WorldTeam Lotto Soudal ready for Gilbert his final Liège-Bastogne-Liège
On Sunday 24 April, Lotto Soudal will be at the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the fourth monument on the cycling calendar and traditionally the culmination of the spring Classics’ season. This year, the 108th La Doyenne is 257 kilometres long with both start and finish along the Quai des Ardennes, on the banks of the river Ourthe. After the start the peloton heads south towards Bastogne before turning north again and tackling a succession of ascents. The mythical climbs of Col du Rosier, Stockeu, Wanne and Redoute will undoubtedly thin out the bunch. The steep Roche-aux-Faucons – with the summit at 13 kilometres from the finish – forms the apotheosis of La Doyenne. Afterwards, it's downhill towards Liège, where the winner will be crowned.
For Philippe Gilbert it will be a special day as the 39-year-old local will be racing on ‘his’ roads of La Doyenne for the 17th and final time.
“Of course it will be a special moment to ride one last time on the roads that have given me so much”, Philippe Gilbert said. “My name is written on the climb of La Redoute countless times, which will give me goosebumps for sure, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to waste my energy trying to be in first positions if I’m still part of the front group. I mainly want to concentrate on obtaining a good result. Because of the removal of the Côte des Forges, I think the climb of La Redoute has gained importance. Since we don’t have the top favourite in the team, we need to anticipate. However, on a course with lots of wide and exposed roads that will be a difficult task. But since there is no clear favourite this year, it could be an open race.”
Tim Wellens has been at the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège each year since 2013. The Lotto Soudal rider achieved his best result in 2019 with an eleventh place. During his tenth participation, Wellens aspires a top ten spot.
“Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a very different race from Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne. Just like Phil I think the final can be a bit more open because it’s becoming a trend that races are starting more early. I hope to be there in the final. For that, I might have to anticipate the final ascent of La Roche-aux-Faucons. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of the hardest courses of the year where the best riders automatically come out on top. I did already a recon of the slightly renewed course a while ago but I don’t expect it to have a big impact on how the race will unfold. La Doyenne is a race I really love and I will try to get the best result possible. Expressing specific ambitions is difficult but the healthy ambition is to finish within the first ten riders on the Quai des Ardennes”, Tim Wellens concludes.
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Philippe Gilbert, Sébastien Grignard, Matthew Holmes, Sylvain Moniquet, Harm Vanhoucke, Viktor Verschaeve and Tim Wellens.
Images: Photo News.