Large crash with 40km to go in Liege-Bastogne-Liege puts paid to the hopes of several leading riders

Race contenders Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Nicolas Roche (Sky) were among a large number of riders caught in a crash that cut a swathe through the peloton in Liege-Bastogne-Liege in Belgium on Sunday.

Martin’s participation in the race was thrown into doubt after he crashed during Wednesday’s Fleche Wallonne, but the Irishman made the start only to get mixed up in the incident with 40km to go. Last year, 2013 Liege winner Martin crashed on the final hill whilst leading the action.

Defending champion Gerrans is still on the return to full fitness after fracturing his elbow in a crash in Strade Bianche. The Australian was particularly unlucky, having recovered from the incident and remounted his bike, he fell again, his race over.

Along with Europcar’s Yukiya Arashiro, Roche was one of the last riders to get up after the crash, which seemed to take place on an innocuous-looking corner. The Irishman’s Sky team confirmed later that he was dazed rather than badly injured.

“We’d feared the worst when we saw him lying on the ground,” said Sky sports director Gabriel Rasch of Roche’s crash. “He took a bang to the head and also to his shoulder, but nothing’s broken. As always, we’ll keep an eye on him but there’s no long-term worries.”

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the 2015 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, out-sprinting Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) to take his third victory in the race.