Tadej Pogacar wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege!

That looked for all the world like Julian Alaphilippe was going to win the sprint, but Pogacar just kept coming – eventually nosing past the Frenchman.
Valverde was brave to take it on from the front, but once Alaphilippe hit his sprint he was just so much quicker than either Valverde or Woods. He came round them easily, and Pogacar came round him.
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Gaudu took third place on the podium.

Valverde will lead it out...

The chasers are closing!

Flamme rouge!

It's certain now, the winner will be one of these five.. the five taken clear by Michael Woods.

5km to go – 34 seconds now

This race is escaping from Roglic, the defending champion. He's getting some help from Kwiatkowski but not enough to close the gap .

22 seconds for Woods, Alaphilippe, Pogacar

Gaudu and Valverde are also here in the leading group of five.

10km to go – Headwind chaos

This headwind is frustrating the ambitions of our leading quintet. They are ceding ground to the chasers, who seem to have joined up into a single group of about 12. Roglic leads the chase effort.
Kwiatkowski is there too, as are those two UAE teammates of Pogacar, Hirschi and Formolo.
Woods is really fighting hard. He looks to be on a brilliant day, but can he sustain this effort level for 10 more kilometres and then beat the likes of Pogacar and Valverde?

Formolo attacks on the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons!

And he catched then breezes right by Carapaz in a matter of seconds.
That's the last climb of the day and it's looking like being a small bunch sprint between these climbing specialists.
Michael Woods powers up the incline and he has made a split between him and Roglic. Woods has Alaphilippe, Pogacar, Gaudu and Valverde with him. These five are the current leaders of the race and it certainly seems as though the elastic has snapped.
The second group on the road is Fuglsang, Roglic, Hirschi and Formolo. Those last two have no interest whatsoever in chasing down their leader.

15km to go – Carapaz with 21 seconds

The Ecuadorean is still ahead and about to take on the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. It's a monstrous 1.3km at 11%. If he can get over it with half of his lead intact, he stands a chance.
Meanwhile, Carlos Verona works hard for Alejandro Valverde to bring this move back.

20km to go – Go, Richie, go!

The break is now caught and we can see that Mauri Vansevenant has made it into this elite front group that was created by the forcing of Ineos. He won't do anything to help, as his leader Alaphilippe is in the second group on the road.
Carapaz, unhappy with the passengers like Vansevenant in the lead group, launches clear on his own and he is FLYING away from the rest of them. Immediately, Adam Yates chucks the anchor out in the group behind.
The Ecuadorean already has 30 seconds on Alaphilippe's second group. Pogacar looks interested in chasing Carapaz, but Jumbo Visma's Jonas Vingegaard isn't having any of it.

25km to go – Geoghegan Hart goes again

The Englishman has plenty of bullets to fire today, it seems, and this attack is intended to try and break things up – to shed the likes of Roglic and Alaphilippe, or at the very least wear down their team helpers.
Ineos is using their numerical advantage well, here as we see Valverde lose a wheel or two in the elite group.
And Adam Yates picks it up!

30km to go – Alaphilippe back in the elite group

So Deceuninck have brought their leader up and into this elite selection. The breakaway have just 37 seconds gaps now, as Laurens Huys gives it another kick.

Over the top...

So this charging group of elite riders, led by Tao Geoghegan Hart, has established a small amount of daylight between it and the peloton. They have nearly caught up to the Donovan-Padun group.
We still have four of our attackers from the very start of the day leading, but they shouldn't last much longer. It's Vliegen, Huys, Marcynski and Rota.
Adam Yates takes up the pace now in the group behind, with Carapaz and Kwiatkowski not far off. It looks as though Primoz Roglic has made the selection, as well as Pogacar. Crucially, the world champ Julian Alaphilippe is not in the Geoghegan Hart group.

35km to go – La Redoute!

The leading trio have passed under the road bridge halfway up La Redoute, while the pursuing trio including Marks Donovan and Padun, plus Harm Vanhoucke, are not far behind at the climb's foot.
It looks as though Lorenzo Rota has attacked from the break now, and it looks like Laurens Huys is chasing him down.
Ineos are leading the peloton and looking to exert their strength in numbers – they have many potential winners here, including Tao Geoghegan Hart, Richard Carapaz, Michal Kwiatkowski.
It's Geoghegan Hart who is dragging the peloton up and he has minced the gap to the escaped trio. And we have a split, too!

45km to go – Next stop, La Redoute

Our trio of chasers haven't made the junction just yet, but they are gaining ground. The gap is just a minute now.
The next climb is the Cote de la Redoute, one of the moest famous moments in this monument. Its summit is reached in just about exactly 10km from here.
It's still Deceuninck chasing in the peloton but just with one rider, while behind him Bora Hansgrohe are massing their forces in support of Max Schachmann.

55km to go – Three riders bridging

We have Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious), Mark Donovan (DSM) and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) chasing now and they have actually managed to force a gap from the peloton. They are in hot pursuit of our seven breakaway riders. Somewhere a bit further back, Julien Bernard of Trek is trying to join them in this intriguing attacking move.
The gap to the seven up front is around 2'15" now, so it's tumbling fast. We have the Cote du Desnie next, followed by the iconic Cote de la Redoute.

60km to go – Serry job done, peloton takes on the Rosier

Pieter Serry has taken responsibility for chasing down all these moves thus far. He is putting in an epic shift for his team at the moment - but finally he pops. That's his race over, but he has done an amazing job to help Julian Alaphilippe.
Alex Howes has just gone out the back of the peloton, as Cofidis of all teams begins to force the pace at the front. This is getting super strung-out, as riders like Tim Wellens and Alex Aranburu look to make a selection.

65km to go – Pogacar punctures!

That flurry of attacks has now chilled out a little bit, but the peloton is still a bit more animated than it had been up until about 75km to go.
The gap is now at four minutes, and a couple of our early escapers have been dropped from that group.
Meantime, we're seeing Tadej Pogacar with a rear wheel puncture. It's a relatively quick change, but he'll have a bit of work to do to catch up again.

75km to go – Strong riders off the back

It's a surprise to see some big names getting spat on the latest climb the Cote de la Haute Levee. Brandon McNulty and Enric Mas are both suffering and I think I spotted Bruno Armirail also going backwards.
It's the Col du Rosier next up but already Philippe Gilbert is attacking. It looks like he and his Lotto Soudal team want to make the race harder, earlier. Deceuninck are the ones policing.
That move gets brought back but a few kilometres later, Greg van Avermaet lights it up! Plenty of teams want this race to degenerate into chaos. And that's good for us as spectators.

Roadside vibes

85km to go – Hirschi: The frustration was "pretty big"

Marc Hirschi of UAE Team Emirates has described his response to the team being refused a start on Wednesday at La Fleche Wallonne due to a false-positive COVID test.
He also suggested this year's might be a more open race, with some top riders possibly going early on the Cote de la Redoute.
The one factor that makes any long-distance attacks less likely is a strong headwind that the riderd will meet as they close in on Liege and the finish. Headwinds tend to favour the peloton, vs individual riders.
We've just seen an attack from Astana's Luis Leon Sanchez. Interesting.

95km to go – The real climbing begins

The race is on the Côte de Mont-le-Soie now and this really heralds the opening of the hostilities. There's very little flat road now before the finish line.
The group ahead is ceding a few seconds to the peloton now, as the attrition of more than 100km in the lead begins to build. It lookslike one of the Sport Vlaanderen riders has clipped out of the break, in fact, hungry for some king of the mountains points. It's Aaron Van Poucke who takes the points, before casually sitting up and waiting for his buddies.
Gap is 5'19".

100km to go – Matthews: "I just have to save all my bullets for the final"

Speaking to Eurosport this morning, BikeExchange leader Michael Matthews says that this race is Deceuninck and Jumbo's to lose today. He also explained he has never done the finish of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Another 10km passes, another lovely old pile.
And it seems as though Matteo Fabbro of Bora has had a puncture. Better now than halfway up the Redoute!

110km to go – The situation

So not a great deal has changed in these last 30km. The gap is now 6'28" and it's still the same names up front: Laurens Huys and Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Loïc Vliegen and Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Sergei Chernetski (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) and Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
In the peloton, it's the teams of Jumbo Visma, Decuninck QuickStep and Movistar who are more or less working together to control things.
The scenery, by the way, is utterly gorgeous. Sun-drenched rolling green hills. Picturesque farmsteads and nary a motorway junction in sight.

120km to go – No French winner since 1980

Julian Alaphilippe is on a hot one at the moment, after taking a wonderful win in La Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday. No compatriot of his has won this race since 1980, some four decades ago.

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Might Original King Julian be the one to end those forty years of hurt and take the Liege title home across the Walloon border into Mother France? Peut-être...

"You have to be the fastest at the finish, it's no big secret"

Primoz Roglic summed up the sport of bike racing for us earlier at the start in Liege. Nice and simple, then, eh Primoz?
Interestingly, this is the Slovenian's last day of racing before Le Tour. That seems sort of staggering, when you consider how many days between now and the end of June. Will we see him go out all guns blazing, to really put some racing load in the legs? Or is this a bit of a gentle procession for him, with his mind on bigger challenges?

Happy birthday, Bala!

You may love him, you may hate him – but you can't deny, he old.

130km to go – Spring breakers

Here they are then, the brave riders who've gone off ahead to try and seize a spectacular upset victory, or indeed just some valuable TV time for their sponsors. To my eye, Marczynski is the strongest of these names – having won a Grand Tour stage or two in the past.
Laurens Huys and Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Loïc Vliegen and Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Sergei Chernetski (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) and Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise)

140km to go – Hello there!

Afternoon cycling fans, its Liege day and we are well underway with the men's contest, after a fabulous edition of the women's race has just wrapped up. I won't spoil it for you, but you can find Niamh Lewis' live blog of the whole thing here.
Right now in ManWorld, we have a group up the road with a gap of 8'15" on the peloton. 140 lumpy, bumpy kilometres to go!

Remember 2020's epic finale?

Four of the biggest names in cycling in 2020 battled it out for the win as Liege-Bastogne-Liege came down to the most dramatic of finishes.
Julian Alaphilippe thought he'd won it as he crossed the line with his arms raised, but the Frenchman didn't see Primoz Roglic coming up on his inside to snatch victory by the finest of margins.
World champion Alaphilippe was subsequently relegated to fifth by the commissaires in any case after cutting across the line of Marc Hirschi during the sprint in a move that took both Hirschi and Tadej Pogacar out of contention.

Froome on the up

Chris Froome was pleased to be at the heart of the action on the penultimate stage of the Tour of the Alps on Thursday.
The British star was part of 11 riders on the Passo Castrin to hint at a return to something like his best form.
Speaking after the stage he reflected on his progress, saying: "I think this was the first time I have been in a breakaway since the Giro d’Italia of 2018.
I really enjoyed being up there today, testing the legs a bit. Especially as the break went away on a quite hard section after a bunch of attacks.
"It was a shame that we never got much of a gap, but it was still a good experience to be up there again. I can feel that the condition is slowly improving and I’m pretty happy with how the legs are feeling."

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How to watch Liege – Bastogne – Liege

Liege – Bastogne – Liege 2021 is live on Eurosport.
You can watch live and ad-free on the Eurosport App and eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app now for iOS and Android.
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