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Tadej Pogačar solos to a brace of Liège-Bastogne-Liège titles

Tadej Pogačar solos to a brace of Liège-Bastogne-Liège titles

The much-anticipated Liège-Bastogne-Liège showdown between 2021 winner Tadej Pogačar and Mathieu van der Poel resulted in a 35-km solo victory for the Slovenian. It was sweet redemption for the UAE-Emirates rider, who crashed out of last season’s race with a broken wrist, keeping him out of action for two months. Pogačar’s brace of La Doyenne titles gives him six career Monument trophy, equal with van der Poel.

The Course
The fourth Monument of the season took place over 254.5 tough Belgian kilometres. Eleven climbs awaited the riders, with the final three sure to elicit attacks. The Côte de La Redoute crested at the 221 km mark—it was 1.8 km of 7.8 percent. Next came Côte des Forges, 1.2 km of 7.8 percent. The last ascent was Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, a nasty challenge at 1.3 km of 10 percent, peaking 13 km from the finish line in Liège. Although the day started cold with the threat of snow, it was no La Fleche Wallonne.

As in Fleche Wallonne, Michael Woods missed La Doyenne for the first time since 2015. His teammate and compatriot Derek Gee made his Liège-Bastogne-Liège debut.

A nontet of fugitives lit out for glory, and by the midway point of the race and two climbs in its rear view mirror, it had a 3:20 advantage. The climbs started coming hard and fast at the 161-km mark, starting with Côte de Mont-le-Soie.

Van der Poel was at the back of the peloton and had to avoid a crash.

The man in the rainbow jersey avoids the crash.

But the world champion got caught behind another crash, and he had to chase back on with a group as Israel-Premier Tech and UAE-Emirates turned the screws in the Pogačar group. Tom Pidcock was also behind, a mechanical adding to his woes. Under this new impetus, the breakaway was sopped up with 88 km remaining.

Gee drills it to keep van der Poel and Pidcock distanced.

With 84 km to race, van der Poel was 1:30 in arrears. Pidcock tried to use the Stockeu to bridge. Van der Poel didn’t seem to be able to follow. But it all came back together with 71 km and five hills to go.

Côte de La Redoute

UAE-Emirates took over the front of the 60-strong peloton at the foot of the Redoute. Fleche Wallonne winner Stephen Williams faded…

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