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93rd Liège-Bastogne-Liège Report
By Staff
Date: 4/29/2007
93rd Liège-Bastogne-Liège Report

93rd Liège-Bastogne-Liège Report
The final song is sung in the annual "Rites of Spring" in la Doyenne.

2007 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Liège - Ans - 262 km
God must love the early break as the Sunday call to the choir was initiated by 25 year old Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems-Belorussia) made his second attack of the day at 8 kilometers into the race and once again got a small gap, and was almost immediately joined by Jan Kuyckx (Landbowkrediet/Tonnissteiner-Belgium) the duo grabbed a 15 second gap as a counter attack led by Rémy Di Gregorio (Francaise de Jeux-France)  and Unai Etxebarria (Euskatel/Euskadi-Venezuela) bridged to joined the duo. With some 252 kilometers in front of them and the 12 Côtes to climb on the way to the finish in Ans, the lads sang out with optimism into the wind alone.

 Kiryienka joins Jan Kucykx   Photo c. Bart Hazen

The quartet of Sunday choir boys led the la Doyenne solo the 197  man choir behind them sang out with approval as they restrained their collective voices with little if any counter effort to allow the lads in front having their day in the spotlight. Soon the quartet of riders had a sizeable gap and as they passed the summit of the first climb the Côte de Ny (km 57.5) with a 16’55 time deficit.

Peloton after the quartet are away. Photo c. Bart Hazen

By the second gravity test at 83 kms the Côte de la Roche-En-Ardenne the lads had a confident lead of 18:30 with the still uninterested pack showed no desire to join in their Sunday morning song fest at the front.

After passing through the feed zone and a leisurely lunch the larger part of the choir following our leading quartet picked up the pace, although the quartet still with almost 18 minutes ahead could barely hear the roar of 197 legs and wheels as they decided to add their voices to the final rites of Spring concert in the Ardennes. 21 year old third year pro, from Marseille, France Remy Di Gregorio led Kiriyenka, Kucykx and Etxebarria who followed after a rejoining the group after a flat as the race passed the half way point of the race.

Kiriyenka, Di Gregario, Kucykx, and Etxebarria Photo c. Bart Hazen

With Lampre/Fondital, Liquigas, Quickstep/Innergetic and Saunier Duval/Prodir trading places at the front of the peloton the gap slowly is coming down to 17 minutes as the quartet summits the  Côte de la Haute-Levée after 152  kilometers in their legs the escape continued to press on in harmony without an off key note. Another 7 climbs await the four in the next 80 kilometers, with some of the longer and more challenging ones to come; but Gregorio, Kiriyenka, Kucykx and Etxebarria seemed to be undaunted at the moment by the challenge as they pleased their sponsors with the TV exposure.

Gerolsteiner weighs in at the head of affairs with world champ Paolo Bettini and the Netherlands champ Michael Boogerd in close attendance the gap again drops to 14 minutes. The peloton is starting to see the attrition of the miles as riders are lost off the back. Di Gregorio led the quartet over the stiffest of the gravity challenges in the today's challenge the Côte de Stockeu a 1 kilometer climb averaging 10.5 %, Jan Kucykx was dropped by the group and the trio forges on and Jan chases 2 minutes in arrears while the gap to the leaders dropped to 12 minutes.

With 65 kms to go the gap falls to under ten minutes as the brave trio collects the climbing points on Côte du Rosier a stiff 5.9% 4 km climb for legs tried by almost 200kms. Behind the escapees, Belgian Kuyckx (Landboukreidit) struggles having lost another two minutes to his breakmates as the charge led by the peloton reduced the gap to 7:30. 

Remy Di Gregario leads Unai and Vasil up the Côte de la Redoute.
Photo c. Bart Hazen

34 year old veteran from Caracas, Venezuela Unai Etxebarria led his companions on the Côte de la Vecquée, Unai joined the Euskadi team in 1996. Jan Kucykx gives up the brave fight as he was caught by the bunch as the gap fell to under 4 minutes with 52kms to Ans. The next leg breaking challenge would prove to be the Côte de la Redoute with an average gradient of 8.4% and two kilometers.

The gap dropped to under three minutes as the Tinkoff's Kiriyenka was dropped on Côte de la Redoute; and now a lead duet was sung by the FDJ's Young Gun Di Gregorio and veteran Etxebarria as the forces of larger choir added the voice of Liquigas was added to the chasers Quickstep and Lampre/Fondital.

The lead group on la Redoute Schumacher, Valverde, Bettini...
Photo c. Bart Hazen

Carlos Barredo of Quick Step/Innergetic led the attack up the leg breaker la Redoute; Amstel winner Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) and Nibali (Liquigas) join Barredo as the gap to the two remaining escapees fell to under a minute. CSC's Karsten Kroon bridges with Cedric Vasseur and they join Di Gregorio and Etxebarria as a break of seven formed with a small advantage over the chasing bunch with 15 kms to go.

Schumy gave Vasseur the slip and was solo with 14 kms to go as the peloton swept up the escapees, including the Extebarria /Di Gregorio duet that eluded capture for 220 kilometers.

Schumacher pounded his way up the one kilometer final climb Côte de Saint-Nicolas holding on to a small gap but an attack by the favorites led by Bettini, Frank Schleck, Valverde, and Di Luca as Schumy was caught and dropped as the race came down to the final 5 kms.

With 3 km to go CSC's Frank Schleck and Liquigas' Danilo Diluca escaped the favorites with ten seconds the gap to Bettini, Valverde et al., the peloton roared as it tried to close the gap stretched out on the final climb in pursuit as Rabo's Thomas Dekker gained a gap.

Vittoria Danilo Di Luca!!!! Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

Di Luca proves the stronger at the finish line as Valverde makes the attack at 400 meters overtaking a tired Schleck but too late to catch Danilo. Frank Schleck gets nipped to third by Valverde's effort to take the final podium step holding off Paolo Bettini in fourth, Davide Rebellin fifth, Michael Boogerd sixth and Damiano Cunego seventh.

The 31 year old rider from Spoltare, Italy Danilo Di Luca World Cup winner and 2005 UCI Pro Tour winner adds his first win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège to his considerable palmares and third win of the 2007 following
Milano - Torino (ITA), Torino and a the third stage of Coppi-Bartali this Spring an auspicious beginning to his 8th season as a professional.

Alas the Fat Lady has sung and she sings for the choir boy with the strongest legs, Danilo Di Luca who can sing solo from the podium!!

The Victors - Alejandro Valverde, Danilo Di Luca and Frank Schleck
Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

2007 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
262 km -
6:37:24 - 39.557 km/h
1 081 Di Luca Danilo (Liquigas) Ita
2 001 Valverde Alejandro (Caisse d'Epargne) Esp 00:03
3 051 Schleck Frank (Team CSC) Lux 00:03
4 011 Bettini Paolo (Quickstep/Innergetic) Ita 00:06
5 141 Rebellin Davide (Gerolsteiner) Ita 00:06
6 041 Boogerd Michael (Rabobank) Ned 00:07
7 021 Cunego Damiano (Lampre/Fondital) Ita 00:09
8 067 Kessler Matthias (Astana) Ger 00:09
9 126 Cobo Acebo Juan Jose (Saunier Duval/Prodir) Esp 00:09
10 036 Kirchen Kim (T-Mobile) Lux 00:09

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