Evenepoel Saves Quickstep’s 2022 Classics Campaign | Liege-Bastogne-Liege – Lanterne Rouge

Remco Evenepoel started the 2022 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege without the 2020 and 2021 winners, Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar, on the start list, but with Wout van Aert as the favourite for the race. After his co-leader, Julian Alaphilippe had crashed badly earlier in the race, Evenepoel dropped everyone on the second-to-last climb, Côte de La Redoute and used his elite time-trial abilities to solo away. The peloton lead for some time by Mikel Landa did not stand a chance to catch the Belgian, who won his first monument at only 22 years old.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2022 profile by La Flamme Rouge

It was a strong breakaway with Bruno Armirail, Fabien Doubey, Harm Vanhoucke and eight more riders in it. With 59.5 km to go there was a huge crash in the peloton that destroyed many riders chances to win a race. Julian Alaphilippe crashed badly and was transported by an ambulance to hospital but was reported as conscious. This meant Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl needed to change focus to entirely on Remco Evenepoel, who would be their only real option for victory.

A big crash in the peloton with 59.5 km to go

Bahrain-Victorious were active at the front of the peloton as they tried to make the race harder. They had a very strong climbers squad with La Fleche Wallonne winner Dylan Teuns, Jack Haig, Damiano Caruso, Matej Mohorič, Wout Poels, Mikel Landa and Luis Leon Sanchez. As Wout van Aert was still in the peloton, climbers with no exceptionally strong finishing kick, Landa, Poels and Caruso attacked multiple times with 37-43 km to go, but they were marked by other teams, especially Movistar, who had Alejandro Valverde, a four-time Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner.

Bahrain-Victorious tries to spice things up with an attack

The breakaway was hard to catch, as the small group had an 80-second gap over the peloton with 31 km remaining. Groupama-FDJ rider Bruno Armirail, who has shown great performances this season, dropped everyone from the breakaway on the Côte de La Redoute climb (2 km, 8.6%).

The gap to Armirail was melting fast as in the peloton Mauri Vanseventant was starting to set-up a long range attack for Remco Evenepoel, who was not even fully riding in teammates draft. Everyone knew at this point that Evenepoel would attack on Côte de La Redoute as he had no other option to win this race. After the Belgian launched, Neilson Powless was trying to hold onto Evenepoel’s wheel, but it was too hard for the American.

Evenepoel Remco (BEL) of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team pictured during 108th Lige-Bastogne-Lige (1.UWT) a one day race from Lige to Lige (257.2km) – Photo: Peter De Voecht/PN/Cor Vos © 2022

Evenepoel was flying fast as there was left only the Roche aux Faucons climb (1.3km, 10.38%). The Quick-Step rider is an elite time-trialist and very aerodynamic on his road bike, so the peloton even with multiple Bahrain-Victorious and Movistar riders chasing were not a match for him on flat sections, with the gap ballooning to around 40 seconds before the last climb. Evenepoel also caught Armirail, who was the last survivor of the breakaway, and climbed Roche aux Faucons, only 4 seconds slower than the peloton.

It was game-over for the peloton from the first second when Evenepoel opened the gap. Maybe with Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič starting, he would not be able to go solo as he would be heavily marked by the Slovenians. Evenepoel soloed to his first monument victory, winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege only at age 22. This was his debut and the first World-Tour level classics win for Quick-Step this year after a horrible performance in Spring.

Evenepoel celebrates the victory

Aleksandr Vlasov was strong enough to get away from the peloton, but he was caught before the finish. Surprisingly, Quinten Hermans won the sprint for second place after the group swelled in the run-in to the finish with no team wanting to chase. Van Aert was third, securing a full Belgian podium. Israel-Premier Tech had Michael Woods and Jakob Fuglsang in the chasing group and they decided to do a lead-out for Woods, who finished only 10th, beating only Mas, Haig and Fuglsang, who led him out, in the sprint.

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