During the 1997 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Italian Michele Bartoli broke away with another Italian, Marco Pantani and teammates Alex Zulle and Laurent Jalabert of the ONCE team.
The climbing specialist Pantani was quickly dropped on the flat stretches and the World Champion Johan Museeuw failed to bridge the gap to the leaders by 50 meters.
With 16miles remaining, the breakaway trio had 1min10 on the chase group.
Teammates Zulle and Jalabert attacked one after the other on the Cote Sart Tilman but were unable to drop the Italian. A tired Zulle was dropped after an acceleration by Bartoli in the final kilometres.
As Bartoli and Jalabert approached the finish, Bartoli launched the ultimate attack in the final uphill, dropping Jalabert and claiming his first win in the Ardennes Classic.
Bartoli’s form on the bike, his position out of the saddle is a beautiful spectacle - one of the finest examples of fluid mechanics ~ when man and machine are at one creating some kind of liquid poetry.
Words by Thom Barnett