LIEGE, BELGIUM (AFP) – Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic pipped an already celebrating Julian Alaphilippe to the line on Sunday at cycling’s top Belgian one-day classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
The epic 257km run through the Ardennes culminated with four of the hottest racers in the world contesting the finish, with Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar and Swiss Marc Hirschi also in the mix.
Alaphilippe moved left from a lead position to knock Hirschi and Pogacar out of contention but as the Frenchman raised his arms, Roglic continued racing and beat the Frenchman over the line.
The world champion was later relegated to fifth by race officials, and was as embarrased as he was apologetic. “That is the first and last time you’ll ever see me celebrate too soon,” he said. “I’m really sorry for Hirschi, I have seen the images and I swerve. That won’t happen again either.”
Hirschi was in forgiving mood.
“He moved, hit my wheel, that can happen,” said Hirschi.
That left three Slovenians in the top four with Pogacar second and Matej Mohoric fourth behind Hirschi.
The win marks a redemption for Roglic, who led the Tour de France for two weeks before a final-day meltdown. Instead of going under, the former ski-jumper can now close his season with a prestige win.
“It’s unbelievable. It was so close. It goes to show you can never stop believing and never stop pushing until the last centimetre,” said Roglic.