April 18/99 10:42 am - Vandenbroucke Takes Liege
Posted by Editor on 04/18/99
After the obligatory early break (which gained a maximum of nearly 6 minutes on the field, before being caught at approximately the halfway mark), the race began in earnest with an attack on the Cote de Wanne climb. Laurent Jalabert (ONCE) took a solo lead (after dropping breakaway companions) and gained a maximum of 1:30 on a disintegrating field, with Mapei leading the chase. After an extremely strong effort, Jalabert was brought back by the Mapei dominated front group (down to less than 50 riders) with just over 40 kilometres left in the 264 kilometre race.
The race finally exploded on the redoubt climb, with race favourite Franck Vandenbroucke (Cofidis) attacking hard. By the time the frontrunners regrouped, they were down to 16 riders: Vandenbroucke, Michele Bartoli (Mapei), Paolo Bettini (Mapei), Giuliano Figueras (Mapei), Laurent Roux (Casino), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Oskar Camenzind (Lampre), Maarten Den Bakker (Rabobank), Markus Zberg (Rabobank), Niki Aebersold (Rabobank), Mario Aerts (Lotto), Peter Farazijn (Cofidis), Davide Rebellin (Polti), Marco Velo (Mercatone), Zbigniew Spruch (Lampre) and Udo Bolts (Telekom). Interestingly, World Cup leader Andrei Tchmil (Lotto) and Jalabert missed the break.
On the last climb of the race Boogerd attacked, with only Vandenbroucke responding. Vandenbroucke then broke away on his own from Boogerd to take the win. Bartoli, the Belgian pre-race favourite, responded too late to the Vandenbroucke move with an attack of his own and was brought back by the chasing group, finishing fourth. Vandenbroucke should take over the World Cup Leader's Jersey with his victory.
1. Franck Vandenbroucke (Bel) Cofidis 6:25:23
2. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank at 0:27
3. Maarten den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank 0:37
4. Michele Bartoli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step
5. Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step