On the eve of defending his Liege-Bastogne-Liege challenge, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) said he felt more concerned about possible poor weather on Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege than he does about the new, tougher climb introduced at the foot of the long ascent to Ans.
As of Saturday afternoon there is a high probability of very cold weather and freezing rain showers in the area, with snow predicted to reach Bastogne on Sunday morning.
Temperatures are set to struggle to reach seven or eight degrees above freezing mid-afternoon on Sunday in Liege and much lower in the hillier uplands further south.
For Valverde, as he told a small group of reporters including Cyclingnews on Saturday, “the final climb can change things a lot, it’s a very hard ascent with pave but what really worries me is the weather, the cold and above all the rain.”
“My rivals will be Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Vincenzo NibaliI (Astana) and I’m sure I’ve missed some other top contenders, too.”
However, what will be lacking, even if the chance of a fourth Liege-Bastogne-Liege Classic is beckoning, is pressure. “With a fourth Fleche Wallonne already in my palmares, I don’t need to worry so much about what’s coming up. There are others who will be feeling the heat a lot more than me.”
“If I win, though, it’ll be a huge source of pride for me and for the team.”
Should Valverde win, he will not only draw equal with Moreno Argentin for Liege-Bastogne-Liege victories - four - and equal Eddy Merckx total of eight wins in Belgian Ardennes Classics. Valverde will also take a ‘double Ardennes double’ - that of winning Fleche and Liege twice in as many years - something only achieved previously by one rider, Ferdi Kubler in 1951 and 1952.