Will CSC splinter the Walloon Arrow?
By Anthony Tan in Charleroi
Its literal translation, 'The Walloon Arrow', doesn't give too much away, but given its location in the Belgian Ardennes, its shorter distance compared to the other Spring Classics and comparatively less climbing, the 70th edition of the men's Flèche Wallonne is likely to be moving in said formation until one third of the way through the race.
At that point, and in the vein of the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday, riders will tackle the first of three ascensions of the dreaded though legendary Mur de Huy. The Mur's statistics need no further explanation: 1.3 kilometres in length, an average gradient of 10% with sections up to 19%, and rising 130 metres within this short distance.
Leaving the Stade du Pays de Charleroi at five past eleven Wednesday morning, the 202 kilometre parcours heads northeast to Eghezee (km 37) then east to Huy after 61.5 kilometres, reaching the summit of Mur de Huy four kilometres later. From there, the peloton, most probably still intact, will complete a small, 30 kilometre clockwise route that sees them crest the Mur de Huy for a second time after 95 kilometres via the Côte de Amay (km 81.5).
The second and final loop around the Belgian Ardennes will be the decisive one; over the next 107 kilometres, the peloton takes on a lumpy, bumpy clockwise parcours with four climbs en route - the Côte de Pailhe (km 132.5), Côte de Hautebisse (km 154.5), Côte de Bohissau (km 173.5) and Côte de Ahin (km 191.0) - before the race culminates on the 'Wall of Huy' for the third and final time.
Cyclingnews will be covering the 70th Flèche Wallonne live, beginning at 11:00 local time (CEST)/05:00 EDT (USA East)/02:00 PDT (USA West)/20:00 AEST (Australia East).
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