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by Shane Stokes
January 26, 2018
Sam Bennett shrugs off illness to go back-to-back at Race Melbourne; Annette Edmondson wins Race Melbourne with a bike throw; Richeze wins stage 4 of the Vuelta a San Juan; Degenkolb wins opening race of Challenge Mallorca series; ‘For sure I have taken a step up’: Bennett eyeing next level in 2018; Wildcards, modified routes announced for ASO Classics; AAA panel imposes four-year sanction on amateur U.S. cyclist for testosterone violation; Video: Team Eritrea – Tesfom King of Mountains – Tropicale Amissa Bongo 2018
ASO, the organisers of Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne has announced the wildcards for this year’s races, confirming the teams that will line out alongside the WorldTour squads.
As anticipated, there has been a strong preference shown for French squads, with Cofidis, Solutions Crédits and Team Fortuneo – Samsic gaining invites to all three events, Vital Concept Cycling Club and Delko Marseille Provence KTM getting the nod for Paris-Roubaix and Flèche Wallonne, and Direct Energie receiving confirmation for Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Belgian teams make up the bulk of the remaining invites. WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic gains access to all three races, while Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise and Wanty – Groupe Gobert have a green light for Liège and Flèche. Veranda’s Willems – Crelan completes the Roubaix selection. The only non-French, non-Belgian squad being picked is Irish team Aqua Blue Sport, which will ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
ASO stated that Flèche Wallonne will begin in Seraing for the first time in 82 editions of the race, and will take in a new approach to the Mur de Huy circuit via the La Vecquée and La Redoute climbs. Liège-Bastogne-Liège will have a slightly different look due to the addition of the Côte de Bonnevue and the Côte de Mont-le-Soie.
The women’s Flèche Wallonne will have two ascents of the Côte de Cherave instead of the usual one, and then finish as before on the Mur de Huy. Meanwhile the second edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes will take place on the same course as last year, totalling 135.5 kilometres in all.