Liège: Why I didn't like it

I'm sorry because for Simon Gerrans and his team it has been a great victory of course, something epic, the first ever win of an Australian rider and one of the very few wins by a rider who has also won Milano-Sanremo - Cfr.  http://cyclingbase.black-dress.org/2014/04/gerrans-achtste-coureur-met-zege-in-milano-sanremo-luik-bastenaken-luik/ - and, Bettini excluded, the only one in recent time. 
Ok. That's good for statisticts (that I love). But it also confirms that normally you have to be a different kind of rider to win Liège OR Sanremo, the last one being for sprinters or fast roulleurs NOT for climbers and big tours' contenders.
So what about climbers in last Sunday's race? Some of them didn't start or retired early (Froome, Betancour, Rodriguez, Van Den Broeck, Andy Schleck, Richie Porte...). Others attacked but couldn't get a gap nor bring away a small group: Domenico Pozzovivo and Julian Arredondo attacked twice, Dan Martin jumped off the peloton already in Ans (and unfortunately crashed: but was it going to work? I'm not so sure). All the rest basicly waited. The main favourites finished in a very large front group (30 riders). 
Frank Schleck said the pace was too high to allow successful attacks. But normally that happens because one or two teams want to control the race preparing the attack by one strong leader (for ex. Team Saxo-Bank in 2009 for Andy Schleck). That wasn't the case here: the break-away gained till 15', we saw several teams leading the chase (Team Tinkoff especially) but no one was ruling. Many leaders looked isolated quite early and the general impression I got was that the race was open but nobody had the strength to go and take it. 
Domenico Pozzovivo tried hard. He came from Trentino absolutely strong but as I said in my previous post you don't win a Liège on your own, you need a team and a strategy: I didn't see anything by AG2R, maybe disoriented by Betancour's last minute abandon. Arredondo tried also, he looked less motivated and on paper TFR leader was Frank Schleck while he was told be not 100% dued to the recent travel back to Europe. Bob Jungels looked good, always in front... but not in the messy finale.  It makes no sense to list all the riders I expected to attack: they all looked unsure.
I must praise ORICA-GE's coolness: it was going to the sprint and they re-arranged the squad to put Gerrans in the best position. Reading their press release it's easy to notice a kind of contradiction: “The had a plan, and they stuck to that plan” Bannan says “Each of the riders gave Simon Gerrans everything they had. That commitment is what wins bike races.” and Simon Clarke goes on: “Whitey [Sport Director Matt White] wrote a three page plan. I felt like I was back at school. We all read the plan. We revised the plan. We committed it to memory. Everything was so clear. Everyone knew exactly what their job was, where they had to do it, who they had to be with and who they had to look out for. When you put in the effort to develop a plan like that and the team can follow the plan, it creates the opportunity for some really big results.” BUT  “We’ve never seen a Liège with so many riders contesting the final” White added. “The race is usually decided well before it was decided today. To have so many guys in contention at the finish is unusual, but we knew we had the guy that could finish it off for us.” 
So, was Gerrans in the plann? Because I see more suitable riders in this team for to win a Liège... And Gerrans admits it has been hard: “Just after the Forges, I was starting to suffer a little bit. There was a really difficult section with La Redoute and the Forges quite close together. I actually said to my teammates over the radio that I wasn’t feeling too good at the moment, but they stuck by me, and they gave me good confidence coming into the finale. They placed me perfectly for La Rouche-aux-Facouns and Saint-Nicolas to give me every opportunity.” “Simon came onto the radio to say that he was going through a bad patch. Sport Director Matt White confirmed. “But then he came good again. When he passed the Saint-Nicolas, that’s when I knew he definitely had a chance.” Quite late in the race, you see!
Again, Gerrans remarks it was a completely unespected situation: “I wasn’t expecting to see such a big group come to the finish together. I thought the peloton would break more than it did. In fact, the hard final meant that everyone was a little more tired coming into the finish and no one had the legs to break away. My card was to wait and follow as best as I could and to try to finish it off with a small group sprint. I can’t say thank you enough to my team. They supported me all day and placed me perfectly over the final climbs. It took a real team effort to finish in the front today and to put me in a position to go for the win.”
When I said that Gerrans won but it could have been anybody else I was wrong of course: he won because the race finish suited him perfectly and because his team supported him at its best. Reading through the finish order I can hardly find a rider with Gerrans' characteristics. 
Sum up: I didn't like this Liège because it missed the expected pathos, given by teams strategies, forcing, early attacks, exlpoits, enduring late break-aways. Sometimes there are many races in a Liège, several  different possible plots that seem to find their way in the world and make you hold your breath. On Sunday we jumped just once: for Dan Martin's crash.
But that's my opinion.

1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 6:37:43
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
4 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:03
6 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:05
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:06
11 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:00:08
12 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:10
13 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
14 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar
15 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:12
16 Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
17 Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp - Endura
18 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr
19 Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
20 Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling
21 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
22 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling
23 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:17
24 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:19
25 Julian David Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing
26 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:23
27 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling
28 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:31
29 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:48
30 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:51
31 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:56
32 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:01:09
33 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha
34 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica Greenedge 0:01:11
35 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol 0:01:27
36 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
37 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:29
38 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:31
39 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:01:37
40 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica Greenedge 0:02:26
41 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica Greenedge
42 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
43 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol
44 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha
45 Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
46 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:02:51
47 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
48 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
49 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
50 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha 0:02:53
51 David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura 0:03:33
52 José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp - Endura
53 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr
54 Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp - Endura
55 Daan Olivier (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
56 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia
57 Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura 0:03:33
58 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka
59 Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia
60 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing 0:03:33
61 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
62 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
63 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
64 Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team Katusha
65 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
66 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
67 Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:03:47
68 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:54
69 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team
70 Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky 0:05:16
71 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale
72 Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
73 Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
74 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin Sharp
75 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team
76 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
77 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp 0:05:16
78 John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team 0:06:19
79 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:07:10
80 WoutPoels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
81 Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing 0:08:05
82 Alex Howes (USA) Garmin Sharp
83 Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia
84 Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling
85 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:08:07
86 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team
87 Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
88 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team 0:08:28
89 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica Greenedge 0:08:52
90 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:09:20
91 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:09:26
92 Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ.fr
93 Francis De Greef (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:10:01
94 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:10:12
95 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge 0:10:43
96 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida 0:11:41
97 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
98 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
99 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
100 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
101 Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol
102 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp - Endura
103 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp
104 Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Colombia
105 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:11:41
106 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
107 Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar
108 Jaco Venter (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
109 Edward Beltran (Col) Tinkoff-Saxo
110 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ.fr
111 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge 0:12:01
112 Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar
113 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale 0:12:08
114 Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:12:11
115 Christian Meier (Can) Orica Greenedge 0:12:15
116 Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
117 Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia
118 Frantisek Padour (Cze) Team NetApp - Endura
119 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
120 Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing Team
121 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
122 Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
123 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team
124 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team
125 Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka
126 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team
127 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Cannondale
128 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo
129 Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar
130 Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling
131 Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale
132 David Tanner (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
133 Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale
134 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
135 Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
136 Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:13:27
136 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin Sharp 0:13:47
DNF Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin Sharp
DNF Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha
DNF Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNF Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Team Katusha
DNF Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia
DNF Juan Esteban Arango Carvajal (Col) Colombia
DNF Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Jérôme Gilbert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNF Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
DNF Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNF Nelson Simoes (Por) Lampre-Merida
DNF Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNF Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNF José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory Racing
DNF Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling
DNF Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling
DNF Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale
DNF Michel Koch (Ger) Cannondale
DNF Jean-Marc Marino (Fra) Cannondale
DNF Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
DNF Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
DNF Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
DNF Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
DNF Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Cheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-Shimano
DNF Andy Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
DNF Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing
DNF Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNF Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNF Arthur Vanoverberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNF Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNF Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar
DNF Natnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar
DNF Erick Rowsell (GBr) Team NetApp - Endura
DNF Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Bruno Pires (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNF Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
DNF Laurent Mangel (Fra) FDJ.fr
DNF Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ.fr
DNF Songezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
DNF Jack Bobridge (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNF Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky
DNF Joshua Edmondson (GBr) Team Sky
DNF David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky
DNF Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNF Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Giant-Shimano
DNF Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNF Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNF Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNF Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN - Qhubeka
DNF Andres Torres Agudelo (Col) Colombia
DNF Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNF Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
DNS Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
DNS Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale

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