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92nd Liège-Bastogne-Liège Preview
By Staff
Date: 4/22/2006
92nd Liège-Bastogne-Liège Preview

92nd Liège-Bastogne-Liège Preview
The Course, Climbs, History, Palmares of  "La Doyenne" The Grande Damme of the Classics and the last of the Spring Classics.

Liège to  Ans - 262 km

The most senior of the classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, was first contested in 1892. Known as the "La Doyenne", "Gran'Ma"  or the "Old Lady" the Liège-Bastogne-Liège is well, and truly the oldest of cycling's classics and she turns 92 this spring.

First run in 1892, it rides through the hilliest parts of Belgium, along routes typical of the Ardennes. In its latter stages the race, cut out for all-round riders and of an attacking temperament, offers a succession of steep hills now fully embedded in cycling lore (Wanne, Stockeu, La Redoute).
As well as its unique itinerary, Liège-Bastogne-Liège can arguably boast some of the most picturesque scenery to be seen in the Ardennes. Along the way, famed ports of call bring to mind great moments in cycling history. As well as one of World War II's fiercest battles - Stavelot and Houffalize were two of the focal points of the Battle of the Ardennes. Though a spring race per se, it has known its share of rigorous winter weather.

Germain Derycke, co-winner in 1957 with Frans Schoubben, and Bernard Hinault, who pulled off a memorable solo breakaway in 1980, won amidst blizzard conditions. With the exception of these meteorological quirks, Liège-Bastogne-Liège remains Belgium's Primavera - an athletically demanding race in which Belgian riders have proven all but invicible, with Eddy Merckx first and foremost, having managed five victories in a seven year span from 1969 to 1975, including three in a row. Moreno Argentin, Italy's maestro of the Ardennes, won for his part four times between 1985 and 1991.

Nonetheless, the list of past winners reflects cycling's ever-widening international appeal. Switzerland (Ferdi Kubler's two victories in 1951 and 1952), Germany (Herman Buse and Dietrich Thurau), Ireland (a pair of victories for Sean Kelly) Denmark (Rolf Sorensen), Luxemburg (Marcel Ernzer) and Russia (Evgueni Berzin) have all had their share of the spoils, as well as the Netherlands with three victories (Albertus Geldermans, Steven Rooks and Adri Van der Poel). Four Frenchmen have won Liège-Bastogne-Liège : Louis Trousselier, Camille Danguillaume, Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault who won on his debut as a professional in 1977 (the Badger was to strike again three years later). Full palmares at the bottom.

Closer to the present, Michele Bartoli's two successive victories (1997 and 1998) renewed with a long-standing tradition of Italian success in the Ardennes. But he fell short of three-peating, bowing down to Frank Vandenbroucke. The young Belgian prodigy successively left cold in his tracks Laurent Jalabert, Michele Bartoli and Boogerd, his three fiercest rivals. But with Bettini, and his victory in 2000, a new Italian classic-hunter was found.

Recent winners include Bettini, Tyler Hamilton the first and only American winner in 2003; Davide Rebellin 2004, and of Alexandre Vinokourov who added his name to the champions list last year. The names of the winners of the past are names that keen fans will find familiar and fall off their tongues like the bards words ringed with admiration.. The race is high on the list of any professional rider as his dream win of a career to win; which only adds to the air of anticipation of the race each year.

The great one-day races and recent editions have shown that only riders at the top of their form have any chance of winning.  "You can't win this race by fluke. For me Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the toughest of 'Cycling's Five Monuments'." "A few years ago the finish was moved from Liège to Ans. And the final climb there has toughened up the race even more," commented T;Mobile's Eisenga in 2004.


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 thirteen 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 of the days strongest riders are left with a chance for victory.

click on graphic for a larger image

Liège - Ans - 262 km
The Difficulties
The riders face thirteen climbs before arriving at Ans, the final point of this race and of the Spring Classics; with 262 kilometres it has like all the classics length as difficulties as part of its pedigree that add to its distinction as 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 the fast men who have made the early selection.

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°

Race Organizer:
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Daily Peloton Archives
2006 Start List and Photos
2006 Liège-Bastogne-Liège Team Announcements
2005 91rst Liège-Bastogne-Liège Live Report
91st Liège-Bastogne-Liège Preview
90th Liège-Bastogne-Liège Live Coverage
2004 Liege-Bastogne-Liege: The Contenders
2004 Liege-Bastogne-Liege: Preview
2003 Who will win La Doyenne?
2003 U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1.7.1) Results
2002 LIEGE - The main contenders
2002 Mapei's Masterpiece Paolo Bettini wins 2nd LBL (Live)
Liege - Rebellin Interview 2002

History: Liege-Bastogne-Liege Approaches...
How the Cup was Won: Parts One and Two
Who are the Best 20 Classics Riders in History
Who are the Best 20 Classics Riders in History? Part Two

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
2005 Alexandre Vinokourov

Related Articles
2006 Liège-Bastogne-Liège Team Announcements
2006 Liège-Bastogne-Liège Start List

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