Liège–Bastogne–Liège’s route will be tougher this year

ASO announced Tuesday that Liège–Bastogne–Liège won’t include the famous Côte de Stockeu, and instead it will add a hill in the final three kilometers, rue Naniot.  The narrow, cobbled street will be sandwiched between the Cote de Saint-Nicolas and the final, unclassified, climb up to Ans.

Rather than the grinding fatigue of climbs that stack up through the middle of the race, rue Naniot could present a springboard for an opportunist to attack and win the final Ardennes classic of the spring season. Often, Liège ends with a select group formed over the final three climbs. In 2015, about 15 riders went over the Côte de Saint-Nicolas together and then marked each other ahead of the final sprint. Coming immediately after Saint-Nicolas, Naniot is 550 meters long, averaging 10.5 percent. Best of all, it tops out with 3km to go. Surely, favorites like Rodriguez, Vincenzo Nibali, and other grand tour GC riders will be licking their chops.

Along with the WorldTour teams, seven Pro Continental outfits have received wildcards for the race. French teams Cofidis, Fortuneo-Vital Concept, Direct Energie have all been selected, as have Roompot Oranje Peloton, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Bora-Argon 18 and Wanty-Groupe Gobert.