Tomorrow, 22nd April, the peloton returns to Belgium for the second race of the Ardennes triptych: the 79th Flèche Wallonne. This WorldTour race starts in Waremme, a city in the region of Liège. The finish is, as usual, drawn at the top of the Mur de Huy. The race on Wednesday is 205.5 kilometres long, containing eleven climbs. Because the route consists of several loops, four hills have to be climbed several times. There are three ascents of The Mur de Huy (1.3 kilomeres long and 9.6% average gradient).
The two leading men in the Lotto Soudal team are: Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens. For Wellens, this will be the third participation while Vanendert will ride his eighth Flèche Wallonne. He already finished three times in the top 10: sixth in 2011 and 2014, and fourth in 2012.
Tony Gallopin has decided to skip the race to focus on the Amstel Gold Race.
“I still have some consequences of my crash in the Amstel Gold Race, especially my fingers and shoulder are damaged," Vanendert said. "It’s hard to predict if this will have any influence in the race tomorrow. I don’t feel bad when I’m on the bike, only when I get up on the pedals I feel it’s not completely as it should be. Although on Sunday it wasn’t too bad after all and that makes me hopeful.
“The penultimate climb, new on the route, should make sure the peloton is smaller when it gets to the final ascent of the Mur de Huy. I would like that. Another possible scenario is that a group of five to ten riders takes off and that those men will contest the victory. Such a scenario is now more likely than in the past. I can wait until the Mur, I have proven that already, but when some strong riders jump away on the Côte de Cherave I won’t hesitate to join them.
“It’s my goal to get another top ten place, if the consequences of the crash don’t bother me too much. With Tim Wellens we have an extra asset. If I feel less good I will ride for him. Otherwise we are with two to try something in the final.”
“With Tim Wellens and Jelle Vanendert we have two guys in our team that can set a high result in the Flèche Wallonne," sports director Herman Frison said. "We hope that Jelle has sufficiently recovered from his crash in the Amstel Gold Race and Tim knows the region really well. On Monday we did a recon and covered all the adjustments to the final. Bart De Clercq, Sander Armée, Louis Vervaeke and Thomas De Gendt are four fresh riders who are racing well uphill and can support our leaders. Of course we strive for a good result. There are lots of opponents, but it should be possible with this team.”
Selection Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, Pim Ligthart, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.
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