Posted by Editor on 04/28/09
Canada's Christian Meier joined the ProTour Garmin-Slipstream team this year, and has been writing reports on some of his experiences. Here is the latest one from last Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege Classic:
Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the queen of the classics and she lives up to her name. Like true royalty she is the most beautiful race penciled on the race calendar and also the one that should be most respected, as many men have been humbled by her ferocity.
I quickly learned this as we rolled out of the historic downtown of Liege and during the neutral I hit a pothole, resulting in two wheel changes during the neutral roll out of the race. Luckily with a 6 km of neutral I was able to get everything sorted before the war began. Our plan was simple: Ryder [Hesjedal], Dan [Martin] and Tom Danielson were to relax until the final siege, while the rest took on the front lines of battle to try and get in the early break.
Most know Liege for its famous climbs - Le Cote de Wanne, La Rossiere, La Redoute, etc - which all come in the last 100 km of the race, but what you don't see are all the cols and cotes that come in the first 160 km and start tiring the legs early, like the 8 km climb that starts at km 0.
From the gun it was on, riders attacking left and right, the peloton strung out in the first kilometers, later I would hear that some riders were early casualties, with riders coming off in the very first slopes of the very first climb. For the next two hours it was all guns blazing in a hectic showdown and when the dust settled a group of 4 riders had escaped; I gave it my all but sometimes you just need a bit of luck as well.
With my early wheel change I lost my Powertap wheel so I have no power stats, but after 2.5 hours of racing I had an average heart rate of nearly 170 bpm. But conserving ammo wasn't exactly the plan for me. After the break went I was then to go on Dan duty; if Dan needs a goo I go back and get it, if Dan needs to stop for a nature break, I stop for a nature break and then when it was time I was to position well for when the crucial climbs started. Jason had the same duties for Ryder.
So closing in on Cote de Wanne I used my last bullets to give Dan some cover fire and off he went for the final part of the war, in search of glory for our squad. I managed to hang on for a few of the next climbs until the front part of the race split off. We had Ryder, Dan and Tom still up there and Ryder would eventually emerge at the days end with a heroic effort for 11th place. As for me, I put an end to my day at the second feed zone at kilometer 210 and hope to be ready again for our next battle, the Tour of Romandie, which starts tomorrow.
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