Miguel Indurain has said that he does not expect the newly revised route of Liège-Bastogne-Liège to present any extra challenges for Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) when the world champion battles for a record-equalling fifth win.
For the first time in 27 years, Liège-Bastogne-Liège dispenses with the ultra-steep Côte de Saint-Nicolas and the final grinding ascent to Ans, with its 256-kilometre route returning to a more traditional format. This spring, the three final climbs will be the emblematic Côte de la Redoute, the Côte des Forges and – although this is a more recent addition – Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, prior to a fast descent into a flat finish in Liege.
Valverde did not win last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Flèche Wallonne after multiple triumphs in both races, but Indurain is convinced the 2018 world champion remains the reference point in La Doyenne.
“This year’s route is like a return to the classic format of Liège with a finish in the city centre,” Indurain told Cyclingnews, “but although Alejandro did very well on the re-designed route [to Ans], this classic format would be good for him too.
“He’s got the power to get over the climbs, and of those riders who can manage to do that, he’s got one of the fastest finishes. It’ll be a sprint finish for the strongmen, and that’ll suit him. For Alejandro, it doesn’t change that much.”
Indurain has given the thumbs-up too, to Liège’s return to its roots: “It [Ans] was a good finish, but in the centre of Liege, there’ll be more people watching, so in that sense it’ll make for a better atmosphere.”
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