Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic pipped an already celebrating Julian Alaphilippe to the line Sunday at cycling’s top Belgian one-day classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The epic 160-mile run through the Ardennes culminated with four of the hottest racers in the world contesting the finish, with Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar and Swiss Marc Hirschi in the mix.
Alaphilippe moved left from a lead position to knock Hirschi and Pogacar out of contention but as the Frenchman raised his arms, Roglic continued racing and beat the Frenchman over the line. He was then relegated to fifth by race officials.
“He moved, hit my wheel, that can happen,” said Hirschi.
That left three Slovenians in the top four with Pogacar second and Matej Mohoric fourth behind Hirschi.
The win marks a redemption for Roglic, who led the Tour de France for two weeks before a final-day meltdown. Instead of going under, the former ski-jumper can now close his season with a prestige win.
“It’s unbelievable. It was so close. It goes to show you can never stop believing and never stop pushing until the last centimetre,” said the 30-year-old Roglic.
“It was the first time I did the oldest race in the calendar. It was on my wish list to win a Monument. I’m super happy I managed to win,” he said.
Former soldier Alaphilippe took the defeat on the chin. “I made a mistake and I have to take full responsibility for it,” said the Frenchman who might have been more embarrassed to stand on the podium, without the decision to strip him of second place.
“The only thing to do is get on with the next race now,” said Alaphilippe, who rides for Belgian team Deceuninck-Quick Step.
The five Monuments are the very long one day races with Milan-San Remo, Paris Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders and the Giro Di Lombardia.
|1||ROGLIČ Primož||Team Jumbo-Visma||6:32:02|
|2||HIRSCHI Marc||Team Sunweb||,,|
|3||POGAČAR Tadej||UAE-Team Emirates||,,|
|4||MOHORIČ Matej||Bahrain – McLaren||,,|
|5||ALAPHILIPPE Julian||Deceuninck – Quick Step||,,|
|6||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Alpecin-Fenix||0:14|
|7||WOODS Michael||EF Pro Cycling||,,|
|8||BENOOT Tiesj||Team Sunweb||,,|
|9||BARGUIL Warren||Team Arkéa Samsic||,,|
|10||KWIATKOWSKI Michał||INEOS Grenadiers||,,|
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini