Quick-Step Floors Team to Flèche Wallonne
The only Irishman ever to finish in the top three, Daniel Martin will be the team's leader for the Belgian race.
When you say Flèche Wallonne, you say Mur de Huy. One of cycling's most steepest and punishing finishes, the 1300m-long climb has welcomed the riders since 1983 and has become the race's main point of reference, witnessing all kinds of winners, from riders who attacked early on the climb to those who waited for the final 300 meters, just after its famous S-bend, which usually sees the hopes of many contenders take a big blow.
Averaging 9.6%, but ramping up to 25% in some sections, Mur de Huy will come at the end of a 204.5km-long race which will set off from Binche and have the riders take on a total of nine climbs, including Côte de Cherave (1300 meters, 8.1%), which comes just before the Mur and can bring a twist in the race, as it could inspire some riders to throw caution to the wind and surprise the peloton with an attack.
If such a move won't go all the way to the line and everything will come back together by the foot of the iconic Muur de Huy, positioning in the bunch and a perfectly-timed attack will be paramount for those vying for the win.
In the past four years, Daniel Martin was involved on three occasions in the fight for victory at Flèche Wallonne, finishing fourth (2013), second (2014) and third (2016). A specialist on this type of punchy climbs, the 30-year-old, who so far this season has racked up a stage win at Volta ao Algarve and a top 3 overall at the prestigious Paris-Nice, will look to be once again up there with the very best and try to become the first ever Irishman to claim the victory in the race run for the first time eight decades ago.
Gianluca Brambilla, Laurens De Plus, Dries Devenyns, Luxembourg Champion Bob Jungels, Maximilian Schachmann, Brabantse Pijl runner-up Petr Vakoč and Martin Velits will round out Quick-Step Floors' team for the mid-week classic, the penultimate World Tour one-day race of the month of April.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele