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Gallery: On the start line at Flèche Wallonne

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Nairo Quintana was relaxed at the start

Nairo Quintana was relaxed at the start
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Jussi Veikkanen signing autographs at the start

Jussi Veikkanen signing autographs at the start
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Samuel Sanchez signs autographs

Samuel Sanchez signs autographs
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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The Katusha riders wait to be introduced to the crowd

The Katusha riders wait to be introduced to the crowd
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Joaquim Rodriguez won at Fleche three years ago

Joaquim Rodriguez won at Fleche three years ago
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana team are presented to the crowd

Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana team are presented to the crowd
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Michal Kwiatkowski looking to continue his run of form

Michal Kwiatkowski looking to continue his run of form
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Vincenzo Nibali talks to the Italian press

Vincenzo Nibali talks to the Italian press
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep)

Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep)
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Defending champion Alejandro Valverde

Defending champion Alejandro Valverde
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Movistar come to the race with a strong line up

Movistar come to the race with a strong line up
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Nairo Quintana was among the grand tour contenders on show

Nairo Quintana was among the grand tour contenders on show
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Michael Mattews is riding in support of teammate Michael Albasini

Michael Mattews is riding in support of teammate Michael Albasini
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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All eyes were on Gilbert when he took to the stage

All eyes were on Gilbert when he took to the stage
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Philippe Gilbert talks to the media

Philippe Gilbert talks to the media
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Romain Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo)

Romain Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo)
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Team Sky bring in the big guns for their team cars

Team Sky bring in the big guns for their team cars
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Dan Martin pops out of the bus for a moment

Dan Martin pops out of the bus for a moment
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Rafael Valls goes for an interesting paint job on his Merida

Rafael Valls goes for an interesting paint job on his Merida
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Warren Barguil is hoping for a good result at Fleche

Warren Barguil is hoping for a good result at Fleche
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Orica-GreenEdge on the stage

Orica-GreenEdge on the stage
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Robert Gesink returns to racing at Fleche

Robert Gesink returns to racing at Fleche
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge)

Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge)
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Philip Deignan (Team Sky)

Philip Deignan (Team Sky)
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Chris Froome was a popular man at the start

Chris Froome was a popular man at the start
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Chris Froome rides to sign on

Chris Froome rides to sign on
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Rui Costa is a potential contender today

Rui Costa is a potential contender today
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Bryan Coquard was another rider at Fleche Wallonne for recon purposes

Bryan Coquard was another rider at Fleche Wallonne for recon purposes
(Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)

The start of Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne was a star-studded affair with grand tour contenders mixing with the classics specialists. Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) were in big demand in Waremme, patiently signing autographs, posing for photos and talking to the media. Both are riding the mid-week race in preparation for the Tour de France.

Reigning Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali was also present, although his team was one man down with Lieuwe Westra failing to sign on after his Amstel Gold crash. Quintana is unlikely to be contesting victory but Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde is the defending champion, and the Colombian may find himself drafted into team duties in the latter part of the race.

World champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep), former winners Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Joaquim Rodríguez and Daniel Moreno (Katusha) were among the other big contenders lining up. Sunday’s third place finisher Michael Matthews is riding only his second Flèche Wallonne but like the Grand Tour contenders, his mission is recon only.

Follow the whole race live on Cyclingnews, here