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The Mur's madness

Last year Rebellin repeated his 2004 victory. Can he do it again?

Last year Rebellin repeated his 2004 victory. Can he do it again? (Image credit: AFP)

By Gregor Brown

Every year as La Flèche Wallonne approaches there is always one thought that springs to mind: the Mur de Huy. The climb – a 1300-metre leg-snapping ascent in the city of Huy – will once again conclude the 72nd running of the Belgian Classic when it is run this Wednesday, 199.5 kilometres in length, starting from Charleroi.

The Ardennes Classic has been run for 73 years now and it can sometimes be overlooked as it is sandwiched in between the Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège; nonetheless, it is a race that packs a punch with 10 côtes (or 'hills' in this French-speaking part of Belgium).

The 'Wallonne Arrow' will travel eastward when it is shot off at 11:20 from Charleroi. The parcours kicks into action after the passage of Wanze, where the riders will encounter the 10 sharp and nasty côtes. The most feared ascent is the Mur de Huy – or the 'Wall of Huy' simply stated. It will be done three times, with the final ascent being the the race-ending climb, similar to the Cauberg in Amstel Gold or the Ans in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but one that is much steeper, with a 9.3 percent average gradient and some sections of 14, 19 and 25 percent.

"Last year, I bided my time, gambling it all on the final climb of the Mur de Huy," said 2007 Winner Davide Rebellin to Cyclingnews this last week. Therefore, normally, the race comes to a slow-motion battle on the final ascent in Huy. However, there are other climbs that will come into play before the final of three assents of Huy, namely in the final 104.5-kilometre loop with the côtes of Peu d'Eau, Haut-Bois, Thon, Bonneville, Bohissau and Ahin.

Read up on all the details of the mid-week race.

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