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89th Liège - Bastogne - Liège - CDM

Belgium, April 27, 2003

Preview    Results    Favourites    Live report    Start List    Past winners

Spring classics finish with La Doyenne

By Jeff Jones

2002 podium
Photo: © Yuzuru Sunada
Click for larger image

Somewhat fittingly as the oldest classic of them all, the 89th Liège-Bastogne-Liège will also serve as the last of the spring classics this season, having been swapped with the Amstel Gold Race this year. The race which is nicknamed 'La Doyenne' has a long history, first being run in 1892 when Belgian Léon Houa recorded the first of three successive victories. Only Eddy Merckx (1971-73) and Moreno Argentin (1985-87) have matched that feat, with Merckx also holding the record for the most number of wins in this classic (five).

Liège-Bastogne-Liège starts in Liège's Place Saint-Lambert, a large historical square near the centre of town. For the first 95 kilometres, the riders take a fairly direct route to Bastogne, which is nestled in the south eastern corner of Belgium, quite close to Luxembourg. The route coming back is a lot longer however (163 km), and takes in most of the climbs in the race, before finishing in the northern Liège suburb of Ans.

There are 10 recognised climbs in the race, which follows the same 258 kilometre parcours as it has for the last two years. Starting with the Côte Saint-Roch (km 81.8), the climbs are as follows: Côte de Wanne (km 153.8), Côte de Stockeu (km 170.6), Côte de Wanneranval (km 175), Côte du Rosier (km 194), Côte de la Vecquée (km 206.3), Côte de la Redoute (km 223.5), Côte de Sprimont (km 229), Côte du Sart-Tilman (km 244), and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas (km 252.5). The finish in Ans is uphill also.

The action normally really begins in the final 100 kilometres after the Côte de Wanne. The Stockeu (2.5 km at 9.6%) followed by the Côte de Wanneranval (1.4 km at 10.7%) are tough climbs and can help to make the beginnings of a selection, although - as always - it's up to the riders to make the race hard enough. In recent years, the trend has been for a large bunch to be in contention with 20 km to go to the finish, because if La Redoute (km 223, 2.3 km at 7%) doesn't sort them out, the remaining climbs probably won't. However, on the last few climbs (Sart-Tilman or Saint-Nicolas) a small group often gets away to fight it out in Ans.

The Favourites

Frank Vandenbroucke
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

In the absence of defending champion Paolo Bettini due to a shoulder injury, the Quick.Step-Davitamon squad will be led by 1999 winner Frank Vandenbroucke. The Walloon Whirlwind has not been able to capitalise on his fine second place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, suffering bad luck and bad legs in the following classics. However he has targeted L-B-L as a race he definitely wants to win, and if luck stays with him then he could realise this ambition. But there are a lot of candidates for victory in La Doyenne.

Saeco's team of climbing one-day specialists will be buoyed by Igor Astarloa's victory in La Fleche Wallonne mid week, and are sure to go into L-B-L with high morale. With Astarloa, Danilo Di Luca and Mirko Celestino leading the way, it's quite possible that the red brigade could do an Ardennes double.

Lance Armstrong
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

Another rider who has targeted Liège-Bastogne-Liège to win is US Postal-Berry Floor's team captain Lance Armstrong. He is definitely one of the favourites after riding strongly in the Amstel Gold Race last week, but he and his team will have to make the race hard enough so that he doesn't have too many riders to sprint against at the end. Armstrong's forte is climbing and time trialling, but you can be sure that he'll be heavily marked by the others.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) showed a lot of guts to win last week's Amstel, although he also had the benefit of a strong team. With the likes of Mario Aerts and Matthias Kessler, Telekom will be hoping to get Vino into that final group at the end to go for the victory.

Rabobank's Michael Boogerd is clearly in good shape at the moment, placing 12th in La Fleche Wallonne - only just behind Danilo Di Luca who was the best rider in the bunch that never caught the break. Boogerd enjoys climbs, and will be at home in this race.

Michele Bartoli
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) showed some good form last week in Amstel, but has never had a podium finish in Liege. He missed out in Fleche Wallonne however, so might be able to put something together for Sunday.

Fassa Bortolo contains two time winner Michele Bartoli, who still seems to be struggling with his form at the moment. Fassa missed the break in Fleche Wallonne and ended up with a best placing of 40th, courtesy of Bartoli. Last year Ivan Basso finished third behind Bettini and Garzelli, so he, Bartoli and Serguei Ivanov will likely be Fassa's leaders in Liege.

The last time a French rider won La Doyenne was in 1980, when Bernard Hinault triumphed over Hennie Kuiper and Ronny Claes. Ag2r's Laurent Brochard will be hoping to emulate that, and the strong rider from Mayenne showed good legs by winning Paris-Camembert last Tuesday.

Euskaltel boys
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

The only Spanish rider to have had some success in this classic is Euskaltel's David Etxebarria, who placed third in 2001 and second in 2002. The Euskaltel-Euskadi boys performed well in Fleche Wallonne, in particular Unai Etxebarria (4th), Iban Mayo and Samuel Sanchez (16th and 17th). Can they be the ones to break the tradition in Liege?

Finally, a wild card pick would have to be Jan Ullrich (Team Coast), who suffered a little in Fleche Wallonne but managed to get himself up the Mur de Huy in 31st place. Ullrich may not have a classic in his legs yet, but three days of rest after a tough schedule of racing last week may see him feature more prominently.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 89th Liège - Bastogne - Liège from start to finish. Coverage begins at 10:00 CEST/04:00 EDT, 01:00 PDT, 18:00 AEST).

Past winners

Year  First                         Second                      Third
2002  Paolo Bettini (Ita)           Stefano Garzelli (Ita)      Ivan Basso (Ita)
2001  Oscar Camenzind (Swi)         Davide Rebellin (Ita)       David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa)
2000  Paolo Bettini (Ita)           David Etxebarria (Spa)      Davide Rebellin (Ita)
1999  Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel)     Michael Boogerd (Ned)       Maarten Den Bakker (Ned)
1998  Michele Bartoli (Ita)         Laurent Jalabert (Fra)      Rodolfo Massi (Ita)
1997  Michele Bartoli (Ita)         Laurent Jalabert (Fra)      Gabriele Colombo (Ita)
1996  Pascal Richard (Swi)          Lance Armstrong (USA)       Mauro Gianetti (Swi)
1995  Mauro Gianetti (Swi)          Gianni Bugno (Ita)          Michele Bartoli (Ita)
1994  Evgeni Berzin (Rus)           Lance Armstrong (USA)       Giorgio Furlan (Ita)
1993  Rolf Sörensen (Den)           Toni Rominger (Swi)         Maurizio Fondriest (Ita)
1992  Dirk De Wolf (Bel)            Steven Rooks (Ned)          Jean-François Bernard (Fra)
1991  Moreno Argentin (Ita)         Claude Criquielion (Bel)    Rolf Sörensen (Den)
1990  Eric Van Lancker (Bel)        Jean-Claude Leclercq (Fra)  Steven Rooks (Ned)
1989  Sean Kelly (Ire)              Fabrice Philipot (Fra)      Phil Anderson (AUS)
1988  Adrie Van der Poel (Ned)      Michel Dernies (Bel)        Robert Millar (GB)
1987  Moreno Argentin (Ita)         Stephen Roche (Ire)         Claude Criquielion (Bel)
1986  Moreno Argentin (Ita)         Adrie Van der Poel (Ned)    Dag-Erik Pedersen (Nor)
1985  Moreno Argentin (Ita)         Claude Criquielion (Bel)    Stephen Roche (Ire)
1984  Sean Kelly (Ire)              Phil Anderson (AUS)         Greg LeMond (USA)
1983  Steven Rooks (Ned)            Giuseppe Saronni (Ita)      Pascal Jules (Fra)
1982  Silvano Contini (Ita)         Fons de Wolf (Bel)          Steffan Mutter (Swi)
1981  Josef Fuchs (Swi)             Steffan Mutter (Swi)        Ludo Peeters (Bel)
1980  Bernard Hinault (Fra)         Hennie Kuiper (Ned)         Ronny Claes (Bel)
1979  Dietrich Thurau (Ger)         Bernard Hinault (Fra)       Daniel Willems (Bel)
1978  Joseph Bruyere (Bel)          Dietrich Thurau (Ger)       Francesco Moser (Ita)
1977  Bernard Hinault (Fra)         André Dierckx (Bel)         Dietrich Thurau (Ger)
1976  Joseph Bruyere (Bel)          Freddy Maertens (Bel)       Frans Verbeeck (Bel)
1975  Eddy Merckx (Bel)             Bruno Thévenet (Fra)        Walter Godefroot (Bel)
1974  Georges Pintens (Bel)         Walter Planckaert (Bel)     3rd rider declassified
1973  Eddy Merckx (Bel)             Frans Verbeeck (Bel)        Walter Godefroot (Bel)
1972  Eddy Merckx (Bel)             Wim Schepers (Ned)          Herman van Springel (Bel)
1971  Eddy Merckx (Bel)             Georges Pintens (Bel)       Frans Verbeeck (Bel)
1970  Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)      Frans Verbeeck (Bel)        Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1969  Eddy Merckx (Bel)             Vic Van Schil (Bel)         Barry Hoban (GB)
1968  Valeer Van Sweevelt (Bel)     Walter Godefroot (Bel)      Raymond Poulidor (Fra)
1967  Walter Godefroot (Bel)        Eddy Merckx (Bel)           Willy Monty (Bel)
1966  Jacques Anquetil (Fra)        Vic Van Schil (Bel)         Willy In 't Ven (Bel)
1965  Carmine Preziosi (Ita)        Vittorio Adorni (Ita)       Marten Vanden Bossche (Bel)
1964  Willy Bocklandt (Bel)         Georges Vanconingsloo (Bel) Vittorio Adorni (Ita)
1963  Frans Melckenbeeck (Bel)      Pino Cerami (Bel)           Vittorio Adorni (Ita)
1962  Jos Planckaert (Bel)          Rolf Wolfshohl (Ger)        Claude Colette (Fra)
1961  Rik Van Looy (Bel)            Marcel Rorhbach (Fra)       Armand Desmet (Bel)
1960  Abe Geldermans (Ned)          Pierre Everaert (Fra)       Jos Planckaert (Bel)
1959  Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)        Frans schoubben (Bel)       Frans de mulder (Bel)
1958  Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)        Jozef Zagers (Bel)          J. Theuns (Bel)
1957  Frans Schoubben (Bel)         Germain Derycke (Bel)       Marcel Buys (Bel)
1956  Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)        Richard Van Genechten (Bel) Alex Close (Bel)
1955  Stan Ockers (Bel)             Raymond Impanis (Bel)       Jean Branckaert (Bel)
1954  Marcel Ernzer (Lux)           Raymond Impanis (Bel)       Ferdi Kubler (Swi)
1953  Alois De Hertog (Bel)         Maurits Diot (Fra)          Raoul Remy (Fra)
1952  Ferdi Kubler (Swi)            Henri Van Kerkhove (Bel)    Jean Robic (Fra)
1951  Ferdi Kubler (Swi)            Germain Derycke (Bel)       Wout Wagtmans (Ned)
1950  Prosper Depredomme (Bel)      Jean Bogaerts (Bel)         Edward Van Dyck (Bel)
1949  Camille Danguillaume (Fra)    Adolf Verschueren (Bel)     Roger Gyselinck (Bel)
1948  Maurice Mollin (Bel)          Raymond Impanis (Bel)       Louis Caput (Fra)
1947  Richard Depoorter (Bel)       Raymond Impanis (Bel)       F. Mathieu (Bel)
1946  Prosper Depredomme (Bel)      Albert Hendrickxs (Bel)     T. Verstraeten (Bel)
1945  Jean Engels (Bel)             Edward Van Dyck (Bel)       Jos Moerenhout (Bel)
1943  Richard Depoorter (Bel)       Jos Didden (Bel)            Stan Ockers (Bel)
1939  Albert Ritserveldt (Bel)      Cyriel Van Overberghe (Bel) E. Vissers (Bel)
1938  Alfons Deloor (Bel)           Marcel Kint (Bel)           Felicien Vervaecke (Bel)
1937  Eloi Meulenbergh (Bel)        Gustaaf Deloor (Bel)        J. Heirnaert (Bel)
1936  Albert Beckaert (Bel)         Gilbert Levae (Bel)         K. Horemans (Bel)
1935  Alfons Schepers (Bel)         Frans Bonduel (Bel)         Louis Hardiquest (Bel)
1934  Theo Heckenrath (Bel)         M. Cardinaels (Bel)         Jos Moerenhout (Bel)
1933  Francois Gardier (Bel)        R. Dewolf (Bel)             A. Bolly (Bel)
1932  Marcel Hoyoux (Bel)           Leopold Roosemont (Bel)     G. Lambrechts (Bel)
1931  Alfons Schepers (Bel)         M. Houyoux (Bel)            J. Deschepper (Bel)
1930  Herman Buse (Ger)             Georges Laloup (Bel)        Francois Gardier (Bel)
1929  Alfons Schepers (Bel)
1928  Ernest Mottard (Bel)
1927  M. Raes (Bel)
1926  D. Smets (Bel)
1925  Georges Ronsse (Bel)
1924  René Vermandel (Bel)          Adelin Benoit (Bel)         Jules Matton (Bel)
1923  René Vermandel (Bel)          Jean Rossius (Bel)          Félix Sellier (Bel)
1922  Louis Mottiat (Bel)           Albert Jordens (Bel)        Laurent Seret (Bel)
1921  Louis Mottiat (Bel)           Marcel Lacour (Bel)         Jean Rossius (Bel)
1920  Léon Scieur (Bel)             Lucien Buysse (Bel)         Jacques Coomans (Bel)
1919  Léon Devos (Bel)              Henri Hanlet (Bel)          Arthur Claerhout (Bel)
1913  M. Moritz (Bel)
1912  Omer Verschoore (Bel)         Jacques Coomans (Bel)       André Blaise (Bel)
1911  Joseph Van Daele (Bel)
1909  Victor Fastre (Bel)
1908  A. Trousselier (Fra)
1894  Léon Houa (Bel)               Rasquinet (Bel)             Nullens (Bel)
1893  Léon Houa (Bel)
1892  Léon Houa (Bel)

Distance and time

Year  First                       km   km/h
2002  Paolo Bettini (Ita)         258  38.725
2001  Oscar Camenzind (Swi)       258  38.507
2000  Paolo Bettini (Ita)         264  40.769
1999  Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel)   262  41.079
1998  Michele Bartoli (Ita)       262  40.077
1997  Michele Bartoli (Ita)       262  36.650
1996  Pascal Richard (Swi)        263  37.700
1995  Mauro Gianetti (Swi)        261  39.305
1994  Evgeni Berzin (Rus)         268  36.838
1993  Rolf Sörensen (Den)         261  36.072
1992  Dirk De Wolf (Bel)          262  35.882
1991  Moreno Argentin (Ita)       267  36.627
1990  Eric Van Lancker (Bel)      256  35.560
1989  Sean Kelly (Ire)            268  36.243
1988  Adrie Van der Poel (Ned)    260  38.801
1987  Moreno Argentin (Ita)       258  38.700
1986  Moreno Argentin (Ita)       253  37.673
1985  Moreno Argentin (Ita)       245  37.021
1984  Sean Kelly (Ire)            247  36.366
1983  Steven Rooks (Ned)          246  35.516
1982  Silvano Contini (Ita)       244  34.033
1981  Josef Fuchs (Swi)           244  35.362
1980  Bernard Hinault (Fra)       244  34.716
1979  Dietrich Thurau (Ger)       242  36.713
1978  Joseph Bruyere (Bel)        242  36.464
1977  Bernard Hinault (Fra)       243  37.654
1976  Joseph Bruyere (Bel)        247  37.396
1975  Eddy Merckx (Bel)           247  38.247
1974  Georges Pintens (Bel)       246  38.537
1973  Eddy Merckx (Bel)           236  37.869
1972  Eddy Merckx (Bel)           239  36.488
1971  Eddy Merckx (Bel)           251  36.115
1970  Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)    235  35.971
1969  Eddy Merckx (Bel)           253  37.024
1968  Valeer Van Sweevelt (Bel)   268  36.380
1967  Walter Godefroot (Bel)      256  35.971
1966  Jacques Anquetil (Fra)      253  36.164
1965  Carmine Preziosi (Ita)      253  36.051
1964  Willy Bocklandt (Bel)       245  34.615
1963  Frans Melckenbeeck (Bel)    237  37.179
1962  Jos Planckaert (Bel)        254  36.581
1961  Rik Van Looy (Bel)          251  37.224
1960  Abe Geldermans (Ned)        248  36.401
1959  Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)      240  35.511
1958  Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)      246  34.480
1957  Frans Schoubben (Bel)       255  34.386
1956  Alfred De Bruyne (Bel)      247  37.973
1955  Stan Ockers (Bel)           238  34.747
1954  Marcel Ernzer (Lux)         236  34.016
1953  Alois De Hertog (Bel)       236  34.215
1952  Ferdi Kubler (Swi)          229  35.400
1951  Ferdi Kubler (Swi)          211  37.124
1950  Prosper Depredomme (Bel)    263  35.427
1949  Camille Danguillaume (Fra)  256  36.775
1948  Maurice Mollin (Bel)        205  34.943
1947  Richard Depoorter (Bel)     218  36.286
1946  Prosper Depredomme (Bel)    205  33.974
1945  Jean Engels (Bel)           204  32.929
1943  Richard Depoorter (Bel)     211  37.679
1939  Albert Ritserveldt (Bel)    211  37.345
1938  Alfons Deloor (Bel)         211  37.051
1937  Eloi Meulenbergh (Bel)      211  36.188
1936  Albert Beckaert (Bel)       211  36.067
1935  Alfons Schepers (Bel)       240  36.219
1934  Theo Heckenrath (Bel)       213  34.171
1933  Francois Gardier (Bel)      213  34.975
1932  Marcel Hoyoux (Bel)         214  32.752
1931  Alfons Schepers (Bel)       213  28.435
1930  Herman Buse (Ger)           231  27.445
1929  Alfons Schepers (Bel)
1928  Ernest Mottard (Bel)
1927  M. Raes (Bel)
1926  D. Smets (Bel)
1925  Georges Ronsse (Bel)
1924  René Vermandel (Bel)        245  28.053
1923  René Vermandel (Bel)        218  29.376
1922  Louis Mottiat (Bel)         218  29.229
1921  Louis Mottiat (Bel)         209  28.306
1920  Léon Scieur (Bel)           245  28.710
1919  Léon Devos (Bel)            237  24.101
1913  M. Moritz (Bel)
1912  Omer Verschoore (Bel)       257  29.941
1911  Joseph Van Daele (Bel)
1909  Victor Fastre (Bel)
1908  A. Trousselier (Fra)
1894  Léon Houa (Bel)             223  25.150
1893  Léon Houa (Bel)
1892  Léon Houa (Bel)