Route changes have been a feature of the classics campaign in 2013, and it is a trend that looks set to continue at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Road works – rather than weather conditions – mean that the climb of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons will not be on the Liège-Bastogne-Liège course this year, but deciding on the alternative route has posed problems for race organisers ASO.
Located 20 kilometres from the finish, the Roche-aux-Faucons has been a key moment in Liège-Bastogne-Liège since it was added to the route in place of the Côte du Sart Tilman in 2008, but La Dernière Heure reports that road works on the ascent will not be completed in time for the race on April 21.
One contingency plan would see the race instead take in the Côte de Tilff, but it is understood that director Jean-François Pescheux has reservations about bringing the riders over a narrow temporary bridge across the River Ourthe.
Another alternative is to tackle the Côte du Sart Tilman, which last featured in 2007, but the road will be blocked on April 21 due to a horse show taking place near the summit of the climb. “It’s like that every spring because our organisation needs a lot of people and trucks,” a member of the horse show organisation told La Dernière Heure. “We need room for them, and nobody brought it our attention that the date of our event coincided with the passage of the race.”
Liège-Bastogne-Liège is thus likely to climb the Côte de Colonster [2.9km at 5.5%], although it would have to approach the climb via a sharp hairpin bend. An ASO delegation will assess the possible finale on Wednesday.
“Roche-aux-Faucons and Tilff are out of bounds, we will doubtless have to climb to Colonster,” said ASO’s Jean-Michel Monin. “In all likelihood we’ll have to descend via Seraing to get back to the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.”
Flèche Wallonne will also have some modifications to its originally planned course, as some towns are unwilling to bear the costs of providing police to marshal the route. “We’ve had to change the first sixty kilometres, we’ll go more or less in a straight line from Binche to Huy, but all of the planned climbs will stay on the parcours,” said Monin.