The 199 riders set to ride Liege-Bastogne-Liege attended the official team presentation on Saturday afternoon in a packed marquee in the courtyard of the Palais des Princes-Eveques in central Liege.
The 25 teams are required to attend and climb on stage to be presented one by one to the crowd packed into the marquee. On the way in and the way out, the riders are mobbed by cycling fans, looking for an autograph, a photograph or even just he chance to see local hero Philippe Gilbert.
It is the last chance for the media to speak to riders and discover the final starting roster for the teams. Cyclingnews caught up with Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) and Simon Gerrans (Team Sky). Like many riders, Hesjedal has been affected by the high pollen count in the air caused by the unusual warm weather and dry conditions. He has a slightly blocked nose but said he his legs are good for the 255.5km race and the 10 classified cotes.
Gerrans will form a interesting combination at Team Sky with the classy Thomas Löfkvist and new signing Rigoberto Uran. Of course everyone will be trying to get rid of Gilbert, who is trying to complete an Ardennes Classic hat trick.
It should be a fascinating battle between him, the Schlecks, and all the other contenders.
Several riders have flown into Belgium since Wednesday's Fleche-Wallonne. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Roman Kreuziger (Astana) rode the Giro del Trentino and flew from Italy on Saturday morning. However Giro del Trentino winner Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) opted not to ride.
Late changes to teams include the confirmation that Xavier Tondo will not ride for Movistar. He had stayed in Belgium this week but is still fighting the pain of kidney stones. Jesus Herrada will take his place.
2010 winner Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) will wear number one in his final Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
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