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"Casagrande was breathing down his neck but Camezind's finish proved superior"
 real 14k

Sunday, 22 April, 2001, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Camenzind sprints to victory
Oskar Camenzind raises his hands in triumph
Oskar winner: Swiss class act's biggest win since 1998
Click for results

Oskar Camenzind had the strongest sprint after an attritional 258km of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race on Sunday.

It was the Swiss former World Champion's biggest win since his 1998 triumph in the worlds.

The Lampre rider beat a top-class group including world number one Francesco Casagrande and three others with previous top five finishes here.

Davide Exteberria had launched the final attack, creating the five-man final break, on the penultimate climb with 6km to go.


This is a dream come true for me - I was a bit concerned by Etxeberria and Casagrande in the final sprint so I decided to go for it
  Oskar Camenzind

The effort by the Spaniard from the all-Basque Euskaltel team was ably assisted by Italians Casagrande and Davide Rebellin.

Dutchman Michael Boogerd and Camenzind joined the trio on the long haul before a game of cat-and-mouse up the final climb, the Cote d'Ans.

Repeated attacks from Casagrande could not shake off the other five, although they did weaken the sprint of Boogerd, the fastest finisher of the quintet in normal circumstances.

But the Liege event is no regular event and, once the steep climn had been scaled, Boogerd simply had nothing more to offer in the final 300m sprint to the line.

Casagrande is a fast climber, rather than a sprinter, so was also forced to watch the other three, with their greater all-round gifts, race for victory.

This time last year Rebellin and Etxeberria lost out in the sprint to Italy's Paolo Bettini.

And the Spaniard and the Italian saw history repeat itself when it mattered most, as Camenzind spoilt their day this year.

Jersey and zip

The Swiss has had relatively barren seasons since he wore the World Champion's rainbow jersey, a garment which many believe comes with a curse.

Camenzind had triumphed in awful Dutch weather at the world championships in 1998 before winning the Tour of Lombardy the following week.

But the following seasons saw a number of failures, most publicly at the Fleche Wallonne.

Frozen fingers meant he could not unzip an item of clothing at a crucial moment.

Mapei nightmare

Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the oldest of the spring Classics, and also the longest and hilliest.

Local rider Marc Streel, riding for Collstrop-Palmans, set a blistering early pace, building up a near 20-minute lead in the early stages.

With 70 kilometres to go, a leading pack of 13 were over a minute ahead of the main peloton but that lead was gradually whittled away into the closing stages.

The major losers of the race were the world's leading single-day team, Mapei, winners of the team World Cup in 2000 but now well adrift in this year's race.

Former winners Bettini and Italian champion Michele Bartoli, a double winner here, missed the crucial breaks throughout the race.

Both finished in the second group, 25 seconds adrift - close but nowhere near close enough for the world's richest team.

Title race

This race was the fourth in the 10-event World Cup series.

Latvian series leader Romans Vainsteins sat out this Sunday's ride but will once again wear the leader's jersey at next week's Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands.

With almost half of the series gone the title race is wide open, with six riders, including Camenzind, within 17 points of the leader.

Results

1. Oskar Camenzind (Switzerland) Lampre Daikin: six hours 47 minutes 44 seconds
2. Davide Rebellin (Italy) Liquigas Pata
3. David Etxebarria (Spain) Euskaltel-Euskadi: both same time
4. Francesco Casagrande (Italy) Fassa Bortolo: One second behind
5. Michael Boogerd (Netherlands) Rabobank: Two seconds behind
6. Raimondas Rumsas (Lithuania) Fassa Bortolo: 19 seconds behind
7. Marcos A. Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) ONCE
8. Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank
9. Markus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank
10. Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank
11. Igor Astarloa (Spa) Mercatone Uno-Albacom
12. Peter Luttenberger (Aut) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola
13. Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Mercury-Viatel
14. Udo Bölts (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom
15. Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step
16. Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Mercury-Viatel
17. Michael Blaudzun (Den) CSC-World Online
18. Mikel Zarrabeitia Uranga (Spa) ONCE
19. Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
20. Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola
21. Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) Cofidis
22. Serge Baguet (Bel) Lotto Adecco
23. Mikel Pradera Rodriguez (Spa) ONCE
24. Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) iBanesto.com
25. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Saeco Macchine de Caffe, all at same time

World Cup: Top six

1 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Domo-Farm Frites 116 pts
2 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola 111
3 Servais Knaven (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites 101
4 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre Daikin 100
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 100
6 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 99

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