Vanendert finished tenth twelve months ago when Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) soloed clear in the final stages to take the win but Vanendert is confident his form is good enough to see him contest the finish this year.
The 28-year-old finished second in Amstel Gold and fourth in Fleche Wallonne last year but this year he has missed out on several attacks, with bad luck certainly a factor. A crash in Wallonne on Wednesday ended his chances, while at Amstel he could only manage 13th.
“There aren’t any consequences of my crash in the Flèche Wallonne after 85 kilometers; also in the race that wasn’t decisive for my result. The puncture I had at 45 kilometers from the end did, I had to chase hard to get back into the peloton before the penultimate climb of the Mur de Huy,” he told the press on Friday afternoon.
“When turning up the final climb I was in the top fifteen, but you miss the acceleration to make the difference. Such bad luck is annoying, but there is a new chance this Sunday.”
While Fleche Wallonne can be described as a drag race to the top of the Mur de Huy, Liege-Bastogne-Liege offers a far less predictable encounter with several key climbs positioned within the second half of the race, and a far more selective parcours in general.
Even with key changes to this year’s route due to roadworks, Vanendert believes that Liege offers far more opportunities to win than Fleche Wallonne.
“Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a different race. In the Flèche Wallonne the Mur de Huy is almost always decisive, Liège is more of a tactical race. Partly because of the absence of the Roche aux Faucons I think that the route has become easier and that more riders are able to win. In the final you have to ride up the Saint-Nicolas as fast as possible and I have to get to the finish with as few riders as possible. The amount of kilometers is definitely not a disadvantage for me and after an Amstel, where the team wasn’t that good, they showed in the Flèche Wallonne that they are good. But the strong teams like BMC, Katusha and Sky will have to carry the race.”
Vanendert is well aware that a high finish is needed in order to rescue his spring campaign but with no Belgian winner in any of the major one-day races this year, he’s not the only rider feeling the heat.
“In the Amstel I felt good and I got confirmation of my good condition, in the Flèche Wallonne that didn’t succeed. I need a good result on Sunday to be able to speak of a successful Ardennes season, yes; although one year you can get on the podium with the same condition and become twentieth the other year. The fact that the Belgians haven’t won yet this year? Hopefully I can change that on Sunday. Boonen had a lot of bad luck, Gilbert is probably not exactly the same Gilbert as two years ago, although he definitely has a chance this Sunday and cycling keeps on going international with amongst others the Columbians that are doing well.”
Lotto Belisol: Gaëtan Bille, Bart De Clercq, Francis De Greef, Jurgen Van de Walle, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.