Simon Gerrans took his ‘most beautiful’ win today with Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Australian Champion of team Orica sprinted ahead of Alejandro Valverde and Michal Kwiatkowski, and added to a list of wins that already include stages in all three Grand Tours and Milan-San Remo.
“I had some beautiful ones over the year, but Liège-Bastogne-Liège is special for me,” Gerrans said. “Since I turned professional, I raced it every year, and I always dreamed of winning it. I worked for it for so long. It’s probably the most beautiful win of my career.”
The 33-year-old from near Melbourne, turned professional in 2005. He became the first Australian to win stages in all three Grand Tours – the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. He already took one monument with his 2012 Milan-San Remo win. Liège makes it two and adds to his Tour Down Under overall victory in January.
Putting the icing on the cake, Gerrans helped celebrated the 100th edition of the La Doyenne. Cycling’s oldest classic started in 1892, missed a few years in the war and turned 100 with its first Aussie winner.
“To win any Liège-Bastogne-Liège is special but the fact that it’s the 100th edition, it probably really puts my name in the history of the race,” Gerrans said. “That’s a special feeling and an honour.”
Gerrans win came with drama. Defending champion Dan Martin attacked and bridged to Giampaolo Caruso ahead of the final corner at 300 metres but slipped and crashed as he powered through the left-hander. Caruso held on for fourth. Martin picked himself up to finish, but could manage only 39th.
“I haven’t seen the replay very much yet, but it was clearly unlucky for Dan to crash in the final corner,” Gerrans said. “Being the defending champion, it’s really unlucky, but I don’t think it hindered my chances or benefited me. I was fortunately on the inside from where he crashed.”
He came around Valverde as they passed Caruso. Kwiatkowski went wide around Martin but also passed Caruso for third place.
Simon Gerrans out-sprints Alejandro Valverde and Michal Kwiatkowski; Dan Martin crashes on final corner