The Belgian looked back on the day he became the first World Champion in 36 years to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“When I lined up at the start in April, I was doing it one year after what had been a special moment – my first Monument victory. In 2022, I didn’t have too many expectations, but he had a plan and executed it perfectly. This time around, I knew I was one of the favourites and others would be watching me, but had a lot of confidence, both in myself and the team.
I was also keen on taking my first win in that beautiful rainbow jersey. Sure, I had already won the UAE Tour and a pair of stages at the Volta a Catalunya, but I was missing that winning picture in the actual kit, one that I could hang on the wall. Together with the team, we wanted to do something special that day, that’s why I decided to go for the white bib shorts.
The race wasn’t easy, but my Soudal Quick-Step teammates controlled things from the very beginning, made sure of keeping the gap in check at all times, and brought back the escapees before La Redoute. Julian did an amazing effort that day, and later on, Ilan rode a hard pace from the bottom of La Redoute, which actually gave me even more confidence that the moment I decided to make my move, not many would be able to follow. It turned out that only Pidcock could do it, but not for long, and as soon as I found myself alone in the lead, I kept pushing and setting a fast pace without ever looking back, despite the fact that the rain made the roads slippery.
I remained calm and focused, with just one goal in mind: the victory. I can’t tell you all the feelings I had when I arrived at the finish after more than six hours. Sure, I had already won this race before, but this victory too was very special. It was magnificent to win my second Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the rainbow jersey, it was something really incredible to get back-to-back triumphs in this race that I love so much.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images