|Alejandro Valverde leaves spring classics with a 3rd place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his fourth podium in the ‘Doyenne’ and a second podium in eight days for the best overall finisher in the Belgian trio|
He wasn’t able to put the icing on the cake with a third victory in the race, but Alejandro Valverde went onto the podium -for the fourth time in his career- of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest -born in 1892, held its 99th edition today- of the big classics and the fourth monument of the European season. Valverde was third at Ans’ finish after the hard, 261k parcours in Wallonia, with Movistar Team taking a strong gamble for the Spaniard’s chances. Valverde was eventually overcome by Irish Daniel Martin (GRS) and fellow countryman Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT), the duo attacking into the penultimate straight from the elite group that escaped with Valverde, Betancur (ALM) and Scarponi (LAM).
The six riders ahead -Hesjedal (GRS) pulled at the front of the group for his team-mate- had gone apart in the Côte de Saint-Nicolas, just over 5k from the finish, with Valverde bridging an attempt to follow by World road champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC). Valverde reached the group just at the top and started a descent that seemed to lead him into a third victory, but the hardness of the race and the strong move by Rodríguez, ultimately reached by Martin, left him with a third place that rewards his excellent performances all week. The Murcian rider has been the best contender overall in the three classics -2nd in the Amstel Gold, 7th in the Flèche Wallonne, 3rd in Liège today- as well as the only one who has got to the podium of two of them.
Valverde’s podium was also a fine reward for all work from Movistar Team, with Erviti, Lastras and Madrazo leading the bunch in the opening phase plus Quintana, Visconti and, above all, Rui Costa -on the breakaway for the final 40k and 9th at the finish- into the finale, where Andrey Amador put the negative note of the day. The Costa Rican rider crashed in the beginning of the Côte de La Redoute, and broke his collarbone for the third year on a row -2011 Asturias, 2012 Gran Piemonte-.