stage three to Aigle includes four category one climbs, with the Villars climb only 15km from the finish. Saturday’s 174km stage covers six laps of a circuit around Fribourg before the final hilly 18.5km final time trial around Neuchatel.
In 2013 Chris Froome (Team Sky) won the overall classification during his triumphant season that included victory in the Tour de France. The British rider missed Liege-Bastogne-Liege due to a late illness but his team has said he will ride the Tour de Romandie. His rivals for overall victory include American’s Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Tony Martin and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Nicholas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo).
The overall winner of the race scores 100 UCI WorldTour points, with other points going to riders in the top ten overall, making success at the Tour de Romandie hugely important.