Julian Alaphilippe’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège misfortunes continued as he was stripped of his podium place after the finish for dangerous sprinting.
The newly crowned world champion battled through crashes and mechanicals in the Belgian Monument, only to miss out on the victory because he celebrated too early, allowing Primož Roglič to take the glory.
But Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) couldn’t even settle for second, as he was relegated to fifth place by the commissaires for a dangerous sprint that almost took out Marc Hirschi (Sunweb).
The hectic day of racing at Liege came down to a five-rider sprint between Alaphilippe, Roglič, Hirschi, Tadej Pogačar and Matej Mohorič, with Alaphilippe the first to launch his sprint 150m from the finish.
Alaphilippe then veered from the right hand barriers to the middle of the road during his effort, almost colliding with Hirschi who was forced to swerve to avoid a crash, in turn hindering Pogačar.
As he raised his arms to celebrate victory, Alaphilippe was then passed right at the line by a surging Roglič, who took the win on his Liège debut.
After the finish, Alaphilippe was then relegated to last place in the lead group in fifth place, as the commissaires ruled he had deviated from his sprint line.
Hirschi, who finished third but moved into second place after Alaphilippe’s relegation, said: “I don’t know about the sprint. I didn’t see the images so it’s hard to say anything about it.
“I had good legs, but it’s hard to say anything because I didn’t see the sprint on TV.
“For sure he took my wheel but the way Alaphilippe sprints I was really close on his back wheel and it can happen. I didn’t didn’t see the TV pictures, but I was close on his wheel and he moved a little bit.”
Third place finisher Pogačar said: “I’ve got mixed feelings after that finish. I felt really good all day and the team really worked hard for me. In the finish I felt good. We started sprinting and I saw myself in good position,
“I saw the line and I said to myself ‘I’ll go for the win’ and then one moment changed everything. I thought ‘I’m going to crash’, but I stayed on the bike and finished in fourth place at the line.
“Then they disqualified Alaphilippe and I got third place, so mixed feelings right now.”