Sports directors from ProTour squads HTC-Columbia and Quick Step are anticipating a very different La Fléche Wallonne than previous years when the race is contested tomorrow. Changes to the race route, in particular to the final section of the race, should change the way it’s decided, according to HTC-Columbia's Valerio Piva.
"It's going to be very different because the second-last ascent of the Mur De Huy climb is much closer to the finish than in previous years," said Piva. "That means breakaways will have a much better chance of getting away on the second time up the Mur de Huy climb and staying away.
“We won't have 50 riders at the foot of the climb for the third and final ascent like we've seen in other years,” he added. “For HTC-Columbia's riders, that's good because they'll be trying to get in a long-distance attack."
Former race winner Rik Verbrugghe, the sport director at Quick Step, will complete reconnaissance of the route with his riders today. Quick Step has announced Dries Devenyns will feature in its roster for the race after he recovered quickly from a fall at the Amstel Gold Race.
“We decided to do this recon since the race route has been changed as of this year,” he said. “We’ll perform a round of the final circuit with the climb on the wall of Huy. It will be a good opportunity for the riders to familiarise themselves with the route and get a handle on this legendary climb.”
Francesco Reda will be the only rider missing from Quick Step’s reconnaissance run today. Reda will still be en route to the team’s hotel after being delayed by the volcanic eruption which has thrown flights throughout Europe into disarray.