When you look at Mike Woods’ palmarès at Liège – Bastogne – Liège, you won’t see a number higher than ten in his results. Despite an unfortunate DNF in 2016, when Woods crashed out of his debut participation, six top-ten finishes including second in 2018 give you a pretty good idea of how well the fourth Monument of the season suits him.
After his fourth place at La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, where he was positioned perfectly at the foot of the Mur de Huy, Woods is feeling good ahead of La Doyenne. However, he is expecting it to be the hardest edition yet with a course change set to shake things up.
“I think this year’s course change will impact the race. Having that right turn after La Redoute will make the race harder because, instead of remaining on the plateau when we normally go left, going right results in a descent so it will be harder to get back on, on the descent. Then you go straight into another climb and another one after that so there is an additional climb in there and I think it will make La Redoute that much more important this year. I don’t think the race will be won on that climb because I think the race may even be harder than in years past but certainly the race winning selection will come from there,” explains Woods.
Aside from the course, the weather conditions are expected to be miserable. And then, of course, there’s the matter of the contenders.
“I am feeling good. I’m pleased with how Flèche went, how I raced there. I think it was one of my better performances at Flèche and the way I feel, I think Liège will go even better for me. I feel like I’m very strong aerobically and I recovered well after Flèche so that gives me confidence. Apart from my DNF in 2016 when I crashed out of the race, I have never finished outside of the top-ten so it gives me confidence knowing what I am capable of. The weather is going to complicate things and it’s going to be a far harder race knowing we have two guys, Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogacar, who are the greatest contenders at this race that I have ever faced, even having raced guys like Valverde. These two are on another level but I’m excited and hopefully I can be up there with the best.”