Some basics on the mid-week Ardennes classic now less than 36 hours away. Yeah, it's a slimmed-down, 200+km version of Amstel or Liege, but it's not for the shy:
- Km 65.5 Mur de Huy 1.3 km climb to 9.3%
- Km 84.5 Côte d'Ereffe 2.2 km climb to 5.6%
- Km 97.5 Mur de Huy 1.3 km climb to 9.3%
- Km 115 Côte de Pailhe 1.0 km climb to 4.3%
- Km 137 Côte de Peu d'Eau 2.5 km climb to 4.2%
- Km 142.5 Côte de Haut-Bois 1.4 km climb to 5.4%
- Km 152.5 Côte de Thon 1.2 km climb to 7.1%
- Km 160.5 Côte de Bonneville 1.1 km climb to 7.9%
- Km 172.5 Côte de Bohissau 3.4 km climb to 4%
- Km 188 Côte de Ahin 2.5 km climb to 6%
- Km 202.5 HUY (Mur de Huy) 1.3 km climb to 9.3%
Those are some significant grades, on some long climbs to boot. And yet, while most of the guys starting in Charleroi will blow out the back at some point, expect an elite group to start up the Muur de Huy -- the climb to the line -- though they'll be sorted out by the finish. To wit:
- 2006 Alejandro Valverde wins a 4-man sprint, with others close behind.
- 2005 Danilo DiLuca wins a 3-up dash with another group on their heels.
- 2004 David Rebellin outdukes DiLuca, with others a few more seconds back.
2003 Igor Astarloa wins on a 2-man long break with Aitor Osa.
- 2002 Mario Aerts wins over ten of his close friends.
- 2001 Rik Verbrugghe solos home... by 5 seconds over Ivan Basso.
As for the participants, here's your startlist: Kessler, Vino, Valverde, Chavanel, Basso, Contador, Popovych, Sammy Sanchez, Schumacher, Rebellin, DiLuca, Aerts, Evans, Bettini, Freire, Ricco, Kirchen, Sinkewicz, Kroon, Schleck, Astarloa.
Should be ample action, particularly in the closing 15km or so. Action live on Cycling.TV... Yay!
Picks? I haven't time at the moment for a wiki... so I'll just tip Tintin Rebellin, he looked pretty comfy Sunday.