Flèche Wallonne is not a race of many secrets, the only thing it requires being a deep knowledge of the Mur de Huy, the climb it has become synonymous with in the last four decades. Averaging an excruciating 9.3% over just 1300 meters, Le Chemin des Chapelles, as it’s also known, will once again feature three times on this year’s route, which gets underway from Herve and takes in a total of eleven ascents.
Van Wilder our top finisher at Flèche Wallonne
Once again, the story of the race was written on the gruelling slopes of the Mur de Huy, the 1.3km climb averaging 9.6% that featured three times on the 194.3km course. But before the last time up there, an eight-man group animated the day before the first move of the peloton, that came inside 40 kilometers to go. After Pieter Serry – who tried to get away – was brought back, his teammate Louis Vervaeke went clear, quickly gaining 25 seconds on the bunch and joining the remnants of the breakaway.
Having recently completed an altitude training camp in Tenerife, Louis impressed at the front, taking some long and impressive pulls that helped the small group extend their advantage to 40 seconds just ten kilometers from home. Then, on the Côte de Cherave – the penultimate hurdle of the day – the Belgian dropped the other riders and continued alone in the lead, taping out a solid tempo that allowed him to start first the Mur de Huy, remaining clear until the last kilometer.
“I am content, but at the same time a bit disappointed that others didn’t try to anticipate the finale. I thought it was a good move, so that’s why I tried. After an altitude camp it’s always difficult to know where you are, but I’m really happy with the feeling I had today”, Louis explained after the race.
The big attacks came only at 200 meters to go, and it was Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) who took the win at this 87th edition, while Ilan Van Wilder concluded the day as Soudal Quick-Step’s highest-ranked rider in 14th place.
“We were hoping for a hard race with big selections made early, but nobody kept pushing. Instead, we tried to go on the attack, first with Pieter, then with Louis. It was hard for him to stay clear on the Mur, but he did a great job. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the best position at the start of the ascent, so I tried to climb it at my own pace. Overall, it’s a useful experience for the future”, said Mauro.
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