If any indication of the weather forecast for this Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne classic is true... then I'm really looking forward to it.
So far, the conditions for Charleroi, Belgium is for cloudy, showers high of 8C. Of course, I'm a fan for Belgian Classics paired with a fine Belgian Chimay is pure heaven. And add in plenty of inclement weather, 194km in length, with a number of short, steep, vicious climbs finishing up on the nasty Mur de Huy... that's more heaven.
The Mur de Huy is also known as le Chemin des Chapelles (The Path of the Chapels) for the seven chapels along it's route, that means no time for praying.
It's brutish with 10 climbs to the finish in Huy, including three climbs up the Mur de Huy. Call it leg breaking with an average gradient of 9.3%, as steep as 26%.
Peter Sagan (2nd in Amstel, brilliant attempt at his first classic win) will not be dressed for both FW and LBL. He's currently second in the UCI standings and decided to rest calling his classic season over. Damiano Cunego decided to race in the Giro del Trentino, instead. I thought he would love to get back at SKY's Lars Petter Nordhaug, who he tussled with hitting the deck on top of the Cauberg. Cadel Evans decides the upcoming miserable weather is too much for his sinus infection and will rest and not start both Ardennes races.
A whole lot in:
You can't rule out Ardennes Gilbert. His form is getting better, and that's no good for the rest of the riders. An added factor: the crazy Belgium fans screaming for him to win on top of the Wall.
Joaquim Rodriquez: El Purito will want it badly, since his bad luck in Amstel.
Ryder Hesjedal: Gaining form, will want to better his 15th in Amstel.
Christophe Le Mevel: Garmin's other choice for victory. He finished 9th last year.
Vincenzo Nibali: The shark replaces Sagan and if he's there in the end, can spoil the party.
My dark horse:
Rigoberto Uran. He's exactly the type of rider for these short climbs to pull off a classic victory.
The start list.