Liège-Bastogne-Liège reshuffles route, invites 2017 wildcard teams
The 2017 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will feature some familiar climbs, such as Côte de la Redoute and Côte de Saint-Nicholas, but it will leave off a few Ardennes hills as the oldest spring classic continues to refine its route. On Tuesday, race organizer ASO revealed the 258km course and invited seven wildcard teams in addition to the 18 WorldTour squads.
ASO made waves in 2016 by including a short, cobblestone climb in the final throes of the route, Côte de la Rue Naniot. It also skipped a trip up the famous Côte de Stockeu, to the chagrin of traditionalists. For 2017, route designers continue the trend of rethinking the progression of steep, short climbs, leaving out the one-two punch of Côte de Wanne and Côte de la Haute-Levée that traditionally leads the race into its pivotal final 90 kilometers.
Instead, the 2017 route introduces two less-familiar climbs in quick succession: Côte de Pont and Côte de Belleveaux. These two hills are packed more closely together, about 4km apart, compared to Wanne and Haute-Levée, which were separated by about 10km in 2016. About 8km later, the race goes up Côte de la Ferme Libert, also not included in last year’s route. From then on, the rhythm of climbs will be familiar to the peloton: Col du Rosier, Col du Maquisard, Côte de la Redoute (of course — they’d never leave this one out), Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, and Côte de Saint-Nicolas.
With the final 10.5-percent climb of Rue Naniot replace by the fearsome Ferme Libert, which averages 12.1 percent, we may see an earlier, smaller selection formed this year. In 2016, a moderately sized group of 23 went over the final climb of Naniot.
For the first time, Liège will also feature a Women’s WorldTour race, running from Bastogne to Ans, over 135.5km. That route includes four major climbs: Côte de la Vecquée, Côte de la Redoute, Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, and Côte de Saint-Nicolas.
ASO also announced the seven Pro Continental teams invited to the race, in addition to the 18 men’s WorldTour teams, which automatically qualify to participate.
2017 Liège-Bastogne-Liège wildcard teams
Aqua Blue Sport (Irl)
Direct Energie (F)
Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij (Nl)
Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise (B)
Wanty – Groupe Gobert (B)
WB Veranclassic Aqua Project (B)