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Fun at the back of the bunch.

Fun at the back of the bunch.

(Source: dreamandgrind)

Sometimes even with the best kit, even a Pro can have a bad day.

Sometimes even with the best kit, even a Pro can have a bad day.

Liège Bastogne Liège - Preview

Liège is affectionately known as the 'La Doyenne', the Oldest or sometimes the Old Lady. It predates Paris Roubaix by four years, but unlike Roubaix it has never risen to the iconic heights that the ’Queen of the Classics’ has. Started as a way to promote a newspaper, L’Expresse. You can see a theme here with many of the old races on the calendar and it makes us wonder when we may see a Race sponsored by one of the bug internet news providers to promote their business, just a thought.

With any race it is the quality of the parcour and that of the riders that have won it over the years and Liège is littered with names that jump out at you from every decade in history. For the first 50 years of the race it has been Belgium that has dominated the nation standings on wins. What is amazing is that the first three editions where won by the same rider, Léon Houa, a feat which makes this Monument stand alone (as well as it being the hiliest of all Five Monuments). 

Philippe Gilbert ended a drought for Belgium which dated back to 1999 when a young Frank Vandenbroucke tore the peloton apart with a triumphant win. We know the history from Frank’s story, but the way in which he won it was the thing we will all remember, because we need to be honest and realise that he wasn’t the only rider to be using at the race. The real glory days of Belgium dominating this race ended in 1976 with Joseph Bruyère closing off a chapter, and his two wins in the race being the crowning glory of his career. After the ‘76 race, winners started to flow in from other nations with Bernard Hinault taking the win in ‘77 and also in ‘80 with the legendary win in possibly one of the most epic days of bike racing in modern times.

[[posterous-content:pid___1]]

These Ardenne Races (really only the Flèche and Liège) are very hard with the list of multiple winners being small. At the top of the tree stands the lonely figure of Eddy Merckx, a record which I think will stand for a long time as his Five wins look a way off for the modern crop of riders.

Although the form guide is much harder to predict than in the Northern (Pavé) Classics I think that the races that have surrounded it both in Belgium and Italy have clear pointers towards a possible victor. So to the ones to watch.

Philippe Gilbert - he’s had a slow start based on last year but watching him in the last two races it is clear that he’s been using these races to fine tune himself for today. The BMC Team looks to be fully behind him in support.

Damiano Cunego has been cursed in many ways since he on the Giro as a young man as every DS and Team Manager has looked for him to repeat that form and win again in his national tour. This for me is his natural and right enviroment and he will provide the biggest challenge to Gilbert.

The Schlecks need this win, for confidence and to build towards the ultimate goal of the Tour. I think though we will see Andy rise to the top and challenge for the top step on the podium today, especially if it stays dry, if it’s wet you can rule him out.

And finally I’d like to through in the wildcard of Ryder Hesjedal who showed he had really good legs at the Flèche but was only smarted by going a little too early on the  Mur de Huy. I think again he’ll have the full team at his disposal and I would expect him to be very active today as winning a Monument must feel within his grasp.

So I think it’ll be a Gilbert win, with Cunego making the second spot and third is up for grabs.

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]

Tractor dodging on the Paris Roubaix recon ride (2012).

Tractor dodging on the Paris Roubaix recon ride (2012).

One day we hope Visconti decides to concentrate on the hilly Classics of the Ardennes & races like the Monuments. He should be Bettini successor. We at the Monuments are waiting …

One day we hope Visconti decides to concentrate on the hilly Classics of the Ardennes & races like the Monuments. He should be Bettini successor. We at the Monuments are waiting …

David Van Der Poel (NL) warming up to a tune by kristof ramon on Flickr.Great shot as ever from Kristof.

David Van Der Poel (NL) warming up to a tune by kristof ramon on Flickr.

Great shot as ever from Kristof.

My Bike by stdfst on Flickr.

My Bike by stdfst on Flickr.

Gent by Nolleos on Flickr.

Gent by Nolleos on Flickr.

Fun at the back of the bunch.

Fun at the back of the bunch.

(Source: dreamandgrind)

Sometimes even with the best kit, even a Pro can have a bad day.

Sometimes even with the best kit, even a Pro can have a bad day.

Liège Bastogne Liège - Preview

Liège is affectionately known as the 'La Doyenne', the Oldest or sometimes the Old Lady. It predates Paris Roubaix by four years, but unlike Roubaix it has never risen to the iconic heights that the ’Queen of the Classics’ has. Started as a way to promote a newspaper, L’Expresse. You can see a theme here with many of the old races on the calendar and it makes us wonder when we may see a Race sponsored by one of the bug internet news providers to promote their business, just a thought.

With any race it is the quality of the parcour and that of the riders that have won it over the years and Liège is littered with names that jump out at you from every decade in history. For the first 50 years of the race it has been Belgium that has dominated the nation standings on wins. What is amazing is that the first three editions where won by the same rider, Léon Houa, a feat which makes this Monument stand alone (as well as it being the hiliest of all Five Monuments). 

Philippe Gilbert ended a drought for Belgium which dated back to 1999 when a young Frank Vandenbroucke tore the peloton apart with a triumphant win. We know the history from Frank’s story, but the way in which he won it was the thing we will all remember, because we need to be honest and realise that he wasn’t the only rider to be using at the race. The real glory days of Belgium dominating this race ended in 1976 with Joseph Bruyère closing off a chapter, and his two wins in the race being the crowning glory of his career. After the ‘76 race, winners started to flow in from other nations with Bernard Hinault taking the win in ‘77 and also in ‘80 with the legendary win in possibly one of the most epic days of bike racing in modern times.

[[posterous-content:pid___1]]

These Ardenne Races (really only the Flèche and Liège) are very hard with the list of multiple winners being small. At the top of the tree stands the lonely figure of Eddy Merckx, a record which I think will stand for a long time as his Five wins look a way off for the modern crop of riders.

Although the form guide is much harder to predict than in the Northern (Pavé) Classics I think that the races that have surrounded it both in Belgium and Italy have clear pointers towards a possible victor. So to the ones to watch.

Philippe Gilbert - he’s had a slow start based on last year but watching him in the last two races it is clear that he’s been using these races to fine tune himself for today. The BMC Team looks to be fully behind him in support.

Damiano Cunego has been cursed in many ways since he on the Giro as a young man as every DS and Team Manager has looked for him to repeat that form and win again in his national tour. This for me is his natural and right enviroment and he will provide the biggest challenge to Gilbert.

The Schlecks need this win, for confidence and to build towards the ultimate goal of the Tour. I think though we will see Andy rise to the top and challenge for the top step on the podium today, especially if it stays dry, if it’s wet you can rule him out.

And finally I’d like to through in the wildcard of Ryder Hesjedal who showed he had really good legs at the Flèche but was only smarted by going a little too early on the  Mur de Huy. I think again he’ll have the full team at his disposal and I would expect him to be very active today as winning a Monument must feel within his grasp.

So I think it’ll be a Gilbert win, with Cunego making the second spot and third is up for grabs.

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]

Tractor dodging on the Paris Roubaix recon ride (2012).

Tractor dodging on the Paris Roubaix recon ride (2012).

One day we hope Visconti decides to concentrate on the hilly Classics of the Ardennes & races like the Monuments. He should be Bettini successor. We at the Monuments are waiting …

One day we hope Visconti decides to concentrate on the hilly Classics of the Ardennes & races like the Monuments. He should be Bettini successor. We at the Monuments are waiting …

Liège Bastogne Liège - Preview

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If your passion is for the Monuments, The Classics and Semi Classics it will be here ~ it's our passion.

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