The Ardennes classics continue with La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, it’s the first of the two Belgian Ardennes classics.
The race whose name is French for “The Walloon Arrow” has a rich history having been run since 1936 and generally been in the midweek slot between the Amstel Gold Race and Liège–Bastogne–Liège although in earlier years the two Belgian races were held on successive days on the weekend.
Here’s a preview of the 2016 La Fleche Wallonne.
2016 La Fleche Wallonne Route
Due to it’s midweek date the race is only 196km long starting at Marche-en-Famenne and finishing on the third and final climb of the Mur de Huy.
Here’s the course map, profile and final 8km shosing the steep finish of the Mur de Huy.
La Fleche Wallonne features 12 categorized climbs, the distance from the start, name, length and gradient are listed below.
Km 67.0 – Côte de Bellaire 1 kilometre-long climb at 6.3%
Km 74.0 – Côte de Bohissau 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 7.6%
Km 87.0 – Côte de Solières 4.3 kilometre-long climb at 4%
Km 101.0 – Mur de Huy 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 9.6%
Km 114.0 – Côte d’Ereffe 2.1 kilometre-long climb at 5%
Km 133.0 – Côte de Bellaire 1 kilometre-long climb at 6.3%
Km 140.0 – Côte de Bohissau 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 7.6%
Km 153.0 – Côte de Solières 4.3 kilometre-long climb at 4%
Km 167.0 – Mur de Huy 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 9.6%
Km 180.0 – Côte d’Ereffe 2.1 kilometre-long climb at 5%
Km 190.5 – Côte de Cherave 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 8.1%
Km 196.0 – HUY (Mur de Huy) 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 9.6%
2016 La Fleche Wallonne Contenders
I will keep this brief as I have to finish two product reviews … La Fleche Wallone is all about the Mur de Huy finish and the strongest most explosive puncheur should win the race, that’s how Alejandro Valverde has done it the last two years and he starts as the outright favourite again this year.
Joaquim Rodriguez won here in 2012 and has two other podium places, he starts as second favourite.
Dan Martin starts as third favourite, Martin finished second two years ago and has won Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Michael Albasini and Sergio Henao round out my top five picks.
As well as …
Daniel Moreno, Julian Alaphilippe, Phillipe Gilbert, Jelle Vanendert, Enrico Gasparotto.
Also watch out for Petr Vakoc, Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens.
The race starts at 10:40am in Marche-en-Famenne which is 7:40pm AEST Wednesday, television coverage is on Eurosport and SBS.
Follow the 2016 La Fleche Wallonne on twitter using #FlecheWallonne
Main image © ASO/B.Bade