Liege-Bastonge-Liege is done for another year. Maxim Iglinsky was well and truly amazing* today! Maybe not quite the battle of giants everyone had hoped for, but a compelling finish none-the-less. Several people have posted about the moment the race was won - and in a literal sense they are right...when Iglinsky passed Nibali the race was finally won, but I think it was truly "won" many kilometers earlier...After Nibali took his flyer off the un-listed Cote De La Roche Aux Faucons climb (and all the action on the climb itself) it seemed an obvious lapse by Gilbert et al. He quickly ran out to more than 20 seconds and eventually near a minute. The continual shuffle behind saw attacks and counter-attacks by Pierre Roland (wow, what a day for that guy!), Thomas Voeckler, Kiserlowski, Dan Martin, and Gasparoto (solid solid effort!). I don't think Gilbert has been given enough credit for the amount of work he did to try and bring back both Nibali and the various groups that formed in pursuit. Bad judgement? Maybe, maybe not...seems that if he doesn't help try to close it down then all is lost - and pro cycling tends to be an all or nothing proposition...
so perhaps Gilbert DID give it all out on the course...just at the wrong time. That he was largely facing squads of two or more riders in the finale certainly didn't help his cause.
In the end it seems the race was won by a combination of team tactics and attrition - much like it has in previous editions. While we've come to expect the outlandish solo victory, Sunday was proof once again that cycling really is a team sport. Put Iglinsky against Nibali and Gilbert head-to-head and we'd likely see a different outcome 7 out of 10 times (hey, it's still cycling!).
Of course Cosmo says it best:
Liege Bastogne Liege 2012 - How The Race Was Won from Cosmo Catalano on Vimeo.
*provided it stands the "test" of time....and the UCI.