Lotto Belisol: Preview Flèche Wallonne
Tomorrow the 78th Flèche Wallonne takes place. This WorldTour race is the second part of the Ardennes triptych. The start will be given in Bastogne, the finish lies of course on the Mur de Huy. It’s only after 83 of 199 total kilometers we find the first climb on the course, that’s the Côte de Bellaire. After a passage over the Côte d’Ahin the riders have to get over the Mur de Huy for the first time. The climb has a length of 1.3 kilometers and an average gradient of 9.3% with a maximal ramp of 19%!
After about 60 kilometers with five climbs it’s back to the Mur de Huy. From the top it’s 23.5 kilometers left to go till the finish. The Côte d’Ereffe is the only obstacle before the last ascent of the Mur de Huy. Philippe Gilbert, Carlos Betancur and last year’s winner Dani Moreno belong to the favourites. Jelle Vanendert, second in the Amstel Gold Race, suffers from consequences of his crash on Sunday and starts with doubts.
Doubts for Jelle
Jelle Vanendert: “I’m definitely happy that I’m back on the level I wanted and that I’ve shown that I’m one of the better riders in the climb classics. These two days I mainly used to rest. Especially after my crash in the Amstel. I have pretty much nuisance at my knee and almost can’t ride my bike. My knee is swollen and there’s fluid in it, which will possibly be extracted. Hopefully the night will make it better as well. We have to wait and see. Starting will be possible, but it’s uncertain if I will be able to ride the final. This is definitely not optimal to start the Flèche Wallonne.”
“The race developments will show of course, but mostly it’s not a good plan to attack before the final ascent of the Mur de Huy. Eventually you won’t have enough power on the climb, it’s not a race of 250 kilometres but nearly 200. Usually it’s the best to spare yourself as long as possible. The knee has priority, then we’ll see how far I can come. At this point I don’t know with what kind of ambition I can come to the start. We’ll try to get into the final with five of our riders, so Tony Gallopin, Jurgen Van den Broeck and I can be dropped off at the Mur de Huy.”
Selection Lotto Belisol: Sander Armée, Bart De Clercq, Gert Dockx, Tony Gallopin, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Bart Leysen.