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Following in the wheel tracks of history at ‘La Doyenne’

Human Powered Health brings a close to the spring classics at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes

‘La Doyenne’, ‘The Old Lady’, ‘The Queen of the Ardennes’, no matter what name Liège-Bastogne-Liège goes by, this famous old race takes no prisoners. Whether it be the 5 am wake up call, the inhospitable weather, the sinew-splitting gradients of the fabled La Redoute climb or the thick, dense, choking forests of Wallonia with their battleground past, the race was bound to end in a devastatingly dramatic but awe-inspiring finale.

The site of three major battles in the tumultuous first half of the 20th Century, the start town of Bastogne, once scarred by the legacy of a destructive siege, now juxtaposes memorials to the route’s dark past with monuments to the sport’s oldest classic, making it just as easy to conjure images of Sherman tanks as it is to think of Bernard Hinault gritting his teeth through the falling snow.

With the women’s race in its sixth year, more history would be written on the 142.1km route, over seven of the most iconic climbs in cycling.

Ahead of her third start, Dutch rider Nina Buijsman explained all about a race she was determined to finally finish after two DNFs.

“Liège is a special one because it’s the last of the classics and also in such a beautiful area,” she said. “The race is always hard because of the number of climbs so there is always a strong winner.”

With the riders up at the crack of dawn, preparations had to begin right after the team crested the Mur de Huy four days prior at Flèche Wallone.

“With an early race start, you have to prepare good on the days before. If you already slept well then that one shorter night doesn’t really matter because your body is already ready for it. With nutrition, you have to take care that you get enough carbs the two days before the race, so your body is fully loaded and ready to go and you definitely need the energy with this hard race.”

Relive the action and bask in the atmosphere with our gallery of images from spring’s final monument.

After two months of crisscrossing Belgium, northern France and the Netherlands, the team’s time at the Spring classics has drawn to a close. The squad now heads south for the month of May to attend races in Spain and Italy, including the Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar and Emakumeen Nafarroakoon one day races on May 8 before the stage races of Itzulia Women from May 13–15 and Vuelta a Burgos Feminas on May 19–22.


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