In Their Own Words: Our Ardennes Squad on LiÃ¨ge-Bastogne-LiÃ¨geMon 22 Apr 2013
Simon Gerrans was our top finisher at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He capped off a job well done by each of his teammates to round out the top ten in Ans. Typically, we share details of the day from a Sport Director and possibly the team’s best-placed rider. Today, with one exception, we decided to have each of riders tell you about his day.
Liège is a race that creeps up on you. It gets tougher and tougher as the day goes on. The boys did a fantastic job looking after me. I was right there with the leaders heading into Saint Nicholas. When the pace picked up and attacks began, I wasn’t able to stay with the first six or so riders. I was in the next group, and we just grovelled to the line basically. I ended up tenth. I suppose it’s not a bad result, seeing as it’s a bloody hard race.
It was a quick start as usual here in Liège. The race has a slight uphill start, and the first attacks usually begin almost immediately. The race was always animated. Somebody was always pulling, and it kept the pace quite high. We managed to do good work until the Saint Nicholas, bringing Gerro [Simon Gerrans] into position there. We did a good job putting him in position, and tenth isn’t a bad result after that.
Whenever you do the maximum, you have to be happy with what you get out of it. We did the maximum today. Tenth place is a good reward for the work we did, and we get some WorldTour points out of it, too.
From the moment the early breakaway went, the whole race was controlled very well. When we came to La Redoute, that’s where the chase started to get really hard. It was full on towards the final from La Redoute. We tried to bring Gerro in a good position, and in the end, I think we were maybe feeling a little empty compared to the other two Ardennes races. Still, Gerro finished tenth, and we have to be happy with that.
I have a lot of support when it comes to the Dutch and Belgium races. Today my brother and a group of my mates came out. They like cycling a lot, and if there’s a race in the neighbourhood, they will usually be around. It’s a little bit of extra motivation.
My job today was obviously to look after Gerro for as long as possible. I had to help with his position at the crucial spots early in the race. Coming into the Côte de Wanne, I had him in a really good place. It’s not a spot where you’re going to win the race, but you can waste a lot of energy here if you’re stuck in the base with the series of climbs that follows. When the race hit La Redoute, it was job over for me. The other boys took over from there.
It was actually a really straightforward day. We rode steady hard for the entire race, and teams controlled it pretty well until the end. It’s always a little bit easier when it’s consistent rather than stop and go all day long. I think we all took good care of Gerro.
Personally, I always look to come to the races with the best possible form so that I can give the best possible support. This year, I was happy with the form I had at the start of this block of racing, and my legs felt good throughout the entire week. I’m happy on a personal level, and I’m happy with the team.
Coming off the last two races, we had raced really well as a team, so we were confident we could do the same here – and we did. My job was to be attentive to any early moves that looked dangerous, so I stayed present around the front early, and I also stayed a bit around Pieter during the day. I made sure everybody was okay and helped people move up towards the pointy end of the race.
Personally, I’m feeling really positive with how the classics went for me. Compare my races to last year. I wasn’t even finishing these races 12 months ago. This year, I’m right up there until the last 25 kilometres. I’m really happy with my form. It’s picking up each race, and I hope to continue on like this all year.
Today was a difficult day. Five or six guys went up the road early, and the move was fine for us. We left the other teams to set the tempo and control the pace. Everybody was well positioned at the crucial moments. Gerro ended up tenth overall, so we can call it a good day.
In my opinion, I was on a really good day. I did what I needed to do to stay right up there and help the team. I was really happy with my dad.
We moulded together really well as a team today. Everybody did their bit, but we just didn’t have it at the finish. It would have been nice to have had a better result to cap off our classics campaign, but there are still plenty of other opportunities throughout the year.
I had been a bit scared of these races before I came here, and in the end, they were a little easier than I had originally assumed. The team’s approach and plan definitely made things easier for my head and my legs.