Flèche Wallonne, the second of the three Ardennes Classics, takes place on Wednesday (April 20), and all eyes will be focused on Philippe Gilbert.

Gilbert has impressed throughout the classics campaign so far, riding aggressively in Flanders before taking a thoroughly deserved victory in Sunday’s Amstel Gold.

The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider is climbing as well as anyone right now- further highlighted by his pre-Amstel win at the Brabantse Pijl – but may decide to target this weekend’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race he has traditionally fared better in.

Last year he finished sixth, with BMC Racing’s Cadel Evans taking the victory. The Australian isn’t riding after crashing heavily in training, so Moreno Argentin remains as the last person to take consecutive wins here, as he did in 1990 and 1991.

Cadel Evans wins, Fleche Wallonne 2010

Former winner Danilo Di Luca is riding, but may have to sacrifice himself for Katusha team-mate Joaquim Rodriguez. Alberto Contador will also race, marking his first appearance in northern Europe since his positive drug test during last year’s Tour de France.

The Schleck brothers are both riding as Leopard Trek go in search for their first classic victory, and it will be interesting to see how Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskedi) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) both fare.

British riders on the start list are Steve Cummings (Team Sky) and Garmin-Cervelo’s David Millar.

La Flèche Wallonne 2011: Route


Race organizer ASO announced in February that this year’s race will use the same course at the 2010 edition. 

The races begins in Charleroi, a former steel and coal city that lies 50km south of Brussels.

It heads eastward, eventually running parallel to the River Meuse before crossing it shortly after passing through Wanze.

Having tackled the short but horrendous Mur de Huy for the first time (maximum gradient 26%), the race begins its first westbound loop, totaling 101.5km.

This eventually runs alongside the Meuse once more – but on its southern side, before hitting the Mur de Huy again.

Another loop – this time only 29.5km – takes the riders to Marchin, before it heads back into Huy for the third passing of the climb, with the finish at the top of the 1.3km ascent.

201km


Starts: Charleroi KM0


The climbs

1. Mur de Huy (KM70, 1.3 km long, 9.3 % average)


2. Côte de Peu d’Eau (KM109.5, 2.7 km long, 3.9 % average)

3. Côte de Haut-Bois (KM115, 1.6 km long, 4.8 % average)

4. Côte de Groynne (KM140.5, 2.0 km long, 3.5 % average)

5. Côte de Bohisseau (KM146.5, 1.3 km long, 7.6 % average)

6. Côte de Bousalle (KM149.5, 1.7 km long, 4.9 % average)

7. Côte d’Ahin (KM160.5, 2.3 km long, 6.5 % average)

8. Mur de Huy (KM171.5, 1.3 km long, 9.3 % average)

9. Côte d’Ereffe (KM190, 2.1 km long, 5.9 % average)


Finish: 10. Mur de Huy (KM201, 1.3 km long, 9.3 % average)

La Flèche Wallonne 2011: Teams


Ag2r La Mondiale


Astana


BMC Racing


Cofidis


Euskatel-Euskedi


FDJ


Garmin-Cervelo


HTC-Highroad


Katusha


Lampre-ISD


Landbouwkredit


Leopard Trek


Liquigas-Cannondale


Movistar


Omega Pharma-Lotto


Quick Step


Rabobank


Radioshack


Saur-Sojasun


Saxo Bank Sungard


Skil-Shimano


Team Sky


Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator


Vacansoleil-DCM


Veranda’s Willems-Accent

La Flèche Wallonne 2011: British riders


Steve Cummings (Team Sky)


David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo)

La Flèche Wallonne 2011: TV guide


British Eurosport


Wednesday April 20: 13.00-15.30, Fleche Wallonne LIVE


Wednesday April 20: 22.00-23.00, Fleche Wallonne LIVE

Eurosport HD


Wednesday April 20: 13.00-15.30, Fleche Wallonne LIVE


Wednesday April 20: 22.00-23.00, Fleche Wallonne LIVE

La Flèche Wallonne 2011: Recent winners


2010 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing


2009 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Serramenti-PVC Diquigiovanni 


2008 Kim Kirchen (Lux) High Road


2007 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner


2006 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne


2005 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas


2004 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner


2003 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Saeco


2002 Mario Aerts (Bel) Lotto-Adecco


2001 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Adecco


2000 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Vini Caldirola

La Flèche Wallonne 2011: Last year’s top ten


1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 195.5km in 4-39-24


2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha


3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at same time


4. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 6secs


5. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre at 9secs


6. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 11secs


7. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack


8. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 


9. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank


10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at same time.


British


67. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 1-07


74. Steve Cummings (GBr) Team Sky at 1-24


119. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 11-00

La Flèche Wallonne 2011: Women’s race


The 14th running of the women’s race – La Flèche Wallonne Féminine – takes place on Wednesday morning and, mirroring the men’s race, last year’s winner Emma Pooley will be absent through injury.

Pooley, Cooke, Johansson, Women

Pooley (Garmin-Cervelo) broke her collarbone during training last week, so may fall further behind in the World Cup standings.

She lead after winning the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the opening round, and finished a fine tenth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, a race completely unsuited to her style and body.

Marianne Vos is the firm favourite for Sunday’s race; Vos is looking to take a record fourth victory in Huy that will also give her the lead in the World Cup.

Annamiek Van Vleuten currently leads the standings after winning in Flanders, leading Vos 134 points to 110.

Sharon Laws and Lizzie Armistead will both start for Garmin-Cervelo, while Nicole Cooke – three-time winner here in 2003, 2005 and 2006 – will seek to replicate her past glories after a slow start to the year.

The race will be held on the same route as 2010, taking in the final 109.5km of the men’s race. Because the race skips the beginning of the men’s race – from the start in Charleroi to Huy – the women only have to suffer two ascents of the Mur de Huy.

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Spring Classics 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

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