Roadside: There's a hell of a row going on outside our hotel window tonight, in one of Liиge's less prepossessing hinterlands. The descendants of all those Italian mineworkers and factory men, those who went bonkers when Nibali was off the front in Liиge-Bastogne-Liиge in April, are tearing up the streets. Even in the heartlands of cycling, other events sometimes take precedence!
Roadside Report: We arrived in Europe the day before the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - the first major classic of the Classics season. Two months later, we were there for one last big day out to draw the Spring Classics season to a close: Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Let's take a look back at the day that was.
Ahead of a great Classic, it's always fun to look back at some of the PEZ crew's past experiences on the route of the race. Back in 2010, Dave Aldersebaes had the chance to join VeloClassic Tours in the Ardennes to enjoy the hellaciously hilly fun that is Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Get your climbing legs on, your pockets full of food, and come on for a ride through this beautiful and tortuous course.
Roadside Report, Part One: On a perfect day in the Ardennes, we chased our final Monument of the spring. The oldest classic of them all, La Doyenne, a figure eight from Liege to Bastogne and back, proved that picking a favorite race of the first part of the year is about as easy as buying a yacht.
La Doyenne – ‘a woman who is the eldest or senior member of a group.’ The group in question being the Classics; and in particular the five ‘Monuments,’ specifically Milan–Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris–Roubaix, the Tour of Lombardy and Liege– Bastogne–Liege, the oldest of them all. In Flemish that’s ‘Luik–Bastenaken–Luik,’ but whichever language you chose this race was first held as a professional event in 1894; and that’s a long time ago.
Part II of the PEZ Ardennes Interview recap... As well as gilt edged Liege roadside coverage, PEZ took the time to get the view from inside the peloton. Barloworld’s former team pursuit world champion and last year’s Coppa Bernocchi winner, Steve Cummings (GB) and Columbia youngster, Craig Lewis (USA) both gave us a look inside the bunch at world’s oldest classic.
His stats for Liege read like this: 1979, 20th: 1981, 11th: 1982, 10th: 1984, 1st: 1985, 4th: 1986, 12th: 1987, 20th; 1988, 5th: 1989, 1st – good enough to tell us a little about La Doyenne? Yeah, we thought so too: PEZ talked to Sean Kelly about the oldest, and many would say the hardest of the ‘monuments’.
Luik – Bastanaken – Luik they call it up in Flanders; Liege – Bastogne – Liege down in French speaking Wallonia – ‘La Doyenne’ is her Sunday name. Milan – San Remo is longer; Paris – Roubaix is crazier and Lombardy is more beautiful, but Liege is the oldest – first run as an amateur race in 1892 - and arguably, the toughest.