A FRIEND IN NEED

Procycling - - Le Tour -

Four days be­fore he won Liège, Bob Jun­gels de­liv­ered Ju­lian Alaphilippe, per­fectly to the bot­tom of the Mur de Huy, when the French­man launched his at­tack to win. At the start line in Liège, all eyes were there­fore irmly on Alaphilippe, but as the 258-kilo­me­tre mon­u­ment reached its inale, the ta­bles turned be­tween the duo. Jun­gels moved to the front of the re­duced pelo­ton as they climbed the Côte de la Roche aux Fau­cons, mark­ing a move by Sky’s Ser­gio Henao. The di­rec­tor spor­tif came over the radio and told him to drop the pace. Yet at the top Jun­gels found he still had a small gap. “Ju­lian told me in the radio I should go, he said, ‘Go, go, go’ and I went and I never saw some­body come back. It was a pretty strange sit­u­a­tion to be hon­est,” Jun­gels re­calls. Alaphilippe helped to po­lice the group be­hind, and Jun­gels was away. He won Liège solo by 37 sec­onds, the big­gest mar­gin since his com­pa­triot Andy Sch­leck won in 2009. “I wasn’t ex­pect­ing to be alone for the last 20 kilo­me­tres. I know that if it’s lat or down­hill I can do some dam­age to the real climbers. I was ac­tu­ally sur­prised there was no­body re­ally re­act­ing be­hind, un­til Saint-Ni­co­las," he con­tin­ues. “I kind of knew I had quite a big gap be­fore Saint-Ni­co­las. If I could go at my rhythm, just keep some­thing in re­serve, I could maybe pos­si­bly make it. But I didn’t be­lieve it un­til the last cor­ner.” The re­sult ended a Clas­sics cam­paign of to­tal dom­i­na­tion from Quick-Step and ended a week where Jun­gels and Alaphilippe got the wins they’ve long been promis­ing. “It was kind of a dream, we've been friends now for al­most three years and then hav­ing our break­through vic­to­ries to­gether, work­ing for each other, it is very spe­cial. There’s kind of a stronger bond be­tween friends than team-mates and I think you could see that in the race. He cov­ered it for me, and I did ev­ery­thing in Flèche for him.”

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