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89th Liège - Bastogne - Liège - CDM

Belgium, April 27, 2003

Main Page     Results    Live report    World Cup Standings

Hamilton first American to win La Doyenne

By Jeff Jones in Ans

Hamilton triumphs
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

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.

Armstrong falls short
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

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."

The podium
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

"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).

Tyler takes off
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

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.

Mayo and Boogerd
Photo: © Elmar Krings
Click for larger image

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

World Cup standings

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


1 Saeco                                                      41 pts
2 Quick-Step-Davitamon                                       35
3 Fassa Bortolo                                              31
4 Telekom                                                    24
5 Alessio                                                    22