The final spring classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège, brings down the curtain on a campaign that has seen excitement, intrigue and surprises, but unlike the Omega Pharma-QuickStep shut out during the cobbles, the Ardennes have been far more open affairs.
Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) got the ball rolling with a shock win in Amstel Gold Race, while Joaquim Rodriguez captured his first classic with a typically explosive attack in La Fleche Wallonne.
Liège offers a number of riders the chance to salvage their campaigns, and whether through their own poor form or Omega Pharma’s domination on the cobbles, there are a number of riders with something to prove in Liège.
Defending champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is the biggest headline act who has failed to sparkle this spring. His improving form was evident at Fleche and the Belgian will be looking to close out with a win. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was expected to challenge throughout the Ardennes but so far the Spaniard has failed to reactivate the pre-doping ban form that marked him out as one of the most lethal riders on this terrain. On Saturday, 24 hours before the race depart, the riders and teams gathered at the Palais Provincial in Liege for the routine of the teams presentation. There were frequent overhead showers - as expected for Sunday's race too - but that didn't dampen the spirits of the crowds, who once again turned out to see their favourites on show.