I covered the odds for the Ardennes classics in an article last week, but every Monument deserves its own pedestal. Besides, the odds need a bit of updating in light of recent results and injuries.
As the name suggests, the route for Liege–Bastogne–Liege (April 23rd, 2017) runs from Liege to Bastogne and back, spanning 258 grueling kilometers (roughly 160 miles).
The biggest change since I last updated the odds is the absence of Philippe Gilbert. The Boar of the Ardennes won the first Ardennes classic, the Amstel Gold Race, and was looking to sweep the triad as he did in 2011. But a kidney tear sustained during the race forced him to abandon the remaining spring classics.
Alejandro Valverde is fresh off his fourth consecutive win at La Flèche Wallonne, and he remains the favorite heading into La Doyenne. The punchy Spaniard won Flèche Wallonne with ease, once again out-sprinting the peloton on the uphill finish at Mur de Huy. The parcours of Liege-Bastogne-Liege is tailor-made for riders like him, who can out-climb the sprinters and out-sprint the climbers.
Though he didn’t come close to catching Valverde, Dan Martin managed to finish second at Flèche Wallonne. Of the favorites, Martin, who won Liege–Bastogne–Liege back in 2013, is best placed to cause an upset. And with Gilbert out of the race, he’ll likely have the complete backing of Team Quick-Step Floors.
Team Sky’s Michał Kwiatkowski can’t be ruled out. “Kwiato” narrowly lost out to Gilbert at Amstel Gold when he mistimed his sprint. But he’s already picked up wins at Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, and will be seeking his second Monument. Also riding for Sky is Sergio Henao, who has earned a career-highlight win this season at Paris-Nice.
Simon Gerrans will lead Orica-Scott on Sunday, but the 2014 winner hasn’t looked too good this season. And BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet, who just won Paris–Roubaix, will be looking to continue his remarkable season, but the Ardennes classics aren’t exactly his specialty.
While Valverde may be the overwhelming favorite, as we saw last year, this race can be pretty unpredictable.
Odds to win the 2017 Liege–Bastogne–Liege:
Alejandro Valverde: 3/2
Dan Martin: 9/1
Michał Kwiatkowski: 10/1
Sergio Henao: 14/1
Simon Gerrans: 14/1
Greg Van Avermaet: 24/1
Tim Wellens: 99/1
Photo credit: denismenchov08 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]