Is there any stopping Philippe Gilbert? The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider’s win in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne
was his third victory in seven days, and now the Belgian is looking at matching Davide Rebellin’s Ardennes Classics hat-trick from 2004.

Third here last year and fourth in 2009, Gilbert has the form and previous results here to justify his selection as the overwhelming favourite for Sunday’s 255.5km race.

His consistency in the Spring Classics over the past two years is nothing short of sensational, with his lowest finishes coming in Ghent-Wevelgem and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, both of which are traditional sprinter’s races.

If you don’t believe us, look at the list below.

Philippe Gilbert’s Spring Classics Results

2011

Flèche Wallonne – winner


Amstel Gold Race – winner

Brabantse Pijl – winner

Ghent-Wevelgem – 36th

Milan-San Remo – 3rd

Montepaschi Strade Bianche – winner

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – 43rd

2010


Liège-Bastogne-Liège – 3rd


Flèche Wallonne – 6th


Amstel Gold Race – winner

Brabantse Pijl – 5th

Ronde Van Vlaanderen – 3rd

Ghent-Wevelgem – 3rd

Milan-San Remo – 9th

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – 26th

As a critic of doping, it will be ironic that, if successful, his
name will appear on a list of previous winners that includes the likes
of Alexandre Vinokourov, Alejandro Valverde, Danilo Di Luca and Rebellin
himself; all of whom have served bans for drug-related misdemeanours.

Alexandre Vinokourov, Liege 2010

Vino shared the podium with Valverde last year in what turned out to be the Spaniard’s penultimate race before his CAS-imposed suspension began. Thank goodness for third-placed Alexandr Kolobnev, we say.

Vinokourov was was jeeered on the way to victory in 2010, but will look to become the first man since Moreno Argentin in 1987 to take a hat-trick of wins here.

Two other past winners will be looking to stop Gilbert on Sunday; Andy Schleck was working for his brother in Flèche, so we don’t know what his form is like right now, while Di Luca finished a lowly 80th in Wednesday’s race.

Former winners

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana, 2010, 2005).

Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek, 2009).

Danilo Di Luca (Katusha, 2007).

Podium finishers

Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha, second in 2010)
.

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto, third in 2010).

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha, second in 2009).

Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek, third in 2008 and 2007).

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD, third in 2006).

Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek, second in 2005).

Outsiders

Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskedi, third place in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne).

Chris Horner (RadioShack, started 2011 as strongly as last year, and finished eighth here twelve months ago).

Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo, looked good on the Mur de Huy on Wednesday on the way to ninth).

Igor Anton (Euskatel-Euskedi, seventh in 2010, fifth in Flèche).

Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) The Dane is CW scribe Ellis Bacon’s favourite, so he has to go down on our list.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2011: The route

Eighteen years ago, Cycling Weekly said this about La Doyenne:

“In purely physical terms, this is probably the toughest classic: the climbs are long, most of them are pretty steep as well, and they come up with depressing frequency in the final kilometers.”

Comprising of ten climbs, all of which are challenging – especially the final three, all of which fall in the final 35km – who are we to disagree?

Distance: 255.5km


Start: Liège KM0

The climbs


1. Côte de Saint-Roch (KM71.5, 1.0 km long, 11 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating four out of five

2. Côte de Wanne (KM157.5, 2.7 km long, 7.3 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating three out of five

3. Côte de Stockeu (Stèle Eddy Merckx) (KM164.5, 1.0 km long, 12.2 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating four out of five

4. Côte de la Haute-Levée (KM170m 3.6 km long, 5.6 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating four out of five

5. Col du Rosier (KM183, 4.4 km long, 5.9 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating four out of five

6. Col du Maquisard (KM195.5, 2.5 km long, 5 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating two out of five

7. Mont-Theux (KM206, 2.6 km long, 5.9 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating two out of five

8. Côte de la Redoute (KM220.5, 2.0 km long, 8.8 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating five out of five





La Redoute at the start and finish of the climb

9. Côte de la Roche aux Faucons (KM236, 1.5 km long, 9.5 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating five out of five

10. Côte de Saint-Nicolas (KM250, 1.2 km long, 8.3 % average)

Cycling Weekly rating five out of five



A rare straight stretch on the St Nicolas, often the launchpad for the winning move

Finish: Ans (Liège) KM255.5

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2011: Teams


Ag2r La Mondiale


Astana


BMC Racing Team


Cofidis


Euskaltel-Euskadi


FDJ


Garmin-Cervelo


HTC-Highroad


Katusha


Lampre-ISD


Landbouwkrediet


Leopard Trek


Liquigas-Cannondale


Movistar


Omega Pharma-Lotto


Quick Step


Rabobank


RadioShack


Saur Sojasun


Saxo Bank Sungard


Skil Shimano


Team Sky


Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator


Vacansoleil-DCM


Veranda’s Willems-Accent

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2011: British riders




David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo)




Steve Cummings (Team Sky)


Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2011: TV guide


British Eurosport


Sunday April 24: 13.15-16.00, Liège-Bastogne-Liège LIVE


Sunday April 24: 22.15-23.15, Liège-Bastogne-Liège Highlights


Monday April 25: 11.30-12.30, Liège-Bastogne-Liège Highlights



Eurosport HD


Sunday April 24: 13.15-16.00, Liège-Bastogne-Liège LIVE


Sunday April 24: 22.15-23.15, Liège-Bastogne-Liège Highlights

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2011: Recent winners


2010 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)


2009 Andy Schleck (Lux)


2008 Alejandro Valverde (Spa)


2007 Danilo Di Luca (Ita)


2006 Alejandro Valverde (Spa)


2005 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)


2004 Davide Rebellin (Ita)


2003 Tyler Hamilton (USA)


2002 Paolo Bettini (Ita)


2001 Oscar Camenzind (Swi)


2000 Paolo Bettini (Ita)


Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2011: Last year’s top ten

1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana in 6-37-48 


2. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha at 6secs


3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 1-04


4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 


5. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at same time

6. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 1-07 


7. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 


8. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack


9. Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank


10. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at same time.


British


24. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 1-22


74. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 9-34


138. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky at 17-51


Related links



Cycling Weekly’s Spring Classics 2011 Coverage Index

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