The world’s best riders are ready to tackle the 104th edition of La Doyenne on Sunday. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is looking to reassert his dominance in the Ardennes after Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) dethroned him at Huy. Women are also back for the second edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes. Already winner in 2017, the Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) is the hot favorite after her victory at La Flèche Wallonne.
VALVERDE: “I FEEL AS GOOD AS EVER BUT…”
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains a very hot favorite for the victory at Ans despite losing La Flèche wallonne to Julian Alaphilippe on Wednesday. “I feel as good as ever but you can’t always win”, the Spanish veteran explains. “I think my rivals will attack from far away so it will be harder for us to control. If it comes to down to a small group sprint, I’m one of the fastest riders so I can always go for the victory. We’ll see how things unfold during the race.” Valverde is looking forward to his “favorite race in the international calendar. I already won it four times and we’ll try to get the fifth but it will be very hard.”
WOMEN ARE BACK FOR LA DOYENNE
After a successful first edition in 2017, Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes is back for more exciting racing. The route will be the same to last year’s: 136km featuring some of La Doyenne’s most iconic climbs, with La Vecquée, La Redoute, La Roche-aux-Faucons and Saint-Nicolas before the uphill finish at Ans. 135 riders from 23 elite teams will line up in Bastogne to try and overthrow Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans). Winner last year, the Olympic champion proved on Wednesday she’s in a great condition with her fourth victory in a row on La Flèche Wallonne.
BENOOT: “I WANT TO FINISH ON A HIGH NOTE”
Tiesj Benoot is only riding his first Liège-Bastogne-Liège but he’s already viewed as a serious contender. With his teammates Jelle Vanendert (3rd at La Flèche) and Tim Wellens, Lotto Soudal rely on a power trio offering a wide range of tactical options. “I want to finish classics season on a high note”, Benoot explained on Saturday. “As a team, we’ve been active since the beginning of the season and the final act has to be at least as good. On Wednesday, we played an active part in the race and if everything goes well, without crashes or other incidents, all three of us could be at the front for the finale. Anyway, eventhough I’m discovering La Doyenne, I’ve seen on the Strade Bianche that I can cope well with successive climbs.”