By Jeff Jones
Liege-Bastogne-Liege marks the seventh and final ProTour spring classic, with Sunday's edition planned over a more challenging course than in previous years. Prompted by criticism that the course was too easy last year, given that there were still 60 riders in the peloton at the foot of the final climb of St-Nicolas with 6 km to go, the organisers ASO have decided to throw in a few more obstacles. There are 12 climbs in this year's 91st L-B-L, up from 10 last year, and the inclusion of the Côtes de Wanne, Stockeu, and Haute Levée between km 171 and km 186 should make the lead up to the finale harder than before.
In fact, it's the Côte de Wanne that really marks the beginning of the end game, falling as it does with 89 km to go. After the Stockeu and Haute Levée, the riders will tackle the Rosier (km 195), La Vecquee (km 208), La Redoute (km 225), Sprimont (km 231), Sart-Tillman-Tilff (km 246), and St Nicolas (km 255). And of course, the final kilometre and a half to the finish line in Ans is uphill, at a gradient of about 5-6%.
As always, it's the riders who make the race, and in the last week we have seen some biggish bunches at the foot of the final climbs in the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne. That tactic has been dictated by the favourites' teams, who have been controlling the racing instead of trying to break it open at an earlier stage, so that their captains arrive at the finish as fresh as possible.
Cyclingnews will be covering the 91st Liège-Bastogne-Liège live from start to finish. Coverage starts at 10:45 CEST (Europe)/4:45 EDT (USA East)/1:45 PDT (USA West)/18:45 AEST (Australia East).
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