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Dan Martin beaten as Valverde wins fourth Liege-Bastogne-Liege title

It was a dramatic last kilometre.

SPANISH RIDER Alejandro Valverde continued his stunning start to the season by winning the prestigious Liege-Bastogne-Liege race for the fourth time on Sunday.

The 36-year-old overhauled Ireland’s Dan Martin in the final 300 metres to add to his fifth win at Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday.

It has been a remarkable start to the season for a man turning 37 on Tuesday.

He has won four stage races — the tours of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalusia and his home region of Murcia — already this season, and two one-day classics.

On Wednesday he extended his record of Fleche Wallonne successes to five and has now added a ‘Monument’ victory to his remarkable accolades.

Source: Le Tour De France/YouTube

Only the great Eddy Merckx, with five, has won Liege more times than Valverde.

Victory in the epic 258km race came 11 years after Valverde first tasted success at Liege.

The day started with a minute’s applause in memory of Italian Michele Scarponi, who died on Saturday in a training accident with a van in central Italy.

An eight-man breakaway escaped after 7km and opened up a lead of 13 minutes at one stage but its final remnant, Stephane Rossetto held on until the final 6km.

Further attacks followed before Italian Davide Formolo broke away on his own.

As he tired on the final climb up to the finish at Ans, just outside Liege, Martin set off after him.

But the Irishman tied up and Valverde caught him in the final straight before powering clear to win, consigning Martin to the runner-up spot for the second time in four days.

Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski won the sprint for third ahead of Australia’s Michael Matthews three seconds back.

© AFP 2017

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