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Pogacar and Van der Poel headline 2024 Liège-Bastogne-Liège

All expectations at Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be a showdown between Van der Poel and the returning Tadej Pogacar

Pogacar and Van der Poel headline 2024 Liège-Bastogne-Liège

The peloton will face one of the most difficult days of the season whatever the weather, thanks to the sheer length of La Doyenne and the relentless climbing that defines the second half of the race.

Defending champion Remco Evenepoel and former winner Primož Roglic missing after crashing at Itzulia Basque Country, but there are still a number of in-form riders that could provide a challenge to Pogacar and Van der Poel.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Route

Liège is arguably the hardest climbing test of them all with around 4,200m of elevation gain compared to Milan-Sanremo.

At 254.5km, the season’s fourth Monument makes its way from Liège to Bastogne and back again. The first 95.5km to Bastogne is the easiet part  with just one categorised climb. While the 11 named climbs understandably draw the most attention, the Ardennes Forest is defined by its almost never ending sequence of rolling hills, many unclassified, which will begin to soften up the legs of the peloton before the official climbs even begin.

The real climbing begins on the return leg to Liège; a zig zag route that ensures it fits in as many climbs as possible. The first of these is the Côte de Saint-Roch at kilometre 117, a 900m climb with an almost 11% average gradient. There is then a more than 40km wait until the next named climb, the Côte de Mont-le-Soie, but that is followed by a peppering of three more climbs within the next 20km.

The end of this sequence is when we’ll likely see the teams of the main contenders begin to steadily up the pace of proceedings, perhaps closing down the gap of the bold but futile early breakaway. That’s because 40km and two more climbs later the race reaches what has often proven to be its decisive point with around 35km to go.

The Côte de la Redoute (1.6km, 8.8%) is Liège’s most revered climb, and in the past two editions has been the launchpad for Remco Evenepoel’s two escapes to victory. It’s not always been so decisive down the years, and the Côte des Forges (1.3km, 7.8%) and, in particular, the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons (1.3km, 11%) on this particular route also offer opportunities to launch decisive attacks of a group remains together. 

That final climb tops out with still more than 13km to go to the line and, unlike the old route which finished on an uncategorised uphill to the line in Ans, there is nothing but downhill and flat main roads to the finish in the centre of Liège. That means any group that remains together after the Roche-aux-Faucons will inevitably decide the race in a reduced sprint, as was the case when Roglic won in 2020 and Pogacar won in 2021.

Tadej Pogacar and Mathieu van der Poel are of course the hot favorites.

Other in-form riders who could win are; Tom Pidcock, Marc Hirschi, Maxim Van Gils, Simon Yates, Matthis Skjelmose and Israel-Premier Tech Flèche Wallonne winner Stevie Williams.




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