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“I thought it might work with less than 20k to go, and with a bit of luck this move may have stuck. Then in the end for the final sprint I did not have the legs anymore," Arredondo says

Photo: Trek Factory Racing










27.04.2014 @ 21:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Julian Arredondo was one of the select few who tried to animate the finale of today's surprisingly controlled Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The Colombian rode an aggressive race as he tried to set up his captain Frank Schleck but the race ended in the feared scenario for the older of the Luxembourg brothers: a sprint in Ans.


The business end of La Doyenne began with a serious attack by Julian Arredondo on the penultimate Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons (1.5km at 9.3%) with less than 20 kilometers remaining. He broke clear over the top with Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) and the pair had 16 seconds advantage creating a flurry of action behind.  


Arredondo carried out the team’s pre-race plan to perfection, but a stubborn - and surprisingly large peloton - would not let the pair out of sight, and with 11 kilometers and one climb to go all was back together. The final climb (Côte de Saint-Nicolas 1.2km at 8.6%) saw last-ditch efforts, and it was Pozzovivo who again surged off the front, this time with Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) for company.


“I think I missed a little bit for my attack on the Roche-aux-Faucons since I had made a move on La Redoute already," said Arredondo. “I thought it might work with less than 20k to go, and with a bit of luck this move may have stuck. Then in the end for the final sprint I did not have the legs anymore.”


It was an exhilarating finale as Caruso and Pozzovivo still had a gap into the final uphill kilometer. But with a large group charging from behind the two were unable to make the move stick to the line. Last year’s winner Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp) slid out in spectacular fashion in the last corner just as he was about to overtake Caruso and looked posed to win. Instead it was a well-timed sprint by Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) who edged out the rest for victory.  Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and the ever-present Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) rounded out the top three.


“We had a plan and Julian did a fantastic job,” explained director Kim Andersen. “It was impressive that there was such a big group at the end. We knew that we had to arrive with a small group and the wind was from behind; the conditions were good to make that happen. Maybe the group was a little scared of the ending, I am not sure; I don’t know why there were not more attacks.”


With Julian Arredondo, Bob Jungels and Fabio Felline keeping Fränk Schleck out of trouble in the last crucial part of the race, it was a cohesive team effort from beginning to end. But Fränk Schleck was unable to pull the trigger, a result of the fast pace, not quite having the legs, and the other teams content with a bunch finish.


“The plan was I wanted to try in Roche-aux-Faucons," Fränk Schleck explained. "It was a fast race, the pace was high all the time, and ended in a big bunch together. I could not attack over Roche-aux-Faucons - really I was just happy to be in the first group. Then Julian made a good attack, and so I tried as best as I could to block from behind to slow it up. It was impressive that we arrived with 30 riders to the final kilometer.  This showed how fast the pace was, and there are a lot of strong riders out there. I really gave my best today; I could not give more.


“I think a lot of teams were organized. Same as we were today, we had a great committed team. And it seems this way with all the teams and it made a very controlled race. It seemed passive, but the teams put all the money on their leaders, and waited for the end.


“When I look back from where I came from I have to say I am happy but I wanted to have a top 10 today. That did not happen. I really tried, and as long as we all gave our best there is not more we can do. I see that there is a lot of potential to build upon today.  We showed we are ready as a team and we can still build for the next part of the season, the Tour de France.”


Liège-Bastogne-Liège began in typical fashion with six riders escaping in the early part and gaining over 14 minutes lead. However, with 263 kilometers and the relentless up and downs, the break was more a token than a threat. The hills did the damage whittling the leaders down to one, and then finally none, as all was back together with 45 kilometers to go.


From this point on the expected attacks that normally shatter the leading peloton never materialized, other than by Arrendondo. By the final climb it was apparent it would be a large group battling for the win this year.


“We are a bit surprised that it was such a big group, but I think many teams were happy to arrive with a sprint,” said General Manager Luca Guercilena, “We were not, and tried to split the race with Arredondo making a good move, but were unlucky that not enough riders followed. We tried to play our cards and make our race. We did not come out with a good result, but we showed today  - with Julian especially - the future looks good with the right progress.”


Indeed Julian Arrendondo exits his first taste of the Ardennes Classics showing a lot of promise after being an instigator in bothFlèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which, without doubt, take experience to master.


“We did what we could here, and also in Fleche,” Arredondo said. “It’s too bad it did not turn out like we wanted, but we did try. This is my first Classical week and I loved every minute of it!  It’s experience building for the next years. And I am looking forward to the next year already.”


Andy Schleck was a questionable starter for the team today still feeling the affects of his crash in Amstel Gold.  He managed to cover most of the race, still doing a lot of crucial work, before succumbing to knee pain that has plagued him relentlessly.  The decision was made post-race that he would be unable to start Tour of Romandie on Tuesday, as rest is needed to fully heal the injury. Danny van Poppel will take his place.



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