© A.S.O. - B. Bade
A bicycle race is won on both sheer physical strength and the tactical finesse with which this is exploited. Cycling is all about temperament, however much its outward expression is discouraged.
In this respect, the drama at play on the Flèche Wallonne sets a benchmark.
The action takes place over 200 km, none of which is an easy ride, despite appearances. All the contenders, outsiders and their foils alike, set their sights on the Mur de Huy. But the very first stretch up the ruthless slope, for many riders one of a long series of such encounters, brings each and every one face to face with the reality of what lies ahead later in the day. The second time round, the atmosphere is ramped up a notch, with only around 30 km to go to the finishing line, usually bolstered by a small handful of insolent breakaways who must be caught as a matter of urgency.
At the fireworks, the first firecracker fired towards the Chemin des Chappelles rarely reaches its target. At moments such as these, control of the nerves and emotions becomes a key ally of raw power. Those in the greatest haste are usually the first to fall by the wayside. Real talent bides its time. On the Flèche, sudden spurts of energy must be timed to the nearest millisecond.