Temperatures are set to struggle to reach seven or eight degrees above freezing mid-afternoon on Sunday in Liege and much lower in the hillier uplands further south.
“The final climb can change things a lot, it’s a very hard ascent with pave but what really worries me is the weather, the cold and above all the rain.”, told Alejandro Valverde to the press today.
“My rivals will be Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Vincenzo NibaliI (Astana) and I’m sure I’ve missed some other top contenders, too.”
However, what will be lacking, even if the chance of a fourth Liege-Bastogne-Liege Classic is beckoning, is pressure. “With a fourth Fleche Wallonne already in my palmares, I don’t need to worry so much about what’s coming up. There are others who will be feeling the heat a lot more than me.”
“If I win, though, it’ll be a huge source of pride for me and for the team.”
If Valverde wins tomorrow, he will not only draw equal with Moreno Argentin for Liège-Bastogne-Liège victories – four – and equal Eddy Merckx total of eight wins in Belgian Ardennes Classics. Valverde will also take a ‘double Ardennes double’ – that of winning Fleche and Liege twice in as many years – something only achieved previously by one rider, Ferdi Kubler in 1951 and 1952.
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