Wednesday 20th of April the riders will compete in the penultimate spring classic. The 81st edition of the Flèche Wallonne kicks off at Grand Plance in Binche and finishes two hundred kilometres and nine climbs later in Huy. The race ends with two local laps of 29 kilometres in and around Huy. The first part of the race takes place on an undulating course, the first official climb only turns up after 127.5 kilometres: the Côte d’Amay. Not much further this climb is followed by the Côte de Villers-le-Bouillet. After the first passage on the Mur de Huy the riders attack the first of two local laps. They have to climb the Côte d’Ereffe, Côte de Cherave and the Mur the Huy. The race finishes on top of the Mur the Huy.
Sports director Herman Frison looks ahead to the Flèche Wallonne He hopes for a good result and is looking forward to see the renewed course.
Sports director Herman Frison: “We always start to win. I believe you have to start a race with a winning mentality because otherwise you are not ambitious enough. Last week, we received a lot of positive signals. The Brabantse Pijl was very good with a third and fourth place, but it was the team performance which stood out the most for me. I also saw a good team in the Amstel Gold Race with a strong Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens. We were in a good position with Tiesj Benoot and we had forced it by racing aggressively. That’s also our plan for the Flèche Wallonne. Tiesj Benoot doesn’t start Wednesday, but that was already planned from the start of the season so it has nothing to do with his crash from Sunday.”
“The course of the Flèche Wallonne is slightly different than last year. There are three climbs less before the local lap and instead there will be an extra local lap of 29 kilometres in and around Huy. I don’t think that a change in the course will break open the race much sooner if the finish remains on top of the Mur de Huy, but you never know. The riders are the ones who decide how hard the race will be. The competition is very strong, especially the Movistar Team with Valverde. Gilbert and Alaphilippe will not be in the race, but Quick-Step Floors still has Martin under their sleeve. Also Team Sky has with Kwiatkowski an enormous quality rider so the competition is still very big.”
“Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens are the leaders in our team. Wellens is in a very good shape and is looking for his first result in the Flèche Wallonne. Vanendert can count on his experience in these races. Tosh Van der Sande and Thomas De Gendt have the qualities to break open the race at one of the nine climbs. Bart De Clercq, Tomasz Marczynski, Sean De Bie and Sander Armée will assist Vanendert and Wellens as good as possible. If there’s a chance to be in a breakaway it’s for example up to Sander Armée to be there.”
“The guys really want a good result and I hope for them that they will succeed, because they deserve it. They have been giving their all for weeks so it’s only logical you hope to get rewarded. The ideal scenario would be that a small group of riders without Valverde, Martin and Kwiatkowski but with Wellens, heads towards the finish. The chance that they will let Wellens go is not big, so we have to wait and see.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Sean De Bie, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, Tomasz Marczynski, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Herman Frison.