Today is a big day. The peloton should be nervous, it’s probably the toughest day of racing this season. GP Liechtenstein is a true monster, the riders face 53 800 meters of climbing today, with an effective height gain of 7969 meters. It should serve a great day of riding, and we’ll surely see exhausted riders, and only the strongest will win. And looking at the start list, it’s the clash of the titans, except for one. Cunego is not here, while the other Grand Tour winners this season, Madrazo Ricco
are seen as favourites for the win. But it won’t be an easy one, Contador
must be determined to get Festina back on track, and a win in this huge mountain classic would be THE way to start a late surge to a podium place in the team ranking of the Pro Tour. Other superstars that needs to be mentioned pre-race, are Dekker Uran Sella Gesink Amador Henao Machado Popovych Caruso Abal Kohl Martin
You can’t write any of them off! Good for us, they’re paid to do the racing, let’s sit back and enjoy it!
This classic is not a short one. The riders line up for 241 kilometers of racing, where most of them are either climbing or descending, there’ll certainly be no room for resting.
It doesn’t look like the respect for the route is too big in the peloton, as we’ve our first attack only 2 kilometers after the official start. It’s wild card team Ferrari launching with Girardi
He’s quickly followed by Stybar
and they’re the only two to attack this early.
But it’s not that simple. Serrano
quickly goes after them, and they take on the climb for the first time today. And look how steep! It’s brutal, brutal and spectacular, the riders face 20% at the very bottom of the climb. The riders following Serrano are Bontenackels Broco Moschella
also try to attack, but it definitely takes something special to attack the peloton on this amazing climb. Their attack only results in the previous attackers being caught, meaning everything is back together after 4 kilometers of racing.
Being caught doesn’t mean you’re done, and Bontenackels Moschella Girardi Florencio Broco
have another go at it when they test the section with 22-24% for the first time.
The 5 attackers go over the summit with a 50 seconds gap back to the peloton, which is controlled by Colombia Sony
Only after a few hundred meters of descending, the riders can see the final test of the day on their left, where the road goes straight into the sky. It should be an epic final, but let’s focus on what’s actually going on right now. The 5 in front look to have established themselves as today’s breakaway, 233 kilometers to go, their gap is 1 minute.
The peloton crosses the start line with 223 kilometers left, meaning one lap is 18 kilometers long. The peloton descended well, keeping the breakaway only a minute ahead, and Atapuma
wants to take advantage of that, and attacks. He’s followed by Stybar Kennaugh Nocentini
also try to make their way up to the breakaway, which immediately splits as they start to climb for the second time of the day.
Madrazo & Santander
weren’t happy to allow such a big group ride away, and they catch them only after a kilometer of climbing.
The catch only means new attacks, and just before we’re at the top of the summit, Bontenackels Moschella Montoya Rienda Seguro Fuglsang
all try their luck, and they quickly get a 1 minute lead.
is one of the very best descenders in the peloton, and he tries to use it to his advantage on the descent, as he attacks, trying to bridge the gap to the breakaway, he’s followed by Nocentini
They both catch the breakaway with ease, Stybar
after a superb descent, Nocentini
after chasing them on the flat.
There’s really no time to sit up back in the peloton, as more riders try to attack. They’re familiar from the earlier attacks, as it’s Atapuma Kennaugh Voss Vorontsov
trying their luck.
But no, Santander
doesn’t want to let anyone ride away this early, and they catch them all with 200 kilometers left, climbing for the third time.
The descent is really tricky, with twists and turns for every 500 meters, which is quite natural, considering the steepness of the ascent/descent, turns have to be made to not go too fast. Anyway, with 196 kilometers to go, descending for the third time, Pearl Adidas hopes for a good show today takes a blow as Velits
184 kilometers to go, and climbing again, 11 riders have attacked clear of the peloton. They’re: Moschella Rienda Segura Mourey Voss Stybar Nocentini Florencio Pietropolli Bontenackels Martinez de Esteban Mendes
Once again, Santander tries to put a rider in the breakaway, which should give them a fair chance of getting a decent gap.
Fuglsang Vorontsov Atapuma Curfs
are not happy having missed the move, and they’re about to bridge with 184 kilometers left.
But no, not this time neither, and it’s once again Santander & Ortega
on the left who pulls them back.
Back in the valley with 172 000 meters to the finishing line, Atapuma
really wants to be in the breakaway today. He attacks again!
We fast forward 10 kilometers, and 5 riders look to have succeed breaking away. Voss Mourey Girardi Florencio Atapuma
are the brave attackers, looking for a long day up front.
The peloton completes the fifth lap with 153 kilometers to go, and heaven has started to cry. Santander
continues to control things, only being 2 minutes behind the 5 up front, but that isn’t what worries the peloton right now. It’s the rain everyone is afraid of; it could cause carnage on the tricky descent.
The peloton is climbing again, what else to do? If they dare to look back, they’ll have a beautiful view of the village in the valley, but looking behind on such a steep climb isn’t what you would tell them to do. 146 kilometers left of racing, the gap is up to 2’30.
Heaven has luckily for the riders stopped to cry with 141 kilometers left, but that doesn’t stop Lopez Garcia
one of Madrazo’s most important team mates from crashing. He’s quickly back on his bike, though, more than 2 minutes behind the peloton.
As we hit the climb for the seventh time, we’ve an interesting attack. It’s Solis
who goes for it, no one wants to follow him, and he picks up the chase for the 5 riders in front.
No doubt Solis
is a pure climber, and he catches the breakaway with ease, only 1 kilometer later, with the gap back to the peloton now up to 2’50.
Seeing how easy Solis
caught the leaders, more strong climbers try their luck. Medvedev Pedraza
are the strong climbers now going for it. How will Santander react to these attacks?
catches the breakaway and Solis
down in the valley, just as we’re about to start another round of climbing. It’s an interesting move from the strong climbers, and they’ve got a lead of almost 4 minutes back to the peloton.
Solis Pedraza Medvedev
takes the lead in the breakaway as they start to climb for the ninth time today, meaning there’s only 6 climbs + the finishing climb left. This move is looking better and better as the race progresses, they now lead with 7’40.
And as they’re about to cross the summit for the ninth time, Girardi Atapuma
has to let the leaders of the race go. It was a brave try, but it was always going to be hard when the early breakaway got 3 great climbers joining them. Voss Mourey Florencio
are still hanging on!
The peloton is down to 91 riders with 91 kilometers to go, the last one getting “dropped” is unlucky Ivars
who’s another victim to the tricky descent. The peloton still controls the 6 leaders fairly well, as they’re chasing 7’30 behind.
79 kilometers to go, and the peloton approach the brutal climb once again, they’ve got 5 climbs left to do, and they’ve definitely picked up the chase now. It’s Rohregger
who leads the way, ahead of Rodrigues Sinkewitz Lopez Garcia
They’re all looking to set a fast pace for their leaders, who all dream of glory today.
And the leaders up the road finish their 10th time at the climb, with Pedraza
leading them into the descent. Voss
is the only one of the previous breakaway riders capable to stay with the trio that joined late. Their gap is still 6’30, meaning the peloton needs to take them serious here in the final third of the race.
It’s do or die for Voss
with 61 kilometers left. They all look determined to keep the gap back to the peloton, but they’re starting to feel their pressure. Their gap is down to 5’30.
has done just like they did from the start of today’s race; they’ve taken complete control. They’re really hammering it here as they’re about to begin the climb, with Valls & Lopez Garcia
doing the work at the front.
1 kilometer up the mountain, it’s goodbye and good night to Voss
He’s left behind by Medvedev Pedraza Solis
This is the critical test for the team mates back in the peloton, as the gap is 5’10 60 kilometers from the line.
is swallowed by the peloton, and there’s no doubt why. He’s absolutely exhausted, his upper body is going from side to side, staring down in the road, looking like he wants to bury himself. The pain is just remarkable.
definitely hammered the pace on the climb this time, whittling the peloton down to 43 riders, with Martin
being the last rider to stay in touch. 56 kilometers left to race.
The strong trio up front can see the peloton desperate chase after them with 43 kilometers left, as they start to climb for the third last time. And they’re putting up a real fight here, the gap is 4 minutes!
Webeffect understands how serious the threat of those three in front is, and they send Kashechkin
to the front, to help Santander with the chase as they start to climb.
We're having 40 kilometers left to race, and we hope you're back for the final kilometers when we're back from a commercial break!
Sorry for the commercial break, but they've to be played for us to earn money to continue show cycling. Anyway, we're back!
clearly made an impact to the peloton, taking the gap down to 2’30 over the summit, and forcing more riders to let the peloton go, meaning we only have 35 riders left. (Riders are lapped, which means the peloton looks bigger than it is.) Amador
decides it’s time, and attacks on the descent, 35 kilometers from the line, with 2 climbs to go!
But either Amador
thinks attacking was a bad idea, or Kashechkin
is simply too strong, as he catches Amador only 2 kilometers later, as they take on the valley for the penultimate time. The gap to the trio up front is only 2 minutes now, meaning they’re controlling them well.
We’re climbing for the penultimate time today with 25 kilometers today, and UBS is looking like they’ve got their team tactics right today, now it’s Gomez Marchante
attacking! And look who’s in his wheel, no other than Contador
is marking his fellow countryman!
flies past them all! No chance for Gomez Marchante
and the trio up front can only watch Contador on their right. Popovych
tries to follow, but he can’t quite match the acceleration of El Pistolero. What’s surprising is that Santander doesn’t look like they’ve got an answer to this, will Madrazo
need to make the race himself from here?
Everyone, but Contador
is caught due to the attacks, and now Sella
goes after him! Will Santander manage to catch these two aswell, if so, it will be an incredible team performance.
quickly got a 50 seconds gap, but now Madrazo only has Lopez Garcia
left to help him, meaning he should pick up the chase himself any time soon. Ricco Dekker
seem very alert to what Madrazo
might do, as they’re just behind him, on his left.
And indeed, it’s Madrazo
doing the pace on the final 500 meters of the climb, and he claws 13 seconds back of the lead the duo up front has. But they’re still 35 seconds ahead, and now there’s only the tricky descent, the flat in the valley, the climb and the finishing climb left. They can’t afford to disagree in the chase if they’re going to catch Contador Sella
Down in the valley, and Madrazo’s
pace on the climb proved tough to handle for pretty much anyone. Only 3 riders were able to follow: Lopez Garcia Ricco Dekker
They’ve done a good descent aswell, now they’re only a few seconds behind the duo up front, but the peloton has by no means given up. There’s only 17 riders left, but they’re keeping a high pace, only being 20 seconds behind Madrazo’s group.
Only 12 kilometers to go, and the riders roll over the start line for the very last time. It has been brilliant work from Santander, Lopez Garcia
has sacrificed himself, taking Madrazo Dekker Ricco
to the front of the race, where Contador Sella
have been for a while. The peloton is desperately chasing behind, but they’ve lost a little bit of time, and they’re now 30 seconds behind.
Let’s have a look at the 17 chasers, they’re 35 seconds behind with 11 kilometers to go, 9.8 of them consisting of steep climbing. The 17 riders are: Plaza Gesink Amador Machado Caruso Henao Popovych Abal Gomez Marchante Iglinski Karpets Uran Martin Kohl Solis Marquez Medvedev
It’s an outstanding ride from Lopez Garcia
today. He’ll be disappointed if Madrazo doesn’t deliver the goodies here on the final climb. 8 kilometers to go, Lopez Garcia leads the 6 in front on the climb, their gap is 37 seconds down to the chasers.
Only 7000 meters left now, and the 6 in front are all side by side. Behind, Amador
leads the chase, but he can’t cut it. The gap is still around 35 seconds!
realizes he has to attack to bridge the gap, and so he does with 6.7 kilometers to go! Pretty much everyone in the chasing group try to follow.
And look! The attack catches the front 6, but it also forces a couple of riders to drop, wild card rider Caruso
being one of them. 14 riders will battle it out for the win, they’re, from top to bottom: Sella Contador Madrazo Ricco Dekker Lopez Garcia Machado Gesink Abal Amador Henao Gomez Marchante Popovych Uran
And just as we’re about to reach the usual summit, Abal
and 5 other cracks, leaving those 8 riders mentioned before Abal on the previous picture to fight it out for a huge win here in Liechtenstein. It should be 5 500 thrilling meters!
leads them onto the final climb, which is 4.2 kilometers long, and very very steep. They immediately face a section of 17%, and it only gets steeper the closer to the finish line we get!
3 kilometers to go, Gesink
looks to his left, sees Contador
is on his limit, and attacks! Amador
figures he also has to surprise the others, and tries to follow Gesink.
was playing poker, and he counters with 2.8 kilometers left. Amador Madrazo Dekker
try to follow him.
acceleration is superior, and he opens a big gap, and there’s only 2 kilometers to go. The others are simply not strong enough to follow, what a climb by Contador! He only needs to keep momentum on the 2000 final meters, to conclude a brilliant win.
But here comes Madrazo
He finally found his way around Amador
in the dust, as he isn’t able to follow. This is not what Contador wants to see on his left, Madrazo is flying!
has also started his diesel motor now, as he’s closing in on Contador
who’s struggling to keep up with Madrazo
But is he fast enough to challenge Madrazo?
800 meters to go, and Sella
is coming fast! Madrazo
gives it everything to defend his lead, with Contador Ricco
some meters behind.
follows just behind Ricco, while Amador Gesink
look to sprint it out for sixth.
takes the win! How he crosses the finish line says it all, it has been an incredible hard day of work for the riders. And you can truly understand why Madrazo has no energy for a celebration. Nevertheless a brilliant win, timing his move to perfection in the closing kilometers.
was also strong today, and he finishes 2nd, after superb climbing on the final 2 kilometers.
impressed all day long, but in the end, he didn’t quite have what was needed to win a classic like this, and he has to settle for third.
was never really in contention for a podium place, and has to settle for fourth. The same goes for Dekker
who comes home in fifth.
takes the sprint for 6th, just ahead of Gesink
in 7th. It was a long sprint for them both, crossing the line with a speed of 12 km/h.
There’s another sprint for 8th, and it’s Machado
who takes it, ahead of Henao
The riders continue to arrive the finish line in pairs, Abal
edges Gomez Marchante
for 10th. A good performance from Gomez Marchante aswell, giving UBS two riders in the top 11.
It was another disappointing race for Uran
you might say, but at least he wins the sprint for 12th place, ahead of Lopez Garcia Popovych
rounds off the top 15, ahead of Martin Karpets