The finish of Liège-Bastogne-Liège could return to the centre of Liège in 2019 for the first time in over a quarter of a century, according to Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure.
La Doyenne has had an uphill finish in the suburb of Ans since 1992, but the current agreement between race organiser ASO and Ans council expires after this year’s race, and it is understood that the city of Liège is keen to bring the race finale back to the city centre.
Although no final accord has been signed between ASO and Liège, La Dernière Heure reports that a finish within the city limits is likely, though a precise location for the proposed new finish line has yet to be decided upon.
In the 1980s, the race finished on the flat of the Boulevard de la Sauvenière, and the character of the finale changed considerably with the move to the suburb of Ans in the early 1990s.
Removing the Cote de Ans from the finish of Liege-Bastogne-Liege would make the stiff Cote de Saint-Nicolas the final climb of the race. In 2016, the organisers inserted an additional climb between the Saint-Nicolas and the Ans finish, the cobbled Cote de la Rue Naniot. Although the Rue Naniot helped to trigger the winning move as Wout Poels claimed victory, it did not feature in 2017 and is not on the route for 2018.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège currently starts on Place Saint Lambert in the centre of Liège, but a new finale could also herald a different start line for the Classic, with the municipality of Aywaille, just south of Liège, reportedly keen to host the start.
Christian Gilbert, brother of Quick-Step’s Philippe Gilbert, is the alderman with responsibility for sport in Aywaille, and he is keen to bring the race to the municipality. “The race presentation on the Saturday, which traditionally takes place at the Palais des Prince-Évêques in Liège, could be maintained,” Christian Gilbert told RTBF. “Only the start itself would move to Aywaille, and that wouldn’t have any impact on the finish, in Ans or in Liège.”
Colorado Summit Cycling Series will test uphill prowess
Riders who like a vertical challenge will have three opportunities to test themselves this summer, with the Colorado Summit Cycling Series bringing together three of the state's top hillclimbs.
Organisers of the Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb, the Westbound & Down/Suerte Guanella Pass Hill Climb and the The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb have bound their events together to create the three-race series that starts ifeatures events in June, July and August.
“To partner with two other great events with such iconic climbs is a good boost for cyclists seeking a great challenge,” said Barry Lee of Guanella Pass, the June race that starts in Georgetown and finishes up Guanella Pass to an elevation of 3,557 metres. "We’re stoked to jump start the whole series with Guanella Pass and set the tone for the total Colorado uphill experience. No doubt, it will serve as a great appetizer to the massive climbs and races that will follow."
July will see the series take on the 53rd Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb, which has been tested by numerous world-class cyclists over the years. The climb starts in Idaho Springs and finishes atop Mount Evans, elevation 4,354 metres. In August the series tackles the The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb, contested entirely on the Pikes Peak Highway and raises up to the finish at 4,302 metres.
“This series creates the ‘Ultimate Uphill Challenge’ for cyclists,” said Doug Martin, COO of the Colorado Sports Corp. “We look forward to playing host to the conclusion of this three-part series, which will certainly draw cyclists near and far to be part of this extreme challenge. Pikes Peak, with its steep switchbacks, is a fitting climb to finish the epic journey for participants.”
2018 Colorado Summit Cycling Series:
Westbound & Down/Suerte Guanella Pass Hill Climb - June 3
Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb - July 21
The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb - August 11
Quick-Step Floors for Dwars door West-Vlaanderen
Coming off their one-two finish this week at le Samyn, Quick-Step Floors will head into Dwars door West-Vlaanderen on Sunday with a mixed team of veterans and neo-pros.
The Belgian race will be the first of the year to feature three of the team’s four neo-pros, two of whom will take on the cobbles for the first time since joining the team. Sports director Tom Steels said he is curious to see how they’ll fare on the pavé in the inclement weather forecasted for Sunday.
“Racing in West-Flanders and starting near the coast means the wind is always crucial for the tactic, sometimes more than the steep hills or the cobblestone sections," Steels said. "With the famous Kemmelberg and two cobblestone sectors in the four final laps, plus the bad weather, which you could see that is wreaking havoc at the moment in Europe, it’s not going to be an easy race.”
“We have riders from Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina in the line-up, so we’ll have to see how they will react to these conditions," Steels said. "OK, most of them proved in their recent races that they are in a good form and are adapted to the weather, but Hodeg just arrived from two months of racing in 30 degrees, while Narvaez has never seen real cobblestones in a race, and will learn that there’s another way of racing in cycling. We will see what this young team is capable of, but we are confident they can have an impact on Sunday’s race."
Quick-Step Floors for Dwars door West-Vlaanderen: Rémi Cavagna, Alvaro Jose Hodeg, Fabio Jakobsen, Davide Martinelli, Jhonnatan Narvaez, Maximiliano Richeze, Florian Sénéchal