Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme says the radically redesigned finale ?should split the race apart. ?
?We?ve changed 10 kilometres completely in one of the race?s most strategic moments.? Prudhomme told Cycling Weekly on Saturday.
This year race organisers ASO have introduced a new climb, the challenging Cote de Roche aux Faucons between the Redoute and the Cote de Saint Nicolas.
?Riders that get away there may well be able to go all the way to the finish.? Prudhomme predicted.
Shorter than the hill it substitutes – the draggy Cote de Sart Tilman – the Roche aux Faucons is steeper, narrower and has a far worse road surface.
?It?s going to create a very different scenario to other years because there?s not just the ascent, after the first summit it climbs up afterwards again and on top of that the drop down to the next climb, at Saint-Nicolas, is far more difficult than before.
If a break gets away, it?ll be impossible to see them up ahead on that descent.”
Asked why they had introduced this new climb, Prudhomme replied that “A great Classic like Liege-Bastogne-Liege has to change, it can?t just follow the same path every year.?
As for his top contenders for the win, Prudhomme argues that ?[Cadel] Evans (Silence-Lotto) should be up there. He?s been going strongly since the start of the season and took second in Fleche Wallonne.?
?[Damiano] Cunego (Lampre), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D?Epargne) are all big favourites for this race. I don?t think that there will be a surprise winner, even if it wasn?t widely expected that Kim Kirchen (High Road) would take Fleche Wallonne.
Kirchen was the first rider from Luxemburg to win Fleche Wallonne. But I wouldn?t be at all surprised if a rider from Luxemberg – either him or one of the Schleck brothers [Andy or Frank, both CSC riders] – was first across the line on Sunday.?