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91st Liège-Bastogne-Liège Preview
By Staff
Date: 4/23/2005
91st Liège-Bastogne-Liège Preview

The most senior of the classics,  Liège-Bastogne-Liège, was first contested in 1892, and Sunday racing fans will follow the race raptly. So will the bookies - Danilo Di Luca is a clear favorite after back to back wins the past two weeks, as are Rebellin, Vinokourov, Cunego and Boogerd, Freire, Valverde, Kirchen and Vicioso. Selected odds:

Di Luca Danilo (Ita - Liq)    4.00
Boogerd Michael (Ned - Rab)    7.50
Cunego Damiano (Ita - Lam)    8.50
Rebellin Davide (Arg - Gst)    8.50
Bettini Paolo (Ita - Qst)    15.00
Valverde B. Alejandro (Spa - Iba)    16.00
Vinokourov Alexandre (Kaz - Tmo)    22.00

Gerolsteiner Reflects on Rebellin

Fourth, third - the tendency with which Davide Rebellin was rising "was simply unbelievable, it was so cool." Christian Henn still remembers exactly the final moments of 25 April 2004. "Davide waited for a long time, then he attacked and both had no chance left", says the Gerolsteiner sport director of the final kilometers of the 90th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Team captain Davide Rebellin had separated himself from Michael Boogerd and Alexander Vinokourov on the ascent finish last year, completing the Ardennes hat trick of Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne and Liege.

Liquigas-Bianchi's Di Luca - Impending Celeste Triple?

However, this year the hat trick may belong to Danilo Di Luca: after dominating the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Wallonne, Di Luca is longing for the third success to confirm his leadership of the Classics in northern Europe and consequently the ProTour rankings.

Liquigas-Bianchi team manager Roberto Amadio describes the ambitions of the team: "Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the most charming classic in the race calendar and we are going to do our best to win. We take our responsibility as the favourite team, but we do not worry thanks to victories Sunday and Wednesday."

Danilo Di Luca and Franco Pellizotti, who made a site-visit on the côtes today, agree: "The route will turn out to be tougher than last year’s. If in the past the race would be enlivened on the Redoute, on Sunday the battle may start from the Stockeu climb."

Besides Di Luca and Pellizotti, Liquigas-Bianchi will feature the same riders who were the Killer’s “accomplices” in the Flèche Wallonne: Albasini, Calcagni, Carlström, Gerosa, Ljungqvist, and Mugerli. Team managers: Roberto Damiani and Roberto Amadio.

T-Mobile - Kloden Out

A team that recognizes its so called "dark horse" status will not have the services of Kloden or Aldag at La Doyenne. Said Olaf Ludwig in Liège on Saturday morning of Kloden: "Andreas' current form is disappointing. In this shape he is not capable of helping out the team." On Wednesday Klöden dropped out of another Ardennes Classic, Flèche Wallonne.

The exact reason why last year's Tour runner-up is in such poor shape is a source of lots of speculation within the team. Two weeks ago, Klöden underwent performance tests at the University Clinic of Freiburg, which revealed power deficiencies. A changed training programme was drawn up for Klöden, and after consultation with the team's medical department the German Champion appeared confident that he could ramp up his power output.

"Andreas' test results were not so bad actually. Therefore, we can't really explain why he hasn't been able to find his rhythm," says sporting director Mario Kummer, who has decreed that Klöden take a lengthy break from racing. That rules Klöden out of a planned appearance at the Henninger Turm classic in Frankfurt on 1 May. Instead, Klöden will be given the time and space to focus on his preparations for July's Tour de France.

Klöden deeply disappointed

Klöden himself is also unable to explain his dip in form: "I am really disappointed. I have been training intensively, and can't quite put a finger on why I can't bring up my performance levels," said Klöden, who will be replaced by the Austrian neo-pro Bernhard Kohl in the last of the season's Spring Classics.

In the coming weeks the stage-race specialist will follow an intensive training programme under the supervision of his coach Thomas Schediwie. "There is still sufficient time between now and the Tour de France. I am convinced that then we will see Andreas at his best," stresses Olaf Ludwig.

Instead, Matthias Kessler features in the eight-man roster, and with two sixth places in Liège already on his CV, the classics specialist clearly has the potential to make the big breakthrough on Sunday. "The Liège-Bastogne-Liège parcours suits Matthias down to the ground. So far this week he hasn't been able to fully show what he is capable of," says T-Mobile press officer Luuc Eisenga.

For that reason the other classics men in the roster will have 'carte blanche' to try their own luck. "Let's see how the race unfolds, before we know who is riding for who," adds Eisenga. For company in French-speaking Belgium Kessler will have Andreas Klöden, Alexander Vinokourov and Christian Werner, as well as the battle-hardy veterans, Giuseppe Guerini and Steffen Wesemann. 'Wese' didn't push the boat out in his debut 'Fleche' appearance, but the attack-minded German is looking forward to getting stuck in on Sunday: "I am an underdog in this race and I want to make the most out that. My main priority is to ride a good race and do my best for the team."

Schmitz slots in for injured Aldag

Oscar 'El Nino' Sevilla has been passed fit to line up in Liège, despite crashing out of 'Flèche' on Wednesday. Not so fortunate is his crash companion Rolf Aldag; the lanky German fractured his forearm in the same collision. Bram Schmitz slots in for Aldag in the only change to the roster. For the in-form Dutchman it is a chance to build on his strong showing at last week's Vuelta a Aragon, where he was crowned King of the Mountains.

Vinokourov won the Amstel Gold Race in 2003 and likes the Ardennes terrain, but Eisenga is not expecting any heroics from the Kazakh on Sunday: "'Vino' has one eye on the Tour now, so we are not expecting him to go all out here. We have a lot of good riders in the roster, but we don't count among the pre-race favourites."

'The Old Lady', as cycling's oldest classic is known, is the hilliest among the great one-day races and recent editions have shown that only riders at the top of their form have any chance of winning. Eisenga: "You can't win this race by fluke. For me Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the toughest of 'Cycling's Five Monuments'."

A race of attrition

The 260km route takes the peloton on a tough route through the steep pine-wooded valleys and high exposed plateaus of the Ardennes. Including the final summit finish, there are ten vicious climbs on the race route. Traditionally a race of attrition, the intensity builds up in the final 50km so that usually only five of six riders are left with a chance; the strongest.

"A few years ago the finish was moved from Liège to Ans. And the final climb there has toughened up the race even more," says Eisenga, who is hoping T-Mobile will be in the thick of it on the final leg-breaking show-down.

Lampre-Caffita News

Damiano Cunego trained Friday for 100 km, with all his teammates, on the climbs (including the “Redoute” climb) of Liège-Bastogne-Liège race. He feels he is in good condition and in good health.

"His knee-ache is not anymore a problem for his participation in Liège-Bastogne-Liège," said the doctor of the team, Dr Pallini.

"Cunego trained with all his teammates without any problem," said his Directeur Sportif Guido Bontempi. So his race schedule before the Giro will not change: Liège-Bastogne-Liège and then, from the 26th, the Tour de Romandie, in Switzerland".

The General Manager Giuseppe Saronni with the Lampre-Caffita technical staff that the riders to be selected for the Liège-Bastogne-Liège to be raced on Sunday 24 April with the start in Liège and the finish in Ans after 256 km.

The Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be the 10th Pro Tour race of this year's season.
Damiano Cunego, Gerrit Glomser, David Loosli, Daniele Righi, Alessandro Spezialetti, Gorazd Stangelj, , Sylvester Szmid, Patxi Vila.

Davitamon-Lotto News

Three riders from Davitamon rode part of the course on Friday - Axel Merckx, Christophe Brandt and Cadel Evans. The day before, Axel said that he will start with serious ambitions, and he stressed the fact that the team has several aces. Indeed, Axel is rated in the bookies' odds, and the ProTour leading team also has two former winners in its ranks - Sport Director Erik Van Lancker (1990 winner) and VIP coach Dirk De Wolf (1992 winner).

Fassa Bortolo News

Kim Kirchen, second last week in Fleche Wallonne behind Di Luca and ahead of Davide Rebellin, says, "My condition is good and I hope to be able to figure in the victory in Liege on Sunday. The finish is less difficult and could be more competitive, speaking particularly of Di Luca."

The Liberty Seguros-Wurth Opinon

Thirteen climbs before arriving at Ans, the final point of this race and of the classics, which last year were part of the World Cup. The ProTour gives it added interest, added excitement and a degree of distinction to a mythical race.

Its climbs are known to all cycling fans - Stockeu, 2.5 kilometres at 9.6%, and Wanneranval, 1.4 kilometres at 10.7%. But, by tradition and for being the place where many victories have been born, the Redoute climb stands out - 2.3 kilometres with an average gradient of 7%, which is where the final part of the race begins, the last five climbs over 30 kilometres, although the place where those with a chance of victory will have to get rid of the rest will be the ascent to Saint-Nicolas, just 900 metres with an average gradient of 6.7%. From there to the finish, a hilly terrain with an arrival on an upward slope. Not suitable for a sprint en masse, similar to what was seen in La Flèche, but faster, with more chances for some Liberty Seguros-Würth riders.

Vicioso and Etxebarría are proving to be the strongest riders in these spring races and the race on Sunday will be another opportunity. Vicioso knows that he has few opportunities left to ride “alone” and to have the team working for his strategy and he must take advantage of every opportunity, and the Liège is the best setting.

Etxebarría is also proving to be up there with the leaders: he came in 8th in the Amstel and 4th in La Flèche Wallonne. Jaksche will be another rider with possibilities, as will Koen, who can stir things up on a terrain that suits him. For Barredo, hampered by illness, things will be a little more complicated, but like Paulinho, Nozal or Serrano, he will work for the team.

Manolo Saiz: "If we wait till the end with Di Luca and Rebellin it will be difficult to beat them, so we will have to wait and see if any other alternative tactics are planned either by us or by the others. The finale at  Liege, however, is different from the Amstel and La Flèche, because the last 300 metres are flat and perhaps we will have more chances."

Quickstep News

The Quickstep riders also performed reconnaissance on the hills around Liege Friday - Sunday's squad rode the last 100 km of the course. Rik Verbrugghe suffered a fall but will be all right to compete on Sunday. Bettini will head Quickstep's squad, which also includes Sinkewitz, Pozzato, Bramati, Tankink, Lotz, Nuyen and Van Goolen.

Francaise Des Jeux

A mediocre Amstel and two teammates down (Phillipe Gilbert and Sandy Casar) did not dampen the spirit of the team this week at Fleche Wallonne - the young riders can still learn from the more experienced, such as McGee, Lovkvist, Detilloux and Frederick Finot, who did well at Fleche. McGee will not compete Sunday as he is preparing for the Tour of Romandy - the rest of the FdJ roster for La Doyenne is much the same as last week: Gilbert, Bichot, Delage,  Detilloux, Di Gregorio, Finot, Gerard and Lövkvist.

The Parcours

Click for larger image.

The Climbs

Province of Luxembourg
Km 57,5: Côte de Ny
1.8-km climb at 6°

Km 82,5: Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne
2.9-km climb at 5.9°

Km 128,5: Côte de Saint-Roch
1-km climb at 11.2°

Province of Liege
Km 171: Côte de Wanne
2.2-km climb at 7.7°

Km 177,5: Côte de Stockeu
1.1-km climb at 11.6°

Km 183: Côte de la Haute-Levée
3.4-km climb at 6°

Km 195,5: Côte du Rosier
3.9-km climb at 6.3°

Km 208" Côte de la Vecquée
3.2-km climb at 6.2°

Km 225: Côte de la Redoute
2.3-km climb at 7.4°

Km 231: Côte de Sprimont
1.5-km climb at 5°

Km 246: Côte de Sart-Tilman-Tilff
3.7-km climb at 5.9°

Km 254,5: Côte de Saint-Nicolas
0.9-km climb at 11°

Start List

1 Rebellin Davide Ita
2 Fothen Marcus Ger
3 Moletta Andrea Ita
4 Scholz Ronny Ger
5 Serpellini Marco Ita
6 Wegmann Fabian Ger
7 Zberg Beat Sui
8 Zberg Marcus Sui

Davitamon- Lotto
11 Evans Cadel Aus
12 Baguet Serge Bel
13 Brandt Christophe Bel
14 Leukemans Bjorn Bel
15 Merckx Axel Bel
16 Van Hecke Preben Bel
17 Van Huffel Wim Bel
18 Van Summeren Johan Bel

21 Freire Oscar Esp
22 Boogerd Michael Ned
23 Dekker Erik Ned
24 Den Bakker Maarten Ned
25 Kroon Karsten Ned
26 Löwik Gerben Ned
27 Posthuma Joost Ned
28 Weening Pieter Ned

Fassa Bortolo
31 Kirchen Kim Lux
32 Codol Massimo Ita
33 Frigo Dario Ita
34 Giunti Massimo Ita
35 Gustov Volodymir Ukr
36 Nibali Vicenzo Ita
37 Petito Roberto Ita
38 Siutsou Kanstantsin Blr

Team CSC
41 Basso Ivan Ita
42 Arvesen Kurt-Asle Nor
43 Gusev Vladimir Rus
44 Lüttenberger Peter Aut
45 Peron Andrea Ita
46 Schleck Frank Lux
47 Sorensen Nicki Den
48 Voigt Jens Ger

T-Mobile Team
52 Guerini Giuseppe Ita
53 Kessler Matthias Ger
54 Schmitz Bram Ned
55 Sevilla Oscar Esp
56 Vinokourov Alexandre Kaz
57 Werner Christian Ger
58 Wesemann Steffen Ger
59 Kohl Bernhard Aut

Phonak Hearing Systems
61 Pereiro Sio Oscar Esp
62 Botero Santiago Col
63 Gonzalez Santos Esp
64 Gutierrez Ignacio Esp
65 Martin Perdiguero M.Angel Esp
66 Tschopp Johann Sui
67 Valjavec Tadej Slo
68 Zampieri Steve Sui

Saunier Duval-Prodir
71 Zaballa Constantino Esp
72 De La Fuente David Esp
73 Dominguez Juan Carlos Esp
74 Garate Juan Manuel Esp
75 Jeker Fabian Sui
76 Mori Manuele Ita
77 Rodriguez Joaquim Esp
78 Zaugg Oliver Sui

Quick Step
81 Bettini Paolo Ita
82 Bramati Davide Ita
83 Engels Addy Ned
84 Lotz Marc Ned
85 Pozzato Filippo Ita
86 Sinkewitz Patrik Ger
87 Tankink Bram Ned
88 Verbrugghe Rik Bel

Liberty Seguros Würth Team
91 Etxebarria David Esp
92 Barredo Carlos Esp
93 De Kort Koen Ned
94 Jaksche Jorg Ger
95 Nozal Isidro Esp
96 Paulinho Sergio Por
97 Serrano Marcos Esp
98 Vicioso Angel Esp

101 Di Luca Danilo Ita
102 Albasini Michael Sui
103 Calcagni Patrick Sui
104 Carlström Kjell Fin
105 Gerosa Mauro Ita
106 Ljungqvist Marcus Swe
107 Mugerli Matej Slo
108 Pellizotti Franco Ita

Discovery Channel Team
112 Devolder Stijn Bel
113 Hesjedal Ryder Can
114 Joachim Benoit Lux
115 Mc Carty Jonathan Patrick Usa
116 Noval Gonzalez Benjamin Esp
117 Padrnos Pavel Cze
118 Van Den Broeck Jurgen Bel

Credit Agricole
121 Kashechkin Andrey Kaz
122 Bellotti Francesco Ita
123 Caucchioli Pietro Ita
124 Halgand Patrice Fra
125 Joly Sébastien Fra
126 Le Mevel Christophe Fra
127 Moreau Christophe Fra
128 Vogondy Nicolas Fra

Francaise Des Jeux
131 Gilbert Philippe Bel
132 Bichot Freddy Fra
133 Delage Mickaël Fra
134 Detilloux Christophe Bel
135 Di Gregorio Christophe Fra
136 Finot Frédéric Fra
137 Gerard Arnaud Fra
138 Lövkvist Thomas Swe

141 Cunego Damiano Ita
142 Glomser Gerrit Aut
143 Loosli David Sui
144 Righi Daniele Ita
145 Spezialetti Alessandro Ita
146 Stangelj Gorazd Slo
147 Szmyd Sylvester Pol
148 Vila Errandonea Patxi Xabier Esp

Cofidis Credit Par Telephone
151 Moncoutie David Fra
152 Bertagnolli Leonardo Ita
153 Chavanel Sylvain Fra
154 Farazijn Peter Bel
155 Fernandez Bingen Esp
156 Fofonov Dmitriy Kaz
157 Marichal Thierry Bel
158 Vasseur Cédric Fra

Bouygues Telecom
161 Brochard Laurent Fra
162 Beneteau Walter Fra
163 Charteau Anthony Fra
164 Fedrigo Pierrick Fra
165 Hary Maryan Fra
166 Pineau Jérôme Fra
167 Rous Didier Fra
168 Voeckler Thomas Fra

171 Sanchez Samuel Esp
172 Camano Iker Esp
173 Etxebarria Unai Ven
174 Fernandez Koldo Esp
175 Irizar Markel Esp
176 Isasi Inaki Esp
177 Landaluze Inigo Esp

Illes Balears-Caisse D'Epargne
181 Valverde Alejandro Esp
182 Arrieta Jose Luis Esp
183 Garcia Acosta Vicente Esp
184 Julia Cegarra José Cayetano Esp
185 Mancebo Francisco Esp
186 Osa Aitor Esp
187 Reynes Vicente Esp
188 Zandio Xabier Esp

Domina Vacanze
191 Celestino Mirko Ita
192 Grivko Andriy Ukr
193 Iglinskiy Maxim Kaz
194 Ivanov Ruslan Mda
195 Solari Luca Ita
196 Valoti Paolo Ita
197 Vanotti Alessandro Ita

MrBookmaker Sportstech
201 Castresana Angel Esp
202 Bouquet Camille Fra
203 Coenen Johan Bel
204 Day Ben Aus
205 Paumier Laurent Fra
206 Pronk Matthé Ned
207 Thijs Erwin Bel
208 Van De Wouwer Kurt Bel

Ag2r Prevoyance
211 Goubert Stephane Fra
212 Astarloza Mikel Esp
213 Calzati Sylvain Fra
214 Chaurreau Inigo Esp
215 Deignan Philip Irl
216 Dessel Cyril Fra
217 Gerrans Simons Aus
218 Turpin Ludovic Fra

221 Lagutin Sergey Uzb
222 Criquielion Mathieu Bel
223 De Groote Thierry Bel
224 De Waele Bert Bel
225 Monfort Maxime Bel
226 Sijmens Nico Bel
227 Verheyen Geert Bel
228 Verstrepen Johan Bel

Chocolade Jacques-T Interim
231 De Schrooder Benny Bel
232 Ghyllebert Pieter Bel
233 Mertens Pieter Bel
234 Peeters Jef Bel
235 Stubbe Tom Bel
236 Veuchelen Frederik Bel
237 Willems Frederik Bel
238 Wynants Maarten Bel

R.A.G.T. Semences
241 Rinero Christophe Fra
242 Berthou Eric Fra
243 Dion Renaud Fra
244 Dulac Nicolas Fra
245 Dupont Hubert Fra
247 Le Boulanger Yoann Fra
248 Martin Ludovic Fra

Race Palmares

1892 Léon Houat Amateur
1893 Léon Houat Amateur
1894 Léon Houat Amateur
1898 André Trousselier Amateur
1899 Victor Fastre Amateur
1911 Joseph Van DaeleLekeux Indépendant Amateur
1912 Omer Verschoore and Rossius & Gauthy Indépendant
1913 Maurits Moritz Indépendant
1919 Léon Devos
1920 Léon Scieur
1921 Louis Mottiat
1922 Louis Mottiat
1923 René Vermandel
1924 René Vermandel
1925 Georges Ronsse Indépendant
1926 Dieudonné Smets Indépendant
1927 Maurice Paes Indépendant
1928 Ernest Mottard Indépendant
1929 Alfons Schepers Indépendant
1930 Herman Buse
1931 Alfons Schepers
1932 Marcel Houyoux
1933 François Gardier
1934 Theo Herckenrath
1935 Alfons Schepers
1936 Albert Beckaert
1937 Eloi Meulenberg
1938 Alfons Deloor
1939 Albert Ritserveldt
1943 Richard Depoorter
1945 Jan Engels
1946 Prosper Depredomme
1947 Richard Depoorter
1948 Maurice Mollin
1949 Camille Danguillaume
1950 Prosper Depredomme
1951 Ferdi Kubler
1952 Ferdi Kubler
1953 Alois De Hertog
1954 Marcel Ernzer
1955 Stan Ockers
1956 Alfred De Bruyne
1957 Frans Schoubben
1958 Alfred De Bruyne
1959 Alfred De Bruyne
1960 Albertus Geldermans
1961 Rik Van Looy
1962 Joseph Planckaert
1963 Frans Melckenbeeck
1964 Willy Bocklant
1965 Carmine Preziosi
1966 Jacques Anquetil
1967 Walter Godefroot
1968 Valère Van Sweevelt
1969 Eddy Merckx
1970 Roger De Vlaeminck
1971 Eddy Merckx
1972 Eddy Merckx
1973 Eddy Merckx
1974 Georges Pintens
1975 Eddy Merckx
1976 Joseph Bruyere
1977 Bernard Hinault
1978 Joseph Bruyere
1979 Dietrich Thurau
1980 Bernard Hinault
1981 Josef Fuchs
1982 Silvano Contini
1983 Steven Rooks
1984 Sean Kelly
1985 Moreno Argentin
1986 Moreno Argentin
1987 Moreno Argentin
1988 Adri Van Der Poel
1989 Sean Kelly
1990 Eric Van Lancker
1991 Moreno Argentin
1992 Dirk De Wolf
1993 Rolf Sorensen
1994 Evgueni Berzin
1995 Mauro Gianetti
1996 Pascal Richard
1997 Michele Bartoli
1998 Michele Bartoli
1999 Frank Vandenbroucke
2000 Paulo Bettini
2001 Oskar Camenzind
2002 Paolo Bettini
2003 Tyler Hamilton
2004 Davide Rebellin

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