Etixx-Quick Step will line up at Liège-Bastogne-Liège tomorrow with a formidable team and with Julian Alaphilippe and Daniel Martin, they will have two riders who could be in a position to challenge race favourite Alejandro Valverde.
Alaphilippe and Martin finished in second and third in Wednesday’s Fleche Wallonne behind the Spaniard so are clearly in good form.
However, in addition to winning on Wednesday Valverde has also taken GC victories this season at the Vuelta a Andalucía and Vuelta a Castilla y León. Along with his three previous wins at Liege (in 2006, 2008 and 2015), this makes the Spaniard the clear favourite.
So how will the Etixx-Quick Step pair go about trying to beat Valverde?
“How can we beat Valverde?” Alaphilippe told Sporza. “Just by being stronger than him but that is not easy, because he has everything of a great champion. He has talent and the experience and I have to work hard to get to his level.
“We must not become fixated on Valverde,” says team-mate Martin who won the race in 2013 and came close to victory the following year. “There are so many other good riders.”
“We do not start with a fixed plan. The goal is to have the two of us still there in the final. Then we’ll decide amongst ourselves who has the best legs.”
Martin also feels that the weather could play a big role.
“I personally think it will still be difficult, but bad weather would make the race more unpredictable. Then it becomes even more of a lottery. With the new climb near the finish, I don’t think it will be a big group at the end.”