The Wall of Huy totals 1.3 kilometres at 9.6%. Usually there is a lot of movement on prior climbs, but these are rarely so testing that it reduces the pack to a select group. The Wall of Huy is puncheurs territory and to win the race you have to be an explosive climber with a good sprint.
Valverde is record holder with four victories (2006, 2014, 2015, 2016) and another top favourite would have been 2011-winner Gilbert, yet he was diagnosed with a tear to his right kidney after a crash in the Amstel Gold Race. He finished and even won the race in a sprint-à-deux with Kwiatkowski, but he is out of contention for one week. Speaking of the Pole: he is in fine form, too – and he skipped the Flemish campaign to shine in the Ardennes.
Both Valverde en Kwiatkowski have stunning credentials in the current season. Kwiat took Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, while Valverde pocketed Ruta del Sol, Volta a Catalunya and Tour of the Basque Country.
Favourites La Flèche Wallonne 2017
*** Alejandro Valverde, Michal Kwiatkowski
** Tim Wellens, Sergio Henao, Rui Costa, Daniel Martin, Daniel Moreno
* Rigoberto Uran, Ion Izagirre, Alexis Vuillermoz, Esteban Chaves, Adam Yates