Evenepoel wins the classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège on the 1st try

Belgian Remco Evenepoel of the Quickstep Alpha Vinyl team reacts after winning the Belgian cycling classic and UCI World Tour Liège Bastogne Liège cycling race in Liège, Belgium, Sunday, April 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Belgian Remco Evenepoel of the Quickstep Alpha Vinyl team reacts after winning the Belgian cycling classic and UCI World Tour Liège Bastogne Liège cycling race in Liège, Belgium, Sunday, April 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

PA

Rising cycling star Remco Evenepoel claimed the biggest win of his career on Sunday with a solo victory in cycling’s oldest classic – the Liège-Bastogne-Liège race – as Belgian riders swept the podium places .

A versatile rider widely considered to be one of the most promising talents of his generation, Evenepoel triumphed in “La Doyenne” on his first try, aged 22.

Evenepoel, who recovered from a horrific accident during the 2020 Tour of Lombardy, raised his arms and buried his face in his hands as he added his name to a list of winners that includes the likes of cyclist great Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.

“It’s my first Liege and I won, it’s a dream come true,” said Evenepoel, who rides for Belgian team Quick-Step-Alpha-Vinyl. incredible.”

Quinten Hermans won the sprint for second place ahead of Wout van Aert.

Evenepoel took the plunge with 29 kilometers to go when he attacked on a narrow and steep stretch of road from a chasing group that included other pre-race favourites.

Using his strong time trial skills, Evenepoel produced an impressive solo effort to catch the remaining riders and then reached the finish line alone.

Evenepoel rose to prominence in his first professional season with the Deceuninck-Quick Step team in 2019 when he won the prestigious Clasica San Sebastian ahead of Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet. He also earned a silver medal in the time trial at the world championships that year.

His career was suspended for several months following an accident in Italy which left him with a broken pelvis and a damaged right lung. Evenepoel crashed in the last 50 kilometers on a downhill stretch, hitting a bridge wall and crossing it into a ravine.

“I suffered a lot mentally and physically for a year and a half and finally this year I feel that everything is fine, everything is stabilizing and I am coming to the best Remco again,” Evenepoel said. “I think today I showed the best Remco since I turned pro.”

Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of cycling’s “monuments” – the sport’s five most prestigious one-day events – along with the Tour of Flanders, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Lombardy.

Tadej Pogacar was among the favorites but didn’t defend his title after withdrawing for personal reasons. World champion Julian Alaphilippe was forced to abandon the race after being caught up in a mass accident around 60 kilometers from the end.

Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands won the women’s race for the second time after running solo up the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. She won ahead of Grace Brown and Demi Vollering.

“It’s like good wine, strength comes with age,” said the 39-year-old former world champion.

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Naomi C. Amerson