Tadej Pogacar 'almost speechless' after winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege

UAE Team Emirates rider produced a super sprint to claim victory at 'La Doyenne' ahead of world champion Julian Alaphilippe

epa09158839 Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar of the UAE Emirates team celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 107th edition of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege one day cycling race in Liege, Belgium, 25 April 2021.  EPA/JULIEN WARNAND
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UAE Team Emirates' Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar said he was "almost speechless" after producing a blistering finish to become the youngest winner of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 44 years on Sunday.

The Slovenian, 22, produced a super sprint to claim victory at “La Doyenne” ahead of world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation).

The quintet had an advantage on the main group 13.5-kilometre from the finish when, near the brow of the Cote de la Roche aux Faucons, Davide Formolo pulled back Richard Carapaz (Ineo-Grenadiers), opening the way for an attack by Woods.

Pogacar, Gaudu, Valverde and Alaphilippe followed the Canadian and this group managed to maintain an advantage of just over 20 seconds on the chasing pack until the final sprint.

Entering the sprint, Pogacar was glued to Alaphilippe’s wheel, coming around the Frenchman in the final metres before the line.

The win topped off a solid team performance for UAE Team Emirates with Marc Hirschi sixth and Formolo 16th.

“I am almost speechless,” Pogacar said after claiming the 259.1km race in six hours 39 minutes and 26 seconds.

“I really love this race. Winning here was a dream of mine and it is incredible to have achieved this goal and finish ahead of these big names.

“In the sprint I was behind Alaphilippe when he opened up and I tried to stick with him. I wasn’t sure I would be able to overtake him but, with strength and a bit of luck, I did it.

“I have won the Tour de France, I have won other high level races and now I have conquered the Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I’m living a cycling dream.

“Now I will rest, spend some time with my family and then resume my preparation for the Tour de France.”

Pogacar won the Tour de France last year and began 2021 by claiming the season-opening UAE Tour in February. The Slovenian signed a new five-year contract with the team in March.