Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the fourth monument of the year, and will bring to a close a riveting classics season. Join The Roar’s live coverage of ‘La Doyenne’ from 10pm AEST.
There are ten climbs highlighted on the race route, which is 25 less than what was recognized at Amstel.
However, the climbs facing the riders today are often longer, and with eight difficult climbs in the final 90 kilometres of the 258-kilometre race, the race will come down to a small group finish.
The major change from the route for this year is the removal of the Cote de la Rue Naniot, the decisive cobbled climb which spiced up the race last year in the final five kilometres.
It is a disappointing decision, however, with the Côte de La Redoute (2 kilometre-long climb at 8.9% per cent), Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons (1.3 kilometre-long climb at 11 pet cent) and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas (1.2 kilometre-long climb at 8.6 per cent) all coming in the last 35 kilometres, the race should still split up before the final 1.5 kilometre run up to the top of the town in Ans.
Valverde was in superb form at Fleche, and with him being already a three-time winner, many people including myself will be backing him to make it a fourth crown.
Last year’s champion Wout Poels will not take to the start, however teammate on Team Sky, Michal Kwiatkowski has had a superb classics season, and will likely shadow Valverde all race.
There are only three former winners in the race with the Irishmen Daniel Martin being one of them. The Quick Step Floor’s rider was poorly positioned on the Mur on Wednesday, but still ended up finishing on the podium, showing he is in good form to try to win his second Liege title, having won back in 2013.
Michael Albasini of Orica-Scott has also been consistent across the punchy classics, with third at Amstel and fifth at Fleche, after getting boxed in and fighting his way back to the front of the race on the final climb. Having finished second at Liege last year, he has proven that he can compete on this terrain.
For the first time in the races history, the women will get to tackle the course, with the riders completing 136 kilometres of a course which features the same final three difficult climbs as the men complete, and the long rise up to the finish line in Ans.
After winning both Amstel and Fleche over the past week, Anna Van der Breggen of Boels Dolmans comes into the race as the hot favourite, with her ability to attack on both the flat and hills allowing her to be the most feared rider in the women’s peloton at the moment.
It will be up to the other teams including Wiggle High 5, Orica Scott, Canyon-SRAM, Team Sunweb and WM3 to break the dominance of Boels-Dolmans, who have Lizzie Diegnan waiting in the wings if Van der Breggen is not up to the task.
Join The Roar’s live coverage of both the men’s and women’s event from 10pm AEST.