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"Normally I’m the guy who is working for Joaquim; it isn’t often that I can be the leader. On one hand I’m happy that I showed what I can do, but on the other hand I missed a chance maybe of a lifetime today," Ca...

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele






27.04.2014 @ 20:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In the first two Ardennes classics, Giampaolo Caruso had shown excellent condition so when Joaquim Rodriguez abandoned today's Liege-Bastogne-Liege due to effects from his Amstel crash, the Italian was ready to grab it with both hands. Having been just 50m away from winning one of the biggest one-day races in the world, he was left extremely disappointed for missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


Team Katusha’s Giampaolo Caruso gave everything he had in Sunday’s 100th edition of Liège – Bastogne – Liège, attacking with less than 6km to go. The Italian rider came up just short of the victory, ending up in fourth place after 263 km and almost seven hours of riding.


“This is an emotional day for me,” said a clearly disappointed Giampaolo Caruso after the race. “I think I’ll experience this sadness for a very long time because chances are I won’t find myself in such a position to win such a big race in the future.


"I had good condition and when ‘Purito’ went out of the race, we were given the freedom to ride for ourselves and I was ready to do that. I’ve done everything in the past few weeks to have good condition. I’ve been away from my family now for almost a month and a half so I dedicate this ride to my children whom I haven’t seen in such a long time.”


Ten climbs were featured on today’s course, including the final climb of Côte de Saint-Nicolas at 5.5 km from the finish. At 8.6% it was an energy-sapping climb coming late in the day, but Caruso showed he’s made of tough stuff and pulled off a final attack to distance breakaway companion Domenico Pozzovivo from AG2R La Mondiale and try for the finish line.


But Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) still had something left in the tank and surged ahead with emense power to take the win, followed in second and third places by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma – Quick-Step. Caruso was fourth on same time as the podium group, with teammate Dani Moreno taking ninth at five seconds. 


Caruso reflected further on missing the win, saying,


“The cooperation from Pozzovivo was good at the end so I can’t look to him for any excuses. I did my best. Normally I’m the guy who is working for Joaquim; it isn’t often that I can be the leader. On one hand I’m happy that I showed what I can do, but on the other hand I missed a chance maybe of a lifetime today.”


A group of six made up the break of the day, with the riders amassing an almost sixteen minute gap before the peloton began the long process of bringing them back. The many climbs on course helped break down the effort from the escapees, leaving Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida) to be swept up with 20 km to go. Attacks started then, with Caruso’s effort the best as he and Pozzovivo gapped off the others until the last 50 meters. 


Joaquim Rodriguez stepped off the bike near 65 km to go, still experiencing difficulties from last week’s crash.


“I’m still having some trouble because of my crash in the Amstel Gold Race in that I experience some difficulties with my breathing," he said. "In cycling if you cannot breathe correctly, you cannot recover. It went well until we had three climbs in a row and it was impossible from that point.


"I’m not too panicked before the Giro. I have confidence that I can rest my lungs for three or four days and then should feel better. Caruso really deserved the victory today. He did everything he had to do to win, but that’s cycling.”


Team director José Azevedo summed up the day:


“We started this race with two plans, waiting until the Côte de Stockeu to see how Purito was feeling. If he was ok at that point we would race for him. If not, we would look to Dani and Giampaolo.


"Caruso did very well on Saint-Nicolas. He was just 50 meters from winning a big classic. We just missed a little luck. The condition of the riders continues to be good. Most of these riders now go on to the Giro d’Italia.”



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