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“Like Amstel Gold on Sunday we come into Flèche Wallone looking to protect Roman Kreuziger and Michael Valgren, bringing them into the final in a good position ahead of the final climb up the Mur de Huy,"

Photo: Sirotti

EVGENI PETROV

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FLECHE WALLONNE

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MICHAEL VALGREN

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PAWEL POLJANSKI

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ROBERT KISERLOVSKI

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ROMAN KREUZIGER

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YURY TROFIMOV

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19.04.2016 @ 14:11 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Starting in Marche-en-Famenne, the second of the Ardennes Classics, the racing moves from the Netherlands to Belgium for La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Fresh from a strong start to Ardennes races, where Michael Valgren finished second in the Amstel Gold Race, taking his first podium position in a UCI WorldTour race, Tinkoff will face a challenging course that finishes on the infamous Mur de Huy climb.
 
The 80th edition of La Flèche Wallonne has only six climbs, however these are repeated multiple times over the race’s 196km distance. After 59.5km of racing, the route passes through the village of Ohey where the circuit covers the key climbs of the race. These first 59km of racing are far from flat, however, crossing an undulating parcours, but it is in the final 137km that the climbs take on a different character.
 
“Like Amstel Gold on Sunday we come into Flèche Wallone looking to protect Roman Kreuziger and Michael Valgren, bringing them into the final in a good position ahead of the final climb up the Mur de Huy,” explained Sport Director Bruno Cenghialta.

“Wednesday is another difficult race, with high speeds and tough climbs including three ascents of the Mur. You have to save what energy you can throughout the day and stay out of trouble before then being well positioned at the end, so like the other classics positioning is important here. After a hard race you usually see a reduced bunch of 40 or 50 going into the final climb together, and here you also have to be at the front.”
 
All such races have their iconic climbs, and just as the Amstel Gold Race has the Cauberg, La Flèche Wallonne has the Mur de Huy. This is one of the iconic climbs, not just of the Ardennes Classics, but of professional cycling itself. 1.3km in length and with an average gradient of 9.3%, the climb’s maximum gradient is an incredible 26%. The race climbs the Mur de Huy three times, with the third time being to the race’s finish, but the other two occasions will sap riders’ energy, making the race all the more difficult. The race will likely be decided on this climb.
 
While the Mur de Huy is one of the most iconic, the remaining climbs are tough, and are not to be overlooked. The Côte de Bellaire, which the race climbs at 67km and 133km, has an average gradient of 6.3%, while similarly, the Côte de Bohissau, which is climbed for the first time after 74km, and again at 140km, and over 1.3km, climbs at an average gradient of 7.6%.

The penultimate climb of the race, the Côte de Cherave, comes at the 190.5km point. Introduced for last year’s edition of the race, the climb has an average gradient of 8.1% over its 1.3km length. While a tough climb in itself, it comes just a few kilometres before the race’s final ascent of the Mur de Huy and after nearly a day in the saddle. After a technical start on a paved approach road, the climb is consistently hard, with little chance for recovery. As a new addition to the race, teams may look to capitalise on the climb having raced it once before – the climb was welcomed by riders in last year’s race due to it forcing teams to shift their strategies compared to previous years.
 
Tinkoff will be led by Roman Kreuziger on Wednesday, and will be joined by Michael Valgren, fresh from his second place in the Netherlands at the Amstel Gold Race. Kreuziger has performed well in the race in the past, having finished eleventh in last year’s edition of the race and eighth in 2014.
 
“Michael showed his strength in a race like this in Amstel and he can take his opportunities ahead of the tough final. Roman was also strong and has the experience to help guide the team. We will look after both of them as well as looking at the opportunities for going in the early breakaway in case that will take some pressure off the guys behind. I think that we can get another nice result here.”
 
Also at the start in Marche-en-Famenne will be Pavel Brutt, Robert Kiserlovski, Evgeny Petrov, Pawel Poljanski, Ivan Rovny and Yuri Trofimov. The race will be worth watching for the final climb of the iconic Mur de Huy alone, but with a strong team and strong performances in the season so far, this is certain to be an exciting race.

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