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On the start line: Liege-Bastogne-Liege

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A nervous looking Philippe Gilbert heads to the start

A nervous looking Philippe Gilbert heads to the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Team Sky Pinarello bikes

The Team Sky Pinarello bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek)

Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale)

Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Michel Kreder, Cameron Meyer and Christian Vande Velde before the off

Michel Kreder, Cameron Meyer and Christian Vande Velde before the off
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The riders wait for the race to roll out of Liege

The riders wait for the race to roll out of Liege
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Simon Gerans (Team Sky)

Simon Gerans (Team Sky)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
(Image credit: Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Bloomington, Indiana)
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Nicolas Roche and Daniel Martin started despite their crash at Fleche Wallonne

Nicolas Roche and Daniel Martin started despite their crash at Fleche Wallonne
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo)

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Everyone wanted a piece of Gilbert at the start

Everyone wanted a piece of Gilbert at the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Ben Herman's Trek fitted with his race number 34

Ben Herman's Trek fitted with his race number 34
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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AG2R-La Mondiale are again using Kuota bikes

AG2R-La Mondiale are again using Kuota bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Liquigas-Cannondale bikes

The Liquigas-Cannondale bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Roman Kreuziger shows off a new Astana hat

Roman Kreuziger shows off a new Astana hat
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Topsport Vlaanderen Merckx bikes

The Topsport Vlaanderen Merckx bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Leopard Trek financial backer Flavio Becca talks to directeur sportif Kim Andersen

Leopard Trek financial backer Flavio Becca talks to directeur sportif Kim Andersen
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Andrey Kashechkin (Lampre-ISD)

Andrey Kashechkin (Lampre-ISD)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Damiano Cunego shows his scars after being hit by a flying bike at Fleche Wallonne

Damiano Cunego shows his scars after being hit by a flying bike at Fleche Wallonne
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Rinaldo Nocentini gives a wave after getting a cheer

Rinaldo Nocentini gives a wave after getting a cheer
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad)

Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) was relaxed as he awaited the start

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) was relaxed as he awaited the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

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.