Dan Martin caps off Ardennes Classics with second at "La Doyenne"
Following an outstanding spring campaign, Quick-Step Floors is sure to go into the month of May as leader of the World Tour classification.
The 103rd edition of Liège–Bastogne–Liège concluded this season's Spring Classics, and Quick-Step Floors was once again at a high level, controlling the race with the likes of Gianluca Brambilla and Petr Vakoč, before Dan Martin made a late surge on the finishing drag to Ans. The Irishman, a winner of cycling's oldest Monument back in 2013, was caught by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) before the final left-hand bend, but held on to finish runner-up and take his second podium of the week, after the one in Flèche Wallonne.
Up until that point, the race had a big breakaway in the spotlight, with the riders in the front taking a huge lead of nearly 13 minutes before the move was nullified in the last 10 kilometers. Other attacks soon followed, as several riders tried to get a gap on the elite group ahead of the run-in to Ans, at the end of the 258km-long hrace. Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) put some daylight between him and the chasers after the famed Côte de Saint-Nicolas, but Dan attacked off the front and overtook him under the flamme rouge gantry, before eventually notching his seventh top-3 finish at a World Tour race, ahead of former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).
"We had a young team here and the boys rode their heart out, giving everything and putting in an incredible display. On the final climb, which suited me, I bided my time and when I noticed Alejandro was a bit boxed in I attacked and rode full gas, but unfortunately he came back and it was another second place for me", said Dan Martin, one of the most consistent riders of this year's Ardennes Classics.
"I will return here in 2018 and try again to win, as I love Liège–Bastogne–Liège, it's basically the race I watched on television since I can remember. I'm not sad after my second place, because I got beaten by the better rider. Instead, I am very satisfied with the fact the team showed once again how strong it is. Quick-Step Floors was a major player in the Spring Classics, we got many great victories and other good results, and I think we can look behind at our campaign with huge pride", concluded the 30-year-old Irishman after bringing the squad's 42nd podium of the season.
March and April witnessed a fantastic run of Quick-Step Floors in the one-day races, with spectacular wins at Dwars door Vlaanderen (Yves Lampaert), Ronde van Vlaanderen (Philippe Gilbert), Scheldeprijs (Marcel Kittel) and Amstel Gold Race (Philippe Gilbert), and seven further podiums, including the remarkable feat of finishing in the top 3 all four Spring Monuments.
These performances have helped Quick-Step Floors seize the lead in the World Tour rankings, a big chunk of the 7107 points amassed by the team coming in the classics, where Quick-Step Floors rode aggressively and always at the front, dictating the course of the race, very much to the delight of team CEO Patrick Lefevere: "I am very proud of my riders and of the entire staff. It's not by chance that we sit at the top of the World Tour classification four months into the season; we worked hard to be where we are now, we always gave everything and even though sometimes we missed some riders through injury, we still had great results and this only serves as testimony of the team's fantastic depth. These results give us the incentive to carry on and leave our mark on the next races, including the Giro d'Italia."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele