The 2016 Liege-Bastogne-Liege wraps up the Ardennes classics this Sunday and we are set for an action packed race with four former winners lined up and several other podium finishers. Liege-Bastogne-Liege or La Doyenne (“the oldest”) as it’s often called was first run in 1892 the winners list is a who’s who of cycling including Merckx, Anquetil, Argentin, Van Looy, Bettini, and who could forget the 1980 epic snow covered race won by Bernard Hinault.
Here’s a preview of the 2016 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
2016 Liege-Bastogne-Liege Route
The race this year is run over 253km starting in Liege and racing to Bastogne after 106.5km and one climb the Côte de La Roche-en Ardenne. After turning in Bastogne the race really heats up with 11 more climbs on the way back to the finish in Ans (near Liege). There is no Côte de Stockeu in this years race so the four climbs taking the riders to the 200km point are the Côte de Saint-Roch, Côte de Wanne, Côte de la Haute-Levée and Col du Rosier.
The final 50km have five of the toughest climbs with the 2km long Col du Maquisard at 204.5km, at 216.5km the Côte de La Redoute is 2km long at 8.9%, then the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons at 11% and the final 10km of the race climbs the 1.2km long Côte de Saint-Nicolas at 8.6% before the final climb and new for this year the Côte de la Rue Naniot, it’s 600 metres long at 10.5% and will be decisive in winning the race.
The 2016 Liege-Bastogne-Liege features 12 categorized climbs, the distance from the start, name, length and gradient are listed below.
|Climb and length||Gradient|
|78.5||Côte de La Roche-en Ardenne – 2.8 kilometre-long climb||6.2%|
|125.0||Côte de Saint-Roch – 1 kilometre-long climb||11.2%|
|168.5||Côte de Wanne – 2.8 kilometre-long climb||7.4%|
|179.0||Côte de la Haute-Levée – 3.6 kilometre-long climb||5.6%|
|192.0||Col du Rosier – 4.4 kilometre-long climb||5.9%|
|204.5||Col du Maquisard – 2 kilometre-long climb||5.0%|
|216.5||Côte de La Redoute – 2 kilometre-long climb||8.9%|
|232.5||Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons – 1.3 kilometre-long climb||11.0%|
|246.5||Côte de Saint-Nicolas – 1.2 kilometre-long climb||8.6%|
|250.5||Côte de la Rue Naniot – 0.6 kilometre-long climb||10.5%|
2016 Liege-Bastogne-Liege Contenders
Alejandro Valverde won his second Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year and he won La Fleche Wallonne for the fourth time on Wednesday. To say that Alejandro Valverde starts as the overwhelming favourite is an understatement, it’s only going to be bad luck or strong tactics from the other riders that stop Valverde from winning another Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Julian Alaphilippe is only 23 years old and finished second last year and was second to Valverde at La Fleche Wallonne in front of teammate Dan Martin. He probably won’t wear the teams number one dossard but I think he will be stronger than Dan Martin again.
Dan Martin won here three years ago and has good form from La Fleche Wallonne. Etixx – Quick Step chances will multiply if both these riders work together.
Simon Gerrans won Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2014 and will be in with a good chance if he’s part of a small group at the finish.
Vincenzo Nibali is the wild card in the first five, the course with the new Côte de la Rue Naniot will suit him more than others and he’s not afraid of going early for the finish. Finished second in 2012.
As well as …
Joaquin Rodriguez has several LBL podiums but no wins, he’s running out of time to win one and like Nibali the new Côte de la Rue Naniot climb will suit him.
Michal Kwiatkowski third two years ago and should start as Team Sky’s number one rider.
Philippe Gilbert will head a strong BMC team for this years race with Richie Porte and Samuel Sanchez also starting. Gilbert won in 2011. Update: Philippe Gilbert will not start because of ongoing issues with his fractured finger.
Roman Kreuziger will lead the Tinkoff Team and has had several top 10 results at LBL with a best placing of 4th in the 2011 race.
Richie Porte will start LBL for only the third time in his career, the closing climbs will suit him.
Also watch out for Rui Costa, Thibaut Pinot and Chris Froome.
The race starts at 09:30am in Liege and that’s 6:30pm AEST Sunday, television coverage is on Eurosport and SBS. Weather forecast is for snow on some parts of the final 100km of the race.
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Main image © ASO