Jungels BOB JUNGELS ignited Liege-Bastogne-Liege when he attacked over the Roche-aux-Faucons, and time-trialled his way to his first Monument. The Luxembourg national champion soloed across the line a full 37 seconds ahead of Rusty Woods and Romain Bardet, who’d finally countered in the dying kilometres with the former winning the two-up sprint.
History repeated itself as Olympic champion and women’s WorldTour leader Anna van der Breggen took back-to-back victories in the women’s race, completing another clean sweep in the Ardennes classics. She caught and passed breakaway rider Amanda Spratt in the final kilometres to take a solo victory. Spratt finished second while her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten rounded out the podium.
Rider of the Race
There’s just the one candidate for this honour today. It’s 25-year-old Jungels BOB JUNGELS! who ignited (thank goodness!) the race with around 20km to go. Frankly, until then it had been a bit of a snooze-fest with everyone nervously eyeing each other, daring someone to make a move. Mind you, that continued after Jungels, a noted time-trialler looking resplendent in his Luxemburg champ’s all-in-one, had attacked over the Roche-aux-Faucons and quickly built a 20-second advantage. Interestingly, it was the same place his compatriot Andy Schleck had struck on his way to victory in 2009 and Jungelss’s 37 seconds in hand at the finish was the biggest winning margin since Schleck’s.Embed from Getty Images
Although pretty much everyone out of the chasing group tried to counter at one time or another after Jungels had fled, they seemed more concerned with chasing one another down rather than chasing him. It wasn’t until the last 2.5kms that EF Drapac’s Rusty Woods and Ag2r’s Romain Bardet attacked and overhauled long-time poursuiter Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal), to round out the podium. Quickstepper and pre-race favourite Julian Alaphilippe led home the rest of the chasers. This is Jungels’s biggest win to date and he becomes the 12th Quickstepper to rack up a win in 2018, making this number 28!
Post-race the new champion confirmed:
It’s the greatest one-day race to me, the most beautiful. As a Luxemburger, I had lots of supporters cheering for me and my family also came to see me racing, so it’s very special to win here. I’m very moved and proud. It’s a dream come true.
I made the most of my time-trial abilities in the finale. I needed to be very careful with how I used my strength, especially when we got to Saint-Nicolas. I couldn’t push too deep. And then I still feared being caught in the finale. It was the longest kilometre in my life. I only saw I could win when I entered the last curve, not before!
In loving memory
The race also paid tribute to recently deceased cycling fan, long-term supporter of cycling and owner of BMC Racing, Andy Rihs.
and remembered that it’s a year since the tragic death of Michele Scarponi.
All Conquering Queen of the Ardennes
Boels-Dolmans’ team leader Anna van der Breggen is having another magnificent season.
Four days after she won her fourth consecutive Fleche Wallonne title, the Olympic Champion and WorldTour leader counter-attacked on Cote de Saint Nicolas to chase down and catch sole escapee Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) with 5km remaining. Spratt initially rode van der Breggen’s wheel but had nothing left in the tank as the victor accelerated up the final ramp to solo over the line.
Disappointingly, we only got to see the last 200m of the race, but there’s great race report from Lukas Knoefler over on Cycling News.
1 Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) 6:24:44
2 Mike “Rusty” Woods (EF-Drapac Cannondale) +0:37
3 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) same time
4 Julian Alaphillipe (Quick-Step Floors) +0:39
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) s/t
1 Anna van der Breggan (Boels-Dolmans) 3:34:23
2 Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) +0.06
3 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:58
4 Ashley Moolman (Cervelo-Bigla) +1:00
5 Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) +1:13
Header image: Jungels BOB JUNGELS! ©GETTY/Velo/Luc Claessen