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Panel of Temporary Experts: La Fleche Wallonne!

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Oh, the horrors. I slip away for a short holiday and suddenly I am trailing Gavia? Looks like we have a nice podium battle shaping up -- five players for three spaces. But none of them are me so feh. Nice job Millsy picking 1 and 2 in Amstel. Not so nice job by yours truly scoring the bagel. But I am nothing if not ahead of my time, so I am sticking with my Amstel picks for La Fleche. Can't get any worse. 

Player

Winner

 Second

 Third

La Fleche Wallonne

Season Score

Edredon Browny Philippe Gilbert Alberto Contador J-Rod 7 24
Millsy 89 J-Rod Alberto Contador Igor Anton 1 23
KOM Vuelta J-Rod Alberto Contador Igor Anton 1 12
Rubesandbabes Philippe Gilbert Robert Gesink Ryder Hesjedal 6 36
JSallee J-Rod Igor Anton Philippe Gilbert 2 13
Popup Rolen Alberto Contador J-Rod Philippe Gilbert 6 19
FrenchKheldar J-Rod Igor Anton Robert Gesink 1 21
Margin Walker Sammy Sanchez Alberto Contador J-Rod 2 8
Dan Beringhele Alberto Contador Robert Gesink J-Rod 1 14
Stevie Dexter Tony Martin J-Rod Ryder Hesjedal 5 25
Gavia J-Rod Simon Gerrans Damiano Cunego 1 10
Chris F Damiano Cunego Robert Gesink Danilo DiLuca 0 8

The Classics' Golden Years?

By KOM Vuelta

When the race 3 days before is a beer toting race that’s a relative youngster, and the race the Sunday after is "the old lady", does La Fleche Wallonè, (The Walloon Arrow) in the middle, represent middle age?

Maybe in an analogy to life it does, but with 11 short, but brutal climbs, it seemingly doesn’t. Three of these climbs are a passage of one of the two important Muurs (walls) du/de (of) _____, the Mur Du Huy, a nasty 1.3 km climb with a maximum gradient of 19%, but what makes it destroy the field is the fact that about 60% of the climb has a gradient of, or above 10%. Therefore, the race is much different between Amstel, which (usually) has a group of between 15 and 30 riders at the bottom of the Cauberg, and the remenants of that group come in within a minute of eachother and Liege, which is usually won by a solo attack on one of the last few climbs.

In La Flechè what happens is a much larger group which doesn’t contain many fast men comes to the bottom of the Mur, but gets blown apart because of the horrible pace up such a steep grade, but the groups are still much larger. Interestingly a race that is also thought of as a bit more action-packed the thickest stretch of climbs is 4 four climbs within from 60km out to 40 km out.

However, in Amstel, which has received, a reputation as the most sprinter-friendly Ardennes the thickest stretch of climbs is four within about 11km, also this stretch is about half as close to the line as the thickest stretch in La Fleche Wallonè. However, the climbs in Amstel are easier.

Anyway my picks for La Fleche:

1. Joquim Rodriguez-looked awful good in Amstel on a race that’s more one for the sprinters.

2. Alberto Contador-hopefully he’s learned from last year

3. Igor Anton-The carrot, while he may be aiming for the Giro, likes steep climbs, and was fourth here last year.