La Flèche Wallonne (pronounced [la flɛʃ walɔn], French for "The Walloon Arrow")[1] is a men's professional cycle road race held in April each year in Wallonia, Belgium.

La Flèche Wallonne
Race details
DateLate April
RegionWallonia, Belgium
English nameWalloon Arrow
Local name(s)La Flèche Wallonne (in French)
CompetitionUCI World Tour
OrganiserAmaury Sport Organisation
Web Edit this at Wikidata
First edition1936 (1936)
Editions88 (as of 2024)
First winner Philippe Demeersman (BEL)
Most wins Alejandro Valverde (ESP) (5 wins)
Most recent Stephen Williams (GBR)

The first of two Belgian Ardennes classics, La Flèche Wallonne is today normally held mid-week between the Amstel Gold Race and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. At one time, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège were run on successive days as "Le Weekend Ardennais" (both races are organised by Amaury Sport Organisation). Only seven riders have achieved the "Ardennes double" by winning both races in the same year: Alejandro Valverde three times (in 2006, 2015 and 2017), Ferdi Kübler twice (in 1951 and 1952), Stan Ockers (1955), Eddy Merckx (1972), Moreno Argentin (1991) Davide Rebellin (2004) and Philippe Gilbert (2011).

History edit

The 2011 La Flèche Wallonne route

La Flèche Wallonne was created to boost the sales of a newspaper Les Sports during the 1930s and was first run in 1936. While perhaps not as revered as one of the five Classic 'Monuments', the race is widely regarded as among the most significant spring Classics, alongside the Amstel Gold and Strade Bianche, and featured on the UCI Road World Cup and UCI ProTour. It became part of the UCI World Ranking calendar in 2009.

Like many cycle race events, the course has altered considerably over the years, both in route and length. The event was first run on roads from Tournai to Liège (growing from 236 km to 300 km — its longest ever distance — in 1938), after which Mons became the starting point. From 1948, the race started at Charleroi; from 1960 the event ran in the opposite direction, starting at Liège and finishing at Charleroi (or, from 1965, Marcinelle). Some years have seen the event start and finish in the same place: Verviers (1974–1978) or Huy (1983–1985). From 1986, the race started in Spa and finished in Huy. Since 1990, the race distance has not exceeded 210 km.

Since its inception, it has been held every year except 1940, due to World War II. In 2020, it was rescheduled to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, the event starts in Charleroi and heads east to Huy, where the riders do three laps of a tough circuit including the steep Mur de Huy (the Wall of Huy) climb, with several sections steeper than 15% and up to 26% on one section. The finish is at the top of the Mur after the third ascent, and ascent of 'the Mur' is considered the iconic and emblematic feature of the race.

Alejandro Valverde has won the race a record five times. Five riders have won the race three times, two of them Belgians, two Italians, and one Frenchman. Five riders have won the race in back to back years. Indeed, Belgian riders dominated the early years of the event, winning the first 11 editions of the race, and slightly less than half of the editions in total (38 victories up to and including 2011). Italians have won the event 18 times.

Winners edit

Year Country Rider Team
1936   Belgium Philemon De Meersman La Française
1937   Belgium Adolph Braeckeveldt Helyett
1938   Belgium Émile Masson Jr.
1939   Belgium Edmond Delathouwer Leducq-Mercier
1940 No race
1941   Belgium Sylvain Grysolle
1942   Belgium Karel Thijs
1943   Belgium Marcel Kint
1944   Belgium Marcel Kint
1945   Belgium Marcel Kint
1946   Belgium Désiré Keteleer Groene Leeuw
1947   Belgium Ernest Sterckx Alcyon–Dunlop
1948   Italy Fermo Camellini Métropole
1949   Belgium Rik Van Steenbergen Mercier–Hutchinson
1950   Italy Fausto Coppi Bianchi–Ursus
1951    Switzerland Ferdi Kübler Tebag
1952    Switzerland Ferdi Kübler Tebag
1953   Belgium Stan Ockers Peugeot–Dunlop
1954   Belgium Germain Derycke Alcyon–Dunlop
1955   Belgium Stan Ockers Elvé–Peugeot
1956   Belgium Richard Van Genechten Elvé–Peugeot
1957   Belgium Raymond Impanis Peugeot-BP
1958   Belgium Rik Van Steenbergen Elvé–Peugeot–Marvan
1959   Belgium Jos Hoevenaers Faema
1960   Belgium Pino Cerami Peugeot–BP–Dunlop
1961   Belgium Willy Vannitsen Gitane–Geminiani–Leroux–Dunlop
1962   Belgium Henri De Wolf Baratti–Milano
1963   France Raymond Poulidor Mercier–BP–Hutchinson
1964   Belgium Gilbert Desmet Wiel's–Groene Leeuw
1965   Italy Roberto Poggiali Ignis
1966   Italy Michele Dancelli Molteni
1967   Belgium Eddy Merckx Peugeot–BP–Michelin
1968   Belgium Rik Van Looy Willem II–Gazelle
1969   Belgium Jos Huysmans Dr.Mann–Grundig
1970   Belgium Eddy Merckx Faemino
1971   Belgium Roger De Vlaeminck Mars–Flandria
1972   Belgium Eddy Merckx Molteni
1973   Belgium André Dierickx Flandria–Shimano–Carpenter
1974   Belgium Frans Verbeeck Watney–Maes
1975   Belgium André Dierickx Rokado
1976   Netherlands Joop Zoetemelk Gan–Mercier–Hutchinson
1977   Italy Francesco Moser Sanson
1978   France Michel Laurent Peugeot–Esso–Michelin
1979   France Bernard Hinault Renault–Gitane–Campagnolo
1980   Italy Giuseppe Saronni Gis Gelati–Colnago
1981   Belgium Daniel Willems Capri Sonne–Koga Miyata
1982   Italy Mario Beccia Hoonved–Bottechia
1983   France Bernard Hinault Renault–Elf–Gitane
1984   Denmark Kim Andersen Coop–Hoonved
1985   Belgium Claude Criquielion Hitachi–Splendor–Sunair
1986   France Laurent Fignon Système U
1987   France Jean-Claude Leclercq Toshiba–Look
1988   Germany Rolf Gölz Superconfex–Yoko
1989   Belgium Claude Criquielion Hitachi–Merckx–Mavic
1990   Italy Moreno Argentin Ariostea
1991   Italy Moreno Argentin Ariostea
1992   Italy Giorgio Furlan Ariostea
1993   Italy Maurizio Fondriest Lampre
1994   Italy Moreno Argentin Gewiss–Ballan
1995   France Laurent Jalabert ONCE
1996   United States Lance Armstrong Motorola
1997   France Laurent Jalabert ONCE
1998   Denmark Bo Hamburger Casino–Ag2r
1999   Italy Michele Bartoli Mapei–Quick-Step
2000   Italy Francesco Casagrande Vini Caldirola–Sidermec
2001   Belgium Rik Verbrugghe Lotto–Adecco
2002   Belgium Mario Aerts Lotto–Adecco
2003   Spain Igor Astarloa Saeco
2004   Italy Davide Rebellin Gerolsteiner
2005   Italy Danilo Di Luca Liquigas–Bianchi
2006   Spain Alejandro Valverde Caisse d'Epargne–Illes Balears
2007   Italy Davide Rebellin Gerolsteiner
2008   Luxembourg Kim Kirchen Team High Road
2009   Italy Davide Rebellin Diquigiovanni–Androni
2010   Australia Cadel Evans BMC Racing Team
2011   Belgium Philippe Gilbert Omega Pharma–Lotto
2012   Spain Joaquim Rodríguez Team Katusha
2013   Spain Daniel Moreno Team Katusha
2014   Spain Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
2015   Spain Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
2016   Spain Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
2017   Spain Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
2018   France Julian Alaphilippe Quick-Step Floors
2019   France Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck–Quick-Step
2020    Switzerland Marc Hirschi Team Sunweb
2021   France Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck–Quick-Step
2022   Belgium Dylan Teuns Team Bahrain Victorious
2023   Slovenia Tadej Pogačar UAE Team Emirates
2024   Great Britain Stephen Williams Israel–Premier Tech

Multiple winners edit

Riders in italics are still active

Wins Rider Editions
5   Alejandro Valverde (ESP) 2006, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
3   Marcel Kint (BEL) 1943, 1944, 1945
  Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1967, 1970, 1972
  Moreno Argentin (ITA) 1990, 1991, 1994
  Davide Rebellin (ITA) 2004, 2007, 2009
  Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) 2018, 2019, 2021
2   Ferdinand Kübler (SUI) 1951, 1952
  Stan Ockers (BEL) 1953, 1955
  Rik Van Steenbergen (BEL) 1949, 1958
  André Dierickx (BEL) 1973, 1975
  Bernard Hinault (FRA) 1979, 1983
  Claude Criquielion (BEL) 1985, 1989
  Laurent Jalabert (FRA) 1995, 1997

Wins per country edit

Wins Country
39   Belgium
18   Italy
11   France
8   Spain
3   Switzerland
2   Denmark
1   Australia
  Great Britain
  United States

References edit

  1. ^ "Spring Classics: How to win cycling's hardest one-day races". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 March 2015.

External links edit