April 24 marks the 108th running of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, with a new start and finish at Quai des Ardennes. The shift from Place Saint-Lambert in Liège was made to accommodate a large construction project for a tramway. Now a true loop, the course will cover 257.1 kilometres.
Another change for the concluding event of the Ardennes Classics is the removal of Côte des Forges from the route, resulting from flooding in that area from last July. This year the Côte de Sprimont will serve to connect to Côte de la Rouch-aux-Faucons, which is the launching pad for the final battle over the toughest climbs in the Ardennes.
Eight of the 10 categorised climbs are packed into the final 90 kilometres. The final quartet of ascents begin at Côte de Desnié, which was added last year. At 1,600 metres long and averaging 8.1 per cent, it has a particularly stinging section halfway up. Then the peloton reaches the Redoute, the most famous, and difficult of the categorised climbs, as it averages almost 10 per cent.
The Côte des Forges leads to Rouch aux Faucons, just 1.3km in length but with an 11 per cent gradient, the peloton faces a short descent to a false flat and then a two-kilometre incline to Boncelles, with a 6.2 per cent gradient. Then the riders blast along a fast final 10km through Liège to a flat finish.
Last year Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) launched his winning move on the final climb of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, winning with a bike throw over World Champion Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep).
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