The ride of the falling... Doyenne? Let's hope no-one takes a tumble on some loose Belgian foliage, because we've still got a lot of racing left in 2020.
It's a bit discombobulating to be thinking about the Old Lady on the same weekend we're usually enjoying Il Lombardia, while the Giro goes on a few thousand kilometres down the road, but feast or famine, let's not look a gift horse in the mouth, eh?
Strange to think this is only the fourth edition of LBL Femmes, and the Dutch women have topped the podium in every one. Is there any chance of a Brit, a Dane or perhaps a South African, breaking the run? Who does our panel think stands the best chance and what does The Cycling Mole reckon to their picks?
Lizzie Deignan - Trek-Segafredo
You'd have to have a screw loose not to back AVV for this one, but here we go. Yorkshire's finest to smash it in, hopefully, grim Belgian weather conditions. The old Longo-Borghini one-two is working so well for this team right now, so I'm banking on that making the difference.
Annemiek van Vleuten - Mitchelton-Scott
I mean, the winner is going to be Dutch, that seems certain. And after coming second in the World Champs with a broken wrist (A BROKEN WRIST!) I just can't see how anyone will defy Van Vleuten after a couple of weeks more healing time.
Demi Vollering - Parkhotel Valkenburg
Hope no one is offended if I say I’m not in love with this particular LBL course. There’s all that wonderful climbing only to be neutralized with a buzzkill flat finish in Liège. Though either Annemiek van Vleuten, in spite of her broken wrist, or Anna van der Breggen are the default choices to ride away solo for the win, I’m going to bet on, or hope for, a race slightly more up for grabs. Demi Vollering has been knocking on the door of a big win recently – having taken 3rd in both La Course and Flèche Wallonne. If a thinned-out group mixed with climbers, punchers, and sprinters comes into the finish together, I’m thinking she may get that win she’s been so close to lately.
Anna van der Breggen - Boels-Dolmans
No-one else has filed their predictions yet, which means I get dibs on the one who is definitely definitely going to win it. She walked it in the Worlds, and barely looked bothered by the Mur. Three out of four for the champ.
The Cycling Moles says...
The women head to Liège for one of the biggest races in the calendar. The route contains the awful ascents of La Redoute and Roche-aux-Faucons, which will blow the race to pieces.
As you would expect, the same names keep popping up.
Nick goes with AVDB, which is the form pick after she demolished everyone last Sunday and on Wednesday. She loves steep slopes, and Roche-aux-Faucons is exactly that. Ben goes with AVV, hoping that the week off has allowed her wrist to heal. Ian is hoping that Trek can dominate the race and Lizzie Deignan will finish it off. As the finish is flat, picking the fastest of the climbers is a clever move by Ian, which is a surprise! Olivia goes a little leftfield with her pick of Vollering. It’s nice to see her going with something a little different, but I just don’t see her winning.
After a week of munching ibuprofen for breakfast, lunch and dinner I also think that Annemiek van Vleuten will be back to her best, which is usually far too strong for everyone else.