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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Race Wrap: How Evenepoel Dominated Liège


Liège’23 Key Takeaways: Breaking down a dominant and seemingly inevitable victory over a brutal race by way of the Belgian Ardennes. Spencer Martin takes us by way of the 2023 Liège-Bastogne-Liège blow-by-blow to research how Remco Evenepoel did what he stated he would… Win his second ‘La Doyenne’.

– This text is an excerpt from the Past the Peloton e-newsletter. Join right here for full entry. –

Remco Evenepoel gained Liège-Bastogne-Liège after launching a searing assault on the steep slopes of the brutal Côte de La Redoute climb set to set himself up for a 30-kilometer solo breakaway to the end line for the second consecutive version on Sunday. With pre-race favourite Tadej Pogačar out of the race as a consequence of a damaged wrist from an early-race crash, nobody was left to problem the World Champion. After being dropped by Evenepoel, Tom Pidcock sprinted to second place forward of younger Colombian Santiago Buitrago, practically 90 seconds behind Evenepoel.

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Double Liège for Remco Evenepoel

To increase on Monday’s Liège Three Fast Ideas post-race breakdown, I’ve damaged down the important thing moments and takeaways from the race under:

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Prime Ten:
1) Remco Evenepoel +0
2) Tom Pidcock +1’06
3) Santiago Buitrago +1’06
4) Ben Healy +1’08
5) Valentin Madouas +1’24
6) Guillaume Martin +1’25
7) Tiesj Benoot +1’37
8) Patrick Konrad +1’48
9) Mattias Skjelmose +1’48
10) Marc Hirschi +1’48

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All of Belgium was happy

Liège Race Pocket book:

171km-to-go: Tadej Pogačar crashes and breaks his wrist earlier than TV protection begins.

133km: As quickly because the TV photos come on, we see Evenepoel’s Soudal-QuickStep staff has all seven riders on the entrance. They’re already controlling the race in preparation for Evenepoel’s inevitable assault on Côte de La Redoute.

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84.8km: Regardless of everybody understanding Evenepoel’s assault is coming and that they doubtless gained’t have the ability to reply to it, nearly everybody continues to take a seat tight within the group QuickStep. Jumbo’s Jan Tratnik bucks this development and launches a robust assault to get forward of the transfer. Valentin Madouas and Magnus Sheffield briefly be part of him, however Tratnik drops them each en path to bridging as much as the breakaway.

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48.8km: Whereas Tratnik briefly builds up a lead of over a minute, Soudal nails it again to 30 seconds as they strategy the bottom of La Redoute. With two teammates remaining, we all know that Evenepoel gained’t launch but. Everybody tucks in behind Evenepoel whereas they look ahead to the approaching assault, and Evenepoel feels assured sufficient to inform Jumbo’s Atilla Vaulter to relax out and settle for his destiny.

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34.6km: On the base of La Redoute, Evenepoel is all the way down to a single rider. Since we all know that he’ll assault as quickly as his final teammates peel off, and Ilnar van Wilder seems to be giving his previous couple of bits of power, we all know an assault is close to.

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34.2km: When the digicam zooms out, we will see simply how a lot QuickStep’s tempo has shredded the sphere. Jan Tratnik is near being reeled in up entrance, whereas the peloton is nearly utterly shredded behind the cluster of main contenders.

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33.6km: As quickly as Van Wilder peels off, Evenepoel launches his assault in nearly the identical place on the climb because the yr earlier than. Pidcock has performed an amazing job of marking Evenepoel and may reply.

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33.5km: Regardless of having good place, Pidcock and the opposite chasers lose floor to Evenepoel on the steep slopes.

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33.4km: As they go excessive, Evenepoel has a small hole to Pidcock, whereas the others have blown up and are additional off the again.

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31.5km: Pidcock finally will get even with Evenepoel, however he can’t, and shouldn’t provide any assist, because the World Champion opens up a big hole to the chasers behind.

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29.9km: After opening up a 30-second hole to the chasers with none assist from Pidcock, Evenepoel rides away from his rival. The truth that he may dump Pidcock over simply 4 km with such a gentle acceleration after sitting on his wheel is considerably stunning.

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28.4km: In simply over a kilometer, Evenepoel opens up practically 30 seconds on Pidcock, who’s about to be overtaken by the chase group. His tremendous space place and uncooked energy imply he will likely be unattainable to reel in at this level.

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10.4km: Ben Healy assaults and pulls a gaggle containing himself, Pidcock, and Buitrago away from the peloton. Evenepoel’s hole has ballooned out to 90 seconds.

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3.4km: Regardless of constructing and holding an enormous lead, Evenepoel appears extremely comfy as he slowly coasts down a descent towards the end line, making an attempt to reduce the danger of crashing.

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End: Evenepoel rolls over the road for his second consecutive solo victory at Liège, whereas Tom Pidcock beats Santiago Buitrago within the dash for second. Ben Healy is available in 4th.

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A younger Liège podium

Key Takeaways

The primary three takeaways are my preliminary post-race ideas despatched to premium subscribers on Sunday after the race. Click on by way of on every level to see the complete breakdown.

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Will Evenepoel be swapping Vuelta crimson for Giro pink?

4) Remco Evenepoel’s probabilities for the upcoming Giro d’Italia are actually wanting extremely good

  • The truth that he got here in and destroyed the competitors at a Monument with such little racing in his legs and a lot pre-race strain ought to inform us that Evenepoel is each bodily and mentally prepared for the Giro d’Italia, which kicks off in slightly below two weeks.
  • He’ll nonetheless face a stiff problem from Primož Roglič, who is nearly sure to indicate up in world-beating circumstances recent off a focused altitude coaching camp, and the infamously tough levels by way of the mountainous areas of Italy, which have punched many unacquainted stars within the mouth prior to now.
    • However, the truth that the circumstances round his dominant efficiency on Sunday are nearly similar to his efficiency ultimately season’s Clásica de San Sebastián earlier than he went on to win the Vuelta ought to actually give him and his QuickStep staff confidence heading into the Giro and make him the odds-on favourite to win his second profession grand tour.

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The Soudal-QuickStep staff has modified its emphasis

5) Soudal-QuickStep is now nearly completely centered round a single rider

  • Evenepoel’s Soudal staff’s poor performances throughout the cobbled classics, 2x World Champion Julian Alaphilippe working all day for Evenepoel, and the truth that this whole early season is targeted round Evenepoel profitable main races ought to underline simply how a lot of their former Wolfpack identification they’ve shed in current seasons and simply how Evenepoel-centric they’ve grow to be.
    • To spotlight simply how vital Evenepoel is to the staff, his PCS factors haul by way of simply 4 races (3x stage races and 1x one-day) is greater than double their second-place rider, Mauro Schmid, and greater than 4 occasions the staff’s former star Alaphilippe.

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Tom Pidcock acquired the higher of a shocking Santiago Buitrago

6) Tom Pidcock finishes off a barely disappointing however finally promising spring season

  • The 23-year-old up-and-coming British rider matched the tempo of the eventual winner, solely to be shortly dropped, for the third time prior to now month. This isn’t an amazing look from a rider who is meant to be a budding star on the identical degree as The Huge Six (Pogačar, Roglič, Vingegaard, Evenepoel, Van Aert, Van der Poel) and is the middle of Ineos’ one-day Classics staff.
    • Nevertheless, in contrast to at Flanders and Amstel, Pidcock adjusted his technique and didn’t try and comply with the profitable transfer, solely to explode. When he realized he couldn’t match Evenepoel’s tempo, he backed off, regrouped, and waited for the chase group to overhaul him earlier than choosing up 2nd. This race is his first profession high ten in a Monument, and his greatest profession end in a race over 250 kilometers.
      • If we zoom out and have a look at Pidcock’s physique of labor this spring (1st at Strade, 2nd at Liège, and third at Amstel) it’s spectacular for a comparatively younger and inexperienced rider.
  • Going ahead, there will likely be strain on Pidcock to compete instantly with, and typically win in opposition to, his elite friends like Evenepoel and Pogačar.
    • A possible adjustment Pidcock may make going ahead to problem the highest riders at these races is to slim his race window. Making an attempt to stretch peak health over the practically eight weeks from Strade in early March to Liège in late April is just too heavy of a raise. For perspective, a number of the most gifted riders goal small chunks of that window.

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Extra to come back from Buitrago

7) Santiago Buitrago’s shock podium portends a possible future GC expertise

  • The younger Colombian (23) picked up an enormous, and sudden third place after a powerful day of driving by way of demanding circumstances.
    • Whereas he had a couple of strong wins on his Palmarès, like a Giro d’Italia stage win in 2022, this consequence reveals he may very well be a budding mid-tier GC rider, or top-tier stage hunter, within the making.

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Healy had a shocking Spring

8) The youth of the highest 5 highlights the present depth of expertise within the peloton

  • On the observe of sudden outcomes from comparatively unknown younger riders, the typical of the highest 5 (Evenepoel, Pidcock, Buitrago, Healy, Madouas) was a surprisingly low 23.4 years previous.
    • This extraordinarily younger high 5, and considerably out-of-the-blue consequence from riders like Healy and Buitrago, illustrates the depth of the present peloton and why it’s so exhausting for veteran riders like Romain Bardet to get the outcomes they as soon as did.

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Is racing now a case of ready for the highest stars to make their transfer?

9) Racing techniques aren’t useless. The highest expertise is simply too diluted throughout the calendar

  • There was chatter throughout each Pogačar’s dominance at Flanders/Amstel and Evenepoel’s at Liège that the present class of high riders has killed in-race techniques. As an alternative, they’ve turned the game’s greatest races into staring contests the place the contenders look ahead to the favourite to assault earlier than struggling for lesser positions of their wake.
  • Whereas this may be irritating to look at, the rationale for this model of racing isn’t as a result of techniques have all of a sudden gone away. Reasonably, the expertise of The Huge Six (Pogačar, Roglič, Vingegaard, Evenepoel, Van Aert, Van der Poel) is a lot increased than the remainder of the peloton that making an attempt to assault them to get out in entrance will doubtless end in being caught and handed when the assault finally comes (see: Jan Tratnik at Liège).
    • The truth that all of The Huge Six, or perhaps a group of them, hardly ever race in opposition to one another means that there’s at the moment an enormous disparity in expertise at even the most important races, blunting the significance of techniques and technique.
    • If all six have been duking it out at vital races with dynamic programs like Liège, pre-race technique and in-race techniques would play a much more distinguished function.
      • To spotlight how few main stars race in opposition to one another, once we have a look at the most important one-day races in 2023, the most important focus of the game’s high expertise was three at MSR, E3, and Flanders. With Evenepoel skipping the Tour de France and World Championships in between the Tour and Vuelta, all six will doubtless not face off at any level all through the season.

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  • Variety of Huge Six at Main 2023 One-Day Races:
  • 3: Milano-Sanremo (Van Aert, Van der Poel, Pogačar)
    3: E3 (Van Aert, Van der, Pogačar)
    3: Flanders (Van Aert, Van der Poel, Pogačar)
    2: Paris-Roubaix (Van Aert, Van der Poel)
    2: Liège (Pogačar, Evenepoel)
    1: Strade-Bianche (Van der Poel)
    1: Gent-Wevelgem (Van Aert)
    1: Amstel Gold (Pogačar)

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Evenepoel has time on his facet

# You possibly can learn the complete ‘PEZ Race Report’ HERE. #

# Spencer Martin is the creator of the cycling-analysis e-newsletter Past the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of every race and solutions massive image questions surrounding staff and rider efficiency. Join now to get full entry to all of the accessible content material and race breakdowns. #


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