Roadside: There's a hell of a row going on outside our hotel window tonight, in one of Liиge's less prepossessing hinterlands. The descendants of all those Italian mineworkers and factory men, those who went bonkers when Nibali was off the front in Liиge-Bastogne-Liиge in April, are tearing up the streets. Even in the heartlands of cycling, other events sometimes take precedence!
Roadside Report: We arrived in Europe the day before the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - the first major classic of the Classics season. Two months later, we were there for one last big day out to draw the Spring Classics season to a close: Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Let's take a look back at the day that was.
Ahead of a great Classic, it's always fun to look back at some of the PEZ crew's past experiences on the route of the race. Back in 2010, Dave Aldersebaes had the chance to join VeloClassic Tours in the Ardennes to enjoy the hellaciously hilly fun that is Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Get your climbing legs on, your pockets full of food, and come on for a ride through this beautiful and tortuous course.
Roadside Report: And so the spring has come down to this - two more chases, two more spots, two more experiences, and one rider's ascent into the history books. Join us for one more chase.
Roadside Report, Part One: On a perfect day in the Ardennes, we chased our final Monument of the spring. The oldest classic of them all, La Doyenne, a figure eight from Liege to Bastogne and back, proved that picking a favorite race of the first part of the year is about as easy as buying a yacht.
La Doyenne – ‘a woman who is the eldest or senior member of a group.’ The group in question being the Classics; and in particular the five ‘Monuments,’ specifically Milan–Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris–Roubaix, the Tour of Lombardy and Liege– Bastogne–Liege, the oldest of them all. In Flemish that’s ‘Luik–Bastenaken–Luik,’ but whichever language you chose this race was first held as a professional event in 1894; and that’s a long time ago.
Part II of the PEZ Ardennes Interview recap... As well as gilt edged Liege roadside coverage, PEZ took the time to get the view from inside the peloton. Barloworld’s former team pursuit world champion and last year’s Coppa Bernocchi winner, Steve Cummings (GB) and Columbia youngster, Craig Lewis (USA) both gave us a look inside the bunch at world’s oldest classic.
His stats for Liege read like this: 1979, 20th: 1981, 11th: 1982, 10th: 1984, 1st: 1985, 4th: 1986, 12th: 1987, 20th; 1988, 5th: 1989, 1st – good enough to tell us a little about La Doyenne? Yeah, we thought so too: PEZ talked to Sean Kelly about the oldest, and many would say the hardest of the ‘monuments’.
Luik – Bastanaken – Luik they call it up in Flanders; Liege – Bastogne – Liege down in French speaking Wallonia – ‘La Doyenne’ is her Sunday name. Milan – San Remo is longer; Paris – Roubaix is crazier and Lombardy is more beautiful, but Liege is the oldest – first run as an amateur race in 1892 - and arguably, the toughest.
When your ds tells you to be there for the finale, it means two things – they believe in you, and you’re on great form. Both are true for High Road’s Adam Hansen as he’s got the marching orders for this weekend’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He’s back from injury so PEZ checked in for a preview of what to expect at this weekend's hill-studded classic in the Ardennes.
As part of Velo Classic Tours’ Ardennes Week trip, our agenda includes two days riding the roads and bergs of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege parcours. Thursday was all about the climbs and the scenery. Friday, it’s all about the pro teams we met on the roads of Belgium.
LBL is already history, but the news is still fresh, especially looking at the course and how the final kilometers played out to produce the first Spanish winner in history - it's even better to see who the riders themselves saw as contenders as well as fans and people in the know. Ed Hood was in the Ardennes a few days in advance of LBL and got hold of some interesting characters.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege closes out the Spring Classics, opening up a new part of the season with the Giro d'Italia only a short week away. La Doyenne, as she is reverently called, is the toughest and oldest of the Ardennes Week races - the oldest race of all in fact. This year's race looks to be a true classic in the making, PEZ takes a look at the course and the players.
‘La Doyenne’, a French term of respect meaning, ‘oldest member’ – it’s how we refer to Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the oldest of the five ‘monuments’ in cycling. First run in 1894 the roll of honour reads like a ‘who’s who’ of cycling – Ferdi Kubler, Rik van Looy, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Moreno Argentin, Michele Bartoli and of course Eddy Merckx.
Give me your tired and old leftovers, give me your sour milk, your rotten tomatoes, your moldy bread - I'll sort it nicely like any good Euro and give you EuroTrash, lots and lots of it.