Fleche Wallone 2012 - a race in pictures

It's got the Mur, its got beer, drama, and Belgiumness by the bucketload… Phil Gale points his lens at the classic semi-classic

by Philip Gale   April 19, 2012  

Bookended by the Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in what has become the mini-series of races known as the Ardennes Classics, the Fleche Wallonne is also the penultimate Spring Classic. With a route that stretches 194 kilometres and takes in 10 classified climbs this is not a walk in the park, midweek leg spin for the riders. Hotly contested and proudly supported by all Belgians its stature as a semi-classic in the racing calendar somewhat sells it short. Finishing in the town of Huy, mid-way between Charleroi and Liege, this valley holds the cherry on the Fleche Wallonne cake, the Mur de Huy - an iconic part of the classics season. Just over one kilometre long this “wall” is 25% at its steepest and covered three times during the race.

Jerome Coppel looks out at the cold, wet and windy Belgium morning before the race.

This year a nervous start, high winds, hails storms and crashes were not enough to dull the racing, with the Mur giving us a spectacular finish. After 920 miles in two days here is my perspective of the 2012 Fleche Wallonne, from start to finish, male and female races, filled with crazy beer drinking, Belgian crowds. The Fleche Wallonne - a semi-classic, but a classic way to start to wrap up the early season races, I am sure you will agree.

Rain gear was on from the start

The early pace was really high. Tails winds, small roads and nervous riders meant splits in the peloton.

The final 100 metres, a rider at the Women's World Cup event fights her way to the line.

The leaders keep the pace on one of the many climbs in Fleche Wallonne

Lotto and Katusha take up the pace behind the leaders, keeping them in check before their leaders went on the attack.

A little assistance

Liquigas lead the charge on the second of 3 times up the Mur de Huy

Beer and bikes: a part of Belgian culture

Riders focus on the 25 per cent section of the Mur de Huy

Simon Geschke feeling it at the finish.

Evelyn Stevens celebrates her win on the Mur de Huy

Daniel Martin at the finish

8 user comments

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Wow ! Any chance of making the one of the breakaway with the violent cloud behind them available as a desktop wallpaper?

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1279 posts]
19th April 2012 - 16:26

3 Likes

Great set of pics, and good to see some of the women's event too. Shame he only knew who one of them was.

Noli porcum linguere

captain_slog's picture

posted by captain_slog [278 posts]
19th April 2012 - 21:11

5 Likes

Daniel Martin at the finish - "I can see through time..."

posted by mustard [72 posts]
20th April 2012 - 13:15

3 Likes

Sorry a short deadline meant I could not source the rider's names. These are the ladies I could find out for you, in order of the photo gallery.

1 - Team AA Drinks rider, unknown.
2 - #228 Anastasia Chulkovia Russian National Team.
3 - #225 Larisia Pankova Russian Naitional Team.
4 - Rabobank rider, unknown.
5 - Team AA Drinks rider, unknown.
6 - #116 Team Dolmans Boels Cycling Team Pauliena Rooijakkers

Best that I can do sorry.

posted by Philip Gale [18 posts]
20th April 2012 - 14:07

3 Likes

Some stunning images ... especially that breakaway one
with the storm clouds behind ... Ace.

Daniel Martin is more 1000 yard stare Smile

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [727 posts]
20th April 2012 - 21:20

2 Likes

Hi Phil, many thanks for the extra info.

Noli porcum linguere

captain_slog's picture

posted by captain_slog [278 posts]
21st April 2012 - 10:00

4 Likes

No problem. I think that the AA Drinks rider who could do with a handkerchief is Sharon Law but I am not 100%

posted by Philip Gale [18 posts]
21st April 2012 - 13:09

2 Likes

Great to see some recognition for the women. Do keep it up Phil. We may yet get to see them road race on tv more than once a year for the worlds and every 4 years for the Olympics.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1072 posts]
21st April 2012 - 22:28

2 Likes