Jungels rides away with Liège-Bastogne-Liège win

LBL, done and dusted

After six and a half hours in the saddle on a race course made for climbers, it’s hard to call any victory an easy one. I mean seriously, that was a unique set of tortures.

However, Bob Jungels (Quickstep Floors) simply powered away from his rivals near the top of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons with over eighteen kilometers to go to the finish. He went into time trial mode, keeping the pressure on the pedals without ever going into the red zone and blowing up. (Which would have been bad, very bad.)

He never faltered on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas or showed any weakness on the Côte de Ans. He’d roll into Liège with a 37 second gap, ahead of second place Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) who had managed to pull away from the chase group.

Woods in particular rode a perfect and impressive race and it only makes you wish he had quit competitive running a few years earlier. Bardet continues to impress for both his versatility and his general joie de vivre. How can anyone not love this little guy, his irrepressible smile and his passion for adventure? Chapeau pour deux

Behind Jungels, there was nothing but frustration, disorganization and an unwillingness to work together to bring him back. Alejandro Valverde could do nothing, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) was powerless, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) could do nothing but wave a sad goodbye.

It was almost a forgone conclusion that Jungels would win in the same way that Niki Terptra’s move in the Tour of Flanders had the inevitability of victory. He launched and nobody made a real move to pull him back — an understandable turn of events in the chase group with teammate and Flèche Wallonne winner Julian Alaphilippe sitting in the wheels and just waiting for a tow back up to the front of the race.

It was a masterful performance that wrapped with an amazing classics campaign for the Quickstep-Floors team that has now won 27 races so far this season.

“I made the most of my rouleur abilities in the finale. I needed to be very careful with how I used my strength, especially when we got to Saint-Nicolas,” Jungels said. “I couldn’t push too deep. And then I still feared being caught in the finale. It was the longest kilometre in my life. I only saw I could win when I entered the last curve, not before.”

We think Jungels is over-stating the drama a bit. Once he accelerated away, it seemed more than obvious he was never coming back.

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