Velominati Super Prestige: Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2016

We were descending for a while before I saw Roche’s name painted on the road. It was one of those little bridges over a river that you only seem to find in the Benelux; just a little too ancient and just a little too arched, and just a little too perfectly flawed to be anywhere else.

The trouble was that the sportive was run in the summer after the race had already taken place; Roche had retired the year before, so it seemed really strange that his name would be painted on the road. What we didn’t appreciate was that the previous year’s sportive had used blue arrows to mark the route, and this year’s sportive was using white arrows. After a year in Belgium, blue paint tends to start looking an awful lot like white paint; it was only a matter of time before we took a wrong turn.

Another concerning clue was the fact that we hadn’t seen another rider in much longer than one sees another rider during a sportive event as popular as this one. Neither my dad nor I are dumb people but you didn’t need to be smart to realize there was something horribly amuck with how abandoned the roads were.

We turned around and climbed back up the serpentine route we had gleefully descended into the valley. If memory serves, which I am fairly confident it doesn’t, we added something like 100km to the prescribed route.

The route from Liege to Bastogne is relatively easy, if you consider lots of climbing of short, steep côtes “easy”. On the way back, they pack the climbs in fast and furious, the steeper the better. The Prophet, Eddy Merckx, has his statue at the top of the Stockeu; this is a gratuitous climb if ever there was such a thing. The road wings off the main road to the right and flies up a 21% gradient for just over a kilometer before taking a hard left and swinging right back down to the same point in the road; a loop of suffering added purely for the sake of suffering. When we rode it with Johan Museeuw, he tried to convince us not to ride it, “You don’t need to ride it for me…” When I rode it with my dad, all I remember is woods and suffering.

Liege will be held on Sunday, and I’m done trying to predict the weather in a country where I don’t live except to say I predict there will be weather; either sunny or rainy or stormy, or snowy. As far as winners go, the smart money is on the Valve Cap, which is very disappointing to me and why I’m going with the “dumb” money. Hopefully something exciting will happen instead. So check the start list, and stock up on points for the Don Walker custom frame, Cafe Roubaix wheelset, or V-Kit.

Mercxkspeed.

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223 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2016”

  1. Good on Wouter Poels. He’s had a gooooood spring, we’re going to have to start paying attention to him.

    One point. Sure glad I spent so much time crunching the numbers on this one.

  2. Anyone know what happened to Etixx-Quickstep? Race radio reports they took a right hand turn in Bastogne and were last seen heading toward Roubaix, France.

  3. @Minnesota Expat

    Anyone know what happened to Etixx-Quickstep? Race radio reports they took a right hand turn in Bastogne and were last seen heading toward Roubaix, France.

    Them & Movistar, all done in by an attack from Albasini. It’s been an interesting classics season, not one of the teams that have been dominant during the 4 monuments have delivered a win. Beyond Valverde on Wednesday, I don’t really remember a “team plan” coming together this spring.

  4. Beerstreaming here. Rule #9 to sort the wheat from the chaff. Poels owes Alba something from the top shelf. Excellent addition that cobbled climb. Gerro must go. That wankspanner in the swimsuit and white cardigan needs a proper beating. Snow on La Redoute gave me a ninebone. No points for me. Great racing. Alba stronger but Poels smarter. That is all. VLVV.

  5. @mulebeatsdrums

    Dammit. My first draft genuinely had Poels in first Costa in third. Shoudn’t have over-analysed it.

    *sigh*

    I was looking at him too. Not for a win, but a top five. He’s had a very good spring, good team support, and is a home boy (NE Europe anyway). Hindsight is 20/20, but I should have put him down for a top five. In lieu of Nibali. Gawd, what was I thinking?

  6. @Minnesota Expat

    @mulebeatsdrums

    Dammit. My first draft genuinely had Poels in first Costa in third. Shoudn’t have over-analysed it.

    *sigh*

    I was looking at him too. Not for a win, but a top five. He’s had a very good spring, good team support, and is a home boy (NE Europe anyway). Hindsight is 20/20, but I should have put him down for a top five. In lieu of Nibali. Gawd, what was I thinking?

    I tossed a coin between Gasparotto and Poels as my dark horse winner. Couldn’t justify the long odds of putting them both in the top five. Heigh-ho.

  7. @Wietse Verbrugghe

    Stole your screenshot and shared it on “faceplant”.  Love IT!!!  When I saw this this morning while I was live-streaming it I called all my kiddos and had them watch it with me.  They were truly, duly impressed.  One moment of cycling propaganda at a time and I’ll, slowly over time, infiltrate their minds and make them all cyclists!

  8. @Teocalli

    oooeeer – got take a screen grab of that flag! Reet chuffed wi’ that.

    Reet chuffed wi’ that! och aye, jimmay. What a day in Belgium. Finally, some proper weather.

    @Harminator

    Beerstreaming here. Rule #9 to sort the wheat from the chaff. Poels owes Alba something from the top shelf. Excellent addition that cobbled climb. Gerro must go. That wankspanner in the swimsuit and white cardigan needs a proper beating. Snow on La Redoute gave me a ninebone. No points for me. Great racing. Alba stronger but Poels smarter. That is all. VLVV.

    You are wise when beerstreaming, don’t stop. I delgadoed again but would have had nothing. Samu and Rui in the top five, I’m impressed, especially Samu, he is not ready to be retired. I hope TJ takes notes on how to Rule #9 on BMC.

  9. Got to be happy with 4 points since 3/4 of the VSPelaton scored a DNF but dammit, I picked Poels to finish 1st in the Amstel last week but left him out this time.

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