Velominati Super Prestige: Liége-Bastogne-Liége

We’ve all watched bike races, that’s a given, but how many of us actually listen to a bike race? It’s at this time every year that I’m reminded of something;

The Ardennes Classics sound different.

How does a bike race sound exactly? In the case of L-B-L, it’s the low buzz of the TV helicopter that is ingrained in my psyche. The subliminal hum of the rotors, droning away, overlaid with the monologue of Phil and Paul (or some Dutch or Spanish guy), also droning away, is a trance-inducing concoction not even the likes of Ken Kesey ever experienced.

Be warned, if you’re a Vietnam Veteran watching (and listening to) this clip of Argentin taking his fourth Doyenne may lead to flashbacks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzAntXH46p0&feature=related

While the cobbled northern Classics elucidate a mien that takes hold of our hearts and can’t really be explained, the hillier races in the last week of the Spring campaign offer their own charms for us to appreciate. The fragile climbers, who’ve avoided the rough and dirty roads in weeks previous, mix it up alongside a smattering of the Big Men of the Stones who make the crossover to give it one last crack, or to simply help their grimpeur buddies get a slice of their own pie. These are races that can go to any number of riders who are having an on day.

Which doesn’t make picking a winner in this, the final Spring edition of the Velominati Super Prestige any easier. Will a Schleck, any Schleck, stand up (or be countered). What will the reactions be if Veino repeats, will he still be the villain, or is a year a long time in cycling and he’ll be forgiven, cheered and revered?  PhilGil could make his own history and take not only the triple crown of Amstel, Fleche and Liége, but the quadruple with his Brabanste Pijl win thrown in for good measure. Whichever way the cards fall, or whoever plays them right, it’s always a worthy winner who rolls across the line first in Ans.

All that’s left to do is take a look at the start list, use your Powers of Deductionâ„¢ to decide your Top V, fill in the blanks and pick up an Obey The Rules bumper sticker for your trouble. It’s a prize older and more coveted than any other cycling-based-website-race-tipping-competition-bumper-sticker-giveaway.

Maybe listening to your heart is the way to go on this one.

Best of Belgian to you.

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257 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Liége-Bastogne-Liége”

  1. I think Frank’s scarf was stuck in his rear mech.
    And Andy… oh fuck, I don’t know.
    Brothers Limp-eur.

  2. 5 points isn’t to bad but It looks like I will need to attack if I want to make a move up the VSP GC.

  3. Bah. My dislike of the Schlecks and refusing to pick them comes back to haunt me. It was fantastic seeing them emerge from the bunch on the second to last climb and drop the whole field, eat the break, spit it out, and forge on ahead. Too bad the cameras weren’t there for the attack that went down. Only the aftermath could be seen.

    Also, Gilbert points his toes wayyy down in his stroke. A disconcerting amount of toe point.

  4. A first! I get lanterne rouge for the day – that will teach me to go outside the box…

    @Nate
    I have to agree with you on this as the Schlecks are not one day types and Andy fell off on the hill with 5 to go so he was cooked and any move Frank made would have been an invite for Gilbert to go.

  5. frank:
    Looking good for the Schlecks for the Tour, though, eh?

    Um, no, I really don’t think so. I think they proved once again that they are phenomenal riders, but they don’t get strategy. And, more importantly, they only have one gear. As a team, they panicked and blew through some pretty good support (Fuglsang was on the front much too early for much too long, if you ask me) only to get a dream isolation situation and then blow it. Kudos to Gilbert””I like Mr. Awesome””but he didn’t even have to break a sweat. He must have been as confused as we are.

    I was a big Schlecklettes fan last year. And I still like most of the riders in this Leopard-Trek outfit, but I’m cooling on the Schlecks fast. As exciting as the initial break was, they ran out of ideas as soon as they were on their own. It seemed to be Gilbert who was intent on dropping Van Avermaet (because he can actually sprint), which basically ensured two podium spots for the Schlecks; there’s no way they could have beaten Van Avermaet in the final stretch.

    A few weeks ago, you ripped Quickstep for making a mess of RVV by finishing second and fourth. At no point did Chavanel and Boonen have the opportunity to work together like this. What did the Schlecks do? They rode a tempo and basically carried Gilbert to the line, removing the real threats in a sprint finish. Weak. Clenbutador, Gesink, Rocket Squad and anyone else riding is going to rip them to pieces in the Tour.

    What do you say about such a supremely talented team that has podiumed at all four Monuments, but has failed to find the top step once? Success? Surely, but I suspect they would have hoped for better…

  6. @Steampunk

    After G. Van A dropped and it was heads up between the three, I wondered what Cancellara was thinking as he watched the race on TV. He’s hard as nails – you’d think that by now that would’ve rubbed off on the Brothers Schleck. And watching Andy attack the race last weekend was great, but what on earth was O’Grady smoking to compare Andy to Merckx? Crazy. My liking the Schelcks has more to do with my intense dislike for Contador – but I very rarely feel the Schlecks give me much to root for.

  7. I say we have to start a world wide petition to make Gilbert ride P-R next year. If not for his refusal to ride P-R, he would be the undisputed BADASS of the Spring!!! (although I think he actually still easily earned that title!)

  8. Well, when you’re way down on the GC, you have to look to stage wins and separate yourself from the pack. Being aggressive means you often get it wrong, but playing it safe also means you wind up with everyone else. Oh well. Lantern rouge it is for me this year.

    Gilbert is a stud. Exciting stuff.

    And finally, I got to take the V-kit on the inaugural ride in Seattle yesterday. Warm enough for shorts even. I feel great in the Sacred Garments. Praised be Merckx.

  9. It did seem to me that PG is on a different training schedule than the Schlecks – He is climbing well for his weight and seems to be peaking (or at least I hope so otherwise can I have some of what he is training with?) So when Andy got dropped did that not say that he is not quite there yet? And yes they looked like a couple of twat waffles but that is the joy of racing – sometimes you just have no options left with the form and fitness on that day and hey after 250km how many other guys were there with them? I am not going to judge.

  10. @Rob
    Schlecks are alone in the picture guys or they are not winning a one-day.

    Would have been nice to see them try something on the St. Nick but in my view it’s not nearly long enough a climb for them to drop PG. If they had attacked PG would just have taken the initiative with a leg-ripping counterattack, which would have been awesome.

    Speaking of Awesome, @Rob, I suspect that PG did a secret training camp with @frank in Awesomeville, to top off his V-reserves. Probably this happened the weekend of Paris-Roubaix, when he was not racing.

  11. They just lacked the form Gilbert is having. Gilbert is peaking, the Schlecks are months away from peaking.

    @Steampunk
    I’ll speak to you after the Tour, in which PG can’t do anything and the Schlecks are tearing everyone apart. I hope…

  12. @Nate
    I agree and it never crossed my mind that Gilbert would go to those extremes for V training – its tantamount to doping but completely legal – this means there will be no stopping him, the giro will be a cake walk.

    Wait, I just realized and went back to the tape – the guy Frank was chasing this winter on the mountain was Gilbert! Can you say “Aloha AWESOMENESS!”?

  13. Man woke up, turned the ‘puter on, waited for cycling news to load, and gotta say pretty stoked for Gil – bear! I was expecting that I would stay true to form and have avoided picking the winner like trek seems to avoid the top step of the podium.
    Interesting season for them, hope the Schlecks can cope with the added responsibility of being involved with the administration of a team as well as riding. I’m starting to wonder if they’re only nw realising how much Riis did for them…

  14. Steampunk:

    frank:
    Looking good for the Schlecks for the Tour, though, eh?

    Um, no, I really don’t think so. I think they proved once again that they are phenomenal riders, but they don’t get strategy. And, more importantly, they only have one gear. As a team, they panicked and blew through some pretty good support (Fuglsang was on the front much too early for much too long, if you ask me) only to get a dream isolation situation and then blow it. Kudos to Gilbert””I like Mr. Awesome””but he didn’t even have to break a sweat. He must have been as confused as we are.
    I was a big Schlecklettes fan last year. And I still like most of the riders in this Leopard-Trek outfit, but I’m cooling on the Schlecks fast. As exciting as the initial break was, they ran out of ideas as soon as they were on their own. It seemed to be Gilbert who was intent on dropping Van Avermaet (because he can actually sprint), which basically ensured two podium spots for the Schlecks; there’s no way they could have beaten Van Avermaet in the final stretch.
    A few weeks ago, you ripped Quickstep for making a mess of RVV by finishing second and fourth. At no point did Chavanel and Boonen have the opportunity to work together like this. What did the Schlecks do? They rode a tempo and basically carried Gilbert to the line, removing the real threats in a sprint finish. Weak. Clenbutador, Gesink, Rocket Squad and anyone else riding is going to rip them to pieces in the Tour.
    What do you say about such a supremely talented team that has podiumed at all four Monuments, but has failed to find the top step once? Success? Surely, but I suspect they would have hoped for better…

    My thoughts precisely…

  15. What, no bonus points for picking comeback king Grewal?

    Awesome ride by Gilbert the Crocodile, but I still don’t understand why the Schmucks didn’t 1-2 him, or at least try it… Upping the cadence by 1 isn’t an attack (The Spanish Steak would probably agree with that, too)…

  16. @Oli Brooke-White
    @Steampunk
    I felt today was horribly reminiscent of the Tourmalet and a coupla other climbs from the tour, on both occasions Schleck had his man where he wanted him (the favorite), but subsequently didn’t do what was required. Either he doesn’t have the talent or the brains, but i think he has both of these so what the fuck is wrong. I have wondered whether having a brother so close to him in standard sometimes is a hindrance, e.g. Ventou in 2009, he seemed to be trying to take Frank with him and break Contador at the same time which isn’t going to work

  17. @Sam
    Yep. Contador’s probably thinking: don’t get dropped and I’ll win in the final TT. That should make for an exciting Tour.

    Netraam:
    They just lacked the form Gilbert is having. Gilbert is peaking, the Schlecks are months away from peaking.
    @Steampunk
    I’ll speak to you after the Tour, in which PG can’t do anything and the Schlecks are tearing everyone apart. I hope…

    You’re just trolling, right? Because I really don’t know how to reply to that.

  18. Something that’s getting lost in the Schlecks’ ineptitude is Gilbert’s tactical nous or strategery. He was the only rider with the wherewithal to go with the Schlecks when they made their break. The move left the entire peloton sleeping. Except one guy. That guy just happened to be a total stud.

  19. @Steampunk
    Strategery is an American term not worthy of such a hardman. Strategery was coined by a village idiot who stole elections.
    That said, your point is well taken. They perhaps knew the second PG marked their attack that racing was futile. Bummer for us though in terms of seeing a race, fun if you like seeing a guy impose his VVill on the peloton. Just think if dudes did the same in previous classics this year when Faboo went. Boring.

  20. I just wonder why L-T didn’t put some one in the break. that would have forced Lotto to work a lot harder it seems. But I think we may be a little hard on them. They have had 5 podium spots for the 4 monuments. That is not bad.

  21. Completely with Steampunk on this. The Schlecks were a fucking disgrace to procycling. Whunge, whinge, whinge, couldn’t do anything cos he was too strong, whinge.

    Pathetic

    You didn’t even try you pair of pathetic losers. Neither of you deserve to win the tour because of that display.

    Oh and for anyone thinking that the Schlecks will shit on Phil in July. Do you really think Gilbert gives a toss about winning the Tour? No. He’s only riding this year because of team pressure and because he isn’t going to the worlds. He take a stage, aim for the yellow jersey then sit back and work for VDB2.

    On the positive side of LBL, Phil is fucking awesome. The attack he put in on Saint Nicholas was massive. Tactically he did all he could to ensure he won, always prepared to be jumped. Bet he was laughing at 500m to go.

  22. @Jarvis
    +1. Fuck July, it’s a soap opera. Real men show up in April.

    I hope my prior posts don’t sound like I am apologizing for the brothers Luxembourgian. They were soundly defeated by a superior force.

  23. @Steampunk
    yeah i think it’s sad, if it were just left to Contador in july, let’s just hope that in the Giro (which is the superior race in my opinion) he kills himself beating Nibali and is feeling the effects and that Cuddles early season prep goes in his favor or Basso gets over that weird moment he had in Pais Vasco, just anything not to make it a two horse race

  24. However this Tour bashing is a bit silly. Some sort of cyclists’ reverse snobbery? When all is said and done it’s the biggest race of all and because it is so hard the best man wins. Unfortunately that can make for boring races sometimes – because the best rider is the best by some margin. That is the nature of dports kids…

  25. I am surprised that the Schlecks did not at least try and one / two Gilbert towards the end, even if it did not work, at least they could say they tried something. I picked PG for the win but was yelling at the monitor – Andy what are you doing towing him along like that!
    Mind, no one else was in the “picture” at the end so what does that say about the rest of the contenders for LBL? None of them went with the Schlecks move so good on the Schlecks for trying something at the 21k mark, just need to finish it off now Bros.

  26. Alright Andy I wont write you off just yet but you better be looking a lot more on song come TDF time or I’m going to drop you so dam fast!
    Nice ride by Gilbert it was always going to be a race for 2nd! Find it strange that no one really got up to challenge the first 3

  27. @Marcus
    yeah you are right, i’d just prefer a band of athletes at the top all closer together. It is impressive to see what Contador does, but probably a bit selfish on my part asking for a race as well

  28. In the meantime, last year’s VSP winner, @andy, has quietly moved back into the lead. That’s the real story of the day.

    Still haven’t managed to watch the race, but I’ve got to say, this group here is much more informative than CyclingNews. Great conversation.

    Without having seen the race – and stating categorically that I love the Schlecks unconditionally – this type of riding does seem to come from them pretty regularly, Tourmalet, the track stand climb, l’Alpe in ’07. I can justify it saying they weren’t peaking yet and Gil was and they were cooked, but if it was me, I’d attack until my legs fell off, even if those “attacks” looked like a 1rpm lift in pace. Those finishes are disappointing.

    That said – and not having seen the race yet – to call them pussies after they made the race-winning move and filled out the podium seems a bit out of place.

    The Tour is a great race, but I’m with @Sam on preferring the Giro. Italy is just much better suited for a Grand Tour than France; there are mountains everywhere and a closer field. I love coming into the last few days not knowing who’s going to win.

    For me, as a spectator, it always comes to the excitement. That’s why people are pissed at the Schlecks; they didn’t make for an exciting enough finish – and that’s fair. But that’s my beef with the Tour as well, it ends too often with someone dominating a few TT’s, floating over a mountain on stage 10, and then 11 stages of watching a team ride on the front. It’s a great race, just not as much fun as the Giro.

  29. And in an instant the Spring Classics Season is ended: MSR, RVV, PR, AGR, LBL.
    I was not very statisfied with the results, but results are not the most important thing for a Classics lover.
    Waiting for the Spring is, the Poggio is, waiting for the Kappel muur is, le Trouée d’Arenberg is, the frantic finale of the AGR is and La Côte de “La Redoute” definitely is.
    Thanks god I’m still waiting for the Giro di Lombardia.

  30. @Steampunk
    I was deeply depressed this morning. Now I know why.

    @Pedale.Forchetta
    Lovely, even if I disagree about the results.

    @Marcus
    Fair criticism; it was the copious red wine over dinner talking. All the same, for me the Tour has a hard time living up to lofty expectations.

  31. I’ll be interested to see what racers say about the Schleck’s lack of tactics. Maybe everyone is toast after all those hills and that distance but when I saw it was Gilbert against two brothers, two teammates, I assumed it was all over for him. They would work his ass over on the last climb until someone cracked…but no?! Nothing. Aren’t these two supposed to be awesome climbers?

    I was thrilled Gilbert laid the V on them all the way to the finish. Bravo. Monster win.

  32. @Gianni
    I’ve watched the last part of the race (from the Schleckattack to the finish) a couple of times. However nice it would’ve been to see a battle royal between the brothers and PhilGil, I don’t think they had it in them. Both of them looked to be working much harder than the Gilbertantor. There’s a passage where he is seemingly effortless, upper body dead still, arse firmly in the saddle, legs just spinning away up the hill, while the Schlecky ahead of him is up out of the saddle giving it the whole body sway boogie. And when he attacks he is so clearly in control of himself, in contrast to the Schleckies who are clearly fighting (in one case unsuccessfully) to hold on. So, yeah, it would’ve been nice to see them slug it out even if it meant coming to a standstill half way up the final slope, Jens-style. But I find it hard to get too critical that they didn’t. At least they tried an attack. And at least they podiumed.

  33. @G’phant
    Yep, you must be right as it is the only explanation. To quote Albert (Master of the Telecaster) Collins, “Baby I’m too tired to try”.

    Still, I think they had their places on the podium even if Gilbert dropped them both in their attempts to tag-team him. I’d rather see it have ended up like that. That said, it was a great finish as I really didn’t know what was going to happen until that final corner.

    Now I have to figure out some way of watching the Giro whilst being 12 hours out of time zone. Does anyone watch it in NZ?

  34. Gianni :Now I have to figure out some way of watching the Giro whilst being 12 hours out of time zone. Does anyone watch it in NZ?

    I don’t know what TV coverage is planned here for the Giro. Last year the last two hours of each stage of the TdF were replayed from 6am, which suited very well. But I doubt the rugby/league/netball/golf-watching TV Powers That Be will do the same for the Giro. So we’ll be scanning steephill.tv, etc, for internet coverage, then (i) watching the key stages live with bleary eyes (with the result that we are utterly useless in the morning when we should be getting the kids ready for school), (ii) catching up on the highlights of the other stages over our breakfast (with the result that we are utterly useless in the morning when we should be getting the kids ready for school), and (iii) banishing ourselves to our windtrainers in our garages in the evenings to avoid the inevitable (and justified) domestic recriminations for being utterly useless in the morning when we should be getting the kids ready for school. The Classics season is so much easier.

  35. Once again, our friend over at BRR manages in a sentence what takes up pages over here. Classic BRR right here.

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