In the past six editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Ineos have had a rider in the top 10 each time, and with the line-up they’re taking to the 2021 edition, a top 10 will likely be the lowest of their ambitions for the final Monument of the spring.
A star-studded line-up featuring two Grand Tour winners as well as two of the fastest ten men at Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne will represent the British squad hoping to win its first Monument since Kwiatkowski’s 2017 Milan – San Remo.
Tom Pidcock likely represents the team’s best chance, and although each spring Classic he’s ridden so far this year has been his debut, inexperience hasn’t stopped him from delivering results.
Runner-up at Amstel Gold, sixth at Flèche, and before that his first pro victory at De Brabtanse Pijl. The Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz has also proved to be an excellent foil for the Ineos Grenadiers this spring, and he could certainly provide the team their second Liège victory after Wout Poels won in 2016.
Tao Geoghegan Hart will also line-up for only his fifth race of the season so far, saying he’s been struggling recently, while Adam Yates will have another chance to carry his three impressive stage race performances into one-day form, having finished 20th at Flèche Wallonne.
Michał Kwiatkowski managed eighth at the altered Amstel Gold Race and is another name who can make the difference at the business end of the race, while Luke Rowe will likely perform road captain duties. Michał Golas is the final name on the list, his job being to provide domestique duties.
“Feel like I’ve been hit by a bus today,” Pidcock said after Flèche Wallonne, where he crashed en route to his sixth-place finish. “I’ve forgotten how hard roads are in comparison to mud.”
Ineos will face the stiffest competition on Sunday from Deceuninck – Quick-Step and UAE Team Emirates, the Belgian team boasting Julian Alaphilippe, João Almeida and Mauri Vansevenant while Tadej Pogačar and Marc Hirschi provide formidable opposition amongst the ranks of the latter. Jumbo-Visma’s Primož Roglič is another pre-race favourite, having finished second behind Alaphilippe at Flèche.