Friday, April 22, 2011
This Sunday is Liege Bastogne Liege also known as the La Doyenne – translation means the oldest; this race is run in the beautiful region of the Ardennes in Belgium. It goes from Liege to Bastogne and back… hence the name. This is the southern French speaking half of Belgium and the race began back in 1892. It was won by Leon Houa an amateur, because at the time it was an amateur race run from Spa to Bastogne and back. It wasn’t until 1894 that it was for professionals, but again Houa won. Actually Leon Houa was a three time winner. The Great Eddy Merckx has the most victories with five, Moreno Argentin was close with four. Since its inception Belgians have dominated this race with 57 victories. If you look at the list of winners they are part of cycling burly boys, those who are aggressive and willing to take chances, but yet calculating at the same time. This race is probably the toughest classic IMHO: the climbs are long, most of them are pretty steep, and they come up with depressing frequency in the final kilometers, so you’ve got to have the legs in the end. I think Moreno Argentin said it best: Liège is a race of trial by elimination, where it's very unlikely that a breakaway can go clear and decide the race before the final 100km. You need to be strong and at the same time clever and calculating - in this sense it's a complete test of a cyclist's ability. Who will the winner be this year? Any guesses? My money is on Philippe Gilbert especially after his performance at Amstel Gold. But who know? That’s the great thing about competition you never know until the race is over.