Alejandro Valverde wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2017

Spaniard wins Monument for fourth time, dedicates win to Michele Scarponi

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won Liege-Bastogne-Liege for the fourth time in his career, and dedicated his win to Michele Scarponi, who died in a training crash the previous day.

Valverde bettered Daniel Martin (QuickStep) in Ans to take victory – his second of the week after winning La Fleche Wallonne on the Mur de Huy – and pointed to the sky as he crossed the finish line.

Only Eddy Merckx has now won La Doyenne more times than Valverde, who donated his winnings to Scarponi’s wife and twin sons.

Martin’s late attack, which Valverde countered to sprint to victory, earned the Irishman second place, while Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) rounded off the podium.

Alejandro Valverde dedicated to his Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2017 victory to Michele Scarponi (pic: Sirotti)

The race was preceded by a minute’s silence in Scarponi’s memory, with a sombre mood in Liege.

The race itself saw an eight-man breakaway, including Katusha’s Tiago Machado, Bart de Clercq of Lotto-Soudal and Aaron Gate from Irish wildcard entrants Aqua Blue Sport, earning a 13-minute lead by the time they reached Bastogne.

The rhythm in the peloton was steady, save for a brief animation by Orica-Scott’s Simon Gerrans, with Movistar and QuickStep Floors taking charge of the pace-setting.

It took until the Cote de la Maquisard, less than 50km from the finish, for the race to ignite as a counter-attack moved clear with Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) and Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing) among those in situ.

With the original breakaway blown apart on the Col de la Redoute, only Anthony Perez (Cofidis) remained up front, with a four-minute advantage to defend, and the size of the peloton reflected the steady rhythm of the race.

Stephane Rossetto, who was also in the original break, caught his team-mate on the penultimate, and forged clear on his own but the peloton was rapidly closing in.

In customary style, Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) had a dig off the front to join Rossetto, but the rest of the original breakaway was reeled in.

Only 13 seconds separated Rossetto and Wellens from the Sky-led peloton on the Cote de Saint Nicolas, and the climb put paid to their chances.

Cannondale-Drapac were next to show their hand and when Davide Villella’s solo break was brought back by Team Sky’s Sergio Henao, Davide Formolo kicked.

Formolo led under the flamme rouge but was fading fast as Martin accelerated to bridge the gap, while Valverde latched onto the wheels of Orica-Scott duo Adam Yates and Michael Albasini to also close the gap.

Valverde has now won the race four times – only Eddy Merckx has won La Doyenne on more occasions (pic – Sirotti)

Martin led solo, but Valverde caught his wheel and kicked hardest in the sprint to claim yet another Ardennes Classics victory, and the 91st pro win of his career.

Martin held on for second, while Kwiatkowski led home the chase for the third and final podium place.

Yates, meanwhile, finished eighth – his first top-ten finish at a Monument – as he gears up for next month’s Giro d’Italia.

Liege-Bastonge-Liege 2017: result

1) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar – 6.24.27hrs
2) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors – ST
3) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Team Sky +3”
4) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Team Sunweb – ST
5) Ion Izaigirre (ESP) – Bahrain-Merida
6) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
7) Michael Albasini (SUI) – Orica-Scott
8) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +7”
9) Michael Woods (CAN) – Cannondale-Drapac – ST
10) Rafal Majka (POL) – Bora-Hansgrohe

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