Milan-San Remo winner Michal Kwiatkowski placed third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, saying that he was 'too far back' as winner Valverde attacked
Speaking after the race, the Polish 2017 Milan-San Remo and Strade Bianche winner said that his positioning on the final climb to the line after 258-kilometres of racing saw him miss out on another victory.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rode around Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) on the final hill to take the victory, with Kwiatkowski bringing in the chase group a few seconds back for third.
“I felt good at the finish, but at the end of the day I was too far back and I couldn’t fight for the victory,” Kwiatkowski said. “It’s a pity because I had really good legs and really great support from the team. Sergio [Henao] was amazing at the end.”
Henao had been particularly active on the final couple of the 10 categorised climbs in the final event in the 2017 Ardennes Classics. His aggressive riding on the Côte de La Roche aux Faucons with 20km in particular helped to whittle down the bunch.
“Sergio was a real team-mate today,” continued Kwiatkowski. “I told him that I was feeling good and he was there to support me at the end. I’m happy we worked so well together.”
Kwiatkowski has almost single-handedly made Team Sky’s Classics season, adding third in Liege to those wins in San Remo and Strade Bianche, plus second in last weekend’s Amstel Gold Race.
Luke Rowe’s third spot in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Elia Viviani’s second in the Scheldeprijs are the team’s only other podium spots in its European single-day race campaign this spring.
Another rider who has had a very good season so far is Liège winner Valverde. The 36-year-old appears to show no signs of slowing down, with victories this year in La Flèche Wallonne, Vuelta a Murcia, Volta a Catalunya, Tour of the Basque Country and Vuelta a Andalucía. It’s Valverde’s fourth career win in Liège.
“We worked a lot from kilometre zero before getting the win with a strong attack in the final,” said Valverde.
“It’s a race for the books of history after a perfect week. I think we were all at the limit in the end. Martin went very strong, I calculated my distance and decided I could go 500 metres from the finish.
“It was my time, I never doubted even when [Michael] Albasini jumped in my wheel. I was able to catch Martin, take a breath for five seconds, and then sprint to the finish.”
Valverde dedicated his win to Michele Scarponi, who died after being hit by a truck while on a training ride on Saturday. He will donate all of his winnings to Scarponi’s family.