Serge Pauwels starts the 2018 edition of La Flèche Wallonne as the only rider of our team that competed in our line-up in 2017 determined to improve on that result.
Pauwels will take into the race his recent strong showing at the Amstel Gold Race where he finished 26th and will be backed up by Tom-Jelte Slagter who finished just outside of the top 20 in this event in 2017, but has previously finished twice inside the top-10.
The man surely to beat, again, will be Alejandro Valverde who has won this race five times, including the last four editions.
Also in our line-up that will do battle finishing on the famous Mur is the British champion Steve Cummings; South African neo-pro Nicholas Dlamini; our Eritrean Amanuel Gebreigzabhier who is making such a big impression; Ben King, who earlier this season won the mountains classification in the Algarve and exciting youngster Scott Davies.
This year’s route covers 198.5 km from Seraing to Huy with the famous finish one of the msot brutal in the sport with gradients at some points over 20%.
Tom-Jelte Slagter – Rider
At the Amstel Gold Race I was hoping to have a much better result as I felt good the week before after Pays Basque but for some reason, I don’t know why, at Amstel I was never in the first 10 or 20 (of the group). But at the same time I know that the two races are completely different; La Flèche Wallonne, as is Liège–Bastogne–Liège and in the past when I haven’t been good at Amstel I was able to do top-10s at Flèche, so I’ll be targeting that again.
I feel good and we race for the best possible result. It will come down to the Mur, again, but I expect some guys to move again like in previous years so it will be a hard final I think but we’ll see how it goes.
Cover image explained
The Mur de Huy is one of the steepest and most spectacular finishing climbs in cycling.
It’s just 1,300 metres of road but from its infamous 19% road sign, it leaves riders in a tunnel of pain to the finish line.
The south side of the valley is incredibly steep in Huy, so steep that they built a cable car that goes up roughly parallel with the Mur.
The short climb’s vicious gradients glean the race into small groups, but it’s the 25% S-Bend that tears the final contenders group in sunder, revealing the ultimate winner.