Remco Evenepoel only briefly celebrated his impressive Ardennes show in the famous rainbow jersey, and the world champion’s thoughts quickly turned to his great rival Tadej Pogacar.

“There was a terrible noise behind me. I knew immediately that someone had fallen badly. I wish Tadej a speedy recovery. I know such moments from my career,” said Evenepoel after his triumph in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic. Behind Evenepoel, Brit Thomas Pidock and Colombian Santiago Buitrago finished on the podium.

Instead of the hoped-for summit, it was the second solo triumph of the Belgian child prodigy on Sunday in the rainy Ardennes. Evenepoel had been working towards success in the jersey of the world champion for a long time. “Winning in this jersey is magical. I wanted a photo to put on the wall. I did it,” said the 23-year-old. Meanwhile, Pogacar was in Genk hospital after falling just 84 of the 258.1-kilometer race, which included 11 difficult climbs.

Pogacar’s team UAE said the two-time Tour winner had broken his scaphoid, among other things. The 24-year-old Slovenian had already been operated on Sunday and may have to take a break for several weeks. The intervention was successful, the Radstar travels back to his home country on Monday.

Evenepoel leaves early

For Pogacar, the dream of the famous Ardennes triple burst with the task. The Slovenian was only the third driver after the former Gerolsteiner pro Davide Rebellin (2004) and Philippe Gilbert (2011) to complete the triple of Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège. Now it is up to Pogacar to get fit again quickly in order to start preparing for the Tour de France, which begins on July 1st.

But his rival Evenepoel delivered – and how! On the up to 22 percent steep Côte de la Redoute, the 23-year-old launched his first attack, which only Pidcock could follow. Three kilometers later, the mountain bike Olympic champion was also left behind. “C’est le TGV,” the Belgian commentator yelled into the microphone. The Evenepoel high-speed train rolled inexorably towards Liège. The lead quickly grew to over a minute. This is how Evenepoel’s dream came true: he drove to Liège in the world champion’s rainbow jersey.

Lennard Kämna, among others, will soon have to deal with the Belgian superstar at the Giro d’Italia if Evenepoel wants to win his second Grand Tour after the 2022 Vuelta. Kämna wants to tackle the overall standings for the first time in a three-week tour in Italy.

German professional cyclists don’t play a role

The small German faction of five German riders played no role in the Liege final, but they were present throughout the ride through the Ardennes. For example, career changers Jason Osborne, who was once world rowing champion, and Georg Zimmermann belonged to a breakaway group for a long time, which broke up a good 50 kilometers from the finish line.

However, a key scene of the race took place after 84 kilometers before the cameras were even on the air. Pogacar fell on a descent. Apparently the Dane Mikkel Honoré caused the fall after a puncture. The entire UAE team was still waiting for their superstar and wanted to bring him back into the field, but there was no further progress for the 24-year-old, who is in a league of his own so far this season and has already picked up twelve wins this season.

Demi Vollering triumphed in the women

What Pogacar missed, Demi Vollering did for women. After her victories in the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Wallonne, the Dutchwoman also triumphed in Liège. After 142.8 kilometers, Vollering relegated the Italian Elisa Longo Borghini to second place. Fourth in the World Championships Liane Lippert from Friedrichshafen took eighth place.