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95th Liège-Bastogne-Liège - HIS

Belgium, April 26, 2009

Live coverage

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

13:00 CEST   
Welcome to live coverage of the 2009 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. This is the third of three Ardennes Classics this year, Serguei Ivanov (Katusha) won the first at Amstel Gold on Sunday and Davide Rebellin (Diquigiovanni) won Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday.

The Palais des Princes-Evêques
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

13:02 CEST   
We have a group of three escapees that formed a while back. We will get you there names.

13:04 CEST    121km/140km to go
The group went about 50km ago, with 195km left to race, near Hampteau. The three escapees are Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam) and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis).

13:06 CEST   
Aussie Michael Rogers (Columbia) didn't start due to high fever.

13:10 CEST    123km/138km to go
Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale) bridges to join the escapees. We now have four men up the road France's Dupont, Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Belgium's Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) and Swiss Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam).

13:11 CEST   
Laurent Jalabert was at the start in Liège for the race he came close to winning: finishing second twice to Michele Bartoli in 1997 and 1998. "I like this course, I always did," he told Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake before the start.

He did admit that since his days the course has changed quite a bit. "The organisers took into account the evolution of the riders. The côte de Saint Nicolas was added and last year they threw in the côte de la Roche aux Faucons to make for another selection."

Jalabert is often on the motorbike to provide commentary for French TV, but not today. "I'll just be on grandstand at the finish. Ah, the course is so much easier on the motorbike," he said with a smile.

His tip for today? "It's difficult to say. Rebellin is very strong but I don't know if had a lot of opportunity to do races that are more than 200 kilometres long. But a Rebellin like on Wednesday will be difficult to beat. If a small group arrives for a sprint, Cunego and Valverde are probably the fastest. I think the winner will be one of those, plus the Schlecks and Samuel Sánchez."

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank)
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

13:13 CEST   
Fränk Schleck crashed heavily twice in the last two years. "No, I don't have rubber muscles," he said to Cyclingnews with a smile. "I don't think I crash more than the others but it's true, usually it's spectacularly, like last year in Switzerland. I don't do things by halves.

"So far all went well," he added. But he wasn't sure if he could be called one of the favourites. "I did lose a few days of training and had to stay off the bike. I will have to see how it goes."

Just like with his crashes there is no middle ground in today's race. "There are only two possibilities: Either [I am] very good or very bad – top or flop."

When the Schlecks went to the team presentation yesterday, Andy stopped everywhere to pose for pictures and sign autographs. Fränk had to keep waiting and nod him on with a little headshake to get towards the tent. Will this be the same sign language with which the two will render the radio useless? "I hope he will do the same to me today," Fränk said.

13:17 CEST   
We have word that there is expected to be 10,000 fans expected to support Philippe Gilbert on the Côte de la Redoute, the 2nd to last of the 11 climbs.

13:20 CEST    127km/134km to go
The four are working well, the gap has climbed up to eight minutes. They are approaching the Côte de Saint Roch.

13:25 CEST   
Remember Wyss crashed on the first of 27 pavé sectors of the Paris-Roubaix: Troisvilles à Inchy two weeks ago. He hyper-extended a finger on his right hand.

"I couldn't hold the handlebars properly and felt an insane amount of pain from the vibrations. My legs felt great, though, and that made me even more disappointed when I had to quit the race."

He is representing BMC well in this escape.

13:29 CEST   
"My legs are good now," John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld) said to Cyclingnews with a smile. "Maybe a little bit later they will be tired..."

Augustyn said his season start was difficult. "But I see how the form is coming along. If all goes well I think I can do a good result."

But today's race is just another step for the South African. "I am working towards the Giro d'Italia, that's where I want to get some good results."

Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

13:30 CEST   
Samuel Sánchez was in good spirits before the race. "Now my legs are really good," he told Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake as the riders were lining up. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider clarified with a smile: "In the final they will be bad."

He still hopes to be there in the final. "It's a tough course and I think the next-to-last climb, the Roche aux Faucons, will be very decisive in the outcome of the race, like last year. It is hard for its location in the race, after so many kilometres of racing.

"There will be a lot of smaller groups at the finish in Ans, rather than bigger groups."

13:33 CEST   
Our four escapees, Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam), Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale), Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis), are over the Côte de Saint Roch.

13:36 CEST   
Haake checked out the last 100km of the course on Thursday, starting in Trois Ponts. The route gets five stars for scenic value, the interesting route and the weather (that may affect the rating on some other days...).

The descent from the Côte de Wanne is a bit tricky, not only for its sinuous, narrow road, but there is an occasional 'wave' and some potholes rather unexpectedly popping up. There are trees, which reduce the lighting, and if you add in 200 bike racers you know how skilled they have to be to go down there without crashing.

13:37 CEST   
The Eddy Merckx memorial, located on the right hand side of the road at the intersection of the Côte de Stockeu and the Route de Somagne. Unfortunately, for Haake the marking people weren't fast enough so he went right, going up further to the actual top. A cheese farmer came to the rescue and sent him back down.

People with more local knowledge have put "attack" a couple of hundred metres from the top of the climb and no doubt know that the right way to turn is left.

13:38 CEST   
The Côte de la Haute-Levée is not spectacular, a wide, straight road. It is 3.4 kilometres long and very much straight.

The Côte du Rosier starts with a very sharp right-hand turn. It's a nice climb, with some switchbacks. Also, there is no danger that on the descent an unexpected pothole will pop up in the middle of nowhere – the entire road is a mess, which is why there is a sign: "Route degradée" or damaged road.

13:39 CEST   
La Redoute can't be called too scenic at the bottom, as it is right next to the freeway. The motor home parking spots were already marked and in fact a few fans had already taken their spot.

The middle part of the climb is a bit steeper, before levelling out again. The road isn't too wide and the biggest mistake will be to be too far back and miss the attacks off the front.

A marker on the Côte de la Redoute.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

13:39 CEST   
La Redoute can't be called too scenic at the bottom, as it is right next to the freeway. The motor home parking spots were already marked and in fact a few fans had already taken their spot.

The middle part of the climb is a bit steeper, before levelling out again. The road isn't too wide and the biggest mistake will be to be too far back and miss the attacks off the front.

The Côte de la Roche aux Faucons was added for the first time in 2008. It drags on and on, even though it's fairly flat at the top. For the mind the climb is a bit harder than La Redoute, even though La Redoute has a maximum of 20 percent (versus 18 for the Roche aux Faucons).

Only the strongest rider will be around after this penultimate climb and last year it included the Schlecks, Valverde and Rebellin.

13:41 CEST   
See Côte de la Redoute reconnaissance from Friday.

13:43 CEST   
The past winners list for both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallonne reads like a who's who of cycling's rich history. But even on a list featuring cycling's finest, there are a handful that stand out as winners of the Ardennes double.

In fact, just six riders throughout history have managed to claim both race wins in the same season. It's a prestigious club of men who, combined, have won anything that truly matters in the sport of cycling.

They share six world championships, victories in each of the three Grand Tours, and wins in every other major classic race (thanks largely to Eddy Merckx).

Read Doin' the Ardennes double

13:45 CEST    141km/120km to go
The gap is holding at eight minutes.

13:46 CEST   
It is some time before the next climb, the Côte de Wanne, at -89km.

Frank Vandenbroucke's wins the 1999 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

13:47 CEST   
You've seen us get sentimental over our favourite cobbled Classics moments, but with those events run and won, Cyclingnews reminisces on some of the great Ardennes classic moments. Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège make up the Ardennes Classics and are also the final Spring Classics of 2009, so join us as we take a trip down memory lane for some of the big moments and bizarre stories that have cemented this trio's Classics status.

Read: Great moments in Classics history – the Ardennes Classics.

14:07 CEST   
Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) is the most well known rider of the four thanks to his wins. His last one came in 2007, when he took two: Hel van het Mergelland and Beverbeek Classic. He also won the Rothaus Regio-Tour International in 2005 the 2004 GP Pino Cerami.

Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam) won last year's Flèche du Sud after he won the prologue and remained race leader. It was his first and only win.

Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale) won the Vuelta al País Vasco, Mountains classification in 2006 with AG2R. It was his only win.

Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) has one win to his name, stage two of the 2008 Kreiz Breizh Elites. He became pro in 2006.

14:11 CEST
The gap is up to 11:25! These four will need all the time they can get if they wan to make it to the finish in Ans.

Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

14:15 CEST   
Ivan Basso (Liquigas) is racing here today, one day after winning the Giro del Trentino overall in Pejo Fonti, Italy.

Basso's last race win was the overall victory at the 2006 Giro d'Italia. He won three stages and finished ahead in the classification by 9:18 over José Enrique Gutierrez. He served a two-year suspension for links to Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, and only returned to racing at the end of last year's season.

The three-week Giro d'Italia stage race is once again his objective. Basso seeks to win this year's edition, and the four-day Giro del Trentino gave him another chance to see his rivals before the main event.

This is his last race before the Giro. He travelled here last night with teammate Franco Pellizotti by private airplane Saturday night to Belgium.

Cyclingnews talked to him before he boarded the plane. "I am not kidding myself, I am not a machine and to contend for Liège victory is difficult – it is very different course," he said. "There are many riders who have prepared specifically for that one day."

Look out for Pellizotti, Basso and Vincenzo Nibali today.

14:18 CEST    158km/103km to go
The escape group approaches the Côte de Wanne. The four are on their northbound journey.

14:21 CEST   
The gap has dipped back below 11 minutes.

14:22 CEST   
It is a grey and overcast day here in Belgium, but not very cold. riders are without leg or arm warmers.

14:23 CEST   
Liquigas and Agritubel lead the peloton. Liquigas is riding for Cunego; he will have strong support from Enrico Gasparotto.

14:26 CEST    171km/90km to go
The gap to the peloton is 9.44

"Liège does not need an introduction. It is one of the oldest and has the most name recognition," said Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) to Cyclingnews.

"It is the hardest of the three in terms of climbing and it is the most prestigious of the three. Amstel has shorter climbs, but Liège has climbs from one kilometre to a maximum of two kilometres."

Read Cunego returns for Ardennes rush.

His Liège-Bastogne-Liège palmarès: 30th in 2008, 7th 2007, 3rd 2006, 9th 2005, 124th 2002

14:28 CEST   
The tempo is noticeably high in the peloton. Agritubel and Lampre are doing the damage. Team Barloworld is up near the front.

The roads are wide here, about eight riders can ride side-by-side.

14:29 CEST   
The four are 1km from the summit of Côte de Wanne.

14:32 CEST    172km/89km to go
The four are on the back side and blasting down to the city of Wanne.

We see the green of Basso's Liquigas team at the front of the peloton.

14:33 CEST    172km/89km to go
The peloton start the Côte de Wanne. Barloworld looks strong at the front.

The gap is 7:53

14:35 CEST    175km/86km to go
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14:37 CEST   
Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld) and Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) hit the deck on the Wanne climb. Both are back up and going.

14:38 CEST   
Kim Kirchen (Columbia-Highroad) is out the back on the climb. The winner of last year's Flèche Wallonne is suffering due to a crash earlier in the spring.

14:39 CEST   
The Côte de Stockeu is next for the escape.

14:39 CEST    176km/85km to go
The gap is 6:54

14:39 CEST   
The four are ripping through the city streets.

14:40 CEST    177km/84km to go
They are now on the Stockeu and the pace slows. Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) leads with Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale).

14:41 CEST   
The peloton winds its way down Wanne.

14:42 CEST    178km/83km to go
The gap is 6.41. The Stockeu is a beautiful wooded area for the front four, but they don't notice the trees or fans.

14:43 CEST   
Marco Corti (Barloworld) fires with a Topsport rider in tow. They get off the front of the Liquigas-led peloton.

14:45 CEST   
"I want to win this race," said Ivanov, winner of Amstel Gold. But he counts out his chances today.

14:46 CEST    179km/82km to go
Crash, Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Françis De Greef (Silence-Lotto).

The peloton is on the Stockeu.

14:46 CEST   
We see Fabian Wegmann (Milram) up the at the front with a Saxo Bank rider.

14:48 CEST   
Fabian Wegmann (Milram) moves back and Saxo leads the Stockeu charge. They are working for Fränk Schleck and Andy Schleck. The former is back after skipping Flèche Wallonne due to a crash in Amstel Gold.

14:49 CEST   
Thomas Peterson (Garmin-Slipstream) is at the back and suffering on the Stockeu.

14:49 CEST    182km/79km to go
The gap is really following. These front four men have no chance at all. 5:40 now, at the top of Stockeu for the peloton.

14:50 CEST   
Thomas Peterson (Garmin-Slipstream) is at the back and suffering.

14:51 CEST    182km/79km to go
The Côte de la Haute-Levée awaits our front four: Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale), Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam) and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis).

14:52 CEST   
The peloton goes through Stavelot.

14:52 CEST   
The sun is peaking through.

14:53 CEST   
We see Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) in his Luxembourg national champion jersey. He is on his brother's wheel.

14:56 CEST   
Karsten Kroon doesn't think his Saxo Bank team is the team to beat in Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Despite the Schleck brothers in the team, Kroon mentioned Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Davide Rebellin (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) as the guys to beat.

But Saxo Bank won't just give up. "My legs are good and we do have a strong team," Kroon told Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake. "I don't think we have the favourite in our team, because there are a few guys who are just faster than our fastest guy."

But the decision may not come on the famous La Redoute climb, the third-to last climb with the steepest pitch at 20 percent. "The côte de la Roche aux Faucons is harder than the Redoute," Kroon said about the climb following after La Redoute, with 20 kilometres to go. "Certainly after all those kilometres it is a really, really challenging climb."

14:56 CEST   
We just got a good look at Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Davide Rebellin (Diquigiovanni), both are near the front, near Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank).

14:57 CEST    184km/77km to go
Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) attacks his escape companions at the top of the Côte de la Haute-Levée. He has gained a small gap.

14:58 CEST    185km/76km to go
This is a desperate move as the peloton is nearing in, at 4:51.

14:59 CEST   
A dark horse for the win is Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni), winner of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Italian is near the front now.

15:00 CEST   
Nicki Sørensen (Saxo Bank) moves to the front to help his teammates. he is in the colours of Danish National champion.

German champion Fabian Wegmann
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

15:02 CEST   
Fabian Wegmann (Milram) is content with his season, even though he lacks a victory.

"The course is really good for me; it is very hard, especially at the end, with the new climb in there," Wegmann said to Cyclingnews. The côte de la Roche aux Faucons was added in 2008 for the first time.

"It is harder than La Redoute, especially because it really drags on towards the top." In the beginning of Roche aux Faucons the riders have to cross some bumpy rail road tracks, then go up into a residential area.
The climb seems to be ending, even slightly going down. But then the road turns right and the climb picks up again.

"Towards the top it is not too steep, but then you have almost 250 kilometres in your legs and that makes it so much more difficult," Wegmann said.

Wegmann's build-up for La Doyenne, how the oldest Classic is nicknamed, wasn't ideal. "I was sick a bit, but I recovered well." He is ready for a win. "I was three times very close to victory, it would have been nice if it [a win] would have worked out." Wegmann finished third in the GP Miguel Indurain and the Brabantse Pijl and second in the Monte Paschi Eroica.

15:02 CEST    189km/72km to go
Saxo Bank drives the charge. They have the gap at 4:40.

15:03 CEST   
Ivan Basso (Liquigas) and Linus Gerdemann (Milram) are riding in the peloton, side-by-side.

15:05 CEST    191km/70km to go
The front four riders are in La Gleize. They are flying along with 4:50 over the Liquigas-led peloton.

15:06 CEST   
Basso writes a diary for Cyclingnews, check it out: Back in Italy.

15:07 CEST   
Basso's old team, Saxo Bank (or CSC), works at the front as well.

15:08 CEST   
A Topsport is at the front of the peloton with one of its riders.

15:11 CEST   
We see some of the Katusha boys at the front with Saxo as the race starts the Côte du Rosier.

15:13 CEST    195km/66km to go
Christian Pfannberger (Katusha) moves near the front. He is coming on form, better and better as the races go on.

"I wanted to make those my highlights, but they are my big goals for the future," he said of the Ardennes Classics.

15:14 CEST   
Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) looks uncomfortable after 200km of racing.

15:14 CEST    195km/66km to go
4:09 is the gap.

Serguei Ivanov
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

15:16 CEST   
Linus Gerdemann (Milram) rides behind Serguei Ivanov (Katusha). For more about the likeable Russian read Ivanov grabs his Amstel at last.

15:17 CEST   
"It has been going well in Belgium. I had a podium in Amstel Gold, and I will try to do better today," said Cunego. "I think the decision will be made on the new climb, the penultimate climb."

15:19 CEST   
Jacob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) is pushing the pace at the front to unbearable levels for some. We see riders fading off the back of the peloton as it climbs.

15:20 CEST   
Addy Engels (Quick Step) is at the back of the peloton with Thomas Dekker (Silence-Lotto).

15:20 CEST   
Jacob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) leads the peloton over the Côte de la Haute-Levée, 2:57 behind the escapees.

15:22 CEST   
Stephen Cummings said to Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé that he wasn't expecting anything spectacular today.

"I think I'm over-trained and as a result I'm riding as a diesel now, without being able to switch on the turbo," Cummings said.

The British rider didn't know yet whether he would be riding the Giro d'Italia.

His teammate Christopher Froome was more hopeful although he didn't seem to be very awake at the start.

"We slept near the Liège airport but actually that wasn't too bad," Froome said. Decaluwé wondered whether it would've been better than Cyclingnews' hotel next to the railway station.

15:25 CEST   
Serguei Ivanov won the Amstel Gold Race and though the characteristics aren't quite the same in Liège-Bastogne-Liège the Russian champion hoped to go well once again.

"I'm ready for today. This is different than Amstel, it's harder. I hope to battle along for the win," Ivanov said to Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé.

After the Amstel Gold Race Ivanov predicted he would celebrate the win with some wodka and when asked about that party Ivanov said he didn't overdo it. "There were two more important races coming up. I drank a little wodka because people kept saying I should but if I win Liège then I'll go for more."

The Russian stuck some numbers on his bike, which mark out important parts of the course. "I know the course well enough but it helps to stay focused."

15:26 CEST    204km/57km to go
The gap is falling, 2.55 now. Lampre comes up to the front again for its leader Cunego.

15:26 CEST   
The Côte de la Vecquée comes in 5km.

Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni)
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

15:28 CEST   
The Italian Diquigiovanni team has two strong cards to play in Liège. Michele Scarponi, together with Davide Rebellin, was keen on having a good run in 'la Doyenne'.

"I finished fourth in 2003 and obviously it's a race that suits me well," the Scarponi said to Decaluwé.

"Our team is going really well and we're all confident we can do well again. Davide Rebellin is our strongest rider and he has most experience in Ans. Of course I wouldn't mind to win here as well," Scarponi said.

15:28 CEST    206km/55km to go
The four escapees start the Côte de la Vecquée with a gap of 3:04.

15:28 CEST   
Kim Kirchen was one of the favourites last year but the Luxemburger isn't in the same position this year due to injuries. The rider from the Columbia team was planning to ride as a domestique in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

"I've been training normally for six weeks now, but still I can only hope to support the team here during the first 200 kilometres. We've got young and talented riders like Albasini, Lövkvist and Siutsou who can do well here. I'll try to give them some of my experience in this race," Kirchen said.

15:30 CEST   
A Skil rider hits the front of the peloton. We forgot they were even racing.

Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

15:31 CEST   
While the peloton is approaching the final climbs near Liège we have just enough time to drop in some comments about the penultimate climb of the race. The Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, the falcon rock, was added to 'la Doyenne' last year and features with than twenty kilometres from the finish in Ans.

"That's where the race was decided last year," Simon Gerrans said to Cyclingnews' Decaluwé at the start on the Place Saint-Lambert. "It's not much harder than Côte de la Redoute but the location makes it more important."

The Australian, who resides in France, will be racing in Frankfurt next week and then he'll try to support Carlos Sastre at the Giro d'Italia. For now he's aiming for personal glory in the Ardennes.

"I had a good run in Amstel and Flèche. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is harder though but I'm hoping to make it into the top-10 once again."

15:32 CEST   
Saxo is still stoking the fire. They will play the Schlecks and Kroon cards in the finale.

15:33 CEST    207km/54km to go
Gap at 2.30

Wyss is going smoothly. Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale) looks near his cracking point.

15:34 CEST   
Gasparotto is in fifth wheel in the peloton.

"I am looking forward to Liège, the conditions are very hard and the true value of the riders will show," he said to Cyclingnews.

Fränk Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) is confident
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

15:35 CEST   
Fränk Schleck still showed the signs of the crash that took him out of the Amstel Gold Race. His leg is scraped and his right eye is coloured yellow. Still the Luxembourg champion was confident while riding towards the start in Liège.

"I'm excited to be at the start here but in the mean time I'm also relaxed," Fränk Schleck said before his brother Andy told him to get off his bike. The brothers tried to stay cool while spectators had a laugh as they noticed the two had taken the wrong Schleck bike at the bus, being forced to switch bikes.

15:36 CEST    209km/52km to go
The escape tops the Côte de la Vecquée.

15:37 CEST   
Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) fires at the top of the Côte de la Vecquée!

15:38 CEST   
The peloton is itching for action. The Saxo man has a gap.

15:38 CEST   
He looks down at his gearing and gets about the task of building a gap.

15:39 CEST   
This will help put the other teams on the offensive for Saxo Bank's captains: the Schleck brothers and Kroon.

15:40 CEST    212km/49km to go
Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) takes in some gel. He looks over his shoulder to see if he has companions.

15:40 CEST   
He does. The whole of the peloton.

15:41 CEST   
Only three climbs remain: Côte de la Redoute, Côte de la Roche aux Faucons and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.

15:42 CEST    214km/47km to go
Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) is still off the front. Another rider joins him. There gap is not much.

15:43 CEST    216km/45km to go
Linus Gerdemann (Milram), Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) and Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) join up. They are 1'00 behind the leaders.

15:44 CEST   
"Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a beautiful and very hard race. It is not that difficult to race, but you have to have a good team to control it up until the Côte de la Redoute," said Michele Bartoli to Cyclingnews.

"The years I won favourites went à bloc early on, but in the last years everyone seems to go more tranquillo and wait for Côte de Saint-Nicolas. I preferred to go all out on Redoute and to have less rivals."

15:44 CEST    216km/45km to go
Linus Gerdemann (Milram), Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) and Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) continue on, just off the front end of the peloton.

15:45 CEST   
We are in Hautregard for a break. It is sunny here!

15:45 CEST   
This move of three is going to force a new move. We will wait for the re-shuffle.

15:46 CEST   
Cunego's Lampre comes to the front.

15:46 CEST   
Thanks for all your e-mails. Especially from Andy Hogg! Great stuff. ;)

15:47 CEST    218km/43km to go
Linus Gerdemann (Milram) is very noticeable as he is riding in 80s neon yellow shoes. Sweet!

15:47 CEST   
David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Slipstream) are at the back of the peloton.

15:48 CEST   
Linus Gerdemann (Milram), Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) and Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) have some Belgian road between them and the Lampre-led peloton.

15:48 CEST    218km/43km to go
The three are 38" behind the front four and 10" up on the peloton.

15:48 CEST   
Gerdemann looks back to check the gap.

15:49 CEST   
Caisse takes over from Lampre for the pace making in the peloton.

15:49 CEST   
Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), 2006 Tour winner, leads the peloton.

15:49 CEST    219km/42km to go
The front four have 32 to the trio and 45 to the Caisse-led peloton.

15:52 CEST    222km/39km to go
The race nears the Côte de la Redoute. We will see some key moves made there and get an idea of who will win the one-day Monument.

15:52 CEST   
Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale), Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam) and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) have 26" on the Gerdemann three.

15:54 CEST    224km/37km to go
The Redoute will crush these four escapees. It is the race defining moment, the Alpe d'Huez or Poggio of Liège.

They have 25"

15:56 CEST    226km/35km to go
The Gerdemann three catch Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam) at the base of Redoute.

15:56 CEST   
Only Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale), Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) remain.

15:57 CEST    226km/35km to go
Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) leads Linus Gerdemann (Milram) and Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) on the Redoute.

15:57 CEST   
Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) gets a gap and bridges towards the Gerdemann move.

15:58 CEST   
Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) leads to the top of Redoute. Nico Sijmens (Cofidis) is caught.

15:59 CEST   
Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) has 16" over the chasers on this climb that is lit by a bright Belgian sun and lined with cheering fans.

15:59 CEST    226km/35km to go
Redoute is doing its damage to the peloton.

16:00 CEST   
Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank) looks so strong.

16:00 CEST   
Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank) moves to the front on the false flat. A strong move.

16:00 CEST    227km/34km to go
34km to race.

16:00 CEST   
All escapees are finished. New moves are forming...

16:02 CEST   
Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank) will try to form a new move racing towards the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons.

16:02 CEST    227km/34km to go
Just like in Flèche, José Serpa (Diquigiovanni) comes forward. He won Langkawi in the early spring.

16:03 CEST    228km/33km to go
Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) moves to the front. He was originally not down to race Liège.

16:04 CEST    229km/32km to go
We have five: José Serpa (Diquigiovanni), Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale).

Dupont hung on when the favourites came up.

16:05 CEST   
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto) are bridging up, each on their own.

16:05 CEST    229km/32km to go
They both join the five, now we have seven with 16".

16:06 CEST    230km/31km to go
We have seven: José Serpa (Diquigiovanni), Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale) plus Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto) with 18".

16:08 CEST    232km/29km to go
Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is also there.

It is a move of eight: Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Serpa (Diquigiovanni), Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale), Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto).

Lampre leads the chase 8" back.

16:08 CEST   
Gilbert fires to bridge.

16:08 CEST   
He is going hard...

16:09 CEST   
He bridges and passes the eight.

16:09 CEST    233km/28km to go
Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) is racing on home roads in the Walloon region.

16:09 CEST   
Gilbert leads the race, solo

16:10 CEST   
Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank) leads the chase.

16:11 CEST   
The race is re-shaping here thanks to Gilbert's move. He won Het Volk last year in a similar way.

16:12 CEST    234km/27km to go
Kolobnev leads the chase, but the escape group looks about over.

16:12 CEST   
Gilbert, without sunglasses, flies along with his mouth open. He is giving all he has in this move -- do or die.

16:13 CEST    235km/26km to go
The group behind look at each other. Kolobnev moves to the front again for the Schlecks.

16:14 CEST    236km/25km to go
The chase re-shapes behind Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto). He will need to gain as much time as possible before the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons. It leaves only the Côte de Saint-Nicolas to go.

16:15 CEST    237km/24km to go
An Euskaltel rider leads with Leonardo Duque (Cofidis).

16:16 CEST   
Saxo, Lampre, Liquigas -- the big teams -- need to get this move under control if they wish to win the race.

16:17 CEST    239km/22km to go
Gilbert has 26". If he wins it would be a HUGE win for Silence-Lotto, who have three wins this season so far.

We have not seen Evans today.

16:18 CEST    240km/21km to go
Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank) and Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-NGC) are some of the chasers.

16:18 CEST    241km/20km to go
José Serpa (Diquigiovanni) was there, but he crashes.

The Côte de la Roche aux Faucons starts.

16:19 CEST   
Andy Schleck fires!

16:19 CEST   
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) is marked. He unzips his jersey.

16:20 CEST    241km/20km to go
He passed the move with Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and crew, which is caught by the favourites.

16:20 CEST   
Schleck is solo on the climb, nearing Gilbert.

16:20 CEST   
A perfect move for Schleck.

16:21 CEST   
Gilbert has 27" over Schleck and 42" on the peloton.

16:21 CEST   
Schleck looks back, not a good sign.

16:21 CEST   
The Côte de la Roche aux Faucons is truly nasty!

16:21 CEST   
Gilbert climbs out of his saddle.

16:22 CEST   
The lead group has lots its momentum and it gives Schleck an advantage.

Gilbert tops the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons with 20".

16:23 CEST   
Schleck tops the climb, still in pursuit of Gilbert.

16:24 CEST    242km/19km to go
Gilbert has to wait for Schleck.

Oh, Schleck joins, the two have 17" on the chase.

16:25 CEST    244km/17km to go
Scarponi leads the chase for Rebellin.

Davide Rebellin (Diquigiovanni), Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Serguei Ivanov (Katusha), Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) are in the front move.

16:26 CEST   
Schleck counters Gilbert and goes solo.

16:26 CEST   
Ivanov goes after Gilbert.

16:27 CEST    244km/17km to go
Serguei Ivanov (Katusha) joins Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto)

16:27 CEST   
So do the others. Gilbert's move is over and Ivanov leads the chase of Schleck.

We also see Kroon and Sastre.

16:28 CEST    245km/16km to go
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) has 25" with 16km.

16:31 CEST    247km/14km to go
Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank), Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto), Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Serguei Ivanov (Katusha), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Simon Gerrans (Cervélo TestTeam), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC), Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam), Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil) are chasing.

16:32 CEST    249km/12km to go
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) has 43" with 12km to go. He has to climb the Côte de Saint-Nicolas and the unofficial climb to Ans.

16:34 CEST    251km/10km to go
Cervélo leads the chase for Simon Gerrans.

Schleck has 59"

16:36 CEST    253km/8km to go
Schleck's last win came in the Tour de France when he won the white jersey of best young rider.

His gap is 1:15.

16:37 CEST   
Silence chases for Evans.

16:38 CEST   
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) starts the Côte de Saint-Nicolas with 1:34.

16:38 CEST    254km/7km to go
There are seven kilometres to race. Cervélo leads the chase.

16:40 CEST    255km/6km to go
Enrico Gasparotto (Lampre-NGC) fires out of the peloton for Cunego.

16:40 CEST   
Evans goes!

16:41 CEST    255km/6km to go
Evans is marked by Rebellin and Cunego on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.

16:41 CEST   
Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) is marking the moves.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) is there too.

16:41 CEST   
Rebellin leads now.

16:42 CEST    256km/5km to go
Davide Rebellin (Diquigiovanni), Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank), Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC)...

Andy has 1:17 as Rebellin tops the climb. He looks good to win the race.

16:44 CEST    258km/3km to go
There are 3km to race. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) has 1:11. The Côte de Saint-Nicolas is over and all the remains is the little climb to Ans.

16:44 CEST   
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) and Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) are behind the solo Luxemburger.

16:45 CEST   
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), a two-time winner, is also there.

16:45 CEST   
And Rebellin too.

16:46 CEST    260km/1km to go
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC), Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Davide Rebellin (Diquigiovanni) are behind.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) gives a thumbs up to the camera.

16:46 CEST    260km/1km to go
Davide Rebellin (Diquigiovanni) goes solo in chase.

16:47 CEST   
Evans chases Rebellin with Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) in tow.

16:48 CEST   
Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) counters the move of Evans and goes solo.

16:48 CEST   
Schleck checks back and confirms his win.

16:48 CEST   
The 23-year-old wins.

16:49 CEST   
Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) drives for second.

16:50 CEST   
Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) should get second.

16:50 CEST   
He does. There is a sprint for third.

16:53 CEST   
Rebellin gets third over Gilbert.

16:55 CEST   
Thanks for joining us today in our live coverage of the 2009 Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Provisional results

1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
2 Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto
5 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha
6 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervélo TestTeam
7 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-NGC
8 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux
9 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Saxo Bank
10 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi