Josh Edmondson, sounding and looking, in a certain light, like he should be playing guitar in the Arctic Monkeys, was as relaxed and upbeat as its possible for a Liege-Bastogne-Liege neophyte to be. Although the 21-year-old had ridden the Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne races in his debut year (and again this year), he had never ridden the climbs which feature in Liege-Bastogne-Liege until the 80km route reconnaissance on Friday morning.
“I really liked them, I like those sort of climbs, they remind me of some of the climbs in Yorkshire,” said Edmondson, “at first I was wondering how they were going to get 200 guys racing on those narrow roads, then I realised that at that point there probably won’t be 20 guys left in the race,” he laughed.
“I’ve had a good run-up to the Ardennes, but I haven’t had a lot of luck. In Amstel I punctured at just the wrong time – or maybe just before a really bad time – but just as I got back on I needed to help one of the guys get back up to the group after a puncture, with about 90km to go and that did it for me. It was a shame because it was the first race I’ve done where some of it was familiar, so I was thinking to myself, ‘Hang on, I know this bit, I need to move up here,’ which was a bit of a novelty.
“Then in the Fleche Wallonne I hit a pothole and broke my front wheel. Plus the handlebars moved round and pulled the wires out of their housing in the brake hoods which meant the (electronic) gears didn’t work and it was just when things were getting serious, so that was my race.”
Given those incidents, it’s safe to say then that bad luck has been involved in Edmondson’s opening two Ardennes Classics.
“I think the form is OK, I reckon riding the Tour of the Pays Basque was the ideal preparation for the Ardennes, because the climbs are similar, quite short and steep and the racing was full-on most days, so it’s been good.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time in Nice since the start of the year – I share a flat with Ian Boswell – but I went home and trained in Yorkshire for eight days after the Pays Basque and there are climbs there too that are kind of similar, so, yeah, I’m feeling OK now. I dare say it’ll be different on Sunday!”
We pick out the likely contenders for Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege
We take a look ahead to the final Spring Classic of the 2014 season: route, teams, TV guide, past winners
19-year-old Matej Mohoric will face 262.9 kilometres of racing on Sunday as part of Cannondale's line-up