The full punch of the Ardennes Mountains will be felt during Liège-Bastogne-Liège April 24 when the Côte de la Haute-Levée returns to the sport’s oldest monument.
Amaury Sports Organization announced Thursday that it has finalized this year’s 257.5km course.
According to a press release, the municipality of Stavelot completed roadwork necessary for the race to return to the Côte de la Haute-Levée after a one-year absence due to construction. In 2010, the parcours substituted the Col du Maquisard and Mont-Theux.
The third in a succession of four tough climbs over 25km (Wanne, Stockeu, Haute-Levée and Rosier), the Haute-Levée is 3.4 km long and averages 5.6 percent gradient.
Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) put an exclamation point on his return from a doping suspension last year when he won his second career La Doyenne solo after escaping Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) in the closing kilometers. Vino will look to join the exclusive club of three-time winners this year in his final crack at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
ASO also announced that route changes to La Flèche Wallonne last year will return for the race’s 75th edition, slated April 20. The 198km route will include two ascents of the traditional finish climb, the brutal Mur de Huy, the first coming just 30km from the finish. The 1,300-meter climb averages around 10 percent gradient and reaches ramps as steep as 25 percent.
The 14th edition of the Women’s Flèche Wallonne also will tackle the same course as last year, with two climbs up the Mur de Huy and a race length of 109.5 km.
Three-time Liège-Bastogne-Liège winners
Léon Houa (1892-94)
Alfons Schepers (1929, 1931, 1935)
Fred de Buyne (1956, 1958-59)
Eddy Merckx (1969, 1971-73, 1975)
Moreno Argentin (1985-87, 1991)