On all three occasions, the decisive moves happened on the section before the downhill. Which makes sense, as this is tough section. First the steep Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons – 1.3 kilometres at 11% – and after a short drop the route starts climbing again. The first kilometre goes up at 3.6% and the second at 6.2% before an undulating section of 5 kilometres precedes the downhill into Liège. The last 2.1 kilometres are flat.
In 2019, Fuglsang rode away from his fellow-attackers Formolo and Woods on the small climbs after the Roche-aux-Faucons to extend his lead in the descent. The Dane won the race solo in the first edition with the redrawn finale.
In 2020, Alaphilippe, Hirschi and Roglic were the first riders over Roche-aux-Faucons before Pogacar and Kwiatkowski regained contact. The latter couldn’t follow, while Mohoric appeared out of thin air on the home straight. No time to dawdle, he thought, and opened the sprint. Obviously, he ran out of steam and Alaphilippe took over. He opened up a gap and with victory in sight he stopped pedalling and raised his arms in celebration. Meanwhile, Roglic kept pushing and he won the race.
Last year’s finale was similar, altough slightly more straightforward. Woods, Pogacar, Gaudu, Alaphilippe and Valverde were the first to emerge on the Roche-aux-Faucons and they stayed together until Pogacar sprinted to victory.
How will the race unfold this time? Fast descenders could take everyone by surprise – a point almost by Mohoric when he popped out of thin air in 2020’s finale.
Normally, Tadej Pogacar woul have been a hot favourite, but the title holder stays with his fiancée Urska Zigart in Slovenia after her mother passed away earlier this week. Former winners ate the start are Alejandro Valverde (2006, 2008, 2015), Philippe Gilbert (2011), Wout Poels (2016), Bob Jungels (2018), and Jakob Fuglsang (2019).
Favourites 2022 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
***** Matej Mohoric, Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe
**** Daniel Felipe Martínez, Aleksandr Vlasov, Dylan Teuns
*** Sergio Higuita, Alejandro Valverde, Benoît Cosnefroy, Romain Bardet
** Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout Poels, Michael Matthews, Marc Hirschi, Michael Woods
* Tom Pidcock, Ion Izagirre, Jonas Vingegaard, Warren Barguil, Marc Soler