The day after tomorrow, Sunday 23 April, the Classics season traditionally ends with Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It is the 103rd edition of La Doyenne. While it was snowing last year, it will be dry this year with a maximum temperature of eight degrees.
Ten hills are spread on the route of 258 kilometres. The peloton will only reach the first hill after seventy kilometres of racing. Because of roadworks, the race won’t pass over the Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée. These hills are replaced by Côte de Pont, Côte de Bellevaux and Côte de la Ferme Libert. The next hill is the Col du Rosier, with 4.4 kilometres the longest hill of the day but definitely not the steepest. In the last fifty kilometres of the race the riders need to cover four hills: Col du Maquisard, Côte de La Redoute, Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas from where 5.5 kilometres are yet to cover. Although the climbing isn’t over at that point. The last kilometre towards the finish in Ans is still very steep.
Tim Wellens: “Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the fourth race in two weeks for me. Although I felt good every time, I didn’t set a top result. I am not worried about my shape. I am very keen on doing well on Sunday, in a race that matches my skills. The past years, I wasn’t able to ride the finale, but I have the ambition to do so this time. When you are in the running in the finale of Liège, you automatically get a good result.”
“According to me, there are two crucial phases: the road to La Redoute and the road to La Roche-aux-Faucons. Both times we will head downhill, at a high pace, towards the bottom of the hill. Both hills are very narrow. Especially on La Roche-aux-Faucons it will be a hard battle. If you are not in front, you can forget it, because the group will definitely split on the climb. It’s important that your legs still feel fine to be able to be positioned at the front and to have teammates by your side to take you to the bottom of the climb. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is an elimination race. Today, we did a recon of the course. Because of roadworks in Stavelot, the route has changed. The Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée were replaced by three other hills. It’s not an easy part of the course, but I don’t expect it to influence the race a lot.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sean De Bie, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, Tomasz Marczynski, Rémy Mertz, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Bart Leysen.