Liège goes to Vinokourov
Vino back with a vengeance; only himself and team Astana are happy
Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov recorded his most significant victory since his return to cycling after suspension by winning today's Liège-Bastogne-Liège race.
The Kazakh, who last season served a two-year ban following a positive drugs test at the Tour de France in 2007, powered clear of Alexandre Kolobnev (Katusha) with 500 metres remaining, to win by a handful of seconds after their breakaway together over the final 15 kilometres.
Chasing hard, another controversial rider under an unresolved drug cloud, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) beat off local favourite Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and BMC's Cadel Evans to win the sprint for third.
After an unusually sunny and warm and therefore testing day in this bottom-right-hand Ardennes corner of Belgium, the pre-race favourites of Alberto Contador, the Schleck brothers and Sylvain Chavanel were all kept busy watching each other.
Only highly on-form Philippe Gilbert and Cadel Evans, the respective winners of last week's Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne races and here in fourth and fifth came close to achieving their potential but it won't have been much consolation.
The 258 cobbled kilometres and eleven horrible hills that make up Liège-Bastogne-Liège have been run off every year since 1892. Locally, it's referred to as "La Doyenne" - the oldest.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2010 Result
1 Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana in 6:37:48
2 Alexandr Kolobnev, Katusha Team
3 Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d’Epargne at 01:04
4 Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma – Lotto at 01:04
5 Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team at 01:04
6 Andy Schleck, Team Saxo Bank at 01:07
7 Igor Anton, Euskaltel-Euskadi at 01:07
8 Chris Horner, Team RadioShack at 01:07
9 Frank Schleck, Team Saxo Bank at 01:07
10 Alberto Contador, Astana at 01:07
12 Simon Gerrans, Team Sky at 01:18
22 Nicolas Roche, Ag2r-La Mondiale at 01:22
24 Stephen Cummings, Team Sky at 01:22
31 Thomas Lövkvist, Team Sky at 01:33
74 Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky at 09:34
69 Sylvain Calzati, Team Sky at 09:34
93 Jens Voigt, Team Saxo Bank at 12:27
109 Kjell Carlström, Team Sky at 12:27
138 Chris Froome, Team Sky at 17:51