Former winner explains how to conquer the Mur
Laurent Jalabert has tipped Alberto Contador to win Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne, believing that Philippe Gilbert will save his best for Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The Frenchman won Flèche Wallonne twice, in 1995 and 1997, but his best result in Liège-Bastogne-Liège was second in 1997 and 1998.
"I think Gilbert will win Liège-Bastogne-Liège but I think Contador will win Flèche Wallonne because he isn't riding Liège. He'll give everything on Wednesday," Jalabert predicted to L'Equipe, while revealing the secrets to winning on the Mur de Huy.
Gilbert believes Contador has learnt from the mistake he made last year, when he made his move too early and was passed by eventual winner Cadel Evans and Joaquim Rodriguez.
"Last year Contador went with 300 metres to go but that's a long way out on the Mur," Jalabert pointed out. "He was too confident but the Mur isn't like an ordinary climb. You've got to be at your very best and be very strong. Contador lacked experience last year. Now he's got a second chance."
Jalabert gave his view on how to conquer the Mur de Huy.
"If there's a big group of riders at the bottom of the Mur, as has been the case in recent years, you've got to make a huge effort to be well placed. Being at the front allows you to control things and attack at the right moment. You've got to be able to judge your effort before giving it everything at the end. You're always right on your limit. The Mur is 1300 metres long, so you can't go too early."
Looking ahead to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Jalabert warned that Gilbert will have to keep his cool despite being the big favourite.
"Gilbert is in a similar situation to Cancellara in Flemish classics. He's got all the skills needed to win, is in great shape and knows the course but everyone knows that too. He's got to balance between staying cool because he knows he can win and the fear of being trapped and losing."
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