Pressure isn’t something that fazes Joe Blackmore.

In fact, going into Liège – Bastogne – Liège with a target on his back only seemed to motivate the 21-year-old more. With three General Classification victories and three stage wins to his name from just 19 days of racing in 2024, as well as a hugely impressive fourth place at De Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, the target was more than justified despite the strong field of U23 riders lining up in Belgium.

Blackmore didn’t disappoint. With a dominant attack on the final climb of the day, the Côte de Bolland, Blackmore surged clear to gain a 10-second gap going into the final five kilometers.

With his head down, time trialing to the line with Robin Orins (Lotto Dstny Development Team) in pursuit behind, Blackmore only allowed himself to sit up and celebrate the win in the final 20 meters. That makes seven wins so far. Not bad for a guy who only started racing on the road last year.

I’m felling super good, tired, but happy,” admitted Blackmore after the podium celebrations. “I was able to chill at the back for the first half of the race and the guys made it hard on the climbs which was the plan. When I was in a reduced group, towards the end, Visma I Lease a Bike were strong with numbers in the group, but we played some good tactics. Once we hit the final climb together, I was ready to attack. I was pretty tired, but I waited until the top of the climb to make my move so I could see how tired the other guys were. I gave it my all. It came pretty close in the final kilometer with Orins coming back strong. But, I found some more energy from somewhere and was able to hold on.”

In just three short months of racing, Blackmore has burst onto the scene to kickstart what is bound to be an impressive palmarès as a pro cyclist. So how does today’s win compare?

For sure, I’m happy with every race I win but with the history of this race, I am really happy to win here. The last seven days have just been incredible. Next up is Gent – Wevelgem and I’ll give it everything again there.”

For IPT Academy Manager Tim Elverson, today’s win is a testament to the entire team with Blackmore’s teammates instrumental in setting him up for the win.

With Joe having a target on his back, we had to be creative,” explained Elverson. “We wanted to put some pressure on from halfway through the race and we managed to do this when Alvaro Garcia got away in one of the groups, so Joe could sit back in the peloton and conserve energy. Then around two thirds of the way in, those moves came back and we had 11 riders in front, including three from us, but not Joe which again allowed him to save his legs. Joe knew how he wanted to win it and towards the end, we had Joe and Jesse Maris in front. Jesse put in some nice work and after he was dropped, Joe was a bit vulnerable as the other teams had numbers but he stayed relaxed, let them attack and knew when he would choose his moment to go. He executed it to perfection.”

And while there may be no stopping Joe Blackmore, Elverson is proud of the direction in which the IPT Academy is going.

Joe is in excellent shape and on an upward trajectory but I am also really happy with the way the whole team is racing. The guys are desperate to help and it makes the whole team better and more motivated than ever.”

Photos: (c) Alexis Dancerelle