Liege-Bastogne-Liege set to shake up the UCI WorldTour rankings
The Belgian classic is considered the hardest one-day race of the season and marks the end of the spring classics
Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege marks the end of the one-day classics races on the UCI WorldTour calendar, with the 100th edition of the race expected to be a great finale to the spring.
In recent weeks the best riders in the world have fought for victory and UCI WorldTour ranking points at Milan-San Remo, E3 Harelbeke, Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, the Amstel Gold Race and Fleche-Wallonne.
Spain’s Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) leads the individual UCI WorldTour ranking with 308 points after success at the Tirreno- Adriatico and Vuelta al Pais Vasco. However the classics riders dominate the other places.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rose from 17th to sixth place after wining Fleche-Wallonne on Wednesday and now has a total of 182 points.
The winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege is awarded 100 points and so the Spaniard could move to second in the individual ranking in case of victory. Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) currently has 174 points and could also rise from seventh place if he again rides well on Sunday.
Other favourites for victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege include 2013 winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp), 2013 UCI WorldTour winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Amstel Gold Race winner and local hero Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
The race will also be important for the UCI WorldTour team and nations rankings. Omega Pharma-QuickStep leads the team ranking with 623 points but eight other teams all have at least 300 points and will be fighting for places in the top five.
The centenary edition
This year’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the 100th edition of the Belgian race, making it the oldest one-day Classic. It is affectionately known as ‘La Doyenne’ or ‘Old Lady’ of cycling but is also recognised as the hardest one-day race of the season.
The 263km race route includes ten testing climbs or ‘cotes’ with the most important in the finale of the race after the loop south to Bastogne in the south of Belgium.
Race organiser ASO has changed the route to include all the climbs that have made the history of the race. The sequence of the Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levee climbs has been changed, while the Cote des Forges and Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons return this year. There will also special sprint after 100km of the race in Bastogne with a 5000 Euro prize going to the winner.
The Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levee climbs form an important trio and often inspire the first attacks, while the best riders emerge on the Côte des Forges, the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and especially the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.
Riders have made successful solo attacks as the Côte de Saint-Nicolas climbs through the Italian district of Liege, while the others have waited for the final rise to the finish or even a sprint finish in the Ans suburb.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege always reveals who is the strongest rider on the day.
Photo: Climbing the Côte de Saint-Roche in the 2013 Liege-Bastogne-Liege