Liège–Bastogne–Liège, the oldest of the Monuments, first run in 1892; a race that can throw anything at the riders weather-wise, from April showers to spring sunshine to, most famously, the blizzard of 1980 that saw Bernard Hinault triumph and lose feeling in several of his fingers – an affliction that lasts to this day.
Eddy Merckx has the most wins at La Doyenne with five, Moreno Argentin on four, while of the current crop, Alejandro Valverde is the only rider to come close with three to his name so far.
Belgians overwhelmingly top the winning nationalities table with 59 wins to runners-up Italy’s 11, but that statistic is largely historical. The last home winner, Philippe Gilbert in 2012, misses out this time due to an injury picked up at Amstel Gold.
So who will take the 103rd edition? Pick a winner from these top-ten contenders and you could win a Rouleur magazine subscription.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
Smarter than the average bear, the 36-year-old still has what it takes to win this race. The bookies’ favourite, with good reason, especially after creaming the rest at the end of La Flèche Wallonne this week, his fifth victory in the race.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky)
With defending champion Wout Poels out injured, leadership duties switch to Sergio Henao and Kwiatkowski. The Polish former world champion is back to his best this year: Milan-Sanremo and Strade Bianche already in the bag, plus second to Gilbert at Amstel Gold.
Dan Martin (Quick Step)
Who can forget the Irishman’s 2013 triumph in Liège? Or the bloke in the panda outfit running behind him, for that matter. Now with the backing of the prolific Quick Step team, his chances have increased somewhat, but he has a habit of stuffing up the sprints by going too early.
Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott)
A relatively quiet start to the season for the 2014 LBL winner, but not to be discounted. Anyone who can race over 250km and still summon a sprint like the punchy Aussie demands respect.
Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb)
Not a prolific winner – certainly in one-day races – but Dumoulin almost pulled off the 2015 Vuelta and is more than capable of taking this race too.
Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates)
Invariably there or thereabouts in the Ardennes Classics, Costa is practically guaranteed a top-ten here. Can last year’s third place finisher convert to top spot for the 2013 world champion?
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal)
The smart money was on the in-form 25-year-old at Brabantse Pijl, where he finished fourth. The rangy Belgian, third at Strade Bianche, has all the skills to pull this off.
Sergio Henao (Sky)
A solid performer in the Ardennes. Sky could play the old one-two with Henao and Kwiatkowski that almost paid off at Amstel. Whether the Colombian champion would get the nod over the Pole is another matter.
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
The man’s been on fire this spring, with four wins in recent weeks, including Paris-Roubaix and Het Nieuwsblad. Can he keep the run going?
Yates and Yates (Orica-Scott)
Bit of a cheat, this punt. There’s little to choose between the respective talents of the Yates twins, so you get two for the price of one. Adam or Simon? Who cares! (ps don’t let this put you off, but a Brit has never won LBL…)
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