Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Walloon Arrow | Which puncheur has the perfect timing on the Wall of Huy? A preview

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In the past, the Flèche Wallonne has always proven to be a race for real specialists. For example, Alejandro Valverde won the competition four times in a row between 2014 and 2017 and Julian Alaphilippe was also the best three times.

It is therefore a classic that is perfectly suitable for punchers. Last year, Tadej Pogacar was the strongest on the Mur de Huy and earlier Dylan Teuns and Marc Hirschi were also allowed to raise their hands.

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Walloon Arrow | Watch in summary how Tadej Pogacar wins his third classic

Trail

This year the finish will of course be again on the Mur de Huy and so everything revolves around the legendary final climb. The start is 198 kilometers earlier in Charleroi.

Yet it is possible that this year’s race will be different than in previous decades, where the peloton always waited until the Wall of Huy made the decision. The organization has adjusted the course.

The Wall is also visited three times before the finish is in sight and the Côte d’Ereffe also returns several times. The start of the race is marked by the Côte d’Yvoir. After the last Côte d’Ereffe it is still thirteen kilometers to the Wall of Huy.

Here lies the change of course. There used to be an extra climb at six kilometers, but now we take a different route. The extra long stretch between the penultimate climb and the final climb is only news for adventurers who want to shake up the course.

The advantage, however, is that the course is new this year for everyone in the peloton, so you may be surprised. Moreover, the road towards the Wall is now less accessible for a large peloton and the speed will not easily increase to a top level.

However, everyone’s expectation remains that the decision will be made on the Wall of Huy. The climb is 1.4 kilometers long and has an average gradient of 9.7 percent. Especially the part just before the top is mercilessly steep when the percentages can approach 20 percent. The old cycling adage of the Wall of Huy always states that attacking the Wall too early is fatal and so the question is who can time his punch best.

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Walloon Arrow | “Second place is actually a victory if Pogacar participates” – Mattias Skjelmose

Favorites

Due to the absence of Tadej Pogacar and Alaphilippe this year, there are only two former winners at the start of the Flèche Wallonne 2024. These are Dylan Teuns and Marc Hirschi who were the first to reach the top in 2022 and 2020. This immediately names two top favorites for this year’s edition.

Teuns already impressed in the Tour of Flanders and the Brabantse Pijl and seems to be in shape just in time for the Walloon spring. Hirschi has not shown much in 2024 so far, but as a springer he is extremely suitable for this course.

However, the question is what the plans of the UAE Emirates team are. With Juan Ayuso, Joao Almeida and Diego Ulissi at the start, the formation has four men who can perform excellently in this field.

The biggest contender, however, seems to be Tom Pidcock, who also won the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. The light Brit can climb steep slopes very well and also has the necessary explosiveness. The same applies to Mattias Skjelmose, Maxim van Gils and Benoit Cosnefroy.

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Walloon Arrow | Summary of the 2022 edition won by Dylan Teuns

Outsiders

The Muur van Huy is perhaps the fairest finish in cycling and so there is rarely a huge surprise at the Waalse Pijp. Yet there are also some outsiders this year.

For example, Aleksandr Vlasov and Richard Carapaz are two men at the start who normally focus on the general classification of the Grand Tours. The duo is explosive enough on paper to play a role in the final.

Finally, the duo of Bahrain-Victorious Pello Bilbao and Santiago Buitrago must also be taken into account. The young Romain Gregoire should also be seen as a contender and to a lesser extent this also applies to Andrea Bagioli, Alex Aranburu

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Walloon Arrow | Boogerd is amazed by enormous cycling glasses in the peloton

Eurosport stars

**** Tom Pidcock, Dylan Teuns, Marc Hirschi
*** Mattias Skjelmose, Benoit Cosnefroy, Juan Ayuso
** Joao Almeida, Aleksandr Vlasov, Maxim van Gils
* Romain Gregoire, Richard Carapaz, Pello Bilbao, Alex Aranburu, Andrea Bagioli

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