Fleche Wallonne 2004
The Flèche Wallonne is the favorite Classic race of my wife, being herself a die-hard tifosa of professional cycling. The reason for her preference? The finish line is on top of the famous Muur de Huy.
Undoubtedly the three passages on the Muur are very spectacular, yet it is such a hard and demanding finish that it almost flattens out the margin of tactical uncertainty so typical of the beauty of cycling.
When the race unfolds on the final climb, usually the result is somehow to be expected, with the stronger athlete to speed up progressively, without the need of any real spurt, dropping all his adversaries by simply accelerating the pace.
In fact the climb is so steep as to nullify the advantage of drafting, pointing out the sheer differences in performance between the riders.
Today, notwithstanding the very high average speed, a group of 30 cyclists showed up at the foot of the final Huy, thanks also to the determining work of generous 'gregari' such as Gianni Faresin, able to control a powerful attack from Dekker, and Eddy Mazzoleni, able to keep the peloton sewn up in the final phases.
And it was their respective captains who did fight for victory over the last kilometer: a determined Di Luca attacked at 300 m from the line, but an effective Rebellin was able to overtake him in the last 100m.
Two minutes forty-five seconds to ride the final 1000 meters of the race, an impressive improvement on Moreno Argentin¹s performance of 3:02 in 1990.
The VAM of 2443 m/h (over a vertical gain of 112 m) is simply outstanding.