Race day - 1: Liège-Bastogne-Liège info


© Presse Sports

A day before the start of the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, hundreds of fans gathered to the Palais des Princes-Evêques to cheer the 196 riders attending the team presentation (199 minus Froome, Porte and Boswell). Most of the attention was on title holder Dan Martin, local hero Philippe Gilbert and recent Fleche Wallonne winner Alejandro Valverde. Meanwhile Tour de France champion Chris Froome was still on a plane to Belgium probably eager to battle it out tomorrow on the oldest of Classics. 


For the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a slightly different course has been designed to make the race even more exciting and add tradition to this legendary event. Jean-Michel Monin, the man behind the new design of La Doyenne explains: “Compared to last year, we've added kilometres on the first part to symbolically reach Bastogne at km 100 where there'll be a sprint with a prize. So the first part is 5 or 6 kilometres longer which means we had to shorten the second part. We kept the Wanne-Stockeu-Haute Levee series of hills because it's part of the race's history but we got rid of the Côte des Rosiers. We'll then have the Côte de La Redoute with 45kms to go and we added the Côte des Forges which was a key climb in the 70s and 80s. At the time it was the last hill on the course and it was decisive. We've also added the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons before the usual finish. We now have a lot more difficulties in the final part.”


Last year, team Garmin-Sharp had managed to surprise the favourites of the event applying an offensive strategy in the final moments with the repeated attacks of Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin who went on to capture the win. The Irishman proved once again he was at his best claiming second place of last Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne, yet he doesn't seem to be carrying to much weight on his shoulders after his title last year: “I was again in top shape this week so I know I can accomplish something. But I'm not the big favourite. I won last year and I'll therefore be carefully watched by the others. But that doesn't mean I have more pressure, I feel rather relaxed. Anyhow, what doesn't change is the fact that all the guys that'll be present in the final part will be fighting for victory.”


The team presentation of the 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège took place at the Palais de Princes- Evêques without 3 of the 7 riders from Team SKY. Christopher Froome, Richie Porte and Ian Boswell were indeed just boarding their flight from Nice to Belgium after missing a first plane that was due to land in Liège in the morning. Bad news for SKY Directeur Sportif Nicolas Portal who was worried about his boys' rest, admitting however that they were impatient of racing: “The goal for Froome and Porte is to do well at the Tour of Romandie but both of them really love Liège. After a long period of preparation in altitude they're eager to race again. A top 10 position would be great. For Liège however you need to have speed in the final part and that isn't really Chris' main quality. It would be better for him to find an opening with 15 or 20kms to go. Guys like Rodriguez on the other hand can wait until St Nicolas. For Liège-Bastogne-Liège you really need to have great legs. It's like a big mountain stage, only the riders go up the hills faster.”


The cyclosportive version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège remains far from La Doyenne in terms of history but its 4th edition already beat records. The roads of the last big Belgian Classic of the season were indeed opened to amateur riders on three different courses in order to allow the less in shape to enjoy a shorter race with however the climb up the legendary Côte de La Redoute. Over 2000 riders attempted the big challenge: the 263 kms of the elite course, but a total of 8000 riders took part in the adventure.

The race in pictures


© Presse Sports

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