The World Champion is excited ahead of his return to “La Doyenne”.

“Liège–Bastogne–Liège was special last season. I came at the start without too many expectations, but we had a plan – and that was to go for the win – which we executed perfectly. For sure, the crash in the bunch that took out two of my teammates wasn’t ideal for us, but we found a way to handle that stressful moment and we remained focused on our goal. That victory was the biggest of my career at that point, a moment I’ll never forget.

We have a really strong team again this year, so we will try our best to be up there on Sunday.

We are confident, but in a one-day race everything has to go perfect. You can always have a flat tire in a bad moment, that’s why you also need a bit of luck on your side.

With the unofficial climb after La Redoute now, the course is much harder. It’s also a typical Ardennes road, with that rough tarmac. It looks really nice. It’s way harder now than the last editions. The race is going to be completely different with a different strategy. It will be a longer final, with tailwind and maybe some rain – it will be very tough.

I feel good, that’s also quite logical as I soon need to go to the Giro. I need to be at top level there for three weeks, so it’s quite normal that I’m gradually reaching my top shape. These days the training is followed up so well that you can peak quite well to the moment you have to be in top shape. On Monday after the race I go again to Calpe to train, switching the focus on the Giro.

We went for the approach to race immediately after my altitude training camp, as it worked out well before San Sebastian last year. The main goal is still the Giro d’Italia, so that’s why we wanted to stay as long as possible at altitude. During the training period there were a lot of races going on, we often had our rest day on Sunday so we could make an early ride and then watch the full final of the Classics. That was nice, besides that I also killed the time by watching football, some series and listening to music. But the days were pretty filled already with some long training rides, which I hope will pay off this spring.”


Photo credit: ©Wout Beel

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