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88th Liege-Bastogne-Liege / Luik-Bastenaken-Luik - (CDM)

Belgium, April 21, 2002

Liege-Bastogne-Liege News

April 20, 2002

LBL data

Start time (neutral): 9:45 CEST
Actual start time: 10:00 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16:40 CEST
Race distance: 258 km
Important climbs (10 in total): Stockeu (km 170), La Redoute (km 223), Sart-Tilman (km 244) and Saint-Nicolas (km 252.5).

25 teams: Lotto-Adecco, Mapei-Quick Step, Cofidis, Fassa Bortolo, Rabobank, Telekom, Domo-Farm Frites, Team Coast, iBanesto.com, Saeco-Longoni Sport, US Postal, Kelme, Phonak Hearing Systems, ONCE-Eroski, Bonjour, Tacconi Sport-Emmegi, CSC-Tiscali, Gerolsteiner, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Lampre-Daikin, Crédit Agricole, Jean Delatour, Mercatone Uno, Vlaanderen T Interim, Marlux

Favourites: Mario Aerts (Lotto), Michele Bartoli, Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo), Paolo Bettini (Mapei), David Etxebarria (Euskaltel), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Dario Frigo (Tacconi), Lance Armstrong (USPS), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank).

Other notable riders: Axel Merckx, Johan Museeuw (Domo), Stefano Garzelli (Mapei), Rik Verbrugge, Serge Baguet (Lotto),

Notable absentees: Erik Dekker (Ned), Jan Ullrich (Ger), Laurent Jalabert (Fra), Oscar Camenzind (Swi)

Victories by country: In 87 editions, 61 have been won by Belgians, followed by 9 Italian, 6 Swiss, 5 French etc. Only four Belgians have won in the last 25 years though.

Record of wins: 5 by Eddy Merckx (Bel) between 1969 and 1975. Also Moreno Argentin won 4 times between 1985 and 1991.

Live coverage

Don't miss Cyclingnews' Live coverage of the 88th Liege-Bastogne-Liege - starts at 9:45 local time on Sunday, April 21 (3:45am USA eastern time, 12:45am USA west, 5:45pm Australian east).

Time running out for Marco Pantani

1998 Tour de France winner Marco Pantani has (in theory) two weeks to make a case to the Societe du Tour de France to accept his Mercatone Uno team into the 2002 Tour. The team needs to be one of six given a wild card entry on May 2. If they are accepted, it will be more on past rather than current glory.

Pantani has not won a race for 21 months, and will need an absolute miracle to figure in the final of Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday. It is a classic that should suit him, given the hilly nature of the parcours. But in Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne, Pantani could only manage 81st at 5'37 down on the winner. Hardly enough to impress the STF.

Pantani is still optimistic, as only he can be. Bloomberg reporters Darren Tullet and Alessandra Bacchetta spoke to him in a telephone interview on Thursday about his chances.

"My objective is not to take part in the Tour de France, but to win it," said Pantani. "The Tour de France needs Pantani among the starters because they need someone to beat the American. And frankly, I don't see any other candidates."

He added that "Liege-Bastogne-Liege is important for me as I have to show both fans and organizers that I am still around, that I am alive and kicking. I need to show that I am concentrated and calm again, by moving well during the race and having my team move well with me."

"Liege is a very good race, with lots of major riders participating. Weather conditions can be precarious, though, and as I am not exactly a huge muscular guy, I definitely suffer from rain and cold. Let's hope the weather is good, and most of all that I'm able to do something good in the race."

The weather conditions are expected to hold, and we should get another pleasant day of racing in the Ardennes on Sunday.

The full interview with Pantani will be published shortly on Cyclingnews.

No Simoni in LBL

Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) has announced that he will not be riding in this weekend's Liege-Bastogne-Liege, preferring instead to finish the Settimana Lombarda and then ride the Giro del Trentino from April 25-28.

Earlier in the week, Saeco team management said that "We decided with Simoni that he would be benefit from riding several stages of the Settimana Lombarda as preparation for Liege". We don't want to upset the organiser of the Settimana Lombarda but we need Simoni to help Di Luca in what is one of the most important objectives of our season."

However, with Di Luca a little out of form and Simoni looking at getting some consistency back in his results, it seems as though he will continue in Lombarda. Simoni's big objective is the Giro d'Italia which starts on May 11.

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