Kwiatkowski has chance to join short list of reigning world champions who have won Flèche
There is some precedent for picking world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) as a favourite for Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne. Since the race began in 1936, five riders have been first across the finish line of the Ardennes Classic while wearing the rainbow jersey.
Kwiatkowski, who was third at Flèche last year and showed his current form with a win at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, would join Ferdi Kübler (1952), Rik van Steenbergen (1958), Eddy Merckx (1972), Claude Criquielion (1985) and Cadel Evans (2010) on the list of world champions who have won the race.
Barguil will lead balanced Giant-Alpecin roster in Flèche Wallonne
Team Giant-Alpecin will start Flèche-Wallonne with a line-up that includes climbers Warren Barguil and Georg Preidler complemented by a balanced mix of youth and experience.
Joining Preidler and Barguil will be Americans Lawson Craddock and Caleb Fairly, along with Johannes Fröhlinger, Thierry Hupond, Cheng Ji, Fredrik Ludvigsson.
“Our main goal is to go for a good result with Barguil,” said coach Aike Visbeek. “We have a young team and the experienced Johannes Fröhlinger will be our team captain. Preidler already showed his excellent shape in last weekend's Amstel Gold Race and he will be good support for Barguil in the finale.”
Majka takes Tinkoff-Saxo leadership role for Flèche Wallonne
Climbing specialist Rafal Majka will lead the Tinkoff-Saxo roster for Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne race in Belgium. Roman Kreuziger will join Majka with the intention of blowing up the race on the Mur du Huy.
Riding alongside Majka and Kreuziger will be Michael Valgren, Robert Kiserlovski, Chris Anker Sørensen, Manuele Boaro, Ivan Rovny and Evgeny Petrov.
“I want to do my best for the team and that involves delivering on the Mur de Huy,” said Majka, who is coming off participation in Pais Vasco and a recent training camp.
Team Sports Director Sean Yates said the squad is going into the race with good condition and multiple options.
“During Amstel we had five riders in that 60-man group before the finish, which means that we’re in good physical shape and we can fully commit to try and create a result in Flèche, whether it’s on the Mur with Rafal or with Roman perhaps in a more continuous effort,” Yates said.
“There’s a new additional climb 5km from the finish, and to some extent Roman or even Robert could have a dig there,” Yates said. “The race favorites like Rodriguez and Valverde are strong and they’re all going to save themselves for the finale, but I hope Rafal can achieve a top result on Mur de Huy.”
Etixx-QuickStep riders recovering from crashes
Etixx-QuickStep’s Carlos Verona and Lukasz Wisniowski are out of action for the coming weeks after crashing recently in separate incidents.
Verona broke his left hand in a crash during stage 5 of Pais Vasco and will be out for at least 10 weeks, while Wisniowski is recovering from chronic inflammation of the patella after crashing at Gent-Wevelgem. He is expeted to return in about two weeks.
Doctors at Herentals Clinic successfully operated on Verona to repair the fractured scaphoid in his left hand, which was fixed with a screw, according to a team statement.
Verona will wear the cast for 10 days before it is replaced with a brace. He will require a recovery period of six to eight weeks, according to the team statement, and normally can race again between 10 and 12 weeks from Tuesday.