With Greg Van Avermaet sitting out Flèche Wallonne awaiting Sunday's final Ardennes Classic at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Alessandro De Marchi will take the CCC Team leadership reins for the midweek Classic on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Italian recently finished seventh at Amstel Gold Race after he was in the group that eventual winner Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) towed back to the leaders inside the final 250 metres.
"I definitely took confidence out of Sunday's race, one which I would say was not really suited to me, and now I will go into La Flèche Wallonne focused and ready for everything," De Marchi said in a team press release. "At Amstel Gold Race, we saw that you can never give up, and while you might get dropped at one point, if you keep trying, it is possible to come back to the first group and start to play again. I will stay attentive on Wednesday and try to be in a good place at the right time, and I will try to fight all the way to the line."
De Marchi will be joined in the 195km WorldTour race that starts in Ans and finishes on top of the Mur de Huy by teammates Will Barta, Josef Černý, Jonas Koch, Łukasz Owsian, Serge Pauwels and Joey Rosskopf.
"We will start the race with De Marchi as our leader," said CCC Team director Piotr Wadecki. "I think he will be our best chance to make a good result. We have seen at his last few races, most recently Amstel Gold Race, that De Marchi is in really good shape, and so if he has good legs here I think he can be one of the guys climbing for a top-10 finish."
The race is defined by the climb of the Mur du Huy, a 1.3km ascent that averages just over 9% and hits painfully steep gradients of 26%. The race-winning move has rarely gone before the final ride up the climb on the outskirts of Huy, but over the winter the ASO tweaked the finale with the hope of making it a bigger challenge and perhaps enticing more riders to go earlier.
"We will look to be active from the start of the race, and we will definitely try to have someone in the breakaway," Wadecki said. "But I think, once again, the race will come down to what happens on the final climb."
CCC Team for La Flèche Wallonne: Will Barta, Josef Černý, Alessandro De Marchi, Jonas Koch, Łukasz Owsian, Serge Pauwels, Joey Rosskopf
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