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2017 Liège-Bastogne-Liège - April 23rd - 258k

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Had Van Avermaet not flipped Milan-Sanremo he could have finished all the 5 major spring classics in the top15. How long since that has happened. He amazes me even more every week. Next year he should go for Liège. He's ready now.
 
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I said earlier the race will depend on Sky's approach, in fact on Kwiatkowski's. He thought he can beat Valverde on that finish, and he was wrong. Had he thought different we would've had a whole different race. We had breaks, we had attacks, but we didn't had strongest riders in the break or attack. For a late break to succeed you need to have one or two very strong riders in it (aka Kwiat, GVA, Martin, etc), you need to start attacking earlier. Martin will always wiat for Ans or St.Nicholas. GVA doesn't have a real experience in this race, when and where to make a move. But Sky, and Kwiatkowski, should've know better. Really fast pace before Redoute, than major attack there with Henao, Moscon or Rosa and race would explode. Henao tried on Roche, but it was half-hearted. He didn't follow Kreuziger after, nor did Kwiat. That group needed just one strong rider from Sky, cause Moscon later shut it down with Rojas, and no way Rojas on his own would shut it. Then we'd have a frantic chase and carnage on St.Nicholas.

Route is not so good, I agree. It would be better with harder middle part and easier finish I think, but the blame is on the riders/teams also. As far as all the major favorites think they can win on the last drag to Ans, we're going to watch race like this.
 
Re:

DFA123 said:
Except it wasn't a sprint, was it? It was a race where a group of about 30 riders, including a couple of fast finishers who can handle hills, made it to the final climb. And, on that final climb, the two best punchy climbers in the race absolutely destroyed all the sprinters. Dropping them comfortably, with one going on to solo easily to victory. None of the 'sprinter-puncheurs' came close to winning.

This is exactly right. The sprinters have no chance in this race on this parcours until they somehow learn to go up the climb to Ans with Valverde and Martin at the end. Getting to the final obstacle with guys who will murder you on that obstacle 100 times out of 100 is not nearly winning. The only rider in recent years more biased towards sprinting than climbing who could possibly compete on that finale was a slightly younger Gerrans and he was (a) a big outlier and (b) only able to actually win because one of the true climber-puncheurs fell off on the last corner.
 
Echoes said:
Had Van Avermaet not flipped Milan-Sanremo he could have finished all the 5 major spring classics in the top15. How long since that has happened. He amazes me even more every week. Next year he should go for Liège. He's ready now.
He should focus on Ronde, and keep Liege as a secondary target for next year. Then, if he wins Ronde, I agree that he should focus on Liege.
 
Re: Re:

DFA123 said:
Ikbengodniet said:
DFA123 said:
Velolover2 said:
Making the final flat wouldn't eliminate the pucheurs. Alaphilippe, Albasini, Valverde, Alaphilippe, Gilbert and Dan Martin should still be favorites in races where you have to attack from far out. They are the best on steep, short hills.
Why give sprinters any chance in Liege though? You'd just get a situation where a largish peloton - with the likes of Matthews hiding in it - were chasing a small gap to a few puncheurs. Some of whom wouldn't be working because they had sprint options behind. They'd get caught; some sprinter would win and it would be awful.

Yeah, like we had in Amstel this year after the route change.
Not sure of the point you're making; Amstel had plenty of climbing in the last 20km. The decisive selection was made on the last of them 3km from the finish by two hilly puncheurs. Amstel with 15km of flat at the end would have been a bunch sprint for sure.

The point is that you have to place the hardest climbs in the middle/not near the very end. Swallow 4% climbs can be placed in a final and we will still have good racing.
 
Re: Re:

Zinoviev Letter said:
HelloDolly said:
And maybe not through that part of Liege as it looks terrible...Surley there must be a better part of that city

There are. I had never been here before this week and to my surprise, much of the city is very attractive. The sign in and start are in the ugliest part of the centre and the finish is in the ugliest suburb. I have no idea why the city authorities want to misleadingly represent their city as a bit of a dump on the day of its biggest international tv exposure.
The authorities think that a bike race is an annoyance, so they send it to those parts of the town where nobody is bothered by street closure to traffic.
 
Re: Re:

DFA123 said:
Ikbengodniet said:
DFA123 said:
Velolover2 said:
Making the final flat wouldn't eliminate the pucheurs. Alaphilippe, Albasini, Valverde, Alaphilippe, Gilbert and Dan Martin should still be favorites in races where you have to attack from far out. They are the best on steep, short hills.
Why give sprinters any chance in Liege though? You'd just get a situation where a largish peloton - with the likes of Matthews hiding in it - were chasing a small gap to a few puncheurs. Some of whom wouldn't be working because they had sprint options behind. They'd get caught; some sprinter would win and it would be awful.

Yeah, like we had in Amstel this year after the route change.
Not sure of the point you're making; Amstel had plenty of climbing in the last 20km. The decisive selection was made on the last of them 3km from the finish by two hilly puncheurs. Amstel with 15km of flat at the end would have been a bunch sprint for sure.

The point is that they changed the route because the race became boring as ***, same like LBL over and over again. People here were calling that with this change sprinters will have a chance, but they were nowhere to be seen, because the racing became much harder at the section 40 km from the finish because a lot more riders are forced to make the race hard.

And sure it could be a bunch sprint if it is raced softly, but at least it proofs different scenarios are possible and the chance of an entertaining race is much higher.
 
Re: Re:

DFA123 said:
Well, some of them can ride on it. Valverde and Kwiatkowski, for example, are decent rouleurs. But they're not going to be able to hold off a 50 strong peloton full of sprinters and their domestiques for a significant distance. Especially when other riders in a bunch have sprinters behind so aren't pulling.

They already need multiple skillsets to win on this course - huge aerobic endurance, good anaerobic endurance, a decent sprint, good positioning etc... They shouldn't have to be world class rouleurs as well - PR and RVV are the races for those skills.
You are talking about a completely unrealistic scenario. Make the race hard enough and no way there is a 50 men peloton after the last climb. The only reason why there is a big group so late in the race now is because there are no serious attacks on La Redoute and RaF. You are writing this as if this would just be another Milan San Remo which will likely go to sprinters with only a small chance for attackers, but thats simply not what it is. No sprinter would have a chance if the earlier hills are ridden properly. Just watch the Amstel Gold Race. The finale was way easier than before but the race was way harder to win for a sprinter. And I'm not even saying one has to make the last 20 kilometers easy like in the AGR. I get that nobody wants the risk of a bunch sprint in LBL so if you want to let's just make the last 5 kilometers flat and the race before that very hilly. No way sprinters would have a chance if guys like Valverde start to attack on a ramp like RaF.
 
Re: Re:

Zinoviev Letter said:
DFA123 said:
Except it wasn't a sprint, was it? It was a race where a group of about 30 riders, including a couple of fast finishers who can handle hills, made it to the final climb. And, on that final climb, the two best punchy climbers in the race absolutely destroyed all the sprinters. Dropping them comfortably, with one going on to solo easily to victory. None of the 'sprinter-puncheurs' came close to winning.

This is exactly right. The sprinters have no chance in this race on this parcours until they somehow learn to go up the climb to Ans with Valverde and Martin at the end. Getting to the final obstacle with guys who will murder you on that obstacle 100 times out of 100 is not nearly winning. The only rider in recent years more biased towards sprinting than climbing who could possibly compete on that finale was a slightly younger Gerrans and he was (a) a big outlier and (b) only able to actually win because one of the true climber-puncheurs fell off on the last corner.
I agree but I still don't think of Gerrans as a sprinter. Also, I've watched that finale many, many times and there's just no way to know if Martin would have held on. I put his chances at about 45%
 
Re: Re:

Velolover2 said:
DFA123 said:
Ikbengodniet said:
DFA123 said:
Velolover2 said:
Making the final flat wouldn't eliminate the pucheurs. Alaphilippe, Albasini, Valverde, Alaphilippe, Gilbert and Dan Martin should still be favorites in races where you have to attack from far out. They are the best on steep, short hills.
Why give sprinters any chance in Liege though? You'd just get a situation where a largish peloton - with the likes of Matthews hiding in it - were chasing a small gap to a few puncheurs. Some of whom wouldn't be working because they had sprint options behind. They'd get caught; some sprinter would win and it would be awful.

Yeah, like we had in Amstel this year after the route change.
Not sure of the point you're making; Amstel had plenty of climbing in the last 20km. The decisive selection was made on the last of them 3km from the finish by two hilly puncheurs. Amstel with 15km of flat at the end would have been a bunch sprint for sure.

The point is that you have to place the hardest climbs in the middle/not near the very end. Swallow 4% climbs can be placed in a final and we will still have good racing.
Hang on, isn't that what we had in Liege. What is Ans average, about 5%? Certainly nowhere near the hardest climb in the race. The hardest climb is La Redoute, which was something like 35km from the finish? If Gilbert was here, or Kwiatkowksi attacked there we would have had a much more exciting route. I think, as usual, it's the riders who make the race far more than the course - some of the big names went for broke early at Amstel, they didn't today.
 
Re: Re:

DFA123 said:
Hang on, isn't that what we had in Liege. What is Ans average, about 5%? Certainly nowhere near the hardest climb in the race. The hardest climb is La Redoute, which was something like 35km from the finish? If Gilbert was here, or Kwiatkowksi attacked there we would have had a much more exciting route. I think, as usual, it's the riders who make the race far more than the course - some of the big names went for broke early at Amstel, they didn't today.
There is a huge difference between a race that finishes on a 5% climb and a race that passes a 5% climb with 5 kilometers to go. In LBL guys like Valverde can decide the race in Ans since the first on top wins. In AGR being the first on top of the Bemeleberg isn't enough, since you need a gap on the riders behind you, which is why the race exploded earlier this year.
 
Re: Re:

Gigs_98 said:
DFA123 said:
Well, some of them can ride on it. Valverde and Kwiatkowski, for example, are decent rouleurs. But they're not going to be able to hold off a 50 strong peloton full of sprinters and their domestiques for a significant distance. Especially when other riders in a bunch have sprinters behind so aren't pulling.

They already need multiple skillsets to win on this course - huge aerobic endurance, good anaerobic endurance, a decent sprint, good positioning etc... They shouldn't have to be world class rouleurs as well - PR and RVV are the races for those skills.
You are talking about a completely unrealistic scenario. Make the race hard enough and no way there is a 50 men peloton after the last climb. The only reason why there is a big group so late in the race now is because there are no serious attacks on La Redoute and RaF. You are writing this as if this would just be another Milan San Remo which will likely go to sprinters with only a small chance for attackers, but thats simply not what it is. No sprinter would have a chance if the earlier hills are ridden properly. Just watch the Amstel Gold Race. The finale was way easier than before but the race was way harder to win for a sprinter. And I'm not even saying one has to make the last 20 kilometers easy like in the AGR. I get that nobody wants the risk of a bunch sprint in LBL so if you want to let's just make the last 5 kilometers flat and the race before that very hilly. No way sprinters would have a chance if guys like Valverde start to attack on a ramp like RaF.
Pretty sure the best riders would still generally wait for the final climb. If its 5km from the finish then you would just have another San Sebastian type finish - which isn't much better than we had today. If its 20km from the finish then you would end up with a bunch sprint. I think its more important to motivate the riders to do something ( the usual stuff: smaller teams, no radios, rapidly decreasing WT points for positions), more than tweaking the course.

Amstel worked because Gilbert, Henao and Kwiatkowski went early. There was nothing to stop the latter two trying something similar on Redoute today.
 
Re:

Fernandez said:
Lots of Valverde haters complaining about the parcours but, is there any kind of parcours for Liege where Valverde wouldnt be the favourite?
Nobody is blaming Valverde. People are blaming the race organizers for the terrible course.

It's really bad for opportunistic climbers and attackers. Maybe we have to reduce the size of riders on a team to see changes.
 
Re: Re:

Velolover2 said:
Fernandez said:
Lots of Valverde haters complaining about the parcours but, is there any kind of parcours for Liege where Valverde wouldnt be the favourite?
Nobody is blaming Valverde. People are blaming the race organizers for the terrible course.
We should put some blame on the riders and directeur sportifs as well. That said, several riders tried to get away. The headwind didn't help things.
 
Re: Re:

jaylew said:
Velolover2 said:
Fernandez said:
Lots of Valverde haters complaining about the parcours but, is there any kind of parcours for Liege where Valverde wouldnt be the favourite?
Nobody is blaming Valverde. People are blaming the race organizers for the terrible course.
We should put some blame on the riders and directeur sportifs as well. That said, several riders tried to get away. The headwind didn't help things.
Most blame, imo. Just like at Fleche, it seemed like many were just riding for decent position, and a few good WT points so their team car can get a nice view of races during the season. If the strongest teams in the race like Sky and Quickstep aren't go to do something with the threat of Valverde on Ans looming, I find it difficult to see them doing something about the threat of a reduced bunch sprint on a flat run in.
 
Re: Re:

Fernandez said:
hrotha said:
Fernandez said:
Lots of Valverde haters complaining about the parcours but, is there any kind of parcours for Liege where Valverde wouldnt be the favourite?
There's been almost no action (at least by top contenders) until like 1 km to go and your takeaway is that Valverde has haters?
A LOT of them
Of course he has haters but there has been almost no hate thrown his way after this race. It's all been directed at the course, other riders, and directeur sportifs.
 
Re: Re:

jaylew said:
Fernandez said:
hrotha said:
Fernandez said:
Lots of Valverde haters complaining about the parcours but, is there any kind of parcours for Liege where Valverde wouldnt be the favourite?
There's been almost no action (at least by top contenders) until like 1 km to go and your takeaway is that Valverde has haters?
A LOT of them
Of course he has haters but there has been almost no hate thrown his way after this race. It's all been directed at the course, other riders, and directeur sportifs.
There would be way less complaining if their favourites had won it.