Liege-Bastogne-Liege: Simon Gerrans sprints to victory after Dan Martin crashes
Simon Gerrans emerged from a thrilling finish to claim victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Last Updated: 27/04/14 4:49pm
The Orica-GreenEdge rider timed his effort to perfection to take the second Monument victory of his career as he out-sprinted both Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step).
The race was decided in a thrilling final kilometre on the gruelling drag up to Ans which saw defending champion Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) crash on the final corner.
The race had looked like it would fall to an Italian after Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) accelerated clear on the Cote de Saint-Nicolas.
The pair were reeled in by an elite chase group heading into the final corner which saw Martin, who had tried to bridge his way across the gap, lose his back wheel and fall hard on the iconic left-hander.
A larger group than normal headed into the finale in an historic edition of the race but for much of the 263km classic attacks were thin on the ground as the overall contenders appeared content to look at one another.
The finale, not just to the Ardennes but the Spring Classics as a whole, six riders went away and opened out a hefty gap measuring over 15 minutes and five kilometres in distance at one point. Michel Koch (Cannondale) jumped out to claim the 5,000 euro prize at the turning point of Bastogne before the peloton began to close the gap.
One by one teams began to arrive on the front with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step joining BMC Racing, Movistar and Lotto Belisol in the chase efforts.
Team Sky endured a tough race, beginning the day without Chris Froome after the Tour de France winner was forced out of the event due to a chest infection.
The pace picked up in the peloton following the Cote de la Haute-Levee as Garmin-Sharp and Europcar looked to make something happen. That led to a sprinkling of crashes, with David Lopez (Team Sky) caught up in an accident which also included world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida).
Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) forged onwards up the Cote de La Redoute but it would be a sizeable group which headed into the closing stages.
Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida) was the last escapee to be caught as the race hit the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons with the race finely poised for a breathless finale.