In a normal year Liege-Bastogne-Liege would attract a stellar field, but with the spring classics shifting to autumn along with the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, Sunday’s race will have a different feel.
After having been raced in the unpredictable April weather of the Ardennes since 1892, the oldest of cycling’s five ‘monuments’ has proved movable and will be run on Sunday, on the same day as the Giro’s second stage in Sicily.
This year’s race has attracted a only a few one-day heavyweights, but they include the two men in the best one-day form.
Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe won the world championship last Sunday, while young Swiss star Marc Hirschi was third in the worlds and took the Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday.
Two monuments have been run since cycling resumed after the coronavirus shutdown but the winners are absent.
Belgian Wout van Aert, who won the Milan-San Remo as well as the Strade Bianche classic in early August, is going to concentrate on the two cobblestone monuments, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, later this month.
Dane Jakob Fuglsang, who in August won the Tour of Lombardy, known as ‘the race of the falling leaves’ because it is traditionally the last monument of the year, is competing in the Giro.
Belgian Jasper Stuyven, winner of Het Nieuwsblad at the end of February, the only classic to have been contested before the season shut down, is also focused on Flanders and is planning his return in Ghent-Wevelgem on October 11.
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini