Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2014 Part 2

Continued from LBL 2014 Part 1

By the turn in Bastogne we had only one categorized climb ticked off. . However we were pacing ourselves, we were eating and drinking well and we were enjoying the beautiful rolling Ardennes hills. Old German and American tanks litter the route particularly around Bastogne were the Battle of the Bulge took place in WWII.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege Photos

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Man’s cruelty to his fellow man was really brought home to us with the unending series of hills the organizers had lined up for the second half of the route. The Cote Saint Roche, the Cote de Wanne followed immediately by the brutal Cote de Stockeu with a double kicker at the start and again at the top epitomized the savagery.

Eddy Merchx MonumentAt the monument to the Cannibal, we had cause for quiet contemplation. This was both a high and a low point for us

We had just been brutalized by the course and were facing further torture yet we were able to marvel at the beauty and toughness of the route for the professionals the following day.

The food stop below in Stavelot was followed quickly by the Haute Levee and a couple more forested long ascents and descents. We had a draggy ride to the final food stop at around the 30km mark in Remouchamp- home town of local champion Philipe Gilbert. The main scrap for a vacant park bench was hotly contested. Heading into the early evening we gritted our teeth and attacked la Redoute , the Cotes des Forges and then the nasty Roche aux Faucons. We had been promised this latter climb would flatten out over the top which strictly speaking was true, however that applied only to the last 20 metres of the climb.

The descent into Liege is through derelict industrial waste land, closed coal mines and steel works and slag heaps, down past the football stadium and on to the Cote Saint Nicholas – magnificently desolate. The Cote Saint Nicholas is dastardly for most of its length and capable of ending all conversation. Once we hit the top we had done it . All that remained was the descent to Ans in the suburbs of liege and a further 1.5 km at 6% . This was like downhill compared to what had gone before. Sadly the route turns off 100 yards before the left turn where Dan Martin so tragically came to grief the following day and we did not get to sprint it out. That said, the pecking order of the group was well and truly known to all of us by that stage. Rolling 5 km back to the sports centre was like a victory lap.
All the medals had been distributed by the time of our arrival and they were beginning to pack up shop. There were bars and burger joints and merchandising stalls on the go but we favored a trip back to the hotel for the victory sip on the street outside our hotel, all swearing never to undertake such a foolish challenge again.

The following day, we were able to see the sign on and introductions of the riders in the main square, Place Lambert, with the melodic rhythm of Daniel Mangeas, m.c.’ing the event for the final time.

Some saw fit to head to the finishing hill to watch the race go by while others headed to La Redoute to join in the festivities with the Philip Gilbert fan club and and 5,000 others.

Revelling and tales of buckles swashed continued late into the night. Great weekend , couldn’t recommend it more highly.

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