Simon Gerrans of Orica-GreenEdge has won the second Monument of his career today, beating Movistar's Alejandro Valverde and Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma-Quick Step to the line to claim victory in the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Defending champion Dan Martin of Garmin Sharp had attacked from a select group inside the final kilometre and as he reeled in the two riders ahead, Katusha's Giampaolo Caruso and AG2R's Domenco Pozzovivo, it looked as though the Irish rider might become the first man to win back-to-back editions since Michele Bartoli in 1997 and 1998.
Coming round the final bend, however, and poised to lead the race into the final 300 metres Martin, second to Valverde at the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, crashed to the ground, with no other rider involved in the incident.
Instead it was Australian national champion Gerrans who triumphed at the end of the 263km race, adding the oldest Monument, nicknamed La Doyenne and first raced in 1892, to his palmares which already include the 2012 edition of Milan-San Remo.
"It's incredible," said Gerrans afterwards. "I don't have the words to express what I'm feeling. It was really a super hard race all the way at the finish. And I really have to thank my team. With 30kms to go, I actually felt I didn't have good legs but they insisted. I owe them a lot. You never know what happens on such a final.
"I just gave the maximum until the final bend. To win here really is a dream come true. It unfolded perfectly for me. I was well placed and managed to avoid Dan Martin who crashed just in front of me. I then had the legs to finhish well.
"I was confident I could beat guys like Valverde and Gilbert on a sprint like that one but after 250kms, everything can happen.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.