Liège–Bastogne–Liège, often called La Doyenne (“The Old Lady”), is a one-day classic cycling race in Belgium. First run in 1892, it is one of the five Monuments of the European professional road cycling calendar, usually coming as the last of the spring classics. It is held annually in late April, in the Ardennes region of Belgium, from Liège to Bastogne and back. It is the oldest known organized race in cycling.
One of the most memorable races was on April 20, 1980, as Bernard Hinault rode through cold and snowy conditions in Liège. Conditions were so abject that riders had started to abandon the race as they reached the outskirts of the town, and only sixty of the 174 starters were still racing at Bastogne. Hinault ended up battling frostbite and numbness in his fingers.
Hinault wanted to climb off at Bastogne too, but instead chose to carry on, coaxed by teammate Maurice Le Guilloux. The snow had stopped but it was still freezing cold as the remaining riders headed north, and it was these icy temperatures that prompted Hinault’s attack, with the Frenchman seeing it as his only option to keep warm. Years later, Hinault still suffers issues with numbness in his fingers from this grueling race of extremes.
Liège–Bastogne–Liège is part of the UCI World Tour competition. It is the concluding race of the Ardennes Classics series, which includes La Flèche Wallonne. Both are organised by Amaury Sport Organisation.
Jacques Anquetil (January 8, 1934 – November 18, 1987) is often considered the most perfect pedaling machine in the sport’s history. His flat back, toes pointed down time trial position was emulated by generations of cyclists.
He was the first rider to win the Tour de France five times and was the first to win all three Grand Tours. His style of containing his opponents in the mountains and smashing them in the time trial led some to believe his climbing skills were not world class. They misunderstood Anquetil, who saw no point in racing harder than necessary to win a race. In 1963 the Tour organization reduced the time trialing and designed the mountains stages to favor climbers. In response Anquetil delivered a climbing masterclass.
Anquetil’s time trialing prowess allowed him to enter and win the Grand Prix des Nations (sometimes called the world championship of time trialing) nine times, starting with his first victory at the age of 19 in 1953.
Much of Anquetil’s career was enlivened by his rivalry with Raymond Poulidor. While Poulidor was generally outsmarted by Anquetil, Poulidor remained the French race fans’ favourite.
1953: Grand Prix de Nations, GP de Lugano
1954: Grand Prix de Nations, GP de Lugano
1955: Grand Prix de Nations
1956: Grand Prix de Nations, World Hour Record
1957: Tour de France with 4 stage wins, Paris-Nice, Grand Prix de Nations
1958: 4 Days of Dunkirk, Grand Prix de Nations
1959: 4 Days of Dunkirk, GP de Lugano, Critérium des As
1960: Giro d’Italia with 2 stage wins, Critérium des As
1961: Tour de France with 2 stage wins, Critérium National, Paris-Nice, Grand Prix de Nations, GP de Lugano
1962: Tour de France with 2 stage wins, Trofeo Baracchi (with Rudi Altig)
1963: Tour de France with 4 stage wins, Vuelta a España, Critérium National, Paris-Nice, Dauphiné Libéré, Critérium des As
1964: Tour de France with 4 stage wins, Giro d’Italia, Gent-Wevelgem
1965: Bordeaux-Paris, Critérium National, Paris-Nice, Grand Prix de Nations, GP de Lugano, Trofeo Baracchi (with Jean Stablinski), Critérium es As
1966: Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Nice, Tour of Sardinia, Grand Prix des Nations