Van der Poel and Pogacar face to face at Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2024

Road 21/04/24 09:38 Migue A.

After the cobblestone campaign, it's time for the Ardennes and the fourth monument of the season, the Doyenne, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024, which takes place next Sunday, April 21st and combines the great length that characterizes the five monuments with a tremendous accumulated elevation gain through the intricate valleys and lush forests of western Wallonia. Mathieu van der Poel is participating for the second time in this race, looking to expand his already illustrious palmares.

New battle of the Ardennes in Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024

Of the five monuments, Liege-Bastogne-Liege has traditionally been the one that best suited the all-rounders. A classic that passes through the Ardennes forests, terrain that was once the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of both World Wars. In a few days, a new battle will be fought, this time on the bicycle, where the cyclists' legs will speak on a terrain full of climbs that make Liege-Bastogne-Liege a race worthy of a great mountain stage.

Favorites to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024

Despite the crashes of recent weeks that have left the peloton depleted, the top favorites who had this race in mind from the beginning of the season will be present at the start of Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024. A participation that presents us with a race that could be memorable.

With the winner of the last two years, Remco Evenepoel absent, not only due to the collarbone fracture suffered in the crash of the Itzulia but also because he had already decided to skip the Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024 to focus on preparing for the Tour de France, the favorite label will undoubtedly fall on the figure of Tadej Pogacar.

In favor of the Slovenian is his great start to the season with the exhibition at Strade Bianche and dominating a very tough edition of the Volta a Catalunya. On the other hand, a spring much less loaded with races than in previous years will make Tadej Pogacar arrive hungry for competition and much fresher. In addition, UAE Team Emirates has not skimped on human resources and will present a top-level squad at the start of this Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024 with riders of the caliber of Almeida, Covi, Hirchi, or Ulisi to support them.

If last year it was Tadej Pogacar who triumphed on the cobbles of Flanders, this year it will be Mathieu van der Poel who will try to take the victory against the Slovenian on terrain more suitable for him like that of Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024. It will only be his second participation in the Doyenne, after finishing in 6th place in 2020. In any case, considering the exceptional level shown in Flanders and Roubaix, it is clear that Poulidor's grandson is a clear candidate to win, which would leave him only needing Il Lombardia to achieve the 5 Monuments.

Against him, it should be noted that only a certain Eddy Merckx has been able to win 3 monuments in a single season, a feat that the Cannibal achieved on four occasions although we know that statistics are meant to be broken and Mathieu van der Poel, in a truly inspired state, is perfectly capable of winning the race despite facing the toughest competition at the moment. Also against him will be having a team less suited for a classic like Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024 than for the cobblestone classics that have been taking place.

Despite being involved in the crash of the Itzulia and having to abandon the race, Primoz Roglic showed great form in the time trial that kicked off the Basque race. His injuries should not be a problem based on what he has been announcing, and he has already resumed his training, so we will undoubtedly see the other Slovenian among those competing for victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024. As a curiosity, Primoz Roglic was the winner of the 2020 edition, precisely the only one in which Mathieu van der Poel has participated.

In a second tier of riders capable of also competing for victory, we must include Tom Pidcock who showed a good level in Paris-Roubaix, holding on in the good group until Van der Poel decided to break the race. We should also include among the contenders the EF Education-EasyPost rider Ben Healy, who excels in the Walloon races as demonstrated by his 4th place here last year or the 2nd place he achieved in the Amstel Gold Race a few days earlier.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024 Route

There are no changes in the route of 259 kilometers of Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024 in a race that has maintained its essence since its inception back in 1892. It starts from Liege, the capital of the Belgian region of Wallonia, and heads south, almost in a straight line, until reaching the city of Bastogne where the race begins its return, entering the Ardennes forests and the intricate valleys that characterize them.

There begins the succession of climbs, longer than the Flemish walls that the cyclists have been tackling in recent weeks, but with no less steep gradients, encountering real walls where the strongest riders can unleash hostilities. 10 categorized climbs plus an infinite number of short climbs make Liege-Bastogne-Liege one of the most demanding classics on the calendar in terms of accumulated elevation gain, with the exception of Il Lombardia.

However, one climb in particular must be paid special attention, the mythical Redoute, which is crowned 34 kilometers from the finish, a place that, in the last two editions, has seen Remco Evenepoel's fierce attack towards victory and will undoubtedly be the decisive ascent once again. Although, who knows, with the best cyclists in the world willing to seek ever more spectacular feats, if any of them will dare to make their move earlier, for example, at the Cote de Stockeu, a very tough climb of just 1 kilometer but with an average gradient of 12.5% where the monument in honor of Eddy Merckx is located at the top.

If the Redoute is not decisive, there is still the Roche aux Faucons, 18 kilometers from the finish, with its 11% average gradient and the false flat after the summit, which usually causes more damage than the climb itself and will ultimately decide the race.

How to watch Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024

Eurosport will cover Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2024, although we will have to wait to know the broadcast times of the race that have not yet been published by the channel.



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Van der Poel et Pogacar s'affrontent à Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2024