Michal Kwiatkowski continues hat-trick bid at Fleche Wallonne

Pirate Irwin 13:13 22/04/2015
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The man to watch: Michal Kwiatkowski.

World champion Michal Kwiatkowski will be a marked man at the 205.5km Fleche Wallonne Ardennes Classic race today.

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The 24-year-old Pole comes into the race off the back of a sensational victory at Sunday’s Amstel Gold race.

Not since Philippe Gilbert in 2011 has anyone managed to triumph in all three Ardennes Classics in the same season but Kwiatkowski has ridden into form at just the right time and would seem a good bet for just such a feat.

The Etixx-Quick Step rider said: “For sure, winning Amstel Gold Race in the rainbow jersey means a lot to both me and the team, and it is another example of how strong we are as a collective. 

“I built up really well for this race, and winning (there), which was my goal, I cannot describe my emotions. It’s really big for me at this point in my career.”

Last year he followed up a fifth placed finish in Amstel with third at Fleche and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Tt the infamous Mur de Huy finish to the Fleche last year, he didn’t quite time his attack right, going too soon and being easily overhauled by Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who was second at Amstel this year.

Valverde will likely be the main competition once again as not only did he demonstrate his form on Sunday, but he is the defending champion and a two-time winner on the wall of Huy.

The Fleche has almost always been won on the Mur but organisers have thrown a spanner in the works this year with a climb just 5km before Huy that is almost as brutal.

Both are 1.3km long and although at an average gradient of 9.6 per cent, the Mur is tougher, the Cote de Cherave at 8.1 per cent does at least offer an opportunity to produce an initial selection of potential winners, or maybe even a chance to breakaway for the win.

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