Moreno was a late bloomer for the Katusha team, preferring to work for others rather than take the pressure of being a leader, but has become a serious contender in recent years. He stormed to victory on the Mur de Huy last year with a stinging attack in the final 200 metres last season. The 32-year-old has been performing well this season and finished ninth at Amstel Gold.
The 2013 victor will be ably assisted by his teammate and compatriot Joaquim Rodríguez – winner of the 2012 race - who will take part despite crashing out of Amstel Gold. There were fears that Rodríguez had broken his ribs but he escaped with only some bruising. The Spaniard is still suffering the effect of the crash, and is unlikely to be a real contender for the victory.
“I spent a good and long night and our osteopath treated me very well, that’s why I decided to do this test. The first 30 minutes were very painful, but afterwards it went better. The major problem remains the efforts on the climbs. There is a difference between performing on training and in the race. I am a bit afraid of the Mur de Huy, but we will see,” Rodriguez said in a team press release.
While Rodríguez is determined to support the rider who has so often done the same for him, he still has his own personal ambitions for later on in the week. “On the one hand I feel it as an obligation towards my teammate and last year’s winner Dani Moreno to support him. On the other hand I feel I need this race to be at top level in Liège on Sunday. My personal ambitions for the Flèche are a bit lowered now. Anyway, I am happy that the injury evolves better than expected. I worked hard to be super this week and I hope all my training efforts are not wasted energy.”
Alexander Kolobnev could also be a secret weapon for the team. The Russian put in a strong performance and landed himself in one of the key moves at Amstel Gold. However, he doesn’t have the explosive talents of Moreno and Rodríguez on steep climbs such as the Mur de Huy. There is only one change to team that raced on Sunday, with Dimitriy Kozonchuck replacing Sergei Chernetckii who abandoned the race.
Katusha team for Flèche Wallonne: Daniel Moreno, Giampaolo Caruso, Alexander Kolobnev, Dmitriy Kozonchuk, Alberto Losada, Joaquim Rodriguez, Angel Vicioso and Eduard Vorganov.