Classy ride seals first big win for Schleck

Team Saxo Bank broke their 2009 classics duck at the final attempt when Andy Schleck solo'd to victory, to win the final classic race of the season, Liege Bastogne Liege. Joaquim Rodriguez of Caisse d'Epargne, claimed second place and David Rebellin (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androgni Giocatolli) won the sprint for third.

The decisive action of the race began to unfold 30Km from the finish when one of the pre-race favourites, Phillipe Gilbert of Silence Lotto attacked and passed the lead group of Saxo Bank's Alexandre Kolobnev, Karsten Kroon, Colombia's Jose Serpa (Serramenti), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Martinez (Euskaltel), and Hubert Dupont (AG2R-La Mondiale). That group were unable to combined to chase him down and within a kilometre Gilbert was 10 seconds up on them and 30 up on the peloton and seeimingly about to disappear down the road.

Riders bridging up to the second group from the peloton only seemed to slow it down rather than energise it for the chase and it took six further kilometres for anyone to respond to Gilbert and when it did happen, the rider who attacked, Cofidis' Leonardo Duque was simply left to get on with it.

Then with 20Km to go Andy Schleck attacked the chasing group using the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons as a platform for his attack, coming from behind he shot past them and off down the road after Duque and Gilbert. Again the chasers seemed unable or unwilling to respond.

Within in 2 kilometres of his attack Schleck and caught and passed but Duque and closed on the leader Gilbert a further kilometre down the the road and Gilbert cracked and Schleck was past him. Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto) and Allessandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) then joined the chase group with 15km to go the chasing pack contained all of the race favouries minus Schleck A, but plus Schleck F.

The next handful of kilometres were to prove decisive Andy Schleck's advantage continued to grow and the chasing pack continued to dither about chasing him down. With 10Km to go his lead passed the minute mark, three kilometres later it was over a minute and a half and the chasers finally roused themselves, but by then it was too late. Although they chipped away at his lead he still had over a minute on the rest when he crossed the line to claim a deserved victory.

A four man group of Rebellin, Franck Schleck, Cadel Evans and Joaquim Rodriquez of Caisse d'Epargne broke in the final kilometres to try and claim second place but all but Rodriguez were swept up by the chasing pack – and the sprint for the final podium place went to Rebellin.

Top 10 Liege Bastogne Liege 2009
1 Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) 6:34:32
2 Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) 1:17
3 Davide Rebellin (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) 1:24
4 Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto)
5 Serguei Ivanov (Katusha)
6 Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam)
7 Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC)
8 Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux)
9 Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank)
10 Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)


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