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On the start line: Liege-Bastogne-Liege

The sun was shining yet again in Belgium as the riders gathered for the start of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Most of them were relaxed, ready to race but perhaps slightly pleased to have reached the end of an intense month of Classics racing. Some will head to Switzerland for the Tour de Romandie or begin their final build-up for the Giro d'Italia but for many it is almost time for a well-deserved break.

Big favourite and local hero Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was mobbed by the crowds and the media at the start. He seemed to take it all in his stride but there were occasional glimpses of the pressure on his shoulders.

Leopard Trek, Katusha and Astana have strong teams that will try to isolate and then attack Gilbert. If he manages to beat them all and complete a rare Ardennes hat-trick, he has promised to head back to the La Redoute climb and celebrate with his fan club, who are holding a big barbecue on the climb.

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Stephen Farrand
Stephen Farrand

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.