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by Shane Stokes
April 18, 2018
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Third in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, Enrico Gasparotto is motivated to chase success in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne. The Bahrain-Meridia rider was one of the strongest rider on Sunday but just fell short of catching race winner Michael Valgren (Astana) and runner-up Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott). He’ll now try to land a podium spot – or the victory – on Wednesday.
“In 2016 I finished fifth and I would like to do even better,” he said. “I have several solutions: to attack on the Côte de Cherave or wait for the Mur. I’m calm and I think I’ll have to pay attention to Valverde and Alaphilippe, the two real favourites for this Fléche.”
Also likely to ride strongly is multiple Grand Tour champion and Milan-San Remo winner Vincenzo Nibali, plus Ion and Gorka Izagirre. The team will be completed by Hermann Pernsteiner, Franco Pellizotti and Grega Bole. “I have a good form,” says Ion Izagirre, “even if it is not a suitable finish for me and more instead for explosive riders. I could try to escape before, as I made at Amstel, but we’ll see how the race will go on.”
Directeur sportif Rik Verbrugghe maps out how he sees things panning out. “It will be an elimination race, and as usual the two last ascents will make the difference. We will see how the other teams will manage the race, but we have Enrico for the final together with the two Izagirre brothers.”
The race will include two ascents of the ferociously-steep Mur de Huy, including the finish, as well as the Côte de Cherave. This comes six kilometres from the end and provides an opportunity to riders who don’t want to wait until the difficult final kilometre.