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2021 Liège-Bastogne-Liège Preview

Tomorrow, April 25th, the Ardennes classics conclude with Liège-Bastogne-Liège. La Doyenne is known as the oldest monument. The race traditionally concludes the spring classics period of the season.

 

In 2020 the race was held in October, but it still produced plenty of drama.

 

In the women’s race, Lizzie Deignan held on to beat Grace Brown by nine seconds after a lengthy solo move. Later on, the men’s race produced a chaotic finale in which Primož Roglič just barely got the better of a celebrating Julian Alaphilippe, who was later relegated to fifth.

 

The most famous climb on the menu is the Côte de La Redoute. However, other climbs like the Côte des Forges and the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons will also be instrumental in deciding the winner. 

 

Women’s Favorites

 

 

The most accomplished woman at Sunday’s start will be Anna van der Breggen. The reigning World Champion won LBL in 2017 and 2018. The Dutch rider also picked up her seventh straight title at La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, so she clearly has good legs.

 

As a team, SD Worx will have other strong options outside of van der Breggen. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Demi Vollering are all capable of challenging for the podium in their own right.

 

The other former winner in the race will be Annemiek van Vlueten. The Movistar Team leader claimed victory in 2019 after finishing third a season before. 

 

Amanda Spratt finished second behind van der Breggen in 2018. She will have leadership responsibilities for Team BikeExchange on Sunday. 

 

Kasia Niewiadoma demonstrated her good form on Wednesday by taking second place at La Flèche Wallonne. She will certainly be hoping to replicate her 2017 podium.

 

Marianne Vos has never finished on the podium at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. However, she finished fourth a season ago and has ridden well so far in 2021. If the race is decided by a small bunch sprint like Amstel Gold was, Vos will certainly have a decent chance at victory.

 

A few other names who could have a major role to play on Sunday include Elisa Longo Borghini, Soraya Paladin, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Mavi Garcia. 

 

Men’s Favorites

 

 

Five different former winners will be present in the men’s race on Sunday. Chief among them is Alejandro Valverde. The four time winner has four additional podium places in a race that seems to be tailor-made for his skill set.

 

The defending champion, Primož Roglič, has been very strong in 2020. LBL is his final scheduled race before Le Tour de France, so he will have no reason to hold anything back on Sunday.

 

UAE Team Emirates will have a very strong duo in Tadej Pogačar and Marc Hirschi. Both men finished on the podium in 2020. UAE was held out of  La Flèche Wallonne due to Covid protocol, so they will be motivated to make up for it.

 

Speaking of motivation, Julian Alaphilippe will badly want to win this race. He will be extremely keen to put his celebration mishap and subsequent relegation from a season ago in the rear view mirror. There would be no better way for him to do that than to take a statement win on Sunday.

 

Jakob Fuglsang, Wout Poels and Philippe Gilbert are the three additional riders taking part who have won this race in the past.

 

Ineos has an extremely strong team, headlined by Richard Carapaz, Adam Yates and Michal Kwiatkowski.

 

Michael Woods, David Gaudu, Max Schachmann, Bauke Mollema, Esteban Chaves, Benoît Cosnefroy, Guillame Martin and Warren Barguil are all other riders who could be in the mix. 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a great race with a lot of history. Victory here comes with a great deal of prestige. 

 

The first portion of the course is tough enough on its own. However, only the best puncheurs can stay in touch over the final three climbs. 

 

My Picks: Marianne Vos and Julian Alaphilippe

 

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