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For the under-23 race, see U23 Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
2015 Liège–Bastogne–Liège
Liège–Bastogne–Liège logo.svg
Race details
Date Late April
Region Wallonia Wallonia
Belgium Belgium, Ardennes
English name Liège–Bastogne–Liège
Local name(s) Liège–Bastogne–Liège (French)
Nickname(s) La Doyenne ("The Oldest")
Discipline Cycling (road) pictogram.svg Road race
Competition UCI World Tour
Type One-day Classic
Organiser Amaury Sport Organisation
Race director Christian Prudhomme
First edition 1892 (1892)
Editions 101 (as of 2015)
First winner  Léon Houa (BEL)
Most wins  Eddy Merckx (BEL)
(5 wins)
Most recent  Alejandro Valverde (ESP)

Liège–Bastogne–Liège, often called La Doyenne ("The Oldest"),[1][2][3][4] is one of the five Monuments of the European professional road cycling calendar.[5] It is run in the Ardennes region of Belgium, from Liège to Bastogne and back.

Liège–Bastogne–Liège was part of the UCI Road World Cup and is part of the Ardennes Classics series, which includes La Flèche Wallonne. Both are organised by Amaury Sport Organisation. At one time, Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège were run on successive days as Le Weekend Ardennais. Only seven riders have won both races in the same year: Swiss Ferdi Kübler twice (in 1951 and 1952), Belgians Stan Ockers (1955) and Eddy Merckx (1972), Italians Moreno Argentin (1991) and Davide Rebellin (2004), Spaniard Alejandro Valverde twice (2006 & 2015) and finally Philippe Gilbert in 2011 as part of a quadruple victory with the Amstel Gold Race and the Brabantse Pijl.



La Côte de "La Redoute"

Like many of cycling's classics, Liège–Bastogne–Liège was first organized by a newspaper (L'Expresse). Because the paper was published in French, aimed at a French-Belgian audience, the route has always stayed in the southern, French-speaking part of Belgium. As bicycles were expensive in the late 19th century, cycling was considered an exclusive sport for the wealthy, causing the race to be considered as a gentlemen's event.[6]

The race had its first running for amateurs in 1892, from Spa to Bastogne and back to Spa, over a 250 km distance [2]. Spa was an important center of professional cycling in the late 19th century. 33 riders from the Liège cycling union and the Pesant Club Liègois, all Belgians and most from Liège, took the start. Only 17 finished. The course turn point was the train station in Bastogne, chosen because of its convenience for race officials. Some tired riders abandoned the race in Bastogne and took the train back to Spa. [6] Léon Houa, a Liège native, won the race after 10 hours and 48 minutes on the bike. The second-place finisher, Léon Lhoest, came in at 22 minutes, the third, Louis Rasquinet, at 44 minutes.[7] Riders kept arriving for another five hours.

Houa won again the next year, over the same course, this time by a margin of a half hour. In 1894 the first race for professionals was held, and the average speed rose from 23.3 km/h (14.5 mph) to 25 km/h (16 mph). Houa concluded his third win, by seven minutes over Rasquinet. Frenchman Maurice Garin, who would later become the first winner of the Tour de France, finished fourth. After the inaugural three editions, the race was not organized for another 14 years, after which it was sometimes open only to amateurs and semi-professionals.

The race was resumed in 1908, with a start and finish in Liège for the first time. It was won by Frenchman André Trousselier. In 1909 the winner, Eugène Charlier, was disqualified because he had changed bikes. Victor Fastre was declared winner.[7] The event was cancelled during World War I but resumed in 1919. The race was mainly won by Belgians, but started to attract more riders from Flanders, the bike-crazed northern part of Belgium, who began to dominate the event. Fleming Alfons Schepers gained three victories in the Interwar period.

Ardennes Classic[edit]

Liège-Bastogne-Liège had some interruptions during World War II, but was again a calendar-fixture as from 1945 and began to attract some of the stars of European cycling. In 1951 the race was added to the Challenge Desgrange-Colombo, the competition that combined cycling's greatest races at the time. Swiss Ferdi Kübler won the race in 1951 and 1952.

In the late 1950s Fred De Bruyne won the race three times in his first three participations, equalling the former record of Houa and Schepers. In 1957 two riders were declared winner. Germain Derijcke was first over the finish line, but he had crossed a closed trainrail crossing. Derijcke had won by a three-minute lead and judges felt he had not gained that much time from illegally crossing the railway, thereby not disqualifying him. Officials compromized to promote second-place rider Frans Schoubben to first as well.[8] In 1959 Liège-Bastogne-Liège became part of the Super Prestige, successor of the Desgrange-Colombo competition and early precursor of the UCI World Tour, making the Ardennes Classic one of the main cycling events of the year.

Record winner Eddy Merckx

In 1969 began the era of cycling icon Eddy Merckx, who gained five victories, three of which consecutive, and a total of seven podium finishes. In 1971 the race was run in appalling conditions, with snow and cold ravaging the peloton. Merckx gained one of his most memorable victories. The Belgian attacked solo at 92 kilometers from the finish and soon had a five-minute advantage over his pursuiters. In a rare display, he suffered a sudden fatigue near the end and was joined by Georges Pintens. Pintens failed to distance a tired Merckx, and Merckx managed to outsprint his fellow Belgian to his second victory in the classic.[9] In 1972 the finish moved to Verviers, 15 km from Liège, but because of fans' protest, this was a one-year occasion. The edition was again won by Merckx. In 1975 The Cannibal sealed his fifth and final victory, making him the sole record-holder of La Doyenne.

French cycling greatness Bernard Hinault won the race twice, both times in harrowing weather conditions. In 1977 Hinault made a late escape from a six-strong group including a faltering Eddy Merckx; three years later he won the epic contest of 1980 (see below).[10]

In the 1980s Italian classics specialist Moreno Argentin won the race four times, narrowly missing Merckx' record. Argentin also gained three victories in the sister classic La Flèche Wallonne, earning him the title of King of the Ardennes in his day.

Finish in Ans[edit]

In 1990 the Pesant Club Liégeois partnered with the Société du Tour de France, the organizer of cycling's flagships the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix. [11] The partnership led to a more professional organization, resulting in a complete overhauling of the race course: the start and finish moved to different locations in Liège and five new climbs were included.[12]

Until 1991 the race finished in Liege city centre, with a flat run-in to the finish. From 1992 the finish moved to the industrial suburb of Ans, on the northwestern side of the city. The steep Côte de Saint Nicolas was added to the final kilometres, along with a final climb to the finish in Ans.[13] This changed the character of the race, as climbers with a strong uphill-sprint often wait until the final stretches to launch their ultimate attack. Italians Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini continued a tradition of Italian victories in La Doyenne, with two wins each.

In recent years Spanish allrounder Alejandro Valverde won three times, all three sprint-victories of a select group at the finish.

In 2011 Belgian Philippe Gilbert won the race, completing a unique streak of classics victories in a span of ten days. Gilbert had previously won the Brabantse Pijl, Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne, thus achieving a historic quadruple of victories in the hilly classics of April. Gilbert beat Luxembourg brothers Fränck and Andy Schleck in a sprint of three.[14]


The 2012 Liège–Bastogne–Liège route

The race follows a straightforward 95 km (59 mi) route from Liège to Bastogne, and a winding 163 km (101 mi) route back to Liège. The second half contains most of the climbs, such as the Stockeu, Haute-Levée, La Redoute, and Saint-Nicolas before finishing in the northern Liège suburb of Ans. The many hills give opportunities to attack, and the race often rewards aggressive riders such as Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini.

Well known climbs [15]
km mark Name Distance Slope
57.7 Côte de Ny' 1.8 km 5.7%
82.0 Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne 2.8 km 4.9%
128.0 Côte de Saint-Roch 0.8 km 12.0%
172.0 Côte de Wanne 2.7 km 7.0%
178.5 Côte de Stockeu 1.1 km 10.5%
184.0 Côte de la Haute-Levée 3.4 km 6.0%
196.5 Côte du Rosier 4.0 km 5.9%
209.0 Côte de la Vecquée 3.1 km 5.9%
226.5 Côte de la Redoute 2.1 km 8.4%
241.5 Côte de la Roche aux Faucons 1.5 km 9.9%
255.5 Côte de Saint-Nicolas 1.0 km 11.1%

Race characteristics[edit]


The British magazine Cycling Weekly stated: "In purely physical terms, this is probably the toughest classic: the climbs are long, most of them are pretty steep as well, and they come up with depressing frequency in the final kilometers.[2]

Moreno Argentin said:

Riders who win at Liège are what we call fondisti - men with a superior level of stamina. [The climb of] La Redoute is like the Mur de Huy in that it has to be tackled at pace, from the front of the peloton. The gradient is about 14 or 15 per cent, and it comes after 220 or 230 kilometers, so you don't have to be a genius to work out how tough it is. I remember that we used to go up with a maximum of 39 x 21 - it's not quite as steep as the Mur de Huy. A lot of riders mistakenly think you should attack on the hardest part, but in reality you hurt people on the slightly flatter section that comes after this.
Liège is a race of trial by elimination, where it's very unlikely that a breakaway can go clear and decide the race before the finale 100 km [62 mi]. You need to be strong and at the same time clever and calculating — in this sense it's a complete test of a cyclist's ability.[16]


The weather in April is often unpredictable and the race has occasionaly been affected by tough weather conditions. In 1919, 1957 and 1980 there was was severe snowfall. The editions of 1980 was exceptionally hard: snow fell from the start and temperatures were near freazing point, leading commentators to call it 'Neige-Bastogne-Neige' (Snow-Bastogne-Snow). Bernard Hinault attacked with 80 km (50 mi) to go and finished nearly 10 minutes ahead.

The 1980 race[edit]

A cold wind that blew across Belgium brought snow flakes and then a heavy fall within moments of the race starting. A feature published by the British magazine, Procycling in 2000, described the infamous race:

Riders struggled on, with hands to faces to keep a view of the road. The race was an anonymous mass of plastic jackets and windcheaters. Spectators stood in goggles like upmarket snowmen, red-faced in the bitterness. Within the hour some teams had barely a man left on the road. They pulled out two dozen at a time, men like Gibi Baronchelli and Giuseppe Saronni, Lucien Van Impe and Jean-René Bernaudeau.[8]

Bernard Hinault, the winner, was one of few to finish the course. It took three weeks for proper movement to return to two fingers of his right hand.[8]


Rider Team
1892 Belgium Houa, LeonLéon Houa (BEL)
1893 Belgium Houa, LeonLéon Houa (BEL)
1894 Belgium Houa, LeonLéon Houa (BEL)
No race
1908 France Trousselier, AndreAndré Trousselier (FRA)
1909 Belgium Fastre, VictorVictor Fastre (BEL)
1910 No race
1911 Belgium Daele, Joseph VanJoseph Van Daele (BEL)
1912 Belgium Verschoore, OmerOmer Verschoore (BEL)
1913 Belgium Moritz, MauritsMaurits Moritz (BEL)
No race
1919 Belgium Devos, LeonLeon Devos (BEL)
1920 Belgium Scieur, LeonLéon Scieur (BEL) La Sportive
1921 Belgium Mottiat, LouisLouis Mottiat (BEL) La Sportive
1922 Belgium Mottiat, LouisLouis Mottiat (BEL) Alcyon
1923 Belgium Vermandel, ReneRené Vermandel (BEL) Alcyon
1924 Belgium Vermandel, ReneRené Vermandel (BEL) Alcyon
1925 Belgium Ronsse, GeorgesGeorges Ronsse (BEL)
1926 Belgium Smets, DieudonneDieudonné Smets (BEL)
1927 Belgium Raes, MauriceMaurice Raes (BEL)
1928 Belgium Mottard, ErnestErnest Mottard (BEL)
1929 Belgium Schepers, AlfonsAlfons Schepers (BEL)
1930 Germany Buse, HermannHermann Buse (GER) Duerkopp
1931 Belgium Schepers, AlfonsAlfons Schepers (BEL) La Francaise
1932 Belgium Houyoux, MarcelMarcel Houyoux (BEL)
1933 Belgium Gardier, FrancoisFrançois Gardier (BEL) Cycles De Pas
1934 Belgium Herckenrath, TheoTheo Herckenrath (BEL) La Francaise
1935 Belgium Schepers, AlfonsAlfons Schepers (BEL) Dilecta
1936 Belgium Beckaert, AlbertAlbert Beckaert (BEL) Alcyon
1937 Belgium Meulenberg, EloiEloi Meulenberg (BEL) Alcyon
1938 Belgium Deloor, AlfonsAlfons Deloor (BEL) Helyett
1939 Belgium Ritserveldt, AlbertAlbert Ritserveldt (BEL) Dilecta-De Dion
No race
1943 Belgium Depoorter, RichardRichard Depoorter (BEL) Helyett
1944 No race
1945 Belgium Engels, JeanJean Engels (BEL) Alcyon
1946 Belgium Depredomme, ProsperProsper Depredomme (BEL) Dilecta-Wolber-Garin
1947 Belgium Depoorter, RichardRichard Depoorter (BEL) Garin-Wolber
1948 Belgium Mollin, MauriceMaurice Mollin (BEL) Mercier-Hutchinson
1949 France Danguillaume, CamilleCamille Danguillaume (FRA) Peugeot-Dunlop
1950 Belgium Depredomme, ProsperProsper Depredomme (BEL) Girardengo-Garin
1951 Switzerland Kübler, FerdinandFerdinand Kübler (SUI) Frejus-Fiorelli-Tebag
1952 Switzerland Kübler, FerdinandFerdinand Kübler (SUI) Frejus-Tebag
1953 Belgium Hertog, Alois DeAlois De Hertog (BEL) Alcyon-Dunlop
1954 Luxembourg Ernzer, MarcelMarcel Ernzer (LUX) Terrot-Hutchinson
1955 Belgium Ockers, StanStan Ockers (BEL) Elvé-Peugeot
1956 Belgium Bruyne, Fred DeFred De Bruyne (BEL) Mercier-BP-Hutchinson
1957 Belgium Schoubben, FransFrans Schoubben (BEL) (victory shared with Derycke, GermainGermain Derycke) Elvé-Peugeot
1957 Belgium Derycke, GermainGermain Derycke (BEL) (victory shared with Schoubben, FransFrans Schoubben) Faema-Guerra
1958 Belgium Bruyne, Fred DeFred De Bruyne (BEL) Carpano
1959 Belgium Bruyne, Fred DeFred De Bruyne (BEL) Carpano
1960 Netherlands Geldermans, AlbertusAlbertus Geldermans (NED) St.Raphael
1961 Belgium Looy, Rik VanRik Van Looy (BEL) Faema
1962 Belgium Planckaert, JefJef Planckaert (BEL) Flandria-Faema-Clement
1963 Belgium Melckenbeeck, FransFrans Melckenbeeck (BEL) Mercier-BP-Hutchinson
1964 Belgium Blocklandt, WillyWilly Blocklandt (BEL) Flandria-Romero
1965 Italy Preziosi, CarmineCarmine Preziosi (ITA) Pelforth-Sauvage-Lejeune
1966 France Anquetil, JacquesJacques Anquetil (FRA) Ford Hutchinson
1967 Belgium Godefroot, WalterWalter Godefroot (BEL) Flandria-De Clerck
1968 Belgium Sweefelt, Walter VanWalter Van Sweefelt (BEL) Smiths
1969 Belgium Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx (BEL) Faema
1970 Belgium De Vlaeminck, RogerRoger De Vlaeminck (BEL) Flandria-Mars
1971 Belgium Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni
1972 Belgium Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni
1973 Belgium Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni
1974 Belgium Pintens, GeorgesGeorges Pintens (BEL) MIC-De Gribaldy-Ludo
1975 Belgium Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni-Campagnolo
1976 Belgium Bruyere, JosephJoseph Bruyère (BEL) Molteni-Campagnolo
1977 France Hinault, BernardBernard Hinault (FRA) Gitane-Campagnolo
1978 Belgium Bruyere, JosephJoseph Bruyère (BEL) C&A
1979 Germany Thurau, DietrichDietrich Thurau (GER) IJsboerke-Warncke Eis
1980 France Hinault, BernardBernard Hinault (FRA) Renault-Elf-Gitane
1981 Switzerland Fuchs, JosefJosef Fuchs (SUI) Cilo-Aufina
1982 Italy Contini, SilvanoSilvano Contini (ITA) Bianchi-Piaggio
1983 Netherlands Rooks, StevenSteven Rooks (NED) Sem-France Loire
1984 Republic of Ireland Kelly, SeanSean Kelly (IRL) Skil-Sem-Reydell
1985 Italy Argentin, MorenoMoreno Argentin (ITA) Sammontana-Bianchi
1986 Italy Argentin, MorenoMoreno Argentin (ITA) Sammontana-Bianchi
1987 Italy Argentin, MorenoMoreno Argentin (ITA) Gewiss-Bianchi
1988 Netherlands Poel, Adri van derAdri van der Poel (NED) PDM-Concorde
1989 Republic of Ireland Kelly, SeanSean Kelly (IRL) PDM-Concorde
1990 Belgium Lancker, Eric VanEric Van Lancker (BEL) Panasonic-Sportlife
1991 Italy Argentin, MorenoMoreno Argentin (ITA) Ariostea
1992 Belgium Wolf, Dirk DeDirk De Wolf (BEL) Gatorade-Chateau d'Ax
1993 Denmark Sorensen, RolfRolf Sørensen (DEN) Carrera Jeans-Tassoni
1994 Russia Berzin, EugeniEugeni Berzin (RUS) Gewiss-Ballan
1995 Switzerland Gianetti, MauroMauro Gianetti (SUI) Polti-Granarolo-Santini
1996 Switzerland Richard, PascalPascal Richard (SUI) MG Maglificio-Technogym
1997 Italy Bartoli, MicheleMichele Bartoli (ITA) MG Maglificio-Technogym
1998 Italy Bartoli, MicheleMichele Bartoli (ITA) Asics-CGA
1999 Belgium Vandenbroucke, FrankFrank Vandenbroucke (BEL) Cofidis
2000 Italy Bettini, PaoloPaolo Bettini (ITA) Mapei-Quick Step
2001 Switzerland Camenzind, OscarOscar Camenzind (SUI) Lampre-Daikin
2002 Italy Bettini, PaoloPaolo Bettini (ITA) Mapei-Quick Step
2003 United States Hamilton, TylerTyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC
2004 Italy Rebellin, DavideDavide Rebellin (ITA) Gerolsteiner
2005 Kazakhstan Vinokourov, AlexandreAlexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) T-Mobile Team
2006 Spain Valverde, AlejandroAlejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
2007 Italy Di Luca, DaniloDanilo Di Luca (ITA) Liquigas
2008 Spain Valverde, AlejandroAlejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse d'Epargne
2009 Luxembourg Schleck, AndyAndy Schleck (LUX) Team Saxo Bank
2010 Kazakhstan Vinokourov, AlexandreAlexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) Astana
2011 Belgium Gilbert, PhilippePhilippe Gilbert (BEL) Omega Pharma-Lotto
2012 Kazakhstan Iglinsky, MaximMaxim Iglinsky (KAZ) Astana
2013 Republic of Ireland Martin, DanDan Martin (IRL) Garmin-Sharp
2014 Australia Gerrans, SimonSimon Gerrans (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE
2015 Spain Valverde, AlejandroAlejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar Team

Multiple winners[edit]

Still active riders are in italic.

Wins Rider Country Years
5 Eddy Merckx  Belgium 1969, 1971–1973, 1975
4 Moreno Argentin  Italy 1985–1987, 1991
3 Léon Houa  Belgium 1892–1894
Alfons Schepers  Belgium 1929, 1931, 1935
Fred De Bruyne  Belgium 1956, 1958–1959
Alejandro Valverde  Spain 2006, 2008, 2015
2 Louis Mottiat  Belgium 1921–1922
René Vermandel  Belgium 1923–1924
Richard Depoorter  Belgium 1943, 1947
Prosper Depredomme  Belgium 1946, 1950
Ferdi Kübler   Switzerland 1951–1952
Joseph Bruyère  Belgium 1976, 1978
Bernard Hinault  France 1977, 1980
Seán Kelly  Ireland 1984, 1989
Michele Bartoli  Italy 1997–1998
Paolo Bettini  Italy 2000, 2002
Alexandre Vinokourov  Kazakhstan 2005, 2010

Winners by nationality[edit]

There have been 101 editions as of 2015.

Wins Country
59  Belgium
12  Italy
6   Switzerland
5  France
3  Netherlands
2  Germany
1  Denmark
 United States


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Cycling Weekly, UK, 13 March 1993
  3. ^ Cycling Weekly, UK, 7 March 1992
  4. ^ "Spring Classics: How to win cycling's hardest one-day races". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  5. ^ The title "monument" has no official significance; it is often used by the French daily, L'Équipe, to indicate a race's unchanging place on the calendar but the term has become more widespread because of television commentaries, especially in the USA
  6. ^ a b Cycling Weekly, UK, 13 April 2002
  7. ^ a b "Liège-Bastogne-Liège". Bike Race Info. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Procycling, UK, May 2000
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Liège-Bastogne-Liège's cold memories". Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
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  14. ^
  15. ^ "Liège — Bastogne — Liège: The route 2009". Retrieved 19 July 2009. 
  16. ^ Procycling, UK, March 2001

External links[edit]