Saturday, April 25, 2009

L.B.L.-The Grand Lady.

1972,
The Cannibal wipes his face after winning his
third L.B.L by beating Frans Verbeeck in a controversial finish!


Tomorrow will be the oldest classic, the 94th Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It's one of my favorite Monuments, dating far back to 1892. Great battles have been raged on the climbs (côtes) of this 261 km brute of a race. No surprise, as the Belgians' love their heroes, and Eddy Merckx is king with the record of 5 victories. The weather can be a factor, too. Snow and blizzard in 1972 & 1980 made the old lady a vicious one. Especially in 1980 where Hinault rode a tremendously brave race for a classic victory. We'll have to see if the Old Lady bites back again come Sunday. Then again, the weather may not play such a tumultuous role. But, I'm sure the race will be worthy of the great lady!

My prediction for Sundays grand classic: 1. Rebellin, 2. Evans, 3. Cunego, 4. F or A Schleck, 5. Valverde.


Merckx feeling it in 1972...
the weather was atrocious.

1969,
Merckx's first of five,
with help from teammate, Vic Van Schil.
The pair arrived in Rocourt nine minutes
in the lead!

Neige-Bastogne-Neige, 1980.

The Badger battles the cold, snow & the wind to win, perhaps, the toughest LBL. The temperature went below zero, Hinault completed this seven hour marathon with just shorts, a long-sleeved jersey, a pair of gloves and a balaclava for warmth.
His crushing performance breaking a high quality field is proof of his tenaciousness.
Of 174 starters, 21 manage to finish this grueling monument. He was nine minutes ahead of second place, Hennie Kuiper.
Afterwards the Badger said it best, "My greatest enemy was the cold!"

Kelly, 1984.
His first LBL win. The duct tape seems over the top but
give the Irishman a gold star for valor. A few weeks earlier, he had just won his first Paris-Roubaix!

2 comments:

Once Known as The Badger said...

I had my first opportunity to race in a snow storm last April in Utah. It snowed the entire time of the 55 mile road race. I had the sense to wear winter knickers though! It was a pretty amazing experience. It's hard to imagine a race like LBL with its climbs and technical descents being run in a snow storm to further complicate it!

Richard said...

Good call Jim. I wonder how many didn't dress for the occasion...

The absurd weather conditions really give the riders more of a challenge, good for us to watch an heroic race in epic conditions!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...