The Frenchman was penalised by the commissaires for shifting his line in the sprint.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège – which this year ran its 106th edition – was a hectic race which saw newly-crowned World Champion Julian Alaphilippe battle through a crash and a few mechanicals with 70 kilometers to go before launching a trademark attack on the final climb of the day, Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. Only three men could follow him on the double-digit gradients of the 1.3km hill, with another rider joining the party on the downhill, inside the closing kilometers.
In the sprint that played out between the five in the center of Liège, Julian opened his effort inside the last 200 meters and finished a close second to Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), but minutes after the finish was relegated by the jury to last place in the group (fifth place) after changing direction by veering to the left.
“I felt good today, wanted to do a nice race and had a very strong team around me, who did a great job, protecting me the entire day. Then I attacked on the steepest part of Roche-aux-Faucons, made a selection there and opened a gap together with the other guys. We worked well together, kept our advantage over the chasers and I felt confident going into the final kilometer”, Alaphilippe explained. “I started my sprint at 200 meters to go, but then I made that mistake, for which I take full responsibility. I am aware that my swerve caused a problem to the other riders and I apologise for that, but I want to underline that I didn’t do it on purpose. I accept the jury’s decision and all I can do now is focus on the next races.”
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