Liege-Bastogne-Liege. And it’s ….
Sizing up Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
First, Alejandro Valverde, who according to post Flèche news, got a few boos stuck in with the louder cheers on his victory. He won’t ever apologize for Puerto and won’t even write a disappointed letter like Vino did after he won LBL and some people weren’t happy.
Oh well. The Green Bullet continues to fire, the beard looks very suave and he’s on form and who knows, maybe on something, too. You can’t count him out and although we can’t applaud, there’s no doubling his serious shot at the win. Listen for boos if he crosses the line first.
Joaquim Rodriguez lines up for the race still pretty beat up from his bad crash in Amstel Gold and his other crash in Flèche Wallonne. He admits to still being sore and it’s pretty hard to picture him making the podium. He’s a bundle of bruised tissue in a body bag of lycra. No cigar for the little guy and it’s a shame since he’d targeted this race.
Vincenzo Nibali rates Chris Froome of Sky as a possible contender. The Shark plans to keep an eye on Froome but we say don’t look too closely at Froome’s vein-popping legs. It was a scary sight when Sky posted that photo of the back of Froome’s legs. Not a good advertisement for getting into pro cycling. He’s been training at altitude on the island of Tenerife but we don’t expect him to do to much in LBL.
You pretty much have to put your dollars and euros on Amstel winner Philippe Gilbert. The BMC rider has his legs back and more importantly his confidence. He’ll have the full support of the increasingly well drilled team. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see him crack the top three and victory is his for the taking. Man is on a roll and Gilbert in the Ardennes is quite a roll indeed.
We’re pulling for last-years’ winner Dan Martin of Garmin-Sharp to put it all together again and nail a second win in LBL. He’s loose, his knee is fine, the team is hyper-motivated and ready to drill it. With serious backup from riders like Tom Jelte Slagter, he should be well-positioned and ready to rock. Baring mishap, you have to think he will be in the front group when the shit hits the tarmac.
Michal Kwiatkowski seems so grounded and sure of himself that you forget he’s only 23. Super impressed with his success this year and there’s no reason to think he can’t win it all. He was third in Flèche Wallonne and says he has recovered well from those efforts. Hey, rather have Kwiatkowski than Valverde anyway.
Ahh Vincenzo. We’re already looking forward to his aggressive approach to LBL. He’ll attack whether it has a chance or not and we can all appreciate his desire to light up the race. We expect he’s still carrying the painful memory of when Maxim Iglinsky caught him in the final kilometers to steal the 2012 Liege-Bastogne-Liege win. Pure misery and injustice.
The man who we think really has a shot at victory is Simon Gerrans of Orica. He’s a canny and clever tactician, he’s targeted this race and he made the podium in Amstel. This just feels like it might be his day.
Our podium: Gilbert, Gerrans, Martin with Valverde happily off the podium.