Flèche Wallonne is defined by one climb: the infamous Mur de Huy. The steepest finishing climb in cycling, the Mur de Huy, in the town of Huy, deep in southern Belgium’s Ardennes hills, measures only 1300 meters but what it lacks in length it more than makes up in steepness. No surprise given the climb’s name “the Mur” translates to “the Wall”. This wall has sections as steep as 26 percent and averages 10 percent gradient. Spectators who stand roadside get winded just walking up it.
Mike Woods was our man for the second Ardennes Classic, but a late race mechanical took the Canadian out of contention, leaving Simon Clarke to fly the EF Education First Pro Cycling flag in the finale. Although Clarke was still carrying fatigue from his effort at Amstel Gold, he had a crack up the Mur, climbing to the finish line 36-seconds behind repeat winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) to slot into 23rd place.
“Mike had a mechanical at the worst moment of the race and did a huge effort to rejoin the peloton,” said sport director Juanma Garate. “Afterwards, he was not in a good position when the bunch split due to speed and winds, and he didn’t make it back to stay with the strongest.”
“I’m not thrilled,” said Woods. “Flèche is becoming my white whale.”