PHOTOS

A BRIEF HISTORY

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.

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