Edition 88 of La Flèche Wallonne coincides with the 40th finish at the top of the Mur de Huy after 199 kilometres of racing. The big battle of punchers is open to the appetite of the most explosive riders. Primoz Roglic is perhaps the sharpest of them all at his best, but the current uncertainty allows all his rivals to emerge unabashedly.

The UAE Emirates team is counting on former winner Marc Hirschi and Juan Ayuso in his debut at La Flèche. Mattias Skjelmose, the runner-up in 2023, has already made his mark, as have Richard Carapaz and Benoit Cosnefroy, the in-form Frenchman at the moment.

The centre of the racing world moves. The journey is only a few dozen kilometres long, but every year, there’s a genuine change of scenery between the countryside of the Flanders and the sequence of Ardennes Classics. Gone are the cobblestones, replaced by the steep, leg-straining climbs; leave the heavyweights behind and give way to the lightweights, climbers who are both tough and explosive. It’s in this very particular category that the contenders for La Flèche Wallonne, in principle, almost all of whom will still be in contention when they set off on the fearsome slopes of the Mur de Huy, some sections of which have a gradient exceeding 23%.

The confrontation becomes a fireworks display in an effort lasting just under three minutes for the best riders. And this year, the ramp to success is open to all appetites, with defending champion Tadej Pogacar having chosen to save himself for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The prognosticators should logically turn their attention to his compatriot Primoz Roglic, who has an almost unbeatable punch in his arsenal at the peak of his form.

In his only previous appearance in 2021, he only lost out to Julian Alaphilippe, the world champion and master of the race at the time, and that was partly due to a timing error when he launched his attack. A 100% Roglic would win the vote, but his first appearances in the BORA-hansgrohe jersey are no guarantee of optimal form, especially after his crash in the Tour of the Basque Country.

The Mur de Huy could therefore remain the stomping ground for UAE Emirates, who have assembled a very potent squad with former winner Marc Hirschi (2020), as well as recent winner in the Basque Country Juan Ayuso and other high-profile riders at the start of the season, such as Brandon McNulty (third in Paris-Nice, and winner of the GP Indurain), Diego Ulissi (third in the 2019 Flèche) and Joao Almeida.  

Mattias Skjelmose, who has also kept pace with the best wherever he has competed this year, could be in line for his first victory in a prestigious classic, where he finished runner-up last year. The Danish champion will perhaps be the most closely watched of the former podium finishers in Huy and must choose which wheel to follow among the many contenders.

Bahrain-Victorious makes the trip with Pello Bilbao (third in the UAE Tour, sixth in the Tour of the Basque Country), who was almost as strong as his Colombian teammate Santiago Buitrago before he retired on the final stage of Paris-Nice, while Ineos Grenadiers is counting on Tom Pidcock (sixth in 2021) and EF Education is hoping to propel Richard Carapaz to the top of the classification, as well as Ben Healy and Neilson Powless.  

La Flèche Wallonne represents a succession challenge in the French camp since Julian Alaphilippe’s three victories (2018-19-21). The best-qualified rider in this role is Benoit Cosnefroy, who hasn’t found the winning formula since his second place in 2020, but judging by his victories in the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes, Paris-Camembert and the Brabantse Pijl, is on peak form.

However, the most consistent rider on the ultra-specific Mur de Huy is Warren Barguil. He has finished in the Top 10 six times in 10 appearances (fourth in 2020) and is eager to impress in his new dsm-firmenich PostNL jersey. David Gaudu (seventh in 2021) could also be up for the challenge. But spectators also wait to see the next generation shine in the Ardennes classics. It is the time, for example, for young guns Romain Grégoire and Paul Lapeira, who claimed stage wins in the Tour of the Basque Country, or Kevin Vauquelin, who won the Etoile de Bessèges time trial earlier this year.

25 équipes, les principaux engagés


  • Team Jayco AlUla: Matthews (Aus)  


  • Bahrain Victorious: Bilbao (Spa), Buitrago (Col)  


  • Soudal-Quick Step: Vansevenant, Vervaeke (Bel)
  • Lotto Dstny: Van Gils (Bel)
  • Intermarché-Wanty: Calmejane, Faure-Prost (Fra)
  • Alpecin-Deceuninck: Hermans (Bel), Laurance (Fra)
  • Bingoal WB: Vliegen (Bel)  


  • Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale : Cosnefroy, Lapeira, Peters (Fra)
  • Groupama-FDJ : Madouas, Gaudu, Grégoire (Fra)
  • Cofidis : Jes.Herrada, I.Izagirre (Spa)
  • Team Arkéa-B&B hôtels : Vauquelin, Champoussin (Fra)
  • TotalEnergies : Vuillermoz, Grellier (Fra)  


  • BORA-hansgrohe: Roglic (Slo), Higuita (Col), Vlasov


  • Ineos Grenadiers: Pidcock (Gbr), Kwiatkowski (Pol), Fraile (Spa)


  • Israel-Premier Tech: Teuns (Bel), Woods (Can), Schultz (Aus), Fuglsang (Den)  


  • Astana Qazaqstan Team: Charmig (Den), Velasco, Scaroni (Ita)

The Netherlands

  • Visma | Lease a bike: Benoot (Bel)
  • Team dsm-firmenich PostNL: Barguil (Fra)


  • Uno-X Mobility: T.Johannessen, Leknessund (Nor)  


  • Movistar Team: Aranburu, Lazkano (Spa), Formolo (Ita)
  • Euskatel-Euskadi: Berasategui (Spa)  


  • Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team: De la Cruz (Spa)  

United Arab Emirates

  • UAE Team Emirates: Hirschi (Swi), Ayuso (Spa), Almeida (Por), Ulissi (Ita), McNulty (Usa)

United States

  • Lidl-Trek: Skjelmose (Den), Skujins (Lat)
  • EF Education-Easypost: Carapaz (Ecu), Powless (Usa), Healy (Irl)
  • www.la-fleche-wallonne.be
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