Etixx – Quick-Step to Flèche Wallonne
The team will go into the penultimate Spring Classic with a balanced outfit, ready to play more cards.
Celebrating its 80th edition, Flèche Wallonne will depart from Marche-en-Femenne – a former medieval village located in the province of Luxembourg – for the first time in history, which will thus become the 12th town to host the start of the race. That's not the only change brought by the organizers, as this year's course, which is shorter than the one of last season, has a new climb introduced inside the final 43 kilometers, Côte de Solières, right before the second passing over the infamous Mur de Huy.
Later, Côte de Cherave will come on the route, providing the attackers with their only real opportunity to go from afar and foil the plans of the ones hoping to see the battle for victory unfold on the last ascent. Before the 1.3-km long hill which averages 9.6% there's going to be a fierce fight for position, as the favourites are aware that they must be at the front of the peloton when it will hit the maximum slope of 25%. Soon after, the famous S-bend will come, a well-timed attack on that explosive section being equivalent with taking the win atop Mur de Huy.
Runner-up at the 2015 edition, Julian Alaphilippe returns at the start, where he'll be joined by Daniel Martin, who came on the podium two years ago, thus giving Etixx – Quick-Step more than one option on the final climb of the 196-km long race. Victorious in Brabantse Pijl last week, Petr Vakoč will be another important rider of the team, which will see also Gianluca Brambilla, David De La Cruz, Laurens De Plus, Bob Jungels and Pieter Serry line up at the start line in Marche-en-Femenne, on Wednesday.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele