Deceuninck-QuickStep's clothing manufacturer, Vermarc, will have their work cut out designing and manufacturing Julian Alaphilippe's new rainbow jersey – and possibly matching shorts – in the short time between the Frenchman's World Championships road race victory on Sunday and the defence of his Flèche Wallonne title on Wednesday.
The world champion will line up in his new kit alongside Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates Andrea Bagioli, Dries Devenyns, Ian Garrison, Bob Jungels, Mauri Vansevenant and Rémi Cavagna – who finished seventh for France at the Worlds time trial last week – to try to win the Belgian one-day race for the third straight year this week.
The hilly 202km Ardennes Classic, which culminates with three ascents of the famous Mur de Huy – 1.3km in length and averaging 9.6%, but with sections of up to 26% – has been moved from its usual April slot to September 30 this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be followed by Liège-Bastogne-Liège on October 4 and Amstel Gold on October 10, before the Ardennes races give way to the cobbled 'spring' Classics, with Gent-Wevelgem on October 11, the Tour of Flanders on October 18 and Paris-Roubaix on October 25.
"Flèche comes after a really busy month, [on the back of] the Tour de France and the World Championships, and awaits the riders with one of the hardest finishes of the whole season," said Deceuninck-QuickStep sports director Tom Steels in a team press release, "so the legs will be important on Wednesday. On the other hand, we have a strong team and we hope to come out of the race with a good result."
Five-time Flèche winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) – the man Alaphilippe toppled from a run of four straight victories there in 2018 – appears to be taking a short break from racing and skipping this year's race before resuming competition at Liège on October 4, but Deceuninck-QuickStep can nevertheless expect to face stiff competition on Wednesday from the likes of Lotto Soudal's Tim Wellens, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Ineos Grenadiers' Michal Kwiatkowski.
Deceuninck-QuickStep for the 2020 Flèche Wallonne: Julian Alaphilippe, Andrea Bagioli, Rémi Cavagna, Dries Devenyns, Ian Garrison, Bob Jungels, Mauri Vansevenant
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