Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2016: Favourites
Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the last and longest hilly classic in the spring. Following a week with both Amstel Gold Race and La Fleche Wallonne 'La Doyenne' is a veritable war of attrition. After a powerful victory in La Fleche Wallone Alejandro Valverde is top favourite, yet he is not the only rider with the required talent to win the race.
To be able to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege you have to be a good climbers and a good sprinter. The first talent is most important, after all, no rider is fresh after an onslaught of Ardennes Hills and over 250 kilometres. So it’s fair to say: the leading contender is the rider who has enough juice left for a jump or a sprint after such a demanding race.
The last time a rider arrived solo was in 2012. With 20 kilometres Vincenzo Nibali attacked to go solo, but Maxim Iglinsky chased him down to gobble him up in the last kilometre and solo to victory. Since then the race is mostly decided by a sprint with a select group. This is something title defender Valverde is very capable of. But so are Dan Martin and Simon Gerrans, successively winners in 2013 and in 2014.
Valverde did win the race three times already, in 2006, 2008 and 2015. If the (almost) 36-year old wants to equal Eddy Merckx’ record he has only one option: to win. After all, the Cannibal is a five time winner in La Doyenne.
*** Alejandro Valverde, Daniel Martin, Rui Costa, Tim Wellens
** Tony Gallopin, Vincenzo Nibali, Romain Bardet, Julian Alaphilippe, Michal Kwiatkowski
* Bauke Mollema, Joaquim Rodriguez, Roman Kreuziger, Wout Poels, Simon Gerrans, Tom-Jelte Slagter
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