Wildcards and routes announced for La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège

ASO has announced the wildcard invitations for its Ardennes Classics races, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallonne. Mathieu van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix team lead the way with invites to both races.

Routes for both men's and women's races were also unveiled, with minimal changes, while there was also the news that the women's version of each race will be broadcast live on television for the first time. RTBF, Belgium's French-language broadcaster, will air both races.

Van der Poel is set to lead Alpecin-Fenix, who yesterday received an invitation to Paris-Roubaix, at both Flèche and Liège. Last season, the Dutchman won Amstel Gold Race and Brabantse Pijl, and this year he'll make his debut at the two more prestigious hilly classics.

Total Direct Énergie and Circus-Wanty Gobert, who were both automatically invited to Paris-Roubaix after finishing first and second in the Pro Continental team ranking last season, also received automatic invitations to both races.

The remaining three wildcard spots went to Belgian teams Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Wallonie Bruxelles, while French squad Arkéa-Samsic rounded out the selection.

Last season, Circus-Wanty Gobert rider Guillaume Martin was the best performer from the wildcard teams, finishing 18th at Flèche and 19th at Liège.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won last year's edition of La Flèche Wallonne, besting his spring rival Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) on the brutally steep run to the line up the Mur de Huy. 

Four days later, the Fuglsang got his big win at Liège, attacking from a lead group that formed on the final climb of the race, the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, to solo in ahead of Bora-Hansgrohe duo Davide Formolo and Max Schachmann.

The Dutch dominated the women's races, with Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) taking a fifth successive win at Flèche, while Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) headed up an all-Dutch podium at Liège, days after taking second behind Van der Breggen at Flèche.

For 2020, the routes for both races are largely unchanged, with finishes at the Mur de Huy and the centre of Liège both retained. Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes will visit the Côte de la Haute Levée for the first time, with the climb taking the place of the Côte de Brume on the 136.5km course.

Both the men's and women's pelotons will experience a new climb at La Flèche Wallonne, with the Côte du Chemin des Gueuses replacing the Côte de Cherave before each ascension of the Mur de Huy.

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