Liege-Bastogne-Liege Fallout

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04/23/2012| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
La Doyenne wasn't an edge of your seat type of race, but the fallout afterwards made up for it. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
La Doyenne wasn't an edge of your seat type of race, but the fallout afterwards made up for it. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege Fallout

La Doyenne wasn't an edge of your seat type of race, but the fallout afterwards made up for it.

Watching a classic on the weekend is the cherry on top of a long week - it's my reward. I sit back, fire up the bootleg video stream of bike racing on Eurosport and enjoy my coffee. Sometimes I'll have waffles.

But lately the classics have been, how do I say this delicately, boring. Now before I insult any of the participants of the classics, I want to say I admire your ability to race on cobbles, through the rain and hail to conquer steep inclines. Very impressive stuff. But at times very boring to watch.

Eurosport had over two hours of live coverage of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and I sat there glued to the monitor, hanging onto every word that co-commentator Sean Kelly said like it was straight from heaven. Let's face it, Kelly was the one-day racer of his generation - what he says is gospel.

As expected an early breakaway formed and this is what we watched - six guys exchanging pulls in a double paceline. Everyone knew they were going to get caught, but that move is usually one of two things: great television exposure for the teams in the break (over an hour watching these guys roll along the Belgium countryside) or the classic strategy of taking the pressure off of a team who has a rider up the road.

As predicted the six were caught and tradition states that the climb of La Redoute is where the racing gets real. And sure, this climb separated those who were here to race from those were fetching bottles and rain jackets - but the decisive move of the race didn't occur. It just eliminated riders. Ok, I can have a bit of patience, but I'll be honest, I don't have a lot of it.

As the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race started to broadcast during the 08:00 hour east coast time (which for me is early) to stay awake I was intermittently drinking coffee and plucking my arm hair. Other times my mind started to wander contemplating what the squirrels might be up to in my backyard.

But now I was hoping for some activity and to my surprise Team BMC Racing's Philippe Gilbert was no longer a contender! What?? I had picked that guy to be at least on the podium for crying out loud! He was sixth at Amstel Gold, then third in Fleche Wallonne - I saw those as signs that there could possibly be a post-race celebration coming from the BMC bus. But lo...it was not to be as he could no longer hold the pace.

Phil was not alone. Frank Schleck, who finished 2nd last year, got dropped. Honestly, I wasn't (and neither should you have been) surprised by this. The Schlecks have continued to get beat on this season and they couldn't get a break. Also it doesn't help when internal team decisions are aired in the media. We'll get to that in a moment.

Regardless, the action finally started to heat up in the last 12 kilometers. Vincenzo Nibali broke away and looked to have the

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