Ardennes week has already provided two enthralling races and the spring Classics season will draw to a close with a fitting finale on Sunday (April 27) with the 100th edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Won last year by Irishman Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), the season’s fourth Monument – and the oldest of the five – has provided some memorable races in its previous 99 editions.
Eddie Merckx made the race his own with a record five victories – and most notably his late counter-attack to catch and pass Bernard Thevenet to seal his fifth in 1975 – while Bernard Hinault won in the snow in 1980, and Philippe Gilbert outsprinted the Schleck brothers to seal an clean sweep of the 2011 Ardennes Classics.
Last year’s race on the fearsome course was just as memorable as Martin beat Joaquim Rodriguez – with a man in a panda suit racing after them – to become the second Irishman after Sean Kelly to win La Doyenne.
But with Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on top form, having won the Amstel Gold Race and La Fleche Wallonne respectively, Martin faces a fight to defend his title over the punchy 263km course.
Read on for our in-depth preview of the 100th Liege-Bastogne-Liege, looking at the route and contenders over the following pages.