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.
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.
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