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90th Liège-Bastogne-Liège - CDM
Belgium, April 25, 2004
The cards fall to Rebellin again
Italian takes triple crown and World Cup lead
By Jeff Jones in Ans
The 'reborn' Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has won his third major race within the space of eight days, adding the 90th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège to his triumphs in the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne last week. Once again, the cards fell in Rebellin's favour, as he found himself in the company of eternal Dutch hope Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and fiery Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) with 5 km to go. Rebellin played it cool, allowing Boogerd and Vinokourov to match each other's attacks, and had the perfect position on Boogerd's wheel with 250m to go. From there, there was no doubt that he would win the sprint, and he did not disappoint.
"I'm very, very satisfied with this result," said Rebellin, as calm and relaxed as he was at the start of the race. "It's a race that suits me and it couldn't have gone better for me in the finale. I felt that Boogerd would attack on Saint-Nicolas so I stayed on his wheel. I wasn't super strong, but the sprint went well for me."
Rebellin added his Amstel Gold Race victory liberated him from two years of health problems, Flèche Wallonne was the confirmation, and today was the realisation that he can be a great rider again. After two years suffering from an intestinal parasite, Rebellin is in the form of his life and he means to make the most of it.
In winning Liège, Amstel and Flèche in the same year, Rebellin has done what no-one else has before him, and it's a performance that perhaps betters Peter Van Petegem's Ronde Van Vlaanderen/Paris-Roubaix double last year. Rebellin also takes the lead in the World Cup, scoring 200 points compared to Michael Boogerd's 146. His goals now focus on the Giro d'Italia, where he hopes to win a stage and wear the maglia rosa, and then the second half of the season including the Olympics, World Championships and remaining World Cup races.
Once again, Michael Boogerd had to settle for second place, the Dutchman countering Alexandre Vinokourov's move with 1.5 km to go, then trying to go on his own with 500m out. But Rebellin was there, right on his wheel. "Rebellin was unbeatable," admitted Boogerd. "I played all my cards. You know you are beaten when Rebellin is on your wheel with 150m to go."
How it unfolded
Absolutely perfect racing conditions greeted the 193 riders in Liège's Place Saint-Lambert for the start of the 90th edition of this classic. Unfortunately for Team Saeco's changes, favourite Danilo Di Luca did not make it to the sign on, suffering from a fever last night that forced him to withdraw. That left Saeco relying on Mirko Celestino, who didn't have the same form as Di Luca and couldn't make a difference in the finale.
Assisted by a light tailwind from the northeast, the first hour of racing was fast with 44 km covered. Jan van Velzen (Chocolade Jacques) and Peter Wuyts (MrBookmaker-Palmans) tried to escape after 22 km, but were caught. It wasn't until just before the 60 km mark - just 40 km from Bastogne - that the break of the day was established. Jurgen Van de Walle and Raivis Belohvosciks (Chocolade Jacques), Bram Tankink (Quick.Step), Laurent Lefèvre (La Boulangère), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and - importantly for Rebellin's team - Marcel Strauss (Gerolsteiner) all made the move.
The six already had five minutes lead by the Côte Saint-Roch (km 89), with the peloton still very much in cruise mode. When the leaders reached the turnaround at Bastogne, they had close to 10 minutes, their maximum lead. Under impulse from Phonak, CSC, Rabobank and Lotto, the peloton strung itself out on the homeward run back to Liège. The break lost Belohvosciks before halfway (km 129), reducing it to five men.
On the 2.7 km Côte de Stockeu with just under 90 km to go, the five leaders were just 4'30 in front of the main bunch, with Jurgen Van De Walle crossing the top first. Over the next 25 km, some strong work from Niki Aebersold (Phonak) and Jörg "what broken elbow?" Jaksche (CSC) helped reduce the gap to around 2 minutes at the foot of the Côte du Rosier with 64 km to go. CSC made a tactical move at the top of the climb, sending Jaksche and Kurt-Asle Arvesen along with Alexandre Botcharov (Credit Agricole) in pursuit of the break, which had disintegrated leaving just Tankink and Strauss in front.
Arvesen had told Cyclingnews at the start this morning that, "My main thing is to take care of the middle of the race and the first part and not really the finale. If I'm feeling good then of course I'll be there, but I have to be ready from Bastogne. Bartoli and Basso are our main captains today. Jaksche is in really good shape but with a broken arm it's quite difficult. We'll see with him."
The CSC pair were having a good day, and together with Botcharov caught Tankink and Strauss on the Côte de Vecquee with 52 km remaining. The peloton was 1'10 behind at the top of the Vecquee, with Phonak and Rabobank leading a full speed chase on the descent before the crucial climb of La Redoute with 35 km to go.
The leaders became three on La Redoute, as Strauss and Tankink dropped off on the steep 1.9 km climb. Botcharov accelerated to take climbers points (and secure the climber's jersey) at the top, while Arvesen and Jaksche maintained a steady rhythm behind him. The peloton didn't quite explode on the climb, despite two accelerations from Bettini, one from Boogerd and some hard tempo work from Garzelli's teammate Oscar Mason. Over the top, there were 25 men left, but this grew to 50 on the descent as the three leaders were captured.
The attacks continued over the Côte de Sprimont and down towards the penultimate climb of the Côte du Sart-Tilman with 18 km to go. Michael Boogerd suffered an unfortunate puncture at this point, and had to chase hard with his teammates to regain the peloton. On Sart-Tilman, the bunch reduced further with Euskaltel's Iñigo Landaluze and Quick.Step's Patrik Sinkewitz managing to get clear halfway up. The two young riders managed to achieve an 18 second gap over the peloton on the wide downhill run to Liège, but with Lotto-Domo, Saeco and Fassa Bortolo leading the chase, the pair didn't quite have enough lead to survive until the top of the 1.1 km/10% Côte de Saint-Nicolas with 6 km to go.
It was on this climb that the 50 rider peloton exploded for the last time. First Peter Van Petegem then Michael Boogerd put in stinging attacks, and it was Boogerd who crested the top with a small lead over Alexandre Vinokourov and Davide Rebellin. This was the decisive move, and once again Rebellin had read it well. The three worked well on the descent into Ans with Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Ivan Basso (CSC) and Bjorn Leukemans (MrBookmaker) in pursuit, but the 15 second gap was uncloseable.
As they turned onto Rue Walthère Jamar with 1.5 km of uphill remaining, it was Alexandre Vinokourov who made the first acceleration. Rebellin didn't react immediately, forcing Boogerd to chase - the Dutchman obliged, despite the fact that he knew Rebellin was the faster sprinter. Boogerd gave it everything but once he caught Vino with 1 km to go, Rebellin was right on his wheel. Vino tried again, but didn't have enough gas and as the pace slowed, Boogerd dropped back to last wheel and accelerated as hard as he could.
Rebellin didn't wait this time, and immediately closed the gap to Boogerd as Vinokourov started to drop off the pace. That left Boogerd to take the final left-hander onto Rue Jean-Jaurès with 250m of flat to go and start the sprint. Rebellin didn't wait long and powered around for the third time in three races, winning by several bike lengths and proving himself as the strongest rider of the moment.
Now the World Cup leader, Rebellin will race next Saturday's Rund um den Henninger Turm, following that with the Giro d'Italia start on May 8. If he maintains this sort of form, then his goals of a stage win and the pink jersey (for a while at least) will be easily reached.
For a thumbnail photo gallery of these pics, click here.
Images by AFP Photo
Images by Gunnar Mjaugedal/Cyclingnews.com/www.catchlight.no
Images by Elmar Krings
Images by Mitch Clinton/www.clintonphoto.com
Images by Olympia Photo
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Images by Mani Wollner/www.foto-grafik-satz.de
1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 6.20.09 (40.8 km/h) 2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 0.02 3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 0.04 4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.08 5 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 0.12 6 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team 7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze 8 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 9 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 10 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros 11 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 12 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 13 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco 0.16 14 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 15 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears-Banesto 16 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Fassa Bortolo 17 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 18 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 19 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor 20 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre 21 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 22 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 23 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor 0.19 24 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco 25 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 26 Oscar Mason (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 0.21 27 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC 28 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 0.25 29 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 0.27 30 Björn Leukemans (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans 0.28 31 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 32 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros 0.46 33 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick.Step-Davitamon 0.53 34 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 1.03 35 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 1.05 36 Miguel Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 37 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 38 José Luis Rubiera (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor 39 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Domina Vacanze 40 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com 41 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 42 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo 43 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 44 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJeux.com 45 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 46 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Quick.Step-Davitamon 47 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf 48 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Credit Agricole 49 Didier Rous (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 50 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Saeco 51 Piotr Wadecki (Pol) Lotto-Domo 1.09 52 Patxi Xabie Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre 53 Serge Baguet (Bel) Lotto-Domo 1.32 54 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 55 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto-Domo 1.35 56 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Credit Agricole 57 D'abusco Michele Scotto (Ita) Lampre 1.45 58 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre 59 José Azevedo (Por) US Postal-Berry Floor 60 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC 61 Jan Hruska (Cze) Liberty Seguros 62 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 2.17 63 Massimo Codol (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 2.40 64 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Lotto-Domo 65 José Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 66 Nicolas Fritsch (Fra) FDJeux.com 67 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 2.57 68 Dario Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 69 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 70 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 71 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 3.35 72 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 73 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Saeco 74 Unai Etxebarria (Ven) Euskaltel-Euskadi 75 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 5.34 76 Filippo Simeoni (Ita) Domina Vacanze 77 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 78 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC 79 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 80 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 81 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 6.52 82 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon 83 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 84 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank 85 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco 86 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Domo 87 Andreas Kloden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 88 Mikel Artetxe (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 89 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 90 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans 8.16 91 Kurt Van De Wouwer (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans 92 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 11.38 93 Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Domina Vacanze 94 Alexandre Bazhenov (Rus) Domina Vacanze 95 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 96 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 97 Massimo Giunti (Ita) Domina Vacanze 98 Michael Barry (Can) US Postal-Berry Floor 99 Benoît Poilvet (Fra) Credit Agricole 100 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 101 Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor 102 Iker Camano (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 103 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir 104 Joseba Albizu (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 105 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir 106 Paolo Valoti (Ita) Domina Vacanze 107 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems 108 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo 109 Roger Beuchat (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 110 Javier Ramirez (Spa) Liberty Seguros 111 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Lampre 112 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 113 Ellis Rastelli (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 114 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Team CSC 115 Simone Masciarelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetteri 116 Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) T-Mobile Team 117 Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) FDJeux.com 118 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Saeco 119 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) FDJeux.com 120 Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) FDJeux.com 121 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 122 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 123 Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 124 Marcel Strauss (Swi) Gerolsteiner 125 Koldo Gil Perez (Spa) Liberty Seguros 11.50 126 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank 13.28 127 Jens Renders (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans 128 Zbigniew Piatek (Pol) Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf 129 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 130 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 131 Davide Bramati (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 132 Francesco Failli (Ita) Domina Vacanze World Cup standings after round 5 1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 200 pts 2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 146 3 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 131 4 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 127 5 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 115 6 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio - Bianchi 100 7 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step - Davitamon 98 8 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto - Domo 95 9 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto - Domo 84 10 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 80 11 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC 70 12 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto - Domo 68 13 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team 64 14 George Hincapie (USA) Us Postal - Berry Floor 53 15 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 50 16 Roger Hammond (GBr) Mr. Bookmaker.Com - Palmans 50 17 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Chocolade Jacques Wincor - Nixdorf 50 18 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 50 19 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick Step - Davitamon 47 20 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 46 21 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre 43 22 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco 40 23 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team 40 24 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo 40 25 Frank Hoj (Den) Team CSC 40 26 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 40 27 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team 37 28 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco 36 29 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Us Postal - Berry Floor 36 30 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze 32 31 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 32 32 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team 28 33 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 27 34 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 24 35 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco 22 36 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 22 37 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Davitamon 21 38 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 20 39 Miguel Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir 20 40 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Fassa Bortolo 18 41 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros 16 42 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC 16 43 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros 16 44 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 15 45 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto - Domo 15 46 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 14 47 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step - Davitamon 14 48 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 13 49 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto - Domo 13 50 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 12 51 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Fdjeux.Com 12 52 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 12 53 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio - Bianchi 12 54 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Saeco 12 55 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears - Banesto 11 56 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 11 57 Josu Silloniz (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 11 58 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 9 59 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo 9 60 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Fdjeux.Com 8 61 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance 8 62 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Relax - Bodysol 8 63 Floyd Landis (USA) Us Postal - Berry Floor 7 64 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 7 65 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio - Bianchi 7 66 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 7 67 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre 6 68 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC 6 69 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC 5 70 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Us Postal - Berry Floor 5 71 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi 4 72 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Us Postal - Berry Floor 3 73 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 3 74 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC 3 75 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 2 76 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) De Nardi 2 77 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner 2 78 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Fdjeux.Com 1 79 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 1