Etixx - Quick-Step to La Flèche Wallonne
Etixx - Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in La Flèche Wallonne, the second race of the Ardennes Classics, on Wednesday, April 22nd. The 2015 edition features some important changes to the parcours: The opening city is in Waremme this season, and the opening kilometers will be more difficult than past years. The larger circuit of the race has been reduced from 64km to 58.5km and the total climbs of the bigger circuit drops from six to four climbs. Then, there is the key addition of Côte de Cherave (8.1% average gradient) at 5.5km from the finish line in the smaller finishing circuit. This not only slightly lengthens the final circuit lap (29km), but also means there is a climb to tackle before the crucial Mur de Huy, which averages 9.6% but features ramps of more than 25%, at 1.3km to go. The total length of the race is now 205.5km instead of 199km.
Michal Kwiatkowski, who was 3rd in the 2014 edition and 5th in the 2013 edition, leads Etixx - Quick-Step at La Flèche Wallonne after winning Amstel Gold Race out of a select group sprint on Sunday. The victory placed Etixx - Quick-Step at the top of the UCI WorldTour Team Ranking (670 points), was the 19th road win of the year for the team, and was the 50th individual rider podium placing of the season.
Kwiatkowski will be supported by Michal Golas, Tony Martin, Julian Alaphilippe, and Petr Vakoc who were his teammates at Amstel Gold Race. Gianluca Brambilla, Maxime Bouet, and Pieter Serry will also be at the start and their climbing skills will certainly be important for the difficulty of the parcours. Flèche will also be the first race of Serry, after breaking his right collarbone at the end of March.