Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) says he has “good legs” and now “just needs a bit of luck” in order to claim victory in Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The 26-year-old crashed out of La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, a race he had said he was “high in confidence” for. His 2019 season so far has seen him achieve two overall second place finishes at Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya as well as picking up a stage win in the Tour of the Basque Country.
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La Doyenne’s 256km course features 11 categorised climbs, throwing up yet another attritional day of spring racing in Belgium.
In a change to last year’s race, the final now finishes in the centre of Liège, leaving a 15km flat stretch of road up to the line.
Yates’ best finish in the race was eighth in 2017 but is amongst the favourites for the win. Speaking ahead of the race, he said: “After crashing out of La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and not being able to have a go at the finish I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to Liège on Sunday.
“I’ve got good legs, I’ve had a few wins this first part of the season and so I’m hoping to finish off this spring with a strong result in Liège.
“My best result in the past was eighth place so it will be good to have a real good go this year. The finish has changed this year and it’s not necessarily to my advantage with a long flat final but let’s see. Anything can happen in these long monuments and the form is there, I just need a bit of luck now.”
His Mitchelton-Scott team have fared well in the race over the years, with former rider Simon Gerrans winning for the team in 2014 as well as Michael Albasini taking second place in 2016.
Team director Matt White said: “The old finish was pretty predictable, the best guys won, there was no hiding, it was an uphill drag to the finish and super hard after six and a half hours of racing. This year the Faucon climb is the last, it is a tough climb that goes up in a couple of ramps and the best guys, best climbers will try to escape there.
“The big question is if a group can get across to them. So we may see a group of four of five coming to the line together, or for the first in a long, long time a 20-up sprint for the win of Liège which hasn’t been seen in this generation.
“It is suppose to be bad weather too with rain and between four to ten degrees. It can be really brutal in these conditions, it’s more than 4000 metres of climbing and long descents so the guys get cold. I think it is the toughest one-day race on the calendar in terms of climbing and especially in bad conditions, there is no soft winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”