Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) celebrates as he wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege (AFP/Getty Images)

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Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) attacked out of a small chasing group to catch Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale)
within sight of the flamme rouge and take the win in the 2012
Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Nibali had jumped from the field on the
penultimate climb and tried to solo in the last 20km, but the Kazakh
gave chase to claim his first Classic win.

Nibali exhaustedly crossed the finish line 20 seconds later, and Iglinskiy’s teammate Enrico Gasparatto
was third, winning the chase group’s sprint. Last year’s winner
Philippe Gilbert (BMC), who had long been part of that group, relaxed
when he realized he had no chance and rolled easily over the line in
16th place.

This race is often decided on La Redoute, but this year the action
waited until the Cote de La Roche aux Faucons, with 20km to go. La
Redoute had indeed reduced the field, and from there, BMC put up a
furious pace around defending champion Gilbert. They caught and passed
the remnants of the day’s escape group. But at the top of the climb, it
was Nibali at the head of things, and he took off alone on the descent,
only to be caught again at the last minute.

At the start in chilly Liège, 200 riders
left the Saint-Lambert Square while the sun was peeping through the
dark clouds. Even before the official departure, outsider Igor Anton
(Euskaltel-Euskadi) hit the deck and broke his collarbone.

The peloton on the Saint Roch

In almost every Spring Classic this year, the early breakaway only
got away after the first hour of racing and La Doyenne was no different.
Despite several earlier attempts, it took an hour before three riders
escaped after 40km of racing: Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma – Quick
Step), Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) and Kevin Ista (Accent Jobs –
Veranda’s Willems),and they were soon joined by Reiner Honig
(Landbouwkrediet-Euphony), Grégory Habeaux (Accent Jobs – Veranda’s
Willems) and Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1 – Sanofi). By that time,
the gap had skyrocketed to more than 12 minutes. That was the signal for
the Katusha team of top favorite Joaquím Rodriguez to start working.

In Bastogne – at the turning point – rain showers tortured the riders
when they reached the feed zone. From there, the gap dropped from 12
minutes to seven minutes after the second climb of the day, the Côte de
Saint-Roch. The average speed
dropped back to 38km/h while Katusha kept the gap at around seven
minutes in the long zone before the third climb of the day, the Côte de
Wanne. The peloton started getting restless while several riders were
beginning to feel the pain of the demanding Ardennes course, getting
dropped on the Wanne. The gap was down to just over five minutes after
this climb.

Gilbert and the BMC offensive

Just before hitting the Cote de Stockeu, the front group lost Geschke
in a crash and while in the peloton, favorite Samuel Sanchez
(Euskaltel-Euskadi) ran into problems as well. The gap dropped to under
three minutes on the long, demanding climbs. On the Levée , Pierre
Rolland (Europcar) attacked, accompanied by Vasil Kiryienka (Europcar)
and David Le Lay (Saur-Sojasun). They caught the five remaining leaders
by the 4km long climb up the Col du Rosier. The peloton, led by BMC and
Lotto Belisol, trailed the front of the race by one and a half minutes
while riding in and out of rain showers.

The fast pace set by the newcomers in the break resulted in several
dropped riders, but the gap back to the peloton remained above one
minute. The rain continued to come down, and the riders packed
themselves in dry, warm clothes. Cataldo, Bazzana, Rolland, Lelay and
Kiryienka held on to a fairly consistent 1:30 lead for a while. Mads
Christensen (Saxo Bank) jumped from the field but never got far away, as
the looming La Redoute dominated things, with the teams bringing their
captains early into position.

The fearsome climb tore the lead group apart, and behind them, the
peloton gobbled up Christensen. Both Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had technical problems on the climb, throwing
them back, while Gilbert rode easily at the head of the field. While
the chasing peloton got noticeably smaller, there was no real decisive
move made.

Kiryienka and Rolland came over the top with about a 45-second lead,
with Cataldo chasing them and struggling to catch up and hang on. He
finally made it to the other two.

BMC kept the pace high, high enough that splits started appearing in
the long, strung-out peloton. With only 25km to go, the gap had fallen
to under 30 seconds. With 21km to go, the leaders hit the penultimate
climb, the Cote de La Roche aux Faucons, with only a 14-second lead,
with BMC still leading the chase. Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan)
couldn’t hold the pace and fell off the back of the field.

Kiryienka was finally alone in the lead, but was caught by a small
high-powered group including Nibali and Gilbert. Rodriguez found himself
struggling, as the field tore apart on the high-speed climb.

Iglinskiy leads Nibali

Nibali stayed at the head of things as they crested the climb, and he
took off on the descent, hoping to pick up enough of a gap on the
remaining 19km to avoid a sprint at the finish. The chase groups,
consisting of Gilbert, Gasparotto, Iglinskiy, Sanchez, Rodriguez,
Kiserlovski, Mollema, Rolland, Voeckler, Scarponi, Van Den Broeck,
Nocentini, Hesjedal, Martin, and Vanendert, were very fluid, with
multiple attacks, and very little cooperation or co-ordination.

Nibali was able to take 22 seconds into the final 15km, with
Iglinskiy and Rodriguez closest behind him. The Liquigas rider turned on
the speed, and with 10km to go, had built his gap up to 39 seconds.

Martin and Rolland were the next to attack out of the Gilbert group,
but Nibali had found his rhythm and kept pulling away. He went alone and
perhaps not quite so easily up the final climb of the Cote de Saint
Nicolas, but maintained his lead. Iglinskiy was surprisingly able to
drop Rodriguez on the steep climb, and behind them, Gilbert had
difficulties as well.

Iglinskiy crossed the top 46 seconds down on Nibali, but doggedly
gave chase, getting closer and closer. The tiring Italian was unable to
give any more and virtually within sight of the flamme rouge, he was
caught and passed by the Astana rider.

Iglinskiy powered his way up the closing climb, extending his lead
and crossing the finish line 20 seconds ahead of the exhausted Nibali.
Gasparotto won the sprint of the chase group to claim another podium
place for Astana.


1Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team6:43:52 2Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:00:21 3Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:36 4Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  5Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin – Barracuda  6Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  7Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi  8Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre – ISD  9Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Barracuda  10Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  11Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  12Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar  13Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team  14Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana Pro Team  15Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team0:01:00 16Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:01:27 17Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team0:02:11 18Julien Simon (Fra) Saur – Sojasun  19Simon Gerrans (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team  20Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Procycling  21Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  22Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team  23Frank Schleck (Lux) Radioshack-Nissan  24Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team  25Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank  26Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team  27Maxime Monfort (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan  28Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  29Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling  30Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator  31Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  32Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha Team  33Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  34Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  35Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre – ISD  36Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling  37Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team0:02:19 38Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre – ISD0:05:05 39Jean Marc Marino (Fra) Saur – Sojasun  40Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team0:05:27 41Rémi Cusin (Fra) Team Type 1 – Sanofi  42Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:05:39 43Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator  44Dominik Nerz (Ger) Liquigas-Cannondale  45Francis De Greef (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  46Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  47Alex Howes (USA) Garmin – Barracuda  48Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin – Barracuda  49Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  50Andy Schleck (Lux) Radioshack-Nissan  51Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  52Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin – Barracuda  53Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Argos-Shimano  54Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin – Barracuda  55Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  56Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale  57Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  58Jan Bakelants (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan  59Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  60Moreno Moser (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  61Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team  62Mads Christensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  63Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  64Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team  65Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:05:45 66Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet0:07:29 67Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  68Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet0:08:22 69Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi  70Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi  71Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar0:08:28 72David Lelay (Fra) Saur – Sojasun0:08:30 73Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:08:54 74Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre – ISD  75Michael Albasini (Swi) Greenedge Cycling Team  76Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team  77Brice Feillu (Fra) Saur – Sojasun  78Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre – ISD  79Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha Team0:11:04 80Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  81Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team0:12:18 82Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team  83Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team  84Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator  85Kevin Ista (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s  86Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Saur – Sojasun  87Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  88Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 – Sanofi  89Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team  90Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  91Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Argos-Shimano  92Bruno Pires (Por) Team Saxo Bank  93Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Argos-Shimano  94Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Team Type 1 – Sanofi  95Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Team Type 1 – Sanofi  96Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel – Euskadi  97Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  98Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha Team  99Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team  100Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling  101Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  102Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  103Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Astana Pro Team  104Christian Meier (Can) Greenedge Cycling Team  105Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale  106Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar  107Simone Stortoni (Ita) Lampre – ISD  108Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling  109Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur – Sojasun  110Daryl Impey (RSA) Greenedge Cycling Team0:12:50 111Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team0:12:54 112Simon Clarke (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team0:14:31 113Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  DNQAlejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team  DNQAngel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team  DNQJose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team  DNQLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator  DNQPablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team  DNFBrent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team  DNFMartin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team  DNFKlaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team  DNFAmaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team  DNFLaurent Didier (Lux) Radioshack-Nissan  DNFChristopher Horner (USA) Radioshack-Nissan  DNFJens Voigt (Ger) Radioshack-Nissan  DNFJoost Posthuma (Ned) Radioshack-Nissan  DNFFrancesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  DNFSylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  DNFJérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  DNFAlberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha Team  DNFEduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team  DNFStefano Agostini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  DNFFederico Canuti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  DNFDaniele Ratto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  DNFRigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling  DNFDavide Appollonio (Ita) Sky Procycling  DNFLuke Rowe (GBr) Sky Procycling  DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Greenedge Cycling Team  DNFTravis Meyer (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team  DNFWesley Sulzberger (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team  DNFIgor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi  DNFJorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi  DNFGorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi  DNFRuben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi  DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team  DNFLaurent Mangel (Fra) Saur – Sojasun  DNFYannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur – Sojasun  DNFLars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  DNFStef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  DNFFranck Bouyer (Fra) Team Europcar  DNFAnthony Charteau (Fra) Team Europcar  DNFDavide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar  DNFKévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar  DNFLeonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Lampre – ISD  DNFAlessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre – ISD  DNFPieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator  DNFEliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator  DNFArthur Van Overberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator  DNFJelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator  DNFMaxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  DNFBen Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale  DNFSébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  DNFChristophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  DNFThomas Damuseau (Fra) Argos-Shimano  DNFYukihiro Doi (Jpn) Argos-Shimano  DNFTom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos-Shimano  DNFSimon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano  DNFYann Huguet (Fra) Argos-Shimano  DNFThomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin – Barracuda  DNFMichel Kreder (Ned) Garmin – Barracuda  DNFKoen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  DNFGilles Devillers (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  DNFReinier Honig (Ned) Landbouwkrediet  DNFFrédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  DNFKurt Hovelynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  DNFSandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  DNFKenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  DNFRémi Pauriol (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  DNFAnthony Roux (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  DNFGaetan Bille (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  DNFBrian Bulgac (Ned) Lotto Belisol Team  DNFBart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  DNFGert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  DNFStaf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s  DNFOleg Chuzhda (Ukr) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s  DNFSjef De Wilde (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s  DNFGregory Habeaux (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s  DNFArnoud Van Groen (Ned) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s  DNFKevin Van Melsen (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s  DNFEvert Verbist (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s  DNFSergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo Bank  DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) Team Saxo Bank  DNFTroels Ronning Vinther (Den) Team Saxo Bank  DNFJulien El Fares (Fra) Team Type 1 – Sanofi  DNFJulien Antomarchi (Fra) Team Type 1 – Sanofi  DNFJavier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Type 1 – Sanofi  DNFGeorg Preidler (Aut) Team Type 1 – Sanofi

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