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New climb of Côte de Desnié added to 2021 Liège-Bastogne-Liège route

Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic (left) pips Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) on the line at the 2020 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Could the world champion’s premature celebration prove to be the difference between the two teams in the final UCI WorldTour team rankings?
Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic (left) pips Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) on the line at the 2020 Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The men’s and women’s editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will feature the new climb of the Côte de Desnié in 2021. The ascent, which is 1.6km long at an average gradient of 8.1 per cent, has been added to the parcours immediately ahead of the pivotal ascent of the Côte de la Redoute.

As was the case in the past two editions, La Doyenne will finish in the city of Liège rather than in the hilltop suburb of Ans. The Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons is again the final climb on the route, with the summit coming 13.5km from the finish line on the Quai des Ardennes.

ASO unveiled the routes of its Ardennes Classics on Friday morning, with Charleroi set to host the start of Flèche Wallonne for the first time since 2012. After being rescheduled to October last year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Ardennes Classics return to their traditional Spring date in 2021, with Flèche Wallonne on April 21 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège following on April 25.

The addition of the Côte de Desnié is the sole alteration to the route of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) won in such dramatic circumstances last October. This year’s edition of La Doyenne features 11 ascents for a total of 4,500 metres of climbing across its 259.5 kilometres.

The first major selection on the route should come with the four climbs in rapid succession after the turn at Bastogne – Mont-le-Soie, Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée – while the long Col du Rosier brings the race to the 200km mark. The new ascent of the Desnié follows after 211 kilometres before the peloton faces a familiar finale over the Côte de La Redoute, Côte des Forges and Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. Race Director Christian Prudhomme suggested the Côte de Desnié would provide “a painful prelude to the terrible and well-known Redoute.”

On Friday, ASO also confirmed the wildcard teams that will join the 19 WorldTour squads at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Alpecin-Fenix and Arkéa-Samsic earned automatic selection for finishing atop the ProTeam standings in 2020, while Bigoal-WB, Gazprom-RusVelo, Sport Vlaanderen Baloise and Total-Direct Energie have received wildcard invitations.

The fifth edition of the women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège is set to be the most demanding yet, with its seven climbs providing a total ascent of 2,300 metres across its 140 kilometres. The race will follow the same route as the men’s event for the final 80km, taking in the climbs of the Côte de Haute-Levée, Col du Rosier, Côte de Desnié, Côte de La Redoute, Côte des Forges and Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.

Lizzie Deignan won the 2020 Liège-Bastogne-Liège last October, with Grace Brown and Ellen van Dijk joining her on the podium.

As has been the case since 1984, the Mur de Huy will host the finish of Flèche Wallonne, with the famous wall to be climbed three times in the men’s race and twice in the women’s race. For the first time since 2012, both races will begin in Charleroi.

The men’s race includes two new additions from last year, the Côte d'Yvoir and the Côte de Gives, but the finale will be a familiar one, with the Côte d’Ereffe and Côte du Chemin des Gueuses preceding the haul up the Mur de Huy. The women’s race will follow the same route as the men’s event for the final 90 kilometres.

World champion Anna van der Breggen is chasing a remarkable seventh consecutive win at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine with her SD Worx team this year. Marc Hirschi won the men’s event last October, and he will return this April as part of a UAE Team Emirates squad that will include Tadej Pogačar, Rui Costa and Davide Formolo.