I feel funny saying this but I found Liege-Bastogne-Liege to be kinda dull except for the very last moments. I woke up at 6:30 AM California time, turned my laptop browser to SteephillTV and picked up a low quality Eurosport feed with Sean Kelly. Really, how said is it that you can get HD quality porn for free but can’t get a decent quality feed for a WorldTour Monument bike race?
Maybe it’s just laying in bed, no breakfast or coffee and watching a big bunch of indistinguishable riders in mostly black rain jackets ride around an ugly part of France. I’ve been too spoiled by the scenic grandeur of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and even the Tour of California. L-B-L actually looked worse than the depressed farm and mining towns of Paris-Roubaix — which is saying something.
I think there was one helicopter chateau shot in an otherwise bleak landscape broken by the occasion featureless town. Might be the most visually underwhelming race I’ve watched in a long time. And yes, some big screen HD quality would have made a big difference.
Even the winning move seemed to be more of a drift off the front rather than a blister attack, a sudden maniacal acceleration. Michael Albasini just opened a little gap that got a little bigger because practically no one had the strength to close it. It was more the result of the collective malaise after 5 to 6 hours in rain and snow and freezing temperatures than Albasini (BMC) or Poels (SKY) or Costa (Lampre) stamping their authority. Really can’t stamp when your feet are numb.
Once the final four were into the final kilometer I was hoping against the odds that 38 year old Sammy Sanchez would pull out an amazing win. He was already frozen solid however and when the sprint launched he actually slowed down and turned sideways across the road in total exhaustion. A podium would have been sweet but fourth was still damned impressive.
We didn’t expect Costa to win based on his long track record of second places. We had our money on Albasini who appeared fresher than the other three — but he clearly did the bulk of the work in the group. Perhaps he was a little overconfident or just too cold to think straight. That would explain what he admitted was a poor choice of gearing for the sprint.
So in the end we say congratulations to Wout Poels on being the toughest man in the peloton on a crappy, cold, windy, snowy, miserable day. Moments after the finish though, all I could think was, well, that wasn’t that exciting, bring on the Giro.