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