Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2021: Pogacar living the cycling dream!

In a thrilling, small group finale, aspiring Slovenian rapper Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) reigned victorious at Liège-Bastogne-Liège to snatch his first Monument victory. While this year’s conclusion of the race failed to be as jaw-dropping as the 2020 edition, much remained the same as Julian Alaphilippe found himself pipped at the finish for the second year in a row. Those of us who have been waiting for (David) Gaudu saw a promising result as the Frenchman delivered third. The Benjamin Button of Cycling™, Alejandro Valverde, finished fourth, while Canada’s Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) rounded out the group in fifth.

How the Race was Won

After a snoozefest for much of the race, which featured an early break up the road, the Empire attempted to strike back as the Ineos-Grenadiers brought the race to life inside the final 30km. It was Saint Tao Geoghegan Hart who decided to shake things up for a possible Yates/Carapaz/Kwiatkowski attack, breaking the peloton apart and causing the favourites to scamper wildly to catch up. However, it turned out that Saint Tao merely dragged the favourites away from the also-rans, while Yates lost contact off the back. Undeterred, Richard Carapaz did try to put TGH’s good work to use by breaking free for a brief stretch of time, which caused a few viewers’ hearts to race.

Ultimately, Carapaz was brought back, and – CONTROVERSY KLAXON! – he was later disqualified for apparently, possibly, momentarily, descending on his top tube. [No doubt Twitter will be awash with diagrams of the buttocks-to-top-tube measurements taken from 15 different angles, all making no difference whatsoever to the final result – ed.] After his futile attack, the Empire would not be seen again until it was all over, with two Ineos riders making the top 20 – Michal Kwiatkowski came in 11th and Adam Yates came in 18th.

And then the real excitement kicked off. It was Michael Woods who put in a vicious attack inside the final 15km, taking a quartet of favourites with him – Alaphilippe, Gaudu, Pogacar, and Valverde. Primoz Roglic‘s hopes for back-to-back LBL wins were dashed by his legs as he failed to bridge the gap. While the quintet’s success looked doubtful for the first couple of kilometres of their escape, they eventually found their rotation groove as the chase behind began to dismantle.


As the select group steamed ahead, the excitement of fans grew exponentially. Would Alaphilippe remember to cross the line before celebrating this year? Would Valverde win his 5th Liège on his 41st birthday – wearing number 41? Could the wait for Gaudu finally end? Nobody knew!

In the sprint to the line, Valverde led it out. Woods attempted to come around him, but it was Alaphilippe who shot off the back of the group to take the lead. Unfortunately for our favourite creepy-facial-haired Frenchman, the wily Pogacar had hedged his sprint until the last moment and pipped the world champion at the line.


Words From the Victor

Is it just me or do professional cyclists have an innate ability to craft gorgeous sentences just moments after winning exhaustingly long bicycle races? [In more than one language as well – ed]

“I knew that Alaphilippe was looking strong so I decided to stay on his wheel and wait as long as I could. I had very good legs today and that enabled me to come through with real speed at the finish. I’m living the cycling dream at the moment.”

A Race Worth Napping Through

Like most of the Ardennes races, LBL is one that you can almost certainly nap through until the final 30km and be comforted in the fact that you have not missed anything important. Admittedly, I immediately took a brief cat nap after turning on my feed with 100km to go. Did I miss anything in those 15km? It sure didn’t appear so. Luckily for the next 50 km, the Twitterers kept me entertained!

The Final Word

And a throwback to Tadej’s rap days, just for Sunday afternoon laughs.

Final Results

1 Tadej Pogacar ()UAE Team Emirates) 06:39:26

2 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) same time

3 David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) s/t

4 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) s/t

5 Michael Woods (Israel Start-up Nation) s/t

6 Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) +00:07

7 Tiesj Benoot (Team DSM) +00:07

8 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +00:07

9 Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) +00:09

10 Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) +00:09

For full race review of the race, go to cyclingnews

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