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On the start line at Flèche Wallonne

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Philippe Gilbert looked relaxed before the start

Philippe Gilbert looked relaxed before the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The peloton gathers for the start in Charleroi

The peloton gathers for the start in Charleroi
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Vacansoleil team is presented on stage

The Vacansoleil team is presented on stage
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The race started from outside the Charleroi stadium

The race started from outside the Charleroi stadium
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Ryder Hesjedal and Frank Schleck chat before the start

Ryder Hesjedal and Frank Schleck chat before the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Team Sky has brought in Thomas Lövkvist

Team Sky has brought in Thomas Lövkvist
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Ireland's Dan Martin could do well on the Mur de Huy

Ireland's Dan Martin could do well on the Mur de Huy
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Garmin-Cervelo team on stage

The Garmin-Cervelo team on stage
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Alexander Vinokourov is riding his last ever Ardennes campaign

Alexander Vinokourov is riding his last ever Ardennes campaign
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Astana team for Fleche Wallonne

The Astana team for Fleche Wallonne
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) is gradually finding his form after an injury-hit spring

Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) is gradually finding his form after an injury-hit spring
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Carlos Barredo (Rabobank)

Carlos Barredo (Rabobank)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The AG2R La Mondiale team's Kuota bikes

The AG2R La Mondiale team's Kuota bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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New Garmin-Cervelo directeur sportif Erik Van Lancker

New Garmin-Cervelo directeur sportif Erik Van Lancker
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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National hero Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lott) fights through the crowd

National hero Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lott) fights through the crowd
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) is testing his form after a recent illness

Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) is testing his form after a recent illness
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) signs an autograph

Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) signs an autograph
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Lapierre bikes await the FDJ riders

The Lapierre bikes await the FDJ riders
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Can Joaquim 'Purito' Rodriguez be the first to the top of the Mur de Huy?

Can Joaquim 'Purito' Rodriguez be the first to the top of the Mur de Huy?
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

The 75th edition of Flèche Wallonne began outside the football stadium in Charleroi, with the riders happy to be racing in sunny and warm conditions yet again.

The atmosphere was relaxed before the start as the teams were presented to the crowd and gathered together in the sun. The racing and rivalry will come later today on the Mur de Huy.

The list of big-name favourites for victory on the steep slopes of the Mur is headed by local hero Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) Frank and Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard).

Other names to watch for include Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo), Simon Gerrans (Team Sky), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank).

Click here for Cyclingnews' exclusive start line picture gallery.