25 teams have been selected for the 96th Flèche Wallonne, which will take place on Sunday 25th of April.
Team Milram (MRM)
Omega Pharma-Lotto (OLO)
Quick Step (QST)
Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator (TSV)
Team Saxo Bank (SAX)
Caisse d’Epargne (GCE)
Euskaltel - Euskadi (EUS)
BMC Racing Team (BMC)
Team HTC-Columbia (THR)
Team RadioShack (RSH)
Team Sky (SKY)
AG2R La Mondiale (ALM)
Bbox Bouygues Telecom (BBO)
Cofidis, le Crédit en ligne (COF)
Française des Jeux (FDJ)
Acqua & Sapone (ASA)
Androni Giocattoli (AND)
Lampre-Farnese Vini (LAM)
Katusha Team (KAT)
Cervelo Test Team (CTT)
Yesterday, Philippe Collard, mayor of Bastogne has inaugurated a round-about to celebrate Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Dean of the cycling races.
Christian Prudhomme and Paul Bolland, president of the RCPCL and co organiser with A.S.O. of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, attended the celebration, as well as Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and many other former winners of the race. The “rond-point de la Doyenne”, located at the exit of Bastogne on the road of the race, stand as the first mark on the way back to Liege.
© Presse SportsRebellin, after his last win in Flèche Wallonne
The Ardennes Classics campaign is a key moment of the cycling season. Liège-Bastogne-Liège has a unique place: the oldest of all Classics is also the longest of this demanding week (261 km) and the hilliest. It is also the last opportunity to shine on a prestigious race before taking on the major Tours.
And actually the most consistent and the most ambitious for the Ardennes races have failed to win this week. Alejandro Valverde (21st of the Amstel, 7th of the Fleche Wallonne) will maybe feed on that double frustration to retain his title in the closing moments of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. To do so, he will have to deal with the growing appetite of those who haven’t witnessed success: Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert at Silence-Lotto, but also Andy Schleck, maybe riding alongside his brother Frank, Damiano Cunego, or for example Olympic Champion Samuel Sanchez. One will of course have to also count on Davide Rebellin, who showed on the climb up the Mur de Huy that at 38 years of age, he hadn’t lost an ounce of his explosiveness. The former winner back in 2004 has climbed on four occasions on the podium at Liège. The record collector has no intention to stop there.
|The favourites from the 25 teams|
Team Milram (MRM): P.Velits, Wegmann (All)
Landbouwkrediet - Colnago (LAN): De Waele, (Bel)
Quick Step (QST): Barredo (Esp), Pineau (Fra)
Silence - Lotto (SIL): Evans (Aus), Gilbert (Bel)
Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator (TSV): Bakelants (Bel)
Team Saxo Bank (SAX): F.Schleck, A.Schleck (Lux), Kroon (Hol)
Caisse d’Epargne (GCE): Valverde, Rodriguez (Esp)
Euskaltel - Euskadi (EUS): S.Sanchez (Esp)
Garmin - Slipstream (GRM): Danielson (Usa)
Team Columbia – High Road (THR): Lövqvist (Sue)
AG2R La Mondiale (ALM): Nocentini (Ita), V.Efimkin (Rus)
Agritubel (AGR): Moreau, Feillu (Fra)
BBox Bouygues Telecom (BTL): Rolland (Fra), Trofimov (Rus)
Cofidis, Le Crédit en Ligne (COF): El Fares, Moinard (Fra)
Française des Jeux (FDJ): Casar, Guesdon (Fra)
Barloworld (BAR): Augustyn (Afs)
Lampre - N.G.C. (LAM): Cunego, Righi (Ita)
Liquigas (LIQ) : Kreuziger (Rtc), Kuschynski (Blr)
Astana (AST): Zubeldia (Esp), Iglinskiy (Kaz)
Rabobank (RAB): Gesink (Hol) Freire (Esp)
Skil-Shimano (SKS): Hivert (Fra)
Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (VAC): Lhôtellerie (Fra)
Team Katusha (KAT): Ivanov (Rus), Pfannberger (Aut)
Cervélo Test Team (CTT): Gerrans (Aus)
Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli (SDA): Rebellin, Scarponi (Ita)
Like in 2006, Alejandro Valverde proved he was the strongest of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Rather disappointing after finishing only 20th of the Flèche Wallonne, the Spaniard hit back in style under the bright sunshine on the Belgian Ardennes.
Valverde was part of the decisive move in the penultimate climb up the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, before making his effort with just 200m to go, outsprinting Rebellin and Franck Schleck to the finish line.
The day’s race started with a group of five riders breaking away after just under 30 kilometres. A vain effort as last man standing, Pierre Rolland was eventually caught before the final battle with 30 kilometres to go.