Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the oldest of the classics and one of the most coveted, is much like the Amstel Gold Race.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the oldest of the classics and one of the most coveted, is much like the Amstel Gold Race. Both races are ridden on hilly courses with the sting in the tail. In the case of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Who will the winner be? Two names stick out: Frank Schleck (CSC) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne). Schleck won the Amstel Gold Race three days before finishing fourth at
Several other riders are reasonable bets if Schleck and Valverde falter. Among these are Alexander Vinokourov (Liberty Seguros), Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), and Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile). Defending champion Vinokourov has ridden consistently if not brilliantly all spring, and the defending champion can never be categorically ruled out.
This spring, Bettini has shown flashes of form, finishing 12 th at the Amstel Gold Race and ninth at
Sanchez has good form. He won two stages of the Tour of the Basque Country, and he was the runner-up at
Wesemann is a man to be respected in any classic. His overall strength allows him to stay in a race and his victory at the 2004 Tour of Flanders proves that he can do more than finish. As is the case with Sanchez, he can win if the right set of circumstances arises.