As the cobble races have come to a close, Bahrain Victorious returns to the hillier Ardennes.
The rolling courses with short and steep climbs in this part of Belgium await the peloton this Wednesday, April 20th, when the 86th edition of ‘La Flèche Wallonne’ takes place.
Starting in the town of Blegny in East Belgium, riders will take on 202.5km before the finish that has been a feature for the past 40 years, the Mur de Huy, with a brutal 1.3km ramp and 9.6%gradient.
The iconic climb is considered one of the toughest in cycling, and riders must tackle it two other times before the finish.
The heart of the race are the three loops around the town of Huy, including two further climbs, the Côte d’Ereffe (2.1km at 5%) and the Côte de Cherave (1.3km at 8.1%), besides the above-mentioned explosive Wall of Huy, for a total of 80km. The first 120km of the 202.5 km whole route is far from pan-flat, with some challenging short climbs that will test the legs if it doesn’t make a selection.
Usually, ‘La Flèche Wallonne’ sees climbers’ participation, although the winner has traditionally favoured the puncheur. Bahrain Victorious will line up a 7-man powerful squad, including experienced riders who already performed well in this Classic race. The specialists will be Wout Poels and Dylan Teuns, who was 3rd in 2017 in his home race: “Flèche is always a special race. 5 years ago, I was on this podium. Therefore, I’m motivated to try it again”.
Poels and Teuns will have stellar support for the race with the experience of Sanchez, Caruso, Haig, Mäder and Williams.
Gorazd Stangelj, Bahrain Victorious Sports Director: “Scrolling through the names of our riders, we see that we have a strong team, although the finish up to Mur de Huy will be tricky. For this reason, we aim to make a hard race and arrive at the finale with a selected reduced group, including our leader Wout Poels, and Dylan Teuns, who will be free to play his cards. We have riders who are in great shape, such as Damiano Caruso, who will be helpful to make a tight race. That’s what we hope for, especially if it will be a windy day.”