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Startline Gallery: Liège-Bastogne-Liège

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Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan)

Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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A start line mascot at Liege

A start line mascot at Liege
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan)

Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Michael Albasini (GreenEdge)

Michael Albasini (GreenEdge)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Omega-Pharma QuickStep)

Sylvain Chavanel (Omega-Pharma QuickStep)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Matt Brammeier (Omega-Pharma QuickStep)

Matt Brammeier (Omega-Pharma QuickStep)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Team Type 1 founder Phil Sutherland (right)

Team Type 1 founder Phil Sutherland (right)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Laurent Didier (RadioShack-Nissan)

Laurent Didier (RadioShack-Nissan)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan)

Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Frank Schleck faces the media at Liege

Frank Schleck faces the media at Liege
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Thomas Lövkvist (Team Sky)

Thomas Lövkvist (Team Sky)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank)

Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Matt Brammeier's Specialized bike

Matt Brammeier's Specialized bike
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Rabobank team car and Giant bikes

Rabobank team car and Giant bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Tom Steels

Tom Steels
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Saur - Sojasun's Time bikes

Saur - Sojasun's Time bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Jim Ochowicz

Jim Ochowicz
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Giovanni Lombardi and Enrico Gasparotto

Giovanni Lombardi and Enrico Gasparotto
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Cédric Vasseur and Patrick Lefevere

Cédric Vasseur and Patrick Lefevere
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Fumiyuki Beppu (GreenEdge)

Fumiyuki Beppu (GreenEdge)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda) tests his radio

Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda) tests his radio
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge)

Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Sandy Casar (FDJ-Big Mat)

Sandy Casar (FDJ-Big Mat)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Barracuda)

Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Barracuda)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)

The final classic of the spring, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, began in Belgium this morning. It was your typical Belgian race startline, packed with adoring fans in stretched team kits from the mid-90s, and young kids calling out to riders’ names in brave attempts to attract stray bidons and caps.

Daniel Mangeas' voice trickled through the announcement speakers as riders braved the chilly but dry conditions on their way to the sign on, aware that Liege is the final curtain call before attention shifts to the stage races of May, and the Giro d’Italia.

But a closer look outside the team buses gave an insight into a far more interesting side to the sport. With the Classics beginning to wind down a number of teams and riders have begun discussing plans for next year and a number of agents were present in Liege, having kept far lower profiles earlier in the season.

Folded arms and pursed lips were the norm as initial stages of haggling filled the air. One team director was slightly more abrupt, raising a finger in the direction of an opposing team before telling Cyclingnews, ‘I think they’ll be after my rider, they need him.”

Cycling, a rich and every changing sport of dynamics, never stands still, and while racing will almost certainly dominate tomorrow’s headlines, there was much more at stake at this morning’s start in Liege.