La Flèche Wallonne: September 30th, 2020

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Who will win La Flèche Wallonne 2020?


  • Total voters
    79
  • Poll closed .
A precious childhood memory of this race is 1989, when Criquielion won it - taking atonement for Ronse '88. He reached the Mur with Steven Rooks and dropped him quite easily. Criq also won in 1985 in the rainbow jersey, more than a minute ahead of Argentin and Fignon. In those days it was always a real race far from the finish.

Since 2004 it was always a big group with the main favourites at the foot of the Mur, sixteen times in a row. Valverde and Alaphilippe became the specialists of the steep uphill finish. This year the chain could be broken, because there's no super strong team with a clear favourite. The organizers have decided to make the part before the Mur slightly easier, probably to give anticipators a better chance to reach the foot with enough advantage.
 
Honestly, the fact that Valverde and Ala aren't riding will probably lead to a conservative race.
With the clear cut favourites of the last few years not here many riders will fancy there chances in an uphill sprint.
 
Van der Breggen makes it 6 in a row,
While I would dearly have loved Cille to take it, and I'm a big supporter of Demi Vollering also, at the end of the day it would have just seemed wrong if, after so many years of no coverage, we finally got a televised LFWF and the Queen of Huy didn't win. It would not have been fair on Anna to have her dethronement broadcast around the world while her reign took place in the dark, so I'm glad she won.
 
Okay, I have to ask. Why would it have been a better edition of FW in 2018 if they hadn't caught Nibali and Schachmann?

The catch was made on the final 500 metres, so the race would have been exactly the same, apart from the fact that we wouldn't have gotten an intense finale between the best puncheurs in the world but just a simple thumping of Nibali by Schachmann.

I think it's a massive fallacy by many cycling fans purely to judge the intrigue of a race by whether the race ended in a sprint or with a break. For me, it's just as much about the battle between the break and the field, and that can be exciting even if the field ends up winning. That doesn't nullify the intrigue of the race and the battle between break and field.

Or is it just because people forget and see, okay 1) Alaphilippe, 2) Valverde, so it must have been like any year?
 
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Okay, I have to ask. Why would it have been a better edition of FW in 2018 if they hadn't caught Nibali and Schachmann?

The catch was made on the final 500 metres, so the race would have been exactly the same, apart from the fact that we wouldn't have gotten an intense finale between the best puncheurs in the world but just a simple thumping of Nibali by Schachmann.

I think it's a massive fallacy by many cycling fans purely to judge the intrigue of a race by whether the race ended in a sprint or with a break. For me, it's just as much about the battle between the break and the field, and that can be exciting even if the field ends up winning. That doesn't nullify the intrigue of the race and the battle between break and field.

Or is it just because people forget and see, okay 1) Alaphilippe, 2) Valverde, so it must have been like any year?
I'd say that yes, it can be forgotten more easily (look at how every year there's talk of 'doing a Vino' on the Champs). I'm not sure it would have made it a better race, but because the race ends in the uphill sprint constantly, if there's genuine, real hope that the break will do it (and therefore incentivise more riders to take that risk in future editions perhaps?) then it leaves a bit of a bittersweet feeling when the riders that made the race don't do it and many fans end up marking the race down a notch further because of that. Similar to Martin falling and Pozzovivo being caught and Gerrans winning LBL, I guess - it was a poor edition but the only riders who'd dared to take risks to try to win being chewed up and spat out with the victory going to a man who'd become emblematic for negative racing was just the cherry on top that meant the race was received even more negatively.

A similar thing could be the Vuelta's breakaway transitional stages in the meseta. People still hold Cancellara's shift on the front, done to no end other than to prevent Tony Martin getting a psychological boost ahead of the World ITT, that led to Martin's solo being caught on the line in Cáceres against him, some seven years later. Though a counterpoint could be, with the height of the Cavendish/Greipel feud going on in late 2010 people were criticising Greipel by pointing out that he'd even lost a bunch sprint to Anthony Roux in the Vuelta - because there was no time gap when Roux was caught at the line, people just looked up the result and saw 80+ riders on s.t. and forgot that Roux had been on the attack and had just been caught at the line. There, people remembered the negative outcome for the break and forgot the positive one, though that may be to do with the names involved.

Nibali and Schachmann came the closest we've seen to a break from more than 1900m (Gilbert in 2011, for example, just attacked right from the base so you could argue counts differently from the usual final burst victories) succeeding at LFW since... Wegmann, probably, and that was, what, 2008? 2009?
 
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Actually there is almost no intrigue anymore. And there is almost no excitement when the field wins 100% of the time regardless.

And it's funny how after 'not understanding' why a flat sprint would be preferable you produce an argument that also applies to flat sprint stages.
 

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