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A day in Liege-Bastogne-Liege
By Staff
Date: 4/30/2007
A day in Liege-Bastogne-Liege

A day in Liege-Bastogne-Liege
A photo journal from Bart Hazen of the day chasing and photographing the race and riders at the "La Doyenne" through the beautiful Ardennes hills.

Bart Hazen

As a cycling fan and reporter of Daily Peloton I visit a lot of races during the season, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege was my last race this past Sunday. We left that morning around 8.45 CET from home and picked up some friends who would join us that day. We drove to Beaufays, just about 5 km after the official start, where our first stop was. The riders passed here about 10.15 CET and we were eyewitnesses to the realization of the break of the day. Jan Kuyckx (Landbouwkrediet) attacked followed immediately by Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff) and a bit later joined by Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) and Remi di Gregorio (La Francaise des Jeux). The bunch didnít respond and the break was away for a very long time.

The hilly Ardennes that the three races of the Spring Classic Trilogy.
Photo c. Bart Hazen

In Beaufays we could immediately take the highway or autostrada, as you wish. We drove to Sougne-Remouchamps-Aywaille, where the Redoute is. We didnít wait for hours on the Redoute but saw the riders on the N666 on their way to Bastogne. Of course the four riders were still in front working well together while the bunch took an easy ride.

After this we rode to La Roche-en-Ardenne where we saw the riders on a climb. La Roche-en-Ardenne is a beautiful place and a popular place for tourists. In the area you can ride trails on your mountain bike, you can also go Para-Sailing, water sports like rafting and kayaking are an option.

A family gets a close look at the tank memorial. Photo c. Bart Hazen

There is a military tank which is a memorial to the battle in the Ardennes during World War Two. This battle you might have read about in History classes or seen in the documentary movie the Band of Brothers.

The escapees in La Roche-en-Ardenne. Photo c. Bart Hazen

The riders passed this town just after noon with the four leaders, Di Gregorio, Kiryienka, Etxebarria and Kuyckx, still in the lead. The bunch led by Astana and Gerolsteiner were over 18 minutes behind on the leaders.

After the passage in La Roche-en-Ardenne we had a margin of about 2 hours to go to our 4th point of the day, the Cote de Wanne. From La Roche-en-Ardenne the easiest way to go to the Wanne is to take the Highway but we didnít. Because we had the time, we took our time and drove through the hills of the Ardennes to the Wanne. The Ardennes are very beautiful there and itís always up and down and itís never flat.

In Grand Halleux we turned right to the Cote de Wanne. This is a very steep climb and the first real climb in the final section of the race. During this part of the race the live TV coverage always starts its coverage.

VIP Helicopter follows the race.† Photo c. Bart Hazen

While waiting on the Cote de Wanne for the riders, who would pass here between 14.00 and 14.15 CET there was a lot to see. We had a beautiful view on the landscape and it was a place where some helicopters hovered above us. One of them stopped right behind us with some VIPís. And after the riders passed on the Cote, the Heli flew away to another place where he could land and see the race.

The Heli hovers behind us... Photo c. Bart Hazen

On the Wanne the four leaders where still in front with 15 minutes on the bunch led by Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner) and a team mate. A lot of riders who had worked hard already like Righi, Boven, Loosli, Frei and others were dropped on this climb.

The beautiful Ardennes.††† Photo c. Bart Hazen

After the Wanne we tried to get to our last stop of the day, namely La Redoute. We had a margin of almost 1h30 to get there but it isnít always easy to get there because there is lots of traffic on the road. But yesterday I was surprised that there wasn't much traffic on the roads and that we passed through some bottleneck points like Trois and the feeding zone in La Gleize very easy. And so we arrived quite early on La Redoute.

Fans Parked along La Redoute waiting for the riders. Photo c. Bart Hazen

La Redoute is a very steep climb and a big executioner in this race. The crowd can easily park their cars because the police had shortened the highway. So fans can park their cars here on both sides of the road. And when you step over the crash barrier you are already on La Redoute.

We were surprised that the leaders were still in front but they had lost Jan Kuyckx earlier on the Stockeu. When the leaders passed us I looked up on La Redoute and saw that Kiryienka was dropped as well as the trio of escapees climbed. When the bunch passed us Gerolsteiner and CSC led the bunch at about 2.00 behind the leaders. But all the favorites still looked great and ready to battle for the victory. Some riders didn't fare so well; on the backside of the field riders were struggling. The last group of riders passed on La Redoute minutes after the leaders and in the second bunch some strong riders, among them Christophe Brandt (Davitamon-Lotto) and Bobby Julich (CSC).

After they passed us, we walked back to the car and started our drive home. On our trip home we followed the end of the race on the radio and it was very exciting. When we passed through Ans on the highway we saw a police officer on the side of the road looking down from his station on a bridge. When I looked, I saw that he had a view of the finish line. We couldnít stop because the police officer was there to prevent to stop any parking there as a lot of fans were traveling this route to see the finish. Itís was also very dangerous especially when lots of people are passing you in the cars at full speed.

Following the race on the radio was very nerve wracking. But we where happy when we heard on the radio that Danilo Di Luca won the race ahead of Valverde and Schleck. He really deserved that win after he finished twice as 3rd earlier this week in the Amstel and the Fleche Wallonne.

Between 17.00 and 17.30 CET we arrived back at home after a very long but successful day. We saw the riders five times, enjoyed the beautiful landscape of the Ardennes and all with summer temperatures. What more could you wish for as a cycling fan on a day like this?

Now we have some days off before visiting the next race. Next Sunday we will visit the U23 race the Hel van Voerendaal. Itís a very important race as well for the young guns; but first we will watch the Henninger Turm and the Tour of Romandie which will be broadcast live on TV.

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