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Liege-Bastogne-Liege Sportive 2020

buckmulliganbuckmulligan Posts: 1,031

I'm looking at entering the official Liege-Bastogne-Liege Challenge sportive next year, just wondering if any of you guys have done it and would mind sharing your experiences? If I do it, I'd want to do the full ~270 km route and I'm not too intimidated by the distance per se, having racked up plenty of solo and small-group rides over and above that time and distance, but I'm a bit more concerned about the toll that the constant ups-and-downs might take.

How big is the field likely to be for the full distance and does it stick together reasonably well given what looks like consistent climbs right from the start? If I'm likely to be able to stick in a decent group for at least the first half it would make that time/distance a lot more comfortable.

Also, what's the general level of competency of the other entrants? I've done the Flanders sportive a few times and had a few near misses due to questionable riders, but at a guess I'd suspect LBL would attract a somewhat more experience crowd?

Finally, any recommendations for accommodation around Liege? I'd prefer a B&B/cheap hotel type of affair rather than a hostel or 5* luxury, but obviously somewhere reasonably central and cyclist-friendly would be great.

Any help much appreciated! :wink:


  • dish_dashdish_dash Posts: 4,743
    It's a great event.

    My write up from last year here: viewtopic.php?f=40007&t=13102799#p20522634

    The first half is rolling/gradually uphill. We had bad conditions but yes, basically the first climb out of Liege sorted out the crowds and we got a few groups going. Although trying to get multi-lingual chain gangs working is tricky. General riding competency was decent. Just don't go full gas as you need to save energy for the way back. All the usual advice, keep eating and drinking as you will need it.

    The start was just roll up and go. Though it was chucking it down with rain which may have made it more relaxed. I'd recommend you start early.

    There is one major climb before Bastogne and then the rest are after it. A real mix of short and sharp as well as longer more gradual ones. Some gorgeous and wooded, others in urban streets, and others are long drags on exposed roads (the hardest ones, mentally at least).

    Final run into the finish is in Liege central and can get a bit stop start with traffic lights and cars etc. There are no closed roads. So don't expect to gun it for the final run in, so if you've got a time target keep that in mind.

    There was plenty of accommodation on AirBnB/ We stayed in a place right on the main drag, but did require carrying the bikes up/down 4 flights of stairs so I wouldn't recommend!
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,863
    I need to enter again. I had a fail 120 miles in two years ago because it was very hot and I dehydrated.

    Nice event although getting enough fluids was a problem compounded by me forgetting my bottles at home. I rode there too.

    Hopefully it wont be 30 degrees again. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • Tough ride and the weather up in the Ardennes generally makes it even tougher. It averaged 5 degrees and pissed it down right until the last hour when the sun came out and it hit 20 degrees at the end where we sat drinking beer whilst we steamed away.

    It is in the main a very beautiful ride. But it does get tougher and tougher. It's a pretty relaxed affair and the numbers are not huge as it is one hell of a tough ride. The feed stations are well stocked but by the end, I never wanted to see a Belgium waffle ever again.

    Also, although it was beaten up in the War Liege is still a pleasant place to stay and enjoy. You won't have to go far to find Steak, frites and mad beer. Also it's great to wander into town and watch all the pro's prepare to do it in about three hours less than you did it.

    It's definitely one to tick-off and do at least once.
  • I did it in 2018 and got really lucky with the weather, it was 30° whereas the previous year it had snowed and this year was pretty horrific. I did the middle distance, which was plenty for me - you still get all the greatest hits. Still hard though.

    I wasn't breaking any records on my way round, but the feed stations were all still well stocked. Though one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that the Etixx energy drinks were horrible. Don't know how they win so many races having to drink that stuff.

    Can't really say why, but I found it a lot friendlier than Flanders, which I did this year. The field is half the size, which helps. There's a whole range of abilities, so you can definitely find a group to sit in.

    The scenery is spectacular too, and I think the new finish is a lot nicer too. You don't have to go up to Ans. I remember riding through the traffic to the finish was a bit hairy.

    I'm going to do it again in 2020
  • durhamwaspdurhamwasp Posts: 1,211
    Hoping to do this one! Done Flanders, Roubaix and E3 and want to try a different one. Enjoy reading the reviews from previous editions. - Reports on Cingles du Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez, Galibier, Izoard, Tourmalet, Paris-Roubaix Sportive & Tour of Flanders Sportive, Amstel Gold Xperience, Vosges, C2C, WOTR routes....
  • dish_dashdish_dash Posts: 4,743

    Hoping to do this one! Done Flanders, Roubaix and E3 and want to try a different one. Enjoy reading the reviews from previous editions.

    If you're looking for different things. I'd recommend Ghent Wevelgem. You can catch two races (E3 and GW) and the route for GW has a good mix of echelons, climbs, some cobbles, and the plug streets... all in for 200km.
  • kim10kim10 Posts: 186
    Having done Flanders a couple of times I have signed up to do Liege next year, if you haven't already seen registration is now open:

    We have already booked a B&B only 2 kilometers from the start, but also very interested in hearing from others that has done in in the past. @ dish_dash, thank you for sharing the link to your write-up. Interesting!
  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,216
    this is an epic ride, have done it 6 times. the climbs are backfilled, and you need to keep a lid on it all the way round. this year the average for me was 5 degrees, and i felt borderline hypothermic towards the end until it literally warmed up on the approach roads to liege after roch aux faucons. i made up for it by inhaling 2 steaks after the ride with my club mates :)

    2018 was my favourite, nice warm temps, and great riding. its really tough though, some of the climbs are really not pleasant, though my favourite is La Redoute. its evil... :)

    the course changes every other year-ish, and the 2014 course was for me the hardest. it was the hundredth iteration of the race and had quite literally all the climbs on the back stretch of the course. that was purgatory.

    2019 report here.

  • One of the greatest rides you'll ever do and yes hold back the end is as tough as it gets. I saw that they also do a version in the Summer, I suppose that is cheating. Going back again this year for another suffer-fest.
  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,216
    Tillf Bastogne Tillf is another, and it has all the climbs you'd want as well.
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