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89th Liège - Bastogne - Liège - CDM
Belgium, April 27, 2003
Hamilton first American to win La Doyenne
By Jeff Jones in Ans
Tyler Hamilton (CSC) has pulled off his biggest career win in the 89th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, beating Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) and the consistent Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) in Ans. Hamilton surprised the others in the leading break when he attacked after the descent of the Côte de St Nicolas, and was able to put his considerable time trialing and climbing skills to good use as he powered up the final drag to the finish. The Man from Marblehead claimed his first ever World Cup win, and it will be one he will savour for a long time.
"I don't think it's really sunk in a hundred percent," said a stunned Hamilton after the finish. "Everything's happened so fast. I'm still very shocked but extremely happy.
It also marked the first victory by an American in Liege, after Lance Armstrong finished second twice, and Greg Lemond third. "To be the first American to win is really incredible," said Hamilton. "Not just that, but to win this race...in my opinion it's the most difficult World Cup. Ever since I did the race in 1997 I wanted to come back here and do a strong race. I can't tell you how special it is to have this victory."
Hamilton's victory came at the expense of his former teammate and pre-race favourite Lance Armstrong, who looked to have the race in hand when he attacked on the Côte de Sart-Tilman with 16 km to go, taking Alexandr Shefer (Saeco) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) with him. The trio gained 30 seconds on the group behind, and it didn't look like they were coming back.
Hamilton explained: "When the group with Armstrong went away I thought 'that's the move and I think I missed it'. I was disappointed that I wasn't there but I was happy that he was there, and I knew at the time he was the strongest in the group. If they were to stay away he would win the race. It was kind of a bittersweet moment for me."
Unfortunately for Armstrong and co., CSC hadn't given up the race, as Tyler continued. "Then a big group caught us with two of my teammates - Carlos Sastre and Nicki Sorensen. We're here to win the race so we had Nicki and Carlos ride hard to pull the group back. They rode with the strength of ten men I think. Without their help we wouldn't have caught them."
When it came back together again on the Côte de St Nicolas, and after a move by Rabobank's Michael Boogerd failed, Hamilton saw his chance. "There was some cat and mouse going on. It was then I attacked, everybody was looking at each other and I don't think I was the most dangerous rider in that group. There were two guys from Euskadi and Boogerd, definitely guys who were faster in the sprint than me. I knew if we came to the final climb they could probably accelerate quicker than me because I have more of a diesel engine."
"I gave it a whirl, put my head down and went as hard as I could," said Hamilton, who motored away from the chasing group into Liege, and kept his lead all the way up the two kilometre finishing climb to Ans.
Although the race was played out differently before that, Hamilton's late move was very similar to Alexandre Vinokourov's win in the Amstel Gold Race last week. Hamilton looked more stunned than exhausted when he crossed the line in Ans, but he once again proved the bike racing adage that the strongest rider does not always win the race.
How it unfolded
Under threatening grey skies and cool, windy conditions, the colourful peloton left Liège's Place Saint Lambert at 9:45am for its annual out and back journey to Bastogne. Despite a stiff headwind on the way out, the riders averaged 42.5 km/h in the first hour before four riders attacked: Victor Hugo Peña (US Postal-Berry Floor), Martin Elmiger (Phonak), Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJeux.com) and Marco Pinotti (Lampre). This quartet quickly established itself at the front, and by Bastogne (98.5 km) had an advantage of around three minutes to a chasing group of three (Marc Streel, Kurt Van De Wouwer and Michel Vanhaecke) and 9'45 to the still massive peloton.
Once they hit Bastogne and began the return journey and the tailwind, the bunch began to pick up the pace, led by the Saeco team. The three man chasing group could get no closer than 1'50, and all the breakaways were eventually absorbed by the peloton just after the Côte de Wanne at 165 km. Four riders immediately countered: Mario Aerts (Telekom), Alexandre Shefer (Saeco), Marcos Serrano (ONCE), and Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel), but were recaptured by a fast moving but dwindling peloton at the summit of the Côte du Rosier (km 194).
A more significant move came from Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo), who took Gerrit Glomser and Igor Astarloa (Saeco), Cristian Moreni (Alessio), Angel Vicioso (ONCE) and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) with him. On the key climb of the Côte de la Redoute with 35 km to go, Merckx, Vicioso, Moreni and Astarloa dropped their companions, and held a 48 second gap on the group with the next favourites, including Armstrong, Hamilton and Boogerd.
With 25 kilometres to go, it was Merckx attacking solo, but he was caught by an important group: Lance Armstrong, Alexandr Shefer, Michele Bartoli and Samuel Sanchez. On the Côte de Sart-Tilman with 16 km to go, Armstrong attacked repeatedly, dropping Bartoli and Merckx. The three men had 30 seconds on the next group of riders, and it seemed as though that was the race. But behind them there was a regrouping of sorts, and Hamilton's teammates drove the group hard to the base of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas with 6 km to go, putting an end to Armstrong's promising move.
The leaders were strung out on the ten percent grade of the climb, but no-one could get a gap at the top. Dutch favourite Michael Boogerd played his cards over the top with a solo move on the descent into Liege. But he was chased down by the group, with Euskaltel's Iban Mayo and Samuel Sanchez doing most of the work.
It was then that Hamilton saw his chance, attacking with three kilometres to go just before the final uphill to Ans. Hamilton went, the others watched, and the race was over. Hamilton's strength carried him swiftly over the final few kilometres, although he was only confident that he had a sufficient gap when he got to the final corner with 300m to go. The win was his, while Iban Mayo proved to be the strongest of the chase group in taking second, in front of Michael Boogerd, who added another World Cup podium finish to his palmares.
Speaking of the World Cup, today it was almost impossible for anyone to remove the jersey from Peter van Petegem's shoulders. The Lotto-Domo man did not have a great day, and was off the back of the bunch on the Côte du Rosier, only to abandon at the second feed zone a few kilometres later. A tired Van Petegem explained that he just didn't have enough strength today, and will now rest for some time before beginning his build up for the second half of the season in August. The World Cup is still wide open, with Michael Boogerd now on 140 points behind Van Petegem. But at least until the HEW Cyclassics on August 3, Peter Van Petegem remains the World Cup leader.
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Images by AFP Photo/Franck Fife
Images by Jeff Tse/www.jefftse.com/cycling
More images by Jeff Tse/www.jefftse.com/cycling
Images by Elmar Krings
Images by Luc Claeseen/www.actiefotos.be
1 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC 6.28.50 (39.889 km/h) 2 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.12 3 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 0.14 4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 0.21 5 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre 0.29 6 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 7 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) iBanesto.com 8 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco 9 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 10 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 11 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 0.40 12 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 13 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 14 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 15 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick.Step-Davitamon 16 Andrea Noe (Ita) Alessio 17 Aitor Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) iBanesto.com 0.42 18 Matthias Kessler (Ger) Team Telekom 19 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.45 20 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal presented by Berry F 0.50 21 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco 1.04 22 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1.13 23 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 24 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Alessio 1.15 25 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 26 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crédit Agricole 1.25 27 David Canada Garcia (Spa) Quick.Step-Davitamon 28 Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa) Team Coast 1.27 29 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Coast 30 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto-Domo 2.00 31 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Lampre 32 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio 3.05 33 Aleksandr Shefer (Kaz) Team Saeco 3.27 34 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Team Saeco 35 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 3.59 36 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC 37 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC 38 Oscar Mason (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 39 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Team Saeco 40 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo 4.05 41 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 5.26 42 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre 5.28 43 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio 44 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 6.07 45 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Lotto-Domo 6.27 46 Angel Castresana Del Val (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 47 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 48 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 6.51 49 Denis Lunghi (Ita) Alessio 7.08 50 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier D 51 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Fassa Bortolo 52 Laurent Brochard (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 53 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphon 54 Ellis Rastelli (Ita) Gerolsteiner 55 Richard Virenque (Fra) Quick.Step-Davitamon 56 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 9.01 57 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 10.36 58 Médéric Clain (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 59 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Alessio 60 Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Domina Vacanze-Elitro 61 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom 62 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 63 Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) Team Telekom 64 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 65 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Alessio 66 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre 67 Manuel Calvente (Spa) Team CSC 68 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 69 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC 70 Udo Bölts (Ger) Gerolsteiner 71 Marcos A. Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 10.39 72 Jose Azevedo (Por) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 73 Isidro Nozal Vega (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 10.42 74 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Saeco 11.07 75 Serge Baguet (Bel) Lotto-Domo 76 Francisco José Lara Ruiz (Spa) Team Coast 77 Mario Aerts (Bel) Team Telekom 78 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Domo 79 Bobby Julich (USA) Team Telekom 80 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) AG2r Prévoyance 81 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) iBanesto.com 82 Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 83 Unai Etxebarria Arana (Ven) Euskaltel-Euskadi 84 Miguel Martinez (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems 11.39 85 Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléph 12.11 86 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 87 Frédéric Bessy (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphon 88 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) FDJeux.com
1 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 200 pts 2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 140 3 Dario Pieri (Ita) Saeco 117 4 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC 100 5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom 100 6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon 100 7 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick Step-Davitamon 92 8 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco 91 9 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 79 10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco 74 11 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal Service - Berry Fl 74 12 Iban Mayo Diez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 70 13 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 68 14 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre 68 15 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Credit Agricole 63 16 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon 59 17 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio 55 18 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 54 19 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 53 20 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Fdjeux.Com 46 21 Matthias Kessler (Ger) Team Telekom 44 22 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis 43 23 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 40 24 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 40 25 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 40 26 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 40 27 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) Ibanesto.Com 36 28 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Team CSC 36 29 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 32 30 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service - Berry Floo 30 31 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Fdjeux.Com 30 32 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quick Step-Davitamon 28 33 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 27 34 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 26 35 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 24 36 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Team Telekom 24 37 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre 24 38 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) ONCE - Eroski 21 39 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Marlux - Wincor Nixdorf 21 40 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo 21 41 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 20 42 Rolf Aldag (Ger) Team Telekom 20 43 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Saeco 17 44 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 16 45 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Saeco 16 46 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Alessio 15 47 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre 15 48 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 14 49 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 13 50 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco 13 51 Damien Nazon (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 13 52 Baden Cooke (Aus) Fdjeux.Com 12 53 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick Step-Davitamon 11 54 Graziano Gasparre (Ita) De Nardi - Colpack 11 55 Andrea Noe (Ita) Alessio 10 56 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 10 57 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Fdjeux.Com 10 58 Aitor Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) Ibanesto.Com 9 59 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo 9 60 Roger Hammond (GBr) Palmans-Collstrop 9 61 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank 8 62 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 7 63 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 7 64 Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat) Marlux - Wincor Nixdorf 7 65 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Alessio 6 66 Mario Aerts (Bel) Team Telekom 6 67 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Saeco 6 68 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC 5 69 Ellis Rastelli (Ita) Gerolsteiner 4 70 Fabian De Waele (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 4 71 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre 4 72 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 3 73 Denis Lunghi (Ita) Alessio 3 74 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service - Berry Flo 3 75 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Davitamon 3 76 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Alessio 3 77 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre 2 78 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 2 79 David Millar (GBr) Cofidis 2 80 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Ibanesto.Com 1 81 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) ONCE - Eroski 1 Teams 1 Saeco 41 pts 2 Quick-Step-Davitamon 35 3 Fassa Bortolo 31 4 Telekom 24 5 Alessio 22