January 25 th 2023 - 11:30
This spring, three riders previously consecrated on the hills of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will not start the ‘Doyenne’: the local hero Philippe Gilbert, the four-time winner Alejandro Valverde and the late Davide Rebellin, hit at the end of last year on his training routes, when he had just announced his retirement like his two ex-companions and rivals.
The Province of Liège has crowned immense champions since the inaugural hat-trick of Léon Houa, the first professional rider in the history of cycling after having distinguished himself in the boxing rings. And the aspirants to glory are still jostling, and they will for a long time, when it comes to joining the 81 different riders who have won the Ardennes Monument, in the heart of Liège or in the very close outskirts. The route has naturally changed over time, and this is again the case in 2023. The riders will take a turn shortly before the usual summit of La Redoute and head to the Côte des Forges before the final showdown on La Roche-aux-Faucons and towards the Quai des Ardennes, from where the peloton will have started six hours earlier.
The course changes have not changed the event so brilliantly conquered by Eddy Merckx or Bernard Hinault. Last year, their successor Remco Evenepoel was so inspired that he could have swallowed the finale “with eyes closed”, he assured. The young prodigy is the new incarnation of the Doyenne. But there are still many champions to discover on these legendary roads.