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Liege-Bastogne-Liege: The Contenders
 
By Jaime Nichols
Date: 4/24/2004
Liege-Bastogne-Liege: The Contenders
 

Starting at Place Saint-Lambert in Liege, heading south to Bastogne, and returning to Liege on a hillier route, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, now in it's 90th running, is the oldest of the classics, and the 5th round of the World Cup series.

The race is punctuated by 10 climbs, including the epic Redoute, most of them on the second leg of the race on the return journey to Liege, which features the lion's share of the climbing as it travels a circuitous route through the heart of the Ardennes in the French-speaking region of Belgium, making Liege the classic that favors an aggressive, attacking style, and offers the climbers an opportunity to shine.


The Parcours

Last year's Champion, American Tyler Hamilton takes the start again with his new Phonak team. Hamilton is a bit off the form he had this time last year, but not far off, as he comes to Liege just after a strong ride and some good preparation in the Tour of the Basque country. Hamilton is motivated to defend his title in Liege, but should he falter, Phonak will also have the able legs of another former Liege Champion, Oscar Carmenzind.

Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin, though, will be the most touted favorite with form that gave him double victories in Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallone. Rebellin isin a position to become the new World Cup leader with a strong performance in Liege, as well. Right behind him: Saeco's Danilo DiLuca, who wasn't far out of the action in Amstel, and placed 2nd in Fleche. QuickStep's Paolo Bettini can't be underestimated, Stefano Garzelli could show something here, and CSC's Michele Bartoli has been quiet thus far, but he's always a threat to break out a suprising ride. So much for the Italian contingent!


Rebellin celebrates in Amstel

T-Mobile brings an all-star line-up, featuring current World Cup leader, Steffan Wesemann. Wesemann will be hard put to defend his jersey in Liege, but he has vowed to fight, and hopes to find himself in the top 20. Wesemann's teammates Matthais Kessler and Alexander Vinokourov are both better suited to the hills of La Doyenne.

Former Liege vainquer QuickStep's Franck Vandenbrouke will carry the torch for the Belgians - if he's not out-gunned by his teammate - along with Peter Van Petegem, who's been strong all Spring long, and will have the support of Crazy Jane favorite Axel Merckx for Lotto.

Rabobank is stacked with Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Marten Den Bakker, Oscar Friere, and Levi Leipheimer - not bad, and US Postal rides this classic while Armstrong whups some ass in Georgia, so they will look to Floyd Landis, but I could certainly see Michael Barry or Jurgen Van Den Broeck putting in a strong ride.

LIEGE NEWS ROUND-UP


Defending Champion, Tyler Hamilton

Tyler Hamilton Wants the Victory in Liège

Tyler Hamilton, the big star of the first-division Phonak Hearing Systems team, appears very confident going into Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He thinks he is capable of pulling off a repeat performance of his last year's victory. He also sees good chances for his teammates Oscar Camenzind and Oscar Pereiro.

Tyler Hamilton, in the 2003 road season you achieved the first, big season victory in the classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège race. Now the tough competition is waiting once again in front of the gates. Can we expect to see Tyler on the top step of the winner's podium once again?
Of course it's my biggest goal to win this prestigious race again this year. I think our team has good chances of claiming another overall win. Especially with Oscar Pereiro, Oscar Camenzind and myself, we have several options.

What will be your tactic? Is it even possible to lay out a tactic here or do you have to wait for the race first of all and then make a decision based on the situation?
I don't think that you can programme a specific tactic here in advance. Therefore, it's better to carefully follow how the race proceeds and observe how the competition is working. The last 20 kilometres are especially important. In the final phase it's a matter of being extremely careful and not let yourself be caught off guard. Complete concentration is required of every rider.

The individual World Cup races do not have the same status. Where would you rank Liège-Bastogne-Liège?
I've been riding in this competition since 1997. It's my favorite test in the World Cup. For me, it has a very high status. It's the most difficult measure of strength in the high-stakes competition series. It has a very special character.

How satisfied are you with your current form? Is the conditioning going according to plan?
I'm very satisfied with my form. Everything is going according to plan. My performances in the Basque Tour, especially in time trials, have shown this very clearly. I was able to present myself there in an extremely good light.

What can one say about the competition?
I observe my competitors very closely. As a result, I definitely see that this field has to be ranked considerably stronger overall than last year's.

Phonak Hearing Systems is in the pleasant position of having two former winners of Liège-Bastogne-Liège with Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Camenzind. Would a role reversal be conceivable? Or do you consciously put yourself in the service of former world champion Camenzind?
We absolutely have the option of appointing either one of us as the leader. In that way, we can decide during the race based on the situation. We're enough of pros that we recognize and support the ace with the better form as the leader. If Oscar Camenzind has the chance to win the race, I will put myself completely at his service. Of course we use a cleverly thought-out tactic for that and let our years of experience have some influence.

Interview courtest of www.phonak-cycling.ch

T-Mobile Brings It

Matthais Kessler, Andreas Kloeden, Alexander Vinokourov and current W.C. leader Stephan Wesemann will all take to the hills in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It's been 25 years since the victory of Dietrich Thurau in 1979 in Liege, and the T-Mobile boys are looking to update that statistic, and to place once again a German or at least a rider from a German team on the winner's podium of "La Doyenne"; the oldest of the Spring Classics.

"Kessler, Kloeden, and Vinokuorov and Klier have very good form. If everything goes well, one of them can also win in Liege," reports a confident T-mobile Director Sportif Mario Kummer. "Our team has performed well in all spring classics thus far, and we want to show ourselves again on Sunday and close out this part of the season with a good result."

Wesemann, especially, has been strong this season with his victory in Flanders, and will be riding in defense of the World Cup leader's jersey. Wesemann is eager to wear the rainbow jersey in the first autumn classic in Hamburg in August, before German public.


Wesemann looking good in rainbows

"Actually, Liege was not planned for me, but if you're leading the world cup, naturally you want to defend the position. Therefore I will start with the goal of taking as many World Cup points as possible. It will difficult to hold the lead, but the attempt is worthwhile in itself. I will fight to keep the jersey," promises Wesemann.

The World Cup leader, who spent the week preparing in Switzerland this past week is prepared and motivated: "I have mountains like the Ardennes outside my front door. The climbs in Liege-Bastogne-Liege might not be much of a problem for me," says Weseman, "but the competition is tough."

Report courtesy of www.t-mobile-team.com.

Jaksche Ready for Liége-Bastogne-Liége
Team CSC reports that as expected, Jörg Jaksche is ready for Sunday's Liége-Bastogne-Liége after having passed the final medical-check on Saturday.

A week ago the German rider broke his elbow, but he has since then received treatment by Ole Kåre Føli. Jaksche has no high expectations in Liége-Bastogne-Liége, where Team CSC hopes for Ivan Basso, Michele Bartoli or Nicki Sørensen to perform well.

Last year Team CSC's Tyler Hamilton won the race after hard work by Sørensen and Carlos Sastre. Hamilton this year rides for Phonak and is, just like the winner of both Amstel Gold Race and Fléche Wallonne, Davide Rebellin, among the big favourites in 'La Doyenne'. Other main contenders are Danilo Di Luca, Paolo Bettini, Michael Boogerd, Michele Scarponi, Stefano Garzelli and the T-Mobile duo Alexandre Vinokourov and Matthias Kessler.

START LIST

PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS
1 - HAMILTON Tyler USA
2 - AEBERSOLD Niki SUI
3 - CAMENZIND Oscar SUI
4 - ELMIGER Martin SUI
5 - GRABSCH Bert GER
6 - GUTIERREZ José Enrique ESP
7 - PEREIRO SIO Oscar ESP
8 - RAST Gregory SUI

T-MOBILE TEAM
11 - WESEMANN Steffen GER
12 - AERTS Mario BEL
13 - GUERINI Giuseppe ITA
14 - KESSLER Matthias GER
15 - KLÖDEN Andréas GER
16 - NARDELLO Daniele ITA
17 - VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ
18 - ZABEL Erik GER

LOTTO - DOMO
21 - VAN PETEGEM Peter BEL
22 - BAGUET Serge BEL
23 - BRANDT Christophe BEL
24 - MARICHAL Thierry BEL
25 - MERCKX Axel BEL
27 - VERBRUGGHE Rik BEL
28 - WADECKI Piotr POL
29 - D'HOLLANDER Glenn BEL

FASSA BORTOLO
31 - VANDENBROUCKE Frank BEL
32 - CIONI Dario ITA
33 - CODOL Massimo ITA
34 - FLECHA Juan Antonio ESP
35 - KIRCHEN Kim LUX
36 - PETITO Roberto ITA
37 - POZZATO Filippo ITA
38 - SACCHI Fabio ITA

QUICK STEP - DAVITAMON
41 - BETTINI Paolo ITA
42 - BRAMATI Davide ITA
43 - DUFAUX Laurent SUI
44 - NUYENS Nick BEL
45 - PAOLINI Luca ITA
46 - SINKEWITZ Patrik GER
47 - TANKINK Bram NED
48 - VAN GOOLEN Jurgen BEL

RABOBANK
51 - BOOGERD Michael NED
52 - DE WEERT Kevin BEL
53 - DEKKER Erik NED
54 - DEN BAKKER Maarten NED
55 - FREIRE Oscar ESP
56 - KROON Karsten NED
57 - LEIPHEIMER Levi USA
58 - LOTZ Marc NED

US POSTAL - BERRY FLOOR
61 - BELTRAN Manuel ESP
62 - AZEVEDO José POR
63 - BARRY Michaël CAN
64 - LANDIS Floyd USA
65 - MIKHAILOV Guennadi RUS
66 - NOVAL GONZALEZ Benjamin ESP
67 - RUBIERA José Luis ESP
68 - VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen BEL

TEAM CSC
71 - BARTOLI Michele ITA
72 - ARVESEN Kurt-Asle NOR
73 - BASSO Ivan ITA
74 - JAKSCHE Jorg GER
75 - LÜTTENBERGER Peter AUT
76 - SASTRE Carlos ESP
77 - SCHLECK Frank LUX
78 - SORENSEN Nicki DEN

ALESSIO - BIANCHI
81 - PELLIZOTTI Franco ITA
83 - BERTOLINI Alessandro ITA
84 - IVANOV Ruslan MDA
85 - MIHOLJEVIC Vladimir CRO
86 - MORENI Cristian ITA
87 - NOE' Andrea ITA
88 - RASTELLI Ellis ITA

EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI
91 - ETXEBARRIA David ESP
92 - ALBIZU Joseba ESP
93 - ARTETXE Mikel ESP
94 - CAMANO Iker ESP
95 - ETXEBARRIA Unai VEN
96 - ISASI Inaki ESP
97 - LANDALUZE Inigo ESP
98 - SANCHEZ Samuel ESP

FDJEUX.COM
101 - GILBERT Philippe BEL
102 - BICHOT Freddy FRA
103 - CASAR Sandy FRA
104 - FRITSCH Nicolas FRA
105 - LÖVKVIST Thomas SWE
106 - ROBIN Jean-Cyril FRA
107 - VOGONDY Nicolas FRA

SAECO
111 - DI LUCA Danilo ITA
112 - CELESTINO Mirko ITA
113 - GLOMSER Gerrit AUT
114 - MAZZOLENI Eddy ITA
115 - PETROV Evgeni RUS
116 - SABALIAUSKAS Marius LTU
117 - SPEZIALETTI Alessandro ITA
118 - STANGELJ Gorazd SLO

LAMPRE
121 - BALLAN Alessandro ITA
122 - BARBERO Sergio ITA
124 - GARATE Juan Manuel ESP
125 - PINOTTI Marco ITA
126 - RIGHI Daniele ITA
127 - SCOTTO D' ABUSCO Michele ITA
128 - VILA ERRANDONEA Patxi Xabie ESP
130 - VAINSTEINS Romans LAT

GEROLSTEINER
131 - REBELLIN Davide ITA
132 - FARESIN Gianni ITA
133 - HARDTER Uwe GER
134 - SERPELLINI Marco ITA
135 - STRAUSS Marcel SUI
136 - TOTSCHNIG Georg AUT
137 - WEGMANN Fabian GER
138 - ZBERG Marcus SUI

CHOCOLADE JACQUES WINCOR
141 - ABAKOUMOV Igor BEL
143 - BRARD Florent FRA
144 - PIATEK Zbigniew POL
145 - VAN DE WALLE Jurgen BEL
146 - VAN VELZEN Jan NED
147 - VERHEYEN Geert BEL
148 - VOSKAMP Bart NED
149 - BELOHVOSCIKS Raivis LAT

LANDBOUWKREDIET - COLNAGO
151 - POPOVYCH Yaroslav UKR
152 - DE WAELE Bert BEL
153 - DUMA Vladimir UKR
154 - GASPERONI Cristian ITA
155 - MONFORT Maxime BEL
157 - STREEL Marc BEL
158 - VERSTREPEN Johan BEL
159 - BILEKA Volodimir UKR

BRIOCHES LA BOULANGERE
161 - ROUS Didier FRA
162 - BENETEAU Walter FRA
163 - BOUYER Franck FRA
165 - CHAVANEL Sylvain FRA
166 - HARY Maryan FRA
167 - LEFEVRE Laurent FRA
168 - PINEAU Jérôme FRA

ILLES BALEARS - B. SANTANDER
171 - MENCHOV Denis RUS
172 - COLOM Antonio ESP
173 - GUTIERREZ José Ivan ESP
174 - HORRACH Joan ESP
175 - LASTRAS Pablo ESP
176 - REYNES Vicente ESP

SAUNIER DUVAL - PRODIR
181 - MORI Manuele ITA
182 - BERTOGLIATI Rubens SUI
183 - GOMEZ Angel ESP
184 - LOBATO Ruben ESP
185 - PERDIGUERO Miguel ESP
186 - RODRIGUEZ Joaquim ESP
187 - VENTOSO Francisco ESP
188 - ZAUGG Oliver SUI

LIBERTY SEGUROS
191 - SERRANO Marcos ESP
192 - BARANOWSKI Dariusz POL
193 - CARUSO Giampaolo ITA
194 - GIL PEREZ Koldo ESP
195 - HRUSKA Jan CZE
196 - RAMIREZ Javier ESP
197 - SANCHEZ Luis ESP
198 - VICIOSO Angel ESP

MRBOOKMAKER.COM - PALMANS
201 - VAN DE WOUWER Kurt BEL
202 - COENEN Johan BEL
203 - GABRIEL Frédéric FRA
204 - LEUKEMANS Bjorn BEL
205 - RENDERS Jens BEL
206 - THIJS Erwin BEL
207 - VAN HAECKE Michel BEL
208 - WUYTS Peter BEL

AG2R PREVOYANCE
211 - BROCHARD Laurent FRA
212 - AGNOLUTTO Christophe FRA
213 - ASTARLOZA Mikel ESP
214 - CHAURREAU Inigo ESP
215 - GOUBERT Stephane FRA
216 - KRIVTSOV Yuriy UKR
217 - LAIDOUN Julien FRA
CREDIT AGRICOLE
221 - MOREAU Christophe FRA
222 - BOTCHAROV Alexandre RUS
223 - FEDRIGO Pierrick FRA
224 - HALGAND Patrice FRA
225 - KASHECHKIN Andrey KAZ
226 - LE MEVEL Christophe FRA
227 - POILVET Benoit FRA
228 - SALMON Benoit FRA

CALDIROLA - NOBILI RUBINETTERIE
231 - GARZELLI Stefano ITA
232 - BEUCHAT Roger SUI
233 - CELLI Luca ITA
234 - CHEULA Gianpaolo ITA
235 - MASCIARELLI Simone ITA
236 - MASON Oscar ITA
237 - MILESI Marco ITA
238 - ZAMPIERI Steve SUI

DOMINA VACANZE
241 - SCARPONI Michele ITA
242 - BAZHENOV Alexandr RUS
243 - FAILLI Francesco ITA
244 - GENTILI Massimiliano ITA
245 - GIUNTI Massimo ITA
246 - KOLOBNEV Alexandr RUS
247 - SIMEONI Filippo ITA
248 - VALOTI Paolo ITA

 
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