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Liège - Bastogne - Liège Discussion
Liège - Bastogne - Liège

C’est La Doyenne! To conclude the Ardennes week, we have the fourth monument of the year. It’s possibly the biggest win a puncheur could hope to add to his palmarès, and indeed we find some of the most prolific specialists on the winner’s list of the past few years. All of the most recent champions are here again, including 2016 sensation pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Sven Fritsch, 2018 champion pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/mos.png Peter Sagan and the two riders who actually have a shot at tying Fränk Schleck’s all-time record of three wins - pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ubs.png Simone Ponzi and pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ino.png Jan Bakelants. Will we see history being made, or can a newcomer write his name in the annals of this most tradition-steeped race? We’ll find out soon.


Liège - Bastogne - Liège ranks high on the list of the hardest races of the year, by virtue of its length of almost 250 kilometers, but also of course due to the the excruciating array of steep hills in its final 100 kilometers, including iconic climbs like the Côte de la Redoute and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas. The finish line is at the end of an ascent as well and we’ve mostly seen the race decided right there, in sprints from small-ish groups. But it is also possible to make the winning move earlier and arrive alone. Let’s have a look at the guys who will take on the challenge.

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/afk.png Hagen698480737278
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/aeg.png De Bie718477767275
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/rak.png Kinoshita728380776877
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/evo.png Skujins708380776876
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/mos.png Sagan748378747376
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/iso.png Mohoric718378726777
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/kng.png Lutsenko738376737281
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ubs.png Ponzi728376717579
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Van Garderen728278757079
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ino.png Bakelants738278757175
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/evo.png Lopez798276746678

This startlist is stacked! All of these 11 riders have a credible case to be podium contenders. On top of the list, we have pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/afk.png Edvald Boasson Hagen. The Norwegian is arguably one of the most distinguished puncheurs of the past few years, but a win here is still missing from his palmarès, having been to the podium three times over the last six years. And one year into his regression, this might be his last best shot. He still boasts elite hill, stamina and acceleration stats, but his resistance and mountain stat are, by comparison, a little below average by now.

Still, only one man matches him in terms of pure hill stat, and that is pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/aeg.png Sean De Bie. He has made some improvements since last year, maybe in part inspired by his lackluster performance in this very race, where he finished 14th. Although he has a 4th place to his name from three years ago as well, anything but a new personal best - read: a podium - would likely be considered as a failure, especially after not delivering in either of the previous Ardennes races earlier this week.

A new personal best also has to be the goal for pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/rak.png Tomohiro Kinoshita, although that is a much lower bar to clear, considering his only somewhat notable result here is an 18th place in 2015. Due to spending the last few years in the PCT, he hasn’t had a chance to prove himself since, but similar to De Bie, he has done some training in the offseason and is now ready to make a big splash for PT newcomers Rakuten – or rather, another big splash? He’s just won the Flèche Wallonne, after all, and with stellar stats across the board, he’s surely capable of the win here, too.

Speaking of stellar stats across the board, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/evo.png Toms Skujins is almost the exact same rider as the Japanese, only trailing ever so slightly in the mountain and acceleration department. He makes up for that in experience, though, having finished in the Top 10 of all of the previous five editions, including a 2nd place two years ago and 3rd in 2016 (which would have been a second as well if not for pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Fritsch’s upset). In addition, he finished 3rd at the Flèche Wallonne and 2nd at the Amstel Gold Race this year – time to complete the podium collection?

Evonik also has the luxury of having not one but two elite puncheurs here. pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/evo.png Miguel Angel Lopez may not be among the best pure puncheurs, but he towers over the other main favorites in terms of climbing, which could give him an edge. He got his toes wet with a 27th place last year and it’s possible that he has to sacrifice his own ambitions in service of Skujins, but don’t underestimate one of the two youngest contenders.

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/iso.png Matej Mohoric is the other youngster, like Lopez at 26 years of age, but with more of a track record at La Doyenne, finishing in the Top 15 in both of the previous years. He’s slightly on the lower end of the resistance spectrum, but great stamina, acceleration (though his top speed leaves a little to be desired) and of course hill abilities make him a podium contender, without question. Alas, one of many.

The same goes for pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/kng.png Alexey Lutsenko, the most explosive rider of the bunch. A 5th place three years ago stands as his best result, an improvement is definetely within the realm of possibility. Relatively speaking mediocre stamina and resistance stat to contrast his elite acceleration might hold him back just a little bit, but they certainly didn’t when he won the Amstel Gold Race a week ago.

Both also aren’t the strengths of the first of the two double title holders, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ubs.png Simone Ponzi. His last win was three years ago, though, and like Boasson Hagen, regression has started to chip away at his skills, but he’s still a rock-solid rider who has proven already earlier in the season that his new team UBS can still expect great results from him, and whose sprint skills remain unmatched.

The other rider trying to tie Fränk Schleck’s record three wins is pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ino.png Jan Bakelants. He, too, is starting to feel the effects of age, but he is the defending champion after all and while he has fallen behind a few riders on pure hill strength, his stamina and resistance are still up there.

Finally, we have pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Tejay Van Garderen. Over the years, he has been one of the most consistent riders, with six Top 10 results dating back all the way to 2013, but his highlight was last year’s third place finish. With regression looming, this might be the final year for him to try and top that. Similar to Bakelandts, he will rely mostly on his stamina and resistance, plus he’s tied with Ponzi as the second best major contender in terms of acceleration - and he comes with strong team support after moving to EA Vesuvio this offseason.

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/yor.png McCarthy678180756574
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/fes.png Koretzky718177707179
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Gastauer708177696675
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gcn.png Schreurs698176727174
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/akm.png Kwiatkowski788174766775
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/sct.png Beltran798173726676
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/tti.png Vogt628078716263
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ebd.png Boswell718077736576
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/vlv.png Jensen708077736676
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/isa.png Vakoc718075717174
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gzl.png Formolo797976766971

Said team support comes mainly in the person of pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Gastauer, the man who stood one place above Van Garderen on last year’s podium. Still one of the better puncheurs, his lower resistance and his changed role as a super domestique will likely prevent him from reaching those heights again, though.

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/yor.png McCarthy is firmly his team’s leader, and he might be the most likely of this bunch to break into the Top 10 - a feat he has yet to accomplish in Liège. Elite stamina and resistance are his biggest assets in this endeavor.

In contrast, and similar to Gastauer, resistance is more of a weak point for pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/fes.png Koretzky and, to a slightly lesser extent, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gcn.png Schreurs. Both should have no issue with the length, at least, and the Festina leader can rely on his great acceleration, too. He is also the more accomplished rider, with a 4th and an 8th place in the past two years – plus, he flashed his talents with a surprisingly strong second place finish at the Flèche Wallonne.

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/akm.png Kwiatkowski and pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/sct.png Beltran follow Lopez as great puncheurs who are also great climbers. The Aker leader is the more well-rounded of the two, especially with his great resistance stat, and he proved his ability to compete with the very best when he won the GP Wallonie a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Colombian has a bit more experience and a decent track record here, with 12th and 13th places in 2019 and 2018.

Tinkoff captain pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/tti.png Vogt has two of the most glaring weaknesses in this group, with his terrible climbing and speed stats, which have lead to, let’s say, inconsistent performances over the years. His hill and stamina stats still earn him outside contender status, but he has yet to prove himself in this race. The Russian équipe has pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/tti.png Chernetskiy as a secondary option as well.

pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/ebd.png Boswell and pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/vlv.png Jensen on the other hand are pretty well-rounded riders without any ovious weak points. But they also aren’t elite in any area and would need a particularly good day to get into Top 10 contention, while also being at risk of not scoring many points at all if they don’t have good legs.

The same is true for pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/isa.png Vakoc, a very similar rider, but with slightly worse stats in stamina, resistance and acceleration. However, he has been very consistent over the years, finishing between 12th and 17th in all previous four editions. pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gzl.png Formolo completes this group, the Italian isn’t the greatest rider on hills, but his strong climbing and backup stats warrant a mention, and although he was only 28th here last year, he’s been training his puncheur skills since and now gets to prove that on the biggest stage.

Lower Tier Leaders
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gen.png Teuns757873736672
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gen.png Talansky797775765969
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/pum.png Mager747768706071
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/bnm.png McCormick667674717373
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/grm.png Lastra747572736971
pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Fritsch677674686871

Of the team leaders not mentioned so far, the Generali duo of pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gen.png Teuns and nominal stage racer pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gen.png Talansky has the best shot at a decent result. For pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/pum.png Mager, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/bnm.png McCormick, pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/grm.png Lastra or any of their teammates (all three teams likely take a leader-by-committee approach here), it would take something extraordinary to crack even the Top 20. Then again, the final rider listed here is living proof that extraordinary things can indeed happen - that is pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/eav.png Sven Fritsch, who incredibly won the race from a breakaway in 2016. While he is of course not a leader and instead part of Van Garderen’s support system, how could we not at least mention him?

Let’s hope the racing lives up to this fantastic starting field that is wide open and unpredictable. Here’s the full startlist:

Beltran to podium here in a season where he is the main reason we relegate.

Just for shits and giggles Grin


"I am a cyclist, I may not be the best, but that is what I strive to be. I may never get there, but I will never quit trying." - Tadej Pogačar
No Spilak for Generali Sad Hopfully Mohoric spared his best Ardennes performance for the last one and finish in the top 5 or even on the podium Smile
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After 27th in Amstel and 2nd in Fleche by Koretzky maybe it's time to finish in between? 10-15th is likely and desired, but obviously we hope to see him sneak into top 10 to really demonstrate his high level (from time to time).

Aidan van Niekerk is there to help so hopefully we will see him do better than recently. He has had a horrible season unfortunately.

Thanks for mentioning our "leader" Wink obviously a hopeless race, where we just need to show us in the break of the day and then hope for a Top-30 result maybe. Any surprising result would be welcome after our Cheshire disaster.
As tsmoha, thanks for the mention Smile Brought Stake Laengen here in addition to the hilly squad, so a slight hope that he can do something, but certainly not expecting much. As said prior to the other Ardennes Classic though - a break would be nice, guys!
It`s funny that each classic De Bie is mentioned as best or the only one matching Hagen and then he fails again. Pfft

No top5 this year yet and in fact no single podium in any classic for me in 3 years and counting.

Have no expectations here but it would be nice if at least the team is doing better than in Fleche Wallone and is giving more depth points as they are on paper capable of at least 2-3 more in top50 and 5-6 in total in top100.
Looking forward to a solid 77th place finish from Jan here
Indosat - ANZ HQ

"This Schleck sandwich is going to cause serious indigestion for Evans" - Phil Liggett
Eden95 wrote:
Looking forward to a solid 77th place finish from Jan here

Feeling sorry for you there...while De Bie is underperforming, he at least is getting regular 5-10 results, which is at least 40-70 points, when he probably should at least sometimes take a 200 points or regular 100.

But Bakelants is the real weirdo this year having lots of 5-10 pointers only and no motivation at all to show something.
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Huge expectations from this. Definitely want to see another podium here by my duo. Would love to see Lopez playing a bigger role and I'd say that this is the Ardennes race that should suit him the most. Let's get it on!
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Theorethically, LBL is the best shot Teuns & Talansky have at cracking the top 30. We've been making leaps lately after an 84th place in AGR and a 38th!!! in FW. Thanks for the preview.

No Spilak for Generali Sad Hopfully Mohoric spared his best Ardennes performance for the last one and finish in the top 5 or even on the podium Smile

Spilak has much bigger plans! He's going to double down on his Giro epic real soon Cool
Manager of pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gen.png Generali pcmdaily.com/images/mg/2020/Micros/gen.png
Alright, this one should suit Formolo way better. Top 10 would be awesome. Somewhere between 10 and 15 would be ok. Also hope to get one or two other riders into the top 50.
This should be Kwiatkowski's best shot in the Ardennes week. LBL should suit him very well with the tough climbs and that there are so many of them in the final half of the race.

After the top 10 finish in Fleche, a top 10 is a very realistic goal here too, and one I expect him to make. A top 5 or even a podium can also be possible seeing how he has raced the hills pre-Amstel this season, but it will take a good daily form. His Wallonie win proved he's up for it on the right day, and a top 5 must be our dream here Smile
A top 20 would be nice.
Hoping Kinoshita can win here, after his success in LFW. Its obviously the top prize out of the 3, so a stronger startlist was to be expected. This course favours MO riders a little more, but Kinoshita's superior MO to basically every other punchuer apart from Lopez and Sagan, in addition to his top Stamina and RES, im hoping means he can at the least podium again. As it was mentioned in the preview (great work for that), I believe Kinoshita's only other result here, was when he was unmaxed, at 78 HIL, so he really should be doing better than that year.
Great preview, Cunego! I hope Lutsenko can complete his strong Ardennes campaign with another top5!
That's the Beltran I've come to know Pfft

Congrats to Roman on the win Smile


"I am a cyclist, I may not be the best, but that is what I strive to be. I may never get there, but I will never quit trying." - Tadej Pogačar
Thanks cunego for the nice report and in especially for finally delivering De Bie a good race.

Must admit I haven`t expected getting 2nd here after the latest results and when he attacked, once, twice and followed a third time and struggled, I wasn`t expecting a lot anymore, in especially as in those sprints he lately finished outside the top5 as in AGR recently.

But apparently he must have had a very good daily form in a classic and outsprinted all but Sagan, which is fair enough obviously. Congrats Roman for the big win!

This is the very first podium in a classic ever from De Bie in my team colours. He must have heard my thinking of dropping him after this season or he was afraid to relegate and be forced to stay in a PCT team just like Pluchkin. Pfft

Your overview in the end shows that he is one of the more consistent puncheurs in the Ardennes, which is though expected from a 84 puncheur. Scoring wise though he was outscored (at least before LBL) by many as he was missing the top result, which he basically did now. No win yet, but as 2nd in a monument, he at least for once is getting more than 40-70 points per classic. 2nd here is more than 3-4 of his usual classics scoring wise and much needed. In especially with other teams such as King Power, Rakuten all having scored a lot better recently, who were around the relegation line as well couple races ago.

King Power obviously the big winner of the Ardennes and also the other events lately and might have rescued themselves this way.

Other than that, the depth wasn`t that good neither again, which is weird as I had thought having a top puncheur automatically means, 3-4 big depth scorers as well, but only Vliegen as 48th doing decent. Stuiyven and Zardini kust top100 and then all others 5 pointers. On a bad De Bie result, this is more annoying. On a good scoring day, I don`t care a lot.

Also nice to see Indosat finally doing well in one of those classics. Bakelants as 8th probably around where he should finish a lot more often. Weirdly at the same time the otherwise dominant Evonik riders have failed here. Must be winners and losers in every event, here they were on the unlucky side and same for Aker.
That was terrible. And it was a goal race for me which makes this even worse.

Congrats to the three podium teams. While Sagan and Lutsenko have shown often enough to be beasts, De Bies results is particularly cool as he finally delivers a top result for roturn.
A Big Thank You To All MG Reporters!
And To All Who Organize Something On Daily As Well!

This was okay, but not the Ardennes-campaign we hoped for. Shame to see the Evonik-Duo fall, though it reminded me a lot of oour very own struggles with Spilak + Mohoric last year.

Awesome report!
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