Liege Bastogne Liege is the finale of the Spring Classics and is somewhat similar to the previous classic at Fleche Wallonne in that it has a hilly parcours with a climb at the end. The key difference is that this climb can be won by those more punchy powerful climbers rather than lighter guys on the steeper Muy de Huy.
Liege Bastogne Liege Contenders
A similar list of contenders means that one of Valverde or Kwiatkowski must be considered the favourite after recent results. Both have won important races recently and can surely repeat that in this race too.
Other riders, however. have targeted this race specifically. Philippe Gilbert is one, who despite dropping out of Fleche Wallonne after a crash stands a good chance here.
Dan Martin is another good shout having won here in 2013, he came very close to winning here again last year but crashed on what was pretty much the final corner. He can repeat his win if he can cast aside the bad luck. Joaquim Rodriguez is always a contender in this sort of race, often teaming up well with Dani Moreno in a powerful one-two attack. After two second places, he will be gunning for the win.
Last year’s winner Simon Gerrans will be racing, but after being seemingly injured ever since Mark Cavendish took him down in the 2014 Tour de France it’s probable his condition will prevent a genuine attempt for another victory.
The young Dutch pairing of Bauke Mollema and Tom-Jelle Slagter remain on the cusp of that one career-defining result. They finished 5th and 6th last year and provided they come through unscathed-should find themselves in the top ten without too much trouble.
2014 World Champion Rui Costa will be racing, a solid Paris-Nice and Amstel Gold Race means he has the form to challenge for a podium spot.
The punchy finish will suit French rider Tony Gallopin who has been in exceptional form with top ten finishes Paris – Nice, Milan – San Remo, Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold. Built-in a similar mould to Phillipe Gilbert, he can also finish highly placed.
The Tour de France warmups will continue with Vicenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana in attendance, it doesn’t look like Chris Froome will be racing after coming off on Wednesday.
Liege Bastogne Liege Outsiders
I’m still backing Simon Yates, the finish suits him and with duo-leader status with Michael Albasini he will have the free reign to get a result. Benoit Vaugrenard will almost certainly not be mentioned in pre-race previews but does have four top-15 placings here. A decent outsider as FDJ don’t feature too much this time of year.
It’s hard to work out which of Sky’s riders will be given the full backing, especially as their line-up hasn’t been full confirmed as yet but I would love to see Nicolas Roche attacking up the final climb with Dan Martin as they distance all others.