PREVIEW: Liège - Bastogne Liège
Liège-Bastogne-Liège draws the curtain on the Spring Classics and the first part of the Pro Cycling season
The 103rd edition Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the final race of the three Ardennes Classics, which includes Flèche Wallonne, the Amstel Gold Race. Brabantse Pijl is seen by many to be part of the series too. La Doyenne – as the race is nicknamed – is one of the oldest classics on the cycling calendar.
The Ardennes which straddle the Belgian Wallonia and Dutch Limburg regions is suited to climbers and puncheur who can hit out and cope with the short, sharp climbs with steep and varying gradients.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of the hardest one day races, at 258 kilometers, contains 10 climbs, totalling around 4,000 metres of climbing - harder than some Tour de France mountain stages.
The 258 kilometre route contains ten "official" climbs. There's hardly any flat roads, which will make for a seriously tough days racing. It's not until 70 kilometres that the "official climbs" start, with the 2.8 kilometres climb of the Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne.
The peloton pass through Bastogne and up the Cote de Saint-Roch. It's not until the Cote du Pont after 168 km of racing that the real racing begins.
The Col du Rosier is the longest climb at 4.4 kms with an average gradient of nearly 6.0%. It tops out at 566 metres, the highest point of the race. For the favorites and their teams it's a war of attrition, trying to stay at the fromt of the race and conserve energy for when the fireworks start.
It's likely that there will be a breakaway established but it will more than likely be swallowed up as the last 100 kms contains eight of the ten climbs.
The iconic Col de la Redoute, at 2 kilometres at an average 8.9% with gradients of up to 13% will soften up the lgs of those riders still in contention.
First the short, steep Côte de la Roche aux Faucons (1,3 kilometres at 11%) and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas (1.1 kilometres at 8.6%) with the maximum gradient of 10.9%at the start will provide some more hammer blows to the legs of riders.
At the top of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas, there is only 4.5 kilometres left, the first 3 kilometres a descent and the last 1.5 kilometres go up at 5% making a final sprint for the line that much harder.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of the hardest one day races going and it's one of the oldest too.
A2gr La Mondiale (Fra)
Astana Pro Team (Kaz)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Lotto Soudal (Bel)
Movistar Team (Esp)
Quick-Step Floors (Bel)
Team Dimension Data (RSA)
Team Katusha-Alpecin (Sui)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo (Ned)
Team Sky (GBr)
Team Sunweb (Ger)
UAE Abu Dhabi (UAE)
Pro Continental wildcard teams
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (Fra)
Direct Energie (Fra)
Roompot Nederlandse Loterij (Ned)
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise (Bel)
WB Veranclassic Aquality Protect (Bel)
Wanty-Groupe Gobert (Bel)
Aqua Blue Sport (Irl)
Greg Van Avermaet is one the top favorites with a amazing streak of wins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. However team BMC racing looked under pressure at the Tour of Flanders an Van Avermaet missed the break. It's hard to hold onto such great form all season.
Alejandro Valverde has won Liege three times before. He recently won Fleche Wallone four a record fifth time. The Liège–Bastogne–Liège course seems to suit the Spaniard, and he'll be looking for a fourth victory - a feat only bettered by Eddy Merckx. He's also backed up by Movistar who proved they can pull for their leader all day
Michal Kwiatkowski is also in great form winning Milan San Remo and Strade Bianche and has some good team mates to work for him at Team Sky.
Peter Sagan has passed on this race, his next outing is at "Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt” on May 1st, onto one of his favorite races the Amgen Tour of California, to the Tour de Suisse, to the Tour de France start in Düsseldorf.
You can follow and watch the race on our LIVE STREAM this Sunday April 23rd.
Liège–Bastogne–Liège starts at 10:25 CET and the finish is expected around 16:50 CET this Sunday April 23rd. We'll be providing live coverage of the whole race starting 05:00 EST to 12:00 EST in North America.
That's 09:00 GMT to 16:00 GMT in the United Kingdom and 10:00 CET to 17:00 CET in Europe, local time and 20:00 AEST onwards in Australia.
Pro Cycling fans in North America can tune in at a more reasonable time of around 09:00 EST to watch the final 3 hours of racing, which at that point should see fireworks!
Our live stream has been optimized so viewers can follow the race and access live video on mobile devices and tablets too.