Liege Bastogne Liege 2013 Report Part 4
By Brian Kilbride
… continued from part 3
The Sunday exceeded all our expectations. We had a good nights kip but no one was able to make it up to head out to the main square for the pre-race interviews and introductions at 9am. There was a train at 11am to close to La Redoute and and a visit to the Philip Gilbert fan club . We had a quick coffee just off the train- VC La Redoute touring section had just finished their morning spin and were settling in to a few high alcohol beers to replenish vital nutrients. It was a rather civilized end to their exertions and so fresh did some of them look, we wondered if indeed they had done anything other than attend for the cafe stop. A walk down the riverbank for 2km to Remouchamp followed. The town was en fete. There were barbeques going, and people sitting out drinking beer and wine. On the walk up the hill past the rows of camper vans which had been there the whole weekend, champagne brunches were the order of the day .
There was 3 hours till the race would be passing and these people would be in full voice by then. We had a date with the beery masses up by the big screens and the marquis at the turn above the town. The atmosphere was being stoked by a local chap on a microphone. reminding us at 5 minute intervals that Philippe and his family were from the town and that Philippe was endorsing a local window manufacturer.
45 minutes before the race was due to come through we hauled ourselves up the hill at a slow pace . We found a spot on the railing easily enough and cracked open a few tinnies and prepared ourselves for the race. By the time the leaders came by, the break was just being swallowed up and all the heads of state were positioned at the front. The noise and excitement were intense. The stragglers from the peloton were a sight, and all cheered all the way but you wondered how long their torment would continue for.
We were able to nip back down the hill for the final 25km of the race. The locals were really into it all the way through the Cote Saint Nicholas but it then started to dawn on them that it not might be their man’s day as the Dan Martin’s group was driven ahead by Ryder Heysedal. Dermot could not contain his excitement given his Canadian roots and you could almost hear a Canadian twang creeping back into his voice. Into the final 500m and the crowd was starting to groan while four Paddies started to go nuts. The screaming started as Dan bridged across and continued for a full five minutes after he crossed the line. Irish flags were raised high and we received congratulations from all around us who were swept up in the emotion of it. Celebrations continued long into the night as all were able to relax the dietary restrictions and celebrate the end of the classics season.
To be present on Belgian soil for an Irish victory was a privilege and was an amazing highlight to a great weekend.