Buitrago 3rd at Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Four days after Mikel Landa’s 3rd place at Flèche Wallonne, another rider of Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS rode onto the podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège with Santiago Buitrago. The young Colombian showed some great fighting spirit in the Ardennes and got rewarded with a 3rd place, surprising even himself.
Amongst the five monuments of cycling, Liège-Bastogne-Liège has its special place - not only for being the oldest going into its 109th edition. The race in the Belgian Ardennes is almost 260 kilometers long and delivers a series of demanding climbs in its second half. In total more than 4400 meters had to be climbed in this year’s edition, some of those in rain. Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS had originally planned to ride for Mikel Landa, but as the race evolved it showed that he did not have his best day. So the riders in red, orange and black switched to plan B, making the best of the team’s strong line-up for the race. With Tadej Pogacar, one of the pre-race favourites had been forced out of the race early on. And on the iconic Côte de Redoute, Remco Evenepoel as the other big favourite made his move that should prove to be decisive.
Santiago Buitrago was on of those riders who could keep the Belgian halfways in sight until the end of the Redoute climb. As the race reshaped in the wake of that attack, he found himself in a second chase group that later made it back to the first three chasers. On the final demanding 25 kilometers this group shrank back to three riders again: Thomas Pidcock, Ben Healy and Santiago Buitrago. More than a minute after the day's solo winner, these three got to fight for the remaining two podium spots in the roads of Liège. Having matched a late attack from Healy with quite some effort, Buitrago betted on a long sprint and only was beaten by Pidcock. In what was only his third start at one of cycling's monuments in his career, the Colombian scored his first podium result with a 3rd place in Liège.
With this second podium result within four days at a spring classic this phase of the season ends on a high note for Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS. While the team may not have won any more races after the early victories in Australia and Saudi Arabia, it keeps on racing aggressively and adding to value of racing and the resulting entertainment. Next-up Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS will be competing at the Tour de Romandie that starts next Tuesday. With a prologue, a hilly individual time trial and four varied stages, the riders will be served quite a diverse program next week.
109TH LIÈGE-BASTOGNE-LIÈGE: LIÈGE - LIÈGE, 258.1KM
1. Remco Evenepoel, BEL, in 6:15.49 hours
2. Thomas Pidcock, GBR, + 1.06
3. Santiago Buitrago, COL/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency