The courses and fields for La Flèche Wallonne, April 19, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, April 23, have been set for this spring, with seven wildcard invitations making up the 24-team field for women and four wildcard teams named to complete the field of 25 squads for the men.
Race organizers ASO have confirmed that the opening Belgian race of the Ardennes Classics for women will have seven wildcard teams. The three Belgian teams included AG Insurance-Soudal-QuickStep, Duolar-Chevalmeire and Lotto Dstny Ladiesalong with Cofidis, Auber93, Parkhotel Valkenburg and Team Coop-Hitec Products. In addition, St Michel-Mavic Auber93 will join at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine while a different French team, Arkea Pro Cycling, will be part of the wildcard lineup for Liège. Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling and Lifeplus Wahoo received automatic invites along with the 15 Women’s WorldTour squads at both events.
For the men, Bingoal WB, Equipo Kern Pharma and Uno-X Pro Cycling will participate in both La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège as wildcard selections. A fourth wildcard invitation for La Flèche went to Burgos-BH, while Team Flanders-Baloise took the fourth slot for the ‘La Redoute’. They will race against the 18 WorldTour teams and the top three ProTeams – Israel-Premier Tech, Lotto Dstny and TotalEnergies.
This year’s La Flèche Wallonne for men and women will be held mid-week before the famous Monument in Liège, and again finishes atop the Mur de Huy, which organizers refer to as ‘the most spectacular kilometer of the cycling world’.
The men will cover the steep, short climb three times across a total of 194.2km. It is only a second year that the women’s race has mirrored the men’s with the trio of passes over the Huy. New this year on the 131.km route for women are the Ereffe and Cherave climbs.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be held four days later on Sunday, completing the tripleheader of Ardennes Classics on both WorldTours, along with Amstel Gold Race which takes place April 16 in the Netherlands. Riders on Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes cover 140km and face a first-time triple sequence of the Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée climbs in a compacted 15km triple sequence once the opening 50km are completed. They will then face five more climbs to the final 11% 1.3km climb of Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons that will inevitably launch final attacks across the final 13.3km to the finish in the Liège city center.
The men’s race comes in at 258.5km, with a return of its succession of steep climbs that includes Côte des Forges and the triple-threat sequence of Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée climbs. After the fierce Côte de La Redoute (1.6km at 9.4%) with a little more than 25km to go, a new addition to the race is the unclassified Côte de Cornémont. This delivers riders to the Forges and then the familiar Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons as the final climb with the final 13.3 kilometers to the flat finish in Liège.
At last year’s 108th running of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, QuickStep’s Remco Evenepoel launched a solo attack over the top of the Côte de La Redoute en route to victory for the 22-year-old. The women’s race was won for the second time in seven editions by Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), who rode solo across the line 43 seconds ahead of a pack of chasers.
Just days before, Van Vleuten finished as the runner-up at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine close behind 24-year-old Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), who entered the race with a victory at Amstel Gold Race. The Huy was conquered on the men’s side by Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Victorious).