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Preview: Your guide to the 2021 men’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège

With the Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne now behind us, it’s time for the biggest of the three’ Ardennes Classics ‘: Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Now into its 107 th copy,’ La Doyenne’ is one of the oldest motorcycle hastens on the planet and the third of five Monuments this season.

Here’s what you should know about Sunday’s 2021 men’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Stay announced for Abby Mickey’s preview of the women’s race, coming soon.

The course

The overall determine of this year’s route is the same as usual: starting in Liege- in the French-speaking region of Wallonia, in south-eastern Belgium- the equestrians chief south towards Bastogne before turned back and honcho back towards the finish in Liege. The road back to Liege is considerably longer, windier, and hillier than the southward leg.

The yellow line is the way south; the colour order fronts back north.

The 259 km track is virtually identical to that used in last year’s edition( which was delayed until October due to COVID limiteds ). The only real gap is the eighth climb of the day. Last time that climbing was the Col du Maquisard; this time around it’s the Cote de Desnie.

Speaking of ascents, there’s a total of 11 recognised ascents for the riders to curb. Precisely two of those come in the first half of the race; the other nine moor in the final 100 km.

Here are the 11 climbings 😛 TAGEND

1. Cote de la Roche-en-Ardenne: 2.8 km at 6.2% 2. Cote de Saint-Roche: 1 km at 11.2% 3. Cote de Mont-Le-Soie: 1.7 km at 7.9% 4. Cote de Wanne: 3.6 km at 5.1% 5. Cote de Stockeu: 1 km at 12.5% 6. Cote de la Haute-Levee: 2.2 km at 7.5% 7. Col du Rosier: 4.4 km at 5.9% 8. Cote de Desnie: 1.6 km at 8.1% 9. Cote de la Redoute: 2 km at 8.9. Cote des Forges: 1.3 km at 7.8. Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons: 1.3 km at 11%

From the top of that final ascent it’s 13.3 km through to the finish line in Liege. Those 13.3 km consist of a short descent, another uncategorised 2 km soar, then some flat and downhill arteries to the finish.

As you can see from the profile below, Liege-Bastogne-Liege is peppered with clambers that aren’t among the 11 recognised ascents. All up, the equestrians will amass approximately 4,400 vertical metres on Sunday- a significant amount of climbing.

What happened last go

In last year’s edition of Liege the decide move came on the final classified clamber- the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons- when Julian Alaphilippe perforated away from the peloton in his first scoot as world champion. When the dirt adjudicated, Alaphilippe, Marc Hirschi, Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar had formed a heading quartet with 13 km to go.

Matej Mohoric connected across just before the final sprint; a sprint that was notable for a couple errors on Alaphilippe’s part. The life champ veered in front of Hirschi, nearly beginning Hirschi and Pogacar to gate-crash, and then affixed up early, contemplating he’d won.

Unfortunately for the Frenchman, Roglic was flying past on his right to pip Alaphilippe on the line. Adding insult to injury, Alaphilippe was then demoted to fifth for his dangerous sprint.

How it might undo this year

As we saw last year, it’s likely to be the final soars that render the most suitable launchpad for a race-winning move. Expect a respectable breakaway to get up the road early, but for that move to be wiped up inside the final 50 km.

The pace is normally quite frenetic by the time the riders thumped the Cote de la Redoute with approximately 37 km to go. From there, we’ll visualize abundance of onslaughts as equestrians try to forge clear of the bunch.

The Cote de la Redoute, Cote des Forges, and Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons all have the potential to host the determined move, especially the final of those which norms more than 10%.

It won’t be a big group that contacts the finish to race a sprint. Most likely it will be a small group, likely between three and 10 riders. A solo winner is more than possible more, as noted in 2018 and 2019 when Bob Jungels and then Jakob Fuglsang rode to the finish alone.

Note that the front radical is likely to look a bit different at Liege than it did at the Tour of Flanders, say, or Amstel Gold. As you can see in the index above, the climbs of Liege are longer than those at Flanders or Amstel. As a cause we often construe Grand Tour GC competitors mingling it with the best puncheurs at Liege.

Hirschi( left) and Alaphilippe( claim) on the move last year.

The beloveds

Julian Alaphilippe( Deceuninck-QuickStep) has previously have been one of the equestrians to beat before his triumph at Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday. Now that he’s got that earn under his region – his first one-day win of the year- the world champion is arguably the top favourite for Liege.

Sure, Liege offers a different finish to Fleche Wallonne- a flat run-in vs an uphill draw to the line- but Alaphilippe has shown many a time that he’s more than capable of taking a sprint from a small group on a flat finish. Heck, he established it at last year’s edition of Liege, before sitting up too early.

Alaphilippe’s marks is a full-gas attack on a late soar, coming away either on his own or in a small group. Expect more of the same on Sunday.

Alaphilippe in action at the 2020 edition.

Primoz Roglic( Jumbo-Visma) comes in as the oppose champion and one of the big favourites. He’ll be riding with the exasperation and motivating of a close second place at Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday. Roglic’s surge on the Mur de Huy was truly remarkable, but he couldn’t relatively hold it all the way to the line.

Roglic will be hard to distance on any advance come Sunday and as he’s shown in recent years, he’s got a damn good sprint for a Grand Tour GC contender. Back-to-back earns for the Slovenian would surprise exactly no one.

Roglic prevailed last year’s edition with a motorcycle hurl.

Tom Pidcock( Ineos Grenadiers) was initially planning to ricochet Liege but he now appears to be a late inclusion. Given how superb the 21 -year-old has been in his neo-pro season, that’s a great thing for the race and those of us watching. With third at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, fifth at Strade Bianche, second at Amstel Gold Race( by the narrowest of perimeters ), sixth at Fleche Wallonne after a sound, and a winning at Brabantse Pijl, Pidcock has been one of the standout performers of the spring.

The multi-discipline star is well capable of reach it into the earning move on Sunday, if not winning the hasten. After all, he clambers brilliantly, he enjoys being aggressive where necessary, and he sprints with the best of them in a reduced bunch. A win on debut is a real possibility.

Note very that Pidcock is far from the only card Ineos has to play. Michal Kwiatkowski has been top 10 on three reasons, with two third-place finishes. Richard Carapaz was in the mix at Fleche Wallonne, Adam Yates is descending beautifully this season, and last year’s Giro d’Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart will be there as well.

Pidcock beating Wout van Aert in a sprint to acquire Brabantse Pijl a few weeks back.

UAE-Team Emirates is another squad with variou strong options( acquiring the team is able to start the race ). Both Marc Hirschi and Tadej Pogacar were in the winning move last year- albeit on different units- and both are more than capable of the same again in 2021.

It’s not exactly clear how the team will use its resources but both riders have a realistic chance of earning, will vary depending on how the race undoes. Both are aggressive and desire going on the attack, and both will be very keen to even off for the foiling of missing Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday due to a couple COVID positives in the team.

The hopefuls

Based on his form, you wouldn’t know that Alejandro Valverde( Movistar) is turning 41 on Sunday. The four-time Liege winner was fifth at last weekend’s Amstel Gold Race, third at Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday, and looks likely to be among the best on Sunday as well.

If Valverde can make it to the front group for the final sprint, he’s a real opportunity. And if he does manage to take the win, his five success will see him tied with Eddy Merckx for the all-time record.

Valverde last-place won Liege back in 2017.

Michael Matthews( BikeExchange) has been thumping on the door of a big win all season. Sixth at Milan-San Remo, fifth at Gent-Wevelgem, fourth at Amstel Gold Race, a couple of rostra at Paris-Nice- that’s an impressive pull without taking a win.

As with Valverde, if Matthews can weather the attacks on the last few climbings and find his space into the lead group, he’ll have a great shot of win. You can bet the likes of Alaphilippe and Roglic will be desperate to offload the fast-finishing Australian though.

Note that Matthews has Esteban Chaves in brace. The Colombian has gaped good in the last little while and will likely feature in the pre-final, either closing down moves or coming up the road himself.

Chaves is working back into some enormous constitute. He was sixth overall at the Tour of Catalunya, ninth in the Basque Country, and eighth at Fleche Wallonne.

Michael Woods( Israel Start-Up Nation) would probably preferably Liege still finished with the uphill drag into Ans like it did until 2019, but he still shouldn’t be rejected. He’s one of the strongest in the world on soars like these, and should be somewhere near the breast in the closing kilometres. To acquire, he’ll probably have to get away alone.

Woods’ teammate Dan Martin too deserves a mention. The Irishman prevailed this hasten back in 2013 and has been clambering well in recent weeks. Keep him in mind.

Max Schachmann( Bora-Hansgrohe) was third at this scoot in 2019 and comes in off the back of third at Amstel Gold Race and a win at Paris-Nice. It wouldn’t be abysmally surprising to see Schachmann find his route into the top five again on Sunday after following the winning move.

Schachmann on the two attacks in the closing theatres of Amstel Gold.

As mentioned, Jakob Fuglsang( Astana) triumphed this hasten solo in 2019 and while he’s not nearly at the same level now as he was then, he shouldn’t be given any latitude if strikes late.

For other would-be contenders, look out for 😛 TAGEND

Mauri Vansevenant( Deceuninck-QuickStep ): Seventh at Fleche Wallonne, great uphill, and a steadfast fighter.Matej Mohoric( Bahrain-Victorious ): Fourth last year and ninth at last weekend’s Amstel Gold Race. Ever-aggressive, often to great effect.Tim Wellens( Lotto Soudal ): Too super-aggressive with a penchant for a late move.Bauke Mollema( Trek-Segafredo ): Been in huge constitute and has two top 10 s at Liege already.David Gaudu( Groupama-FDJ ): Also great this season, with got a couple of winnings. Sixth in 2019.

Gaudu has two makes for its first year already, including the final stage of Itzulia Basque Country( visualized here ).

How to watch it

If you’re watching Sunday’s hasten in Australia, you’ve got a couple alternatives. SBS is broadcasting the hasten live in the eastern territory( retarded in other timezones ), both on SBS Viceland( TV) and via SBS On Demand( streaming ). You’ll also be able to catch the race on GCN+ in Australia.

In the USA, NBC Sports Gold is where you’ll find coverage, while GCN +/ Eurosport is your best bet in most other markets.

Who’s your pick to triumph the 2021 men’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege?

Follow the link for the 2021 men’ s Liege-Bastogne-Liege startlist. Stay posted for Abby Mickey’s preview of the women’s race, coming soon.

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