Luik-Bastenaken-Luik - Belgium

Race Report from Roger

Preview and Early News

Bill notes: 

I have always thought of this Ardennes Classic as Luik-Bastenaken-Luik
which really is because I have mixed more with flemish bike teams and 
riders over the years than Wallonie influences. It is in Wallonia, that
is true, so if you like Liege-Bastogne-Liege, then fine. In html, it takes
more to write Liege than Luik (pronounced, sort off "lerk").

No L-B-L for Museeuw and Boardman

Paris-Roubaix-winner and World cup-leader Johan Museeuw has declared that he will not start in Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He has been suffering from a cold for a few days and made his decision after a test, Friday. He will be back next for the Amstel Gold Race, the 5th World cup-race.

Chris Boardman will also miss 'La Doyenne', because of tendinitis. He is not willing to take any risks by participating in a very tough race in the Ardennes.

                        Liege-Bastogne-Liege 1960-1995

1995: Mauro Gianetti (Sch)      2. Gianni Bugno         3. Michele Bartoli
1994: Eugeni Berzin (Rus)       2. Lance Armstrong      3. Giorgio Furlan
1993: Rolf Sorensen (Den)       2. Tony Rominger        3. Maurizio Fondriest
1992: Dirk de Wolf (Bel)        2. Steven Rooks         3. J-F. Bernard
1991: Moreno Argentin (Ita)     2. Claude Criquielion   3. Rolf Sorensen
1990: Eric van Lancker (Bel)    2. Jean-Claude Leclercq 3. Steven Rooks
1989: Sean Kelly (Irl)          2. Fabrice Philipot     3. Phil Anderson
1988: Adri van der Poel         2. Michel Dernies       3. Robert Millar
1987: Moreno Argentin (Ita)     2. Stephen Roche        3. Claude Criquielion
1986: Moreno Argentin (Ita)     2. Adrie van der Poel   3. Dag-E Pedersen
1985: Moreno Argentin (Ita)     2. Adrie van der Poel   3. J Pedersen
1984: Sean Kelly (Irl)          2. Phil Anderson        3. Greg Lemond
1983: Steven Rooks (Ned)        2. Giuseppe Saronni     3. Pascal Jules
1982: Silvano Contini (Ita)     2. Fons de Wolf         3. Stefan Mutter
1981: Josef Fuchs (Sch)         2. Stefan Mutter        3. *
1980: Bernard Hinault (Fra)     2. Hennie Kuiper        3. R Claes
1979: Dietrich Thurau (Ger)     2. Bernard Hinault      3. Daniel Willems
1978: Joseph Bruyere (Bel)      2. Dietrich Thurau      3. Francesco Moser
1977: Bernard Hinault (Fra)     2. Andre Dierickx       3. Dietrich Thurau
1976: Joseph Bruyere (Bel)      2. Freddy Maertens      3. Frans Verbeeck
1975: Eddy Merckx (Bel)         2. Bernard Thevenet     3. Walter Godefroot
1974: Georges Pintens (Bel)     2. Walter Planckaert    3. W Panizza
1973: Eddy Merckx (Bel)         2. Frans Verbeeck       3. Walter Godefroot
1972: Eddy Merckx (Bel)         2. Willy Schepers       3. H. van Springel
1971: Eddy Merckx (Bel)         2. Georges Pintens      3. Frans Verbeeck
1970: Roger de Vlaeminck (Bel)  2. Frans Verbeeck       3. Eddy Merckx
1969: Eddy Merckx (Bel)         2. V van Schil          3. Barry Hoban
1968: V van Sweevelt (Bel)      2. Walter Godefroot     3. Raymond Poulidor
1967: Walter Godefroot (Bel)    2. Eddy Merckx          3. W Monty
1966: Jacques Anquetil (Fra)    2. V van Schil          3. Willy In't Ven
1965: Carmino Preziosi (Ita)    2. Vittorio Adorni      3. M Vandenbossche
1964: Willy Bocklant (Bel)      2. Geo. Vanconingsloo   3. Vittorio Adorni
1963: Frans Melckenbeeck (Bel)  2. Pino Cerami          3. Vittorio Adorni
1962: Jef Planckaert (Bel)      2. Rolf Wolfshohl       3. C Colette
1961: Rik van Looy (Bel)        2. M Rohrbasch          3. A Desmet
1960: Albertus Geldermans (Bel) 2. P Everaert           3. Jozef Planckaert

* Johan van der Velde first over the finish line but later disqualified

Liege-Bastogne-Liege 263 km (preliminary):

 1. Pascal Richard (Sch) MG-Technogym          6.58.02 (36,97 km/h)
 2. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola                s.t.
 3. Mauro Gianetti (Sch) Team Polti               s.t.
 4. Laurent Madouas (Fra) Motorola              + 1.06
 5. Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita) MG-Technogym       + 1.19
 6. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Team Polti            + 1.22
 7. Axel Merckx (Bel) Motorola                  + 1.36
 8. Richard Virenque (Fra) Festina              + 1.52
 9. Rolf Sorensen (Den) Rabobank                  s.t.
10. Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Gewiss               + 2.01
11. Pascal Herve (Fra) Festina                    s.t.
12. Abraham Olano (Spa) Mapei-GB                + 2.03
13. Enrico Zaina (Ita) Carrera                  + 2.08
14. Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) Carrera            + 2.20
15. Maurizio Fondriest (Ita) Roslotto             s.t.
16. Michele Coppolillo (Ita) MG-Technogym       + 2.28
17. Laurent Brochard (Fra) Festina              + 2.52
18. Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) San Marco Group    + 2.56
19. Francesco Frattini (Ita) Gewiss             + 6.28
20. Fabrizio Bontempi (Ita) Brescialat          + 6.57
21. Bruno Thibout (Fra) Motorola                + 7.01
22. Andrea Peron (Ita) Motorola                 + 7.20
23. Stefano Zanini (Ita) Gewiss                 + 7.22
24. Zenon Jaskula (Pol) Brescialat
25. Rodolfo Massi (Ita) Refin-Mobilvetta
26. Bjarne Riis (Den) Telekom
27. Joona Laukka (Fin) Festina
28. Garcia (Spa)
29. Oscar Pelliccioli (Ita) Carrera
30. Jesus Montoya (Spa) Motorola
31. Marco Saligari (It, MG-Technogym)
32. Georg Totschnig (Austria, Team Polti)
33. Patrick Jonker (Australia, ONCE)
34. Bruno Cenghialta (It, Gewiss-Playbus)
35. Giorgio Furlan (It, Saeco)
36. Stefano Cattai (It, Roslotto-ZG Mobili)
37. Marco Zen (It, Roslotto-ZG Mobili)
38. Peter Meinert-Neilsen (Den, Telekom)
39. Wladimir Belli (It, Ceramica Panaria-Vinavil)
40. Gianni Bugno (It, Mg-Technogym)
41. Evgeni Berzin (Rus, Gewiss-Playbus)  	 all s.t.
42. Didier Rous (Fr, GAN)   			 +15.31
43. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fr, Festina)  		   s.t.
44. Michele Bartoli (It, MG-Technogym)  	 +16.34
45. Brian Holm (Den, Telekom)  			 +17.15
46. Udo Bolts (Ger, Telekom)
47. Vladimir Poulnikov (Ukr, TVM)
48. Marteen Den Bakker (Neth, TVM)
49. Francisco Cabello (Sp,Kelme-Artiach)
50. Jens Heppner (Ger, Telekom)
51. Sergei Outschakov (Ukr, Team Polti)
52. Jose Lusi Arrieta (Sp, Banesto)       	all s.t.
53. Eddy Bouwmans (Neth, Foreldorado-Golff)   	 +18.21

(53 classified. 188 starters)

Finished outside the time limit: Stephane Hennebert (Bel), Mika 
Hietanen (Fin), Pascal Duez (Bel), Cedico-Charleroi; Frankie 
Andreu (USA), Bobby Julich (USA), Motorola; Bo Hamburger 
(Den, TVM); Frank Van Den Abbeele (Bel, Cedico); Geert 
Verheyden (Bel), Erwin Thijs (Bel), Vlaanderen 2002 

Trophee Week-End Ardennais (best position in Fleche Wallonne/Liege-Bastogne-Liege):

 1. Armstrong 3 points
 2. Gianetti  7 points 
 3. Richard  15 points

Race Report from Roger

The race (L'Equipe's film of the race plus in square brackets my own observations from the roadside)

[The start: I've not been to every classic, but in my experience L- B-L has the friendliest, most open atmosphere at the start. (For example, the riders are not fenced off as at Flanders, and don't hide away as at Paris--Roubaix.) I've been to two previous L-B- L's, equally open, but hampered by icy rain. This year the sun shone down all day, and by mid-day we were up to 25 Celsius. The Saturday before the race there's a chance to see mechanics preparing the bikes and riders coming in off training rides before the presentation (open to the public) of the teams in the afternoon.

This Saturday ONCE rolled in and there was Alex Zulle and Neil Stephens standing there -- AND Marino Lejaretta, retired but in good enough shape to have gone out training with the team. Sunday the crowd thickens up around the mechanics' trucks and team cars and you find yourself rubbing shoulders with (my own sightings) Viatcheslav Ekimov, Rolf Sorensen, Erik Breukink, Lance Armstrong, Jesus Montoya, Laurent Madouas, Edwig Van Hooydonck...

As the start time approaches you move to one side or the other of the low-barriered start area which stretches along a couple of hundred metres. You can lean across and talk to -- more examples -- Richard Virenque, Wladimir Belli, Evgeni Berzin, Bjarne Riis etc etc.]

***The race started slowly into a headwind [and although we left the start a bit late -- some people on our bus got caught the wrong side of the barriers -- we got a first sighting of the peloton all together at 21km from the motorway bridge above them]. The first break was by Gerrits Kris (Bel, Vlaanderen 2002) at km60 on the Baraque de Fraiture climb.

He soon built a lead of 2 minutes on the way out to Bastogne, with Damien Nazon (Fr, Banesto) eventually chasing and catching him at km116. The two were swept up by the peloton at km136 [Our second sighting of the race was planned to be on the Cote de Saint-Roch, a vicious (900m at average 12.2%, though there must be bits at 18%) climb through the houses out of Houffalize (km82). Unfortunately,there was a Grundig MTB World Cup event on at Houffalize and we weren't allowed into the town -- how I hate MTBs! -- we had to make do with a slight uphill stretch at about km83 where we saw Kris burning along and a bit later the peloton all together chasing him. Nazon hadn't yet got away. Kris obviously had the sensible ambition of making some money -- he didn't finish the race, but he must have got to the turn at Bastogne 9km95) first, thereby picking up a prize of 30,000 Belgian francs (about US$1000).

Our third sighting was at a dusty, bumpy downhill crossroads (Compogne-Bertogne km107). Kris hurtled down the hill, followed at about a minute by Nazon and then the hectic peloton at a couple of minutes. My most vivid memory of this moment is of someone in mid-bunch bunny-hopping over a bump in the road].

***Andrea Peron (It), Lance Armstrong (USA) (Motorola); Evgeni Berzin (Rus, Gewiss) and Gianni Bugno (It, MG- Technogym) passed in that order at the front of the bunch over the Cote de Wanne (155km -- 3km at avg 4.6%). On the Cote des Hezalles (km164) Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina) accelerated and had 15 seconds at the summit [we were three-quarters of the way up Hezalles on a hairpin bend, an extremely tough 1.1km at an average 11% -- that average doesn't really do it justice, there are bits at 20% and it's about three bikes wide and winding. (for my photos of Hezalles in the '92 race see my WWW Page

As the bunch approached our bend, Virenque was poised to take also right at the front of the bunch. Further down the bunch a GAN rider on the point of stalling called out for a push, and our party leader obliged for a few metres. If you move smartish it's possible to get down the Hezalles to see the riders, who've done a couple of km loop, sweep back down into the town of Trois- Ponts.

I just got there in time to see Virenque through, it definitely was at least 15 secs by then. Trois Ponts is also a traditional place for abandons, there's a short cut back to Liege along the river valley that avoids all those climbs still to come. Half a dozen riders at least peeled off here...]. Virenque was caught on the next climb, the Aisomont (km172 -- 4.5km at 5.1%) by Fabrizio Bontempi (It, Brescialat) and then by a peloton of about 40 riders.

*** In the Mur de Stockeu (km179 -- 1.1km at an average 12%) Mauro Gianetti (Swi, Team Polti) took up an active role at the front and then on the Haute-Levee (184km -- 3.7km at 5.6%) he led a group of nine off the front of the rest (his team-mate Davide Rebellin; Abraham Olano (Sp, Mapei-GB), Michele Coppolillo (It) and Pascal Richard (Swi) (MG-Technogym); Stefano Zanini (Gewiss); Armstrong and Laurent Madouas (Fr) (Motorola). Alexandre Gontchenkov (Ukr, Roslotto) and Gabriele Missaglia (It, San Marco). Behind these were another four -- Alex Zulle (Swi, ONCE), Enrico Zaina (It, Carrera), Pascal Herve (Fr, Festina) and Maurizio Fondriest (It, Roslotto). Behind them another five -- Gianni Bugno (It, MG), Claudio Chiappucci (It, Carrera), Rolf Sorensen (Den, Rabobank), Richard Virenque (Fr, Festina) and Rodolfo Massi (It, Ceramiche Refin). Evgeni Berzin (Rus, Gewiss) was dropped by all these, with team-mate Gabriele Colombo (It) slowing to wait for him. [we had time only to get about 200m up the Haute-Levee. The spectators stretched a couple deep in the warm sunshine up to the horizon. At this stage of the long drag these groups weren't clearly defined, but Armstrong was looking seriously strong on the front and Berzin went past clearly already feeling out of it, behind a slightly more vital-looking Chiappucci].

*** At the top of the Haute-Levee Coppilillo attacked without provoking any counter-attack and had a lead of 1.25 at km190 on the first group, which Sorensen had spectacularly bridged to A little further on, at km200, after the Cote du Rosier (4km at 6.2%) all Coppolillo's chasers regrouped, totaling 34 riders.

*** Gianetti attacked again on the Vecquee (km209 -- 3.3km at 4.8%) leading away for a while Olano, Richard, Armstrong, Madouas and Laurent Brochard (Fr, Festina). With Coppolillo still clear, 17 riders arrived together on the Cote de la Redoute (km226 -- 1.7km at 11%, but with stretches at 20%): Gianetti, Rebellin, Olano, Richard, Fabiano Fontanelli (It, MG), Chiappuci, Zaina, Brochard, Virenque, Herve, Armstrong, Madouas, Axel Merckx (Bel, Motorola), Fondriest, Missaglia, Colombo and Sorensen [we were about three-quarters of the way up La Redoute when Copolillo hared past, maybe 30 seconds ahead of the chasers].

***Near the top of La Redoute Coppolillo unshipped his chain and was passed by the chasers at which point Gianetti attacked, with only Richard and Armstrong able to go with him. By the cote du Sart-Tilman (km245 -- 3km at 5.5%) they had a lead of 1.50 on the chasers. About 1km from the summit of Sart-Tilman Madouas made a strong attack, getting clear of the chasers to establish a lasting position between the lead group and the chasers.

***On the final drag to the finish at Ans [it looks like about 2.5km at maybe 10% with a shortish downhill bit mid-way] the three lead riders watched each other. Gianetti attacked strongly at 1200m to go, but was shut down by Armstrong; then Richard attacked less ferociously at 1000m with again Armstrong closing up the gap but then unaccountably going to the front. At the left- hand right-angle bend at the top of the climb, 250m from the line, Armstrong went through on the inside of the bend, looking a bit badly placed. He attacked off the front [apparently into the wind, said Richard later] a full 200m out, leaving Richard to sweep past him with 80m to go. [in a long interview in today's L'Equipe, Armstrong said: "I committed a big error in the final stretch. I should have eased off my effort on the climb to Ans and let the other two make part of the tempo. It's because I was feeling too confident. Even in the sprint, I was sure of winning."]

(With thanks, and a unashamed plug again, for Graham and Jonathan Baxter of Graham Baxter's Sporting Tours for another impeccably organized classics trip. For brochure, fax 44 (0)113 284 3617)

And mega thanks to Roger from bill on behalf of all of us.

World cup standings after Liege:

 1. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-GB                87 pts
 2. Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Gewiss               58
 3. Michele Bartoli (Ita) MG-Technogym          55
 4. Fabio Baldato (Ita) MG-Technogym            51
 5. Pascal Richard (Sch) MG-Technogym           50
 6. Alexander Gontchenkov (Ukr) Roslotto        47
 7. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola              41
 8. Andrej Tchmil (Ukr) Lotto                   40
 9. Stefano Zanini (Ita) Gewiss                 38
10. Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita) MG-Technogym       36
11. Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Mapei-GB           35
12. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) Rabobank            32
13. Michele Coppolillo (Ita) MG-Technogym       25
    Andrea Tafi (Ita) Mapei-GB                  25
    Mauro Gianetti (Sch) Team Polti             25
16. Laurent Brochard (Fra) Festina              24
17. Maximilian Sciandri (Eng) Motorola          20
    Rolf Sorensen (Den) Rabobank                20
    Laurent Madouas (Fra) Motorola              20
20. Franco Ballerini (Ita) Mapei-GB             18
21. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Team Polti            16
22. Brian Holm (Den) Telekom                    14
    Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco                 14
    Axel Merckx (Bel) Motorola                  14
25. Richard Virenque (Fra) Festina              12
26. Francis Moreau (Fra) Gan                    10
27. Peter Van Petegem (Bel) TVM                  8
    Marco Milesi (Ita) Brescialat                8
29. Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) San Marco Group     6
    Wilfried Peeters (Bel) Mapei-GB              6
    Pascal Herve (Fra) Festina                   6
32. Tristan Hoffman (Ned) TVM                    5
    Abraham Olano (Spa) Mapei-GB                 5
    Gianluca Pianegonda (Ita) Team Polti         5

Team classification after Liege:

 1. MG-Technogym (Ita)  33 pts
 2. Mapei-GB (Ita)      28
    Motorola (USA)      28
 4. Festina (And)       25
 5. Telekom (Ger)       16.