Mapei Riders Preview L-B-L Route
– Reported by Mapei –
Grey skies and heavy rain accompanied the MAPEI-Quick Step team’s training session on the route of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, one of the classic world cup races. Oscar Freire and his team mates rode the final 100 kilometres of the race, the part that goes from Trois-Ponts to Ans including the most difficult cфte sections of the race, the Stockeu, the Cфte du Rosier, the Vecquйи, the infamous Cфte du la Redoute, the Sprimont, the Cфte du Sart Tilman and the Cфte du Saint Nicolas.
“We chose this part of the race – explains Paolo Bettini winner of 2000 edition of the Liege – as this is where the race explodes. By now I already know the route of the race, but it is always a good idea to refresh one’s mind. This year the Sprimont section has been changed slightly in that we will be using a secondary road for this part”.
Today’s training was particularly useful for the 2 riders that are making their debut at the Liege race – World Champion Oscar Freire and Cadel Evans.
“This is a very difficult – said Oscar but at the same time very captivating race; I believe it is the classic race that is best suited to my characteristics as a racer. However, you have to be in peak conditions to win this race. A lot will depend on the weather conditions and how the race evolves; if the race is quick, chaotic and frenzied right from the start, then it will be open for very few”.
Cadel Evans was surprised with the beauty and technical difficulties that the race route holds. “I shall try to support my team mates as much as possible on Sunday; it’ll be my turn to try and gain a good result in a few years time. I think the most difficult part of the race is the Cфte du Saint Nicolas just a few kilometres from the finish line. It’s the type of terrain ideally suited for those that want to avoid risking the final sprint”.
Andrea Noи, team veteran, perfectly knows the race route. “I have been racing in Belgium for almost 10 years; the route is very difficult and I’m sure that the Redoute section will be a crucial part of the race. The Redoute is a very steep climb that needs to be ridden at full speed. Just before the climb there will be a lot of hassling as the riders try to remain at the head of the race. The team’s previous good work could be jeopardised during this tense moment”
Luca Paolini who last year was in the heart of the race right up until the Stockeu section when he lent his bike to Bettini who had punctured his tyre, reveals what type of gears he will be using. “I’ll be using a scale of gears from 12 to 23. The most difficult part of the race?, definitely the final 100 kilometres.
Serge Parsani who knows the Liege race very well will direct the team. “This will be my 10th edition of the race, 5 times as a rider and 5 as Sporting Director collecting two wins in 1998 and 2000”. They say things come in threes!”