Briton Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) and Slovenian Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won the 2020 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as both races saw a great selection where only the best riders were able to stay in the front for the complicated final section. After finishing second in 2017, the 2015 Women’s UCI Road World Champion added another Monument Classic on her palmares after the Tour des Flandres 2016 while for Roglič it was the first participation.
“I think the nicest thing about this team is that we are allowed to race on instinct and not to fear failure. I thought ‘I need to be over La Redoute before Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten and Elisa Longo Borghini’. So I just raced on instinct,” said Lizzie Deignan.
"It's unbelievable. It was so close. It goes to show you can never stop believing and never stop pushing until the last centimeter,” said Roglič. It was the first time I did the oldest race in the calendar. It was on my wish list to win a Monument. I'm super happy I managed to win.”
138 athletes representing 24 teams took part in the fourth edition of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes over a challenging 135km course with five climbs: the Côte de Wanne and the Côte de la Haute-Levée in the first part, then in the last 50km the Côte de Vecquée and the iconic Côte de la Redoute and the very tough Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.
The rain, temperatures around 12 degrees, the hard course and a pace well above the expected average drastically selected the group. The decisive breakaway included several big names: Marianne Vos (CCC Liv), Lizzie Deignan and Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), Amy Pieters (Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam), Hannah Barnes (Canyon//SRAM Racing), Juliette Labous (Team Sunweb), Marlen Reusser (Equipe Paule Ka), Grace Brown (Mitchelton-Scott) and Katrin Aalerud (Movistar Team Women).
The main group was reduced to just 40 riders before the Côte de la Redoute with a minute and a half gap from the attackers. Deignan timed her attack at 1km from the top while only Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg) tried to increase the pace in the peloton, finding no real collaboration. Compared to the GP de Plouay - Lorient Agglomération Trophée WNT, when the Briton attacked with Lizzy Banks, today she was alone. And with 30km to go, she managed to resist the powerful pursuit of the Australian Grace Brown, who went clear from the other chasers on the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.
“It was really horrible. In the end, I decided to try to chase the motorbikes in front of me rather than think about her behind me, because mentally it is just cracking you when you think like that. I knew that Grace would descend faster than me, so I was just praying the line would come quicker,” Deignan explained.
And indeed Brown recovered a lot of the gap, from 55 seconds down to just 15 at 3km to go, eventually making even eye contact in the last km. But Lizzie managed to win with only 9 seconds advantage on the Australian. The other Trek-Segafredo rider, Ellen van Dijk, won the chasers’ group sprint for third place. It’s the first time a Briton has won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes after three Dutch victories with Anna van der Breggen (2017 and 2018) and Annemiek van Vleuten (2019).
A thrilling finale for the men’s race
The 106th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège had an almost identical course to last year: 256km long with the typical 11 short and punchy climbs starting with Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne and finishing with the Roche-aux-Faucons (1500 metres at 9.3%) where, in 2019, Jakob Fuglang made his decisive attack; the group faced the iconic Côte de la Redoute (1.6km at 9.5%) at 35km to go.
Eight riders broke away after 10km: Iñigo Elosegui (Movistar Team), Kobe Goossens (Lotto Soudal), Michael Schär (CCC Team), Kenny Molly (Bingoal WB), Omer Goldstein (Israel Start-Up Nation), Valentin Ferron, Paul Ourselin (Total Direct Energie) and Gino Mäder (NTT Pro Cycling). They were joined shortly afterwards by Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal WB) and reached a maximum advantage of about 5'30'' after 100km, but the group led by Deceuninck–Quick-Step, Jumbo-Visma and Team Sunweb gradually recovered.
Unfortunately, the race lost one of the favorites, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), after a crash and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) too, while BinckBank Tour winner Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) remained in the top positions of the peloton. There was also a crash for UCI World Champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck–Quick-Step), on his debut in the rainbow jersey. The last two men out from the breakaway were Gino Mäder and Michael Schär, both from Switzerland ,with the CCC Team rider eventually being caught at 37km to go.
The decisive attack came again on the Roche-aux-Faucons, thanks to the rainbow jersey Alaphilippe, together with four other 2020 Tour de France protagonists: the yellow jersey Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), the second-placed finisher Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), most combative Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) and stage winner Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) who lost contact shortly after.
The thrilling sprint reserved a theatrical coup: Alaphilippe was too confident and he celebrated too soon, allowing Roglič to take his first Monument Classic with a bike throw. The rainbow jersey was eventually relegated to fifth place and Pogačar then moved up to the podium while the other Slovenian Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-McLaren) – who caught the attackers in the last km – finished fourth.