WorldTour Wrap: Alejandro Valverde and the Pimp of Liege - Road Cycling UK

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WorldTour Wrap: Alejandro Valverde and the Pimp of Liege

Valverde wins again, but fancy dress steals the limelight

Alejandro Valverde and the Pimp of Liege. No, not the title of JK Rowling’s next book, but rather the story of the weekend’s WorldTour classics racing.

Yesterday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege marked the end of the ‘proper’ spring classics – although for those who really, really can’t let go, there is still the small matter of Eschborn-Frankfurt – Rund um den Finanzplatz to cling on to. The German race is on next Monday, which gives you plenty of time to try and learn how to pronounce that name.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves – Liege-Bastogne-Liege was merely the final piece in the Ardennes Week jigsaw, as we were treated to two major one-day races in the time since we last checked in after the Amstel Gold Race.

Alejandro Valverde wins La Fleche Wallonne. Again. (pic – Sirotti)

Wednesday’s La Fleche Wallonne was won by Alejandro Valverde. Again. The Spaniard is extremely good at winning hilly one-day classics and has been in blistering form already this season, picking up the GC in a couple of races and generally kicking down doors all over Europe in the hunt for tasty placings.

‘Valva’ absolutely hooned it up the Mur de Huy to open a big gap on second-placed rider, Dan Martin. In all honesty, the result did not seem to be in doubt. It was Valverde’s fifth win at La Fleche. He really likes hooning it up the Mur.

True to form, after declaring last week that we wouldn’t see Michael Albasini again after his excellent result at Amstel Gold, there he was again in the final at La Fleche. That’s definitely it now, though.

Enter the Pimp

Valverde is not short of wins at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. On Sunday morning he had three already in the bank. By the time he sat down for his roast in front of Antiques Roadshow it was four. This time it was a much closer-run thing, with late attacks from first Davide Formolo, then Dan Martin, almost upsetting the applecart.

Alejandro Valverde wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Again (pic – Sirotti)

But the Spanish rider’s win is not the most exciting thing to have happened in yesterday’s race. Enter, ‘the Pimp of Liege’.

The PoL, or His Pimpliness, is an extremely enthusiastic fan who has been seen for the previous four editions of Liege running alongside the leaders with around 5 or 6 kilometres to go before the final. He is always dressed in a different fancy dress outfit, including one year dressed as a pimp – hence the sobriquet.

You would have to bet that he is Belgian – people of other nationalities just don’t seem do this (and I’m sure United Nations Council meetings are the poorer for it).

With bated breath, we waited until the final closing stages of the race to see if His Pimpliness would once again appear. What costume would he wear? Would it be Trump. It had to be Trump, surely?

And then, all of a sudden there he was, like a glorious pink-clad mirage, all blue jeans and long flowing locks.

That’s five from five now – a record not even Valverde can match.

Valverde vs the World

With this latest win Valverde continues a seam of form that has seen him amass 1995 UCI ranking points already this season. He is the second highest individual points scorer of 2017, with only Greg van Avermaet scooping more.

To put this into context, Valverde has amassed more points on his own than the entire squads of the bottom nine teams in the UCI WorldTour. If Alejandro Valverde was a team all on his own, he would rank higher than LottoNL-Jumbo, Katusha-Alpecin, Lotto-Soudal, Bahrain-Merida, Ag2r-La Mondiale, FDJ, Astana, UAE Team Emirates and Dimension Data. Not bad for a 37-year-old.

Valverde dedicated his win to his friend, Michele Scarponi, who tragically died in a collision with a motor vehicle during a training ride the previous day. He will also give all of his Ardennes Week prize money to Scarponi’s family. Chapeau.

Super-secret women’s race

This year the organisers of Liege-Bastogne-Liege took a huge step forward by finally launching a women’s version of the race.

They then took at least one if not two huge steps backwards by refusing to let anyone watch it. That’s right, no live coverage of the first edition of the Women’s L-B-L.

Anna van der Breggen won the race, completing her storming Ardennes Week (she also won Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne) in a thrilling finale, or so we’re told… if only there were some audio-visual means of verifying what happened.

The ‘secret women’s cycling’ conspiracy even extended to the post-race selfies, with an errant finger over the lens of Lizzie Deignan’s effort. Is nothing sacred!?

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