Velominati Super Prestige: La Fléche Wallonne

Freddy Maertens on the Mur de Huy

La Fléche would perhaps be my least favorite classic, were it not for Gent-Wevelgem’s ill-timed bike-throw in their race for last place. It isn’t anything to do with the quality of these races themselves, but more to do with the company they travel in. Gent used to be sandwiched between de Ronde and Roubaix, just as La Fléche is between Amstel and Liege; it just happens that these are some of the greatest races in the world, and the bridesmaid never looks as good as the bride.

It’s a shame, too, because the Mur de Huy is an absolute brute and ranks as one of the most fearsome and recognizable climbs in the world. Almost a kilometer and a half in length with pitches of 20% and 25%, the climb is hit several times on the finishing circuit. Diabolically, the finish is placed at the top of the hill.

The finish favors a powerful climber who can time an uphill sprint to perfection.  Think Nicole Cooke or Danilo Di Luca.   Cuddles misfired on this finish several times before getting it right last year and giving the “Thumbs Up” sign. You could almost a weakening Clentador thinking as he was getting passed, “I’m not climbing well enough for my weight yet.  Need to get me some Spanish Beef.” Experience always counts, but it’s critical here.

So on with the 2011 Velominati Super Prestige and the La Fléche Wallonne. As usual, the winner of this VSP edition will earn an “Obey the Rules” bumper sticker and all reader’s points qualify towards the final prize of the free personalized Velominati Shop Apron. If you are inclined to enter, simply post your predictions for the top five placings in the designated area above the posts section, bearing in mind that entry/modification of picks closes at 5am Pacific time on the day of the race. Check the Super-Prestige main page for rules and scoring information.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-O2_KwWMUg[/youtube]

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245 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: La Fléche Wallonne”

  1. From now on I’m just going to put Gilbert in the #1 spot. I hope he completes the Ardennes hat trick, like Rebellin, but do it clean. I’m on the bandwagon now, one of my new favorite riders.

  2. I picked everyone in the wrong order, except Gilbert who I left out for Gesink. I feel violated…

  3. Wow, Phil Gil is awesome! I didn’t doubt his form, I just thought he’d be holding off for LBL. Nope!

    I was watching on Eurosport and during the replay the lead commentator said, “The camera doesn’t do justice to the power of his kick right there…”

    He just seems a step ahead of everyone right now. Love watching him ride!

  4. J-Ro doesn’t mean Joaquim Rodriguez?

    I $%&@-ing missed the last 30km of the race to take care of a dodgy Bloomberg terminal at work… grrr.

  5. Not that I want to take points away from myself, but CyclingNews now has same order as letour.fr and the replay seems to confirm?

    1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 4:54:57
    2 Joaquím Rodríguez Olivier (Spa) Katusha 0:00:03
    3 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:05
    4 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:00:06
    5 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

  6. @xyxax
    Yep. Andy was off the back going into the Mur. That would have been a climb for the ages if he had managed to recover. Veino in fourth.

  7. @Steampunk
    Damn, signed the wrong scorecard and incur a 2-stroke penalty.

    Both cyclingnews and steephill had Schleck 4th in their initial postings.

  8. Too little too late, but I think I’ll stop underestimating Gilbert now. I initially had him first For the Amstel Gold but then thought “I just can’t see him winning it two years in a row” and put him second. Then for the FW I stupidly thought “I just can’t see him winning 2 races in a row” and did the same thing. I won’t take a chance like that again.

    He is amazing and we may be witnessing history (if we haven’t already). Watching that finish this morning made me want to call in sick and ride all day.

  9. Hmmm.. My 4th pick, Machete, was a reference to the film by Robert Rodriguez, and thus the rider J. Rodríguez. I wonder if I should have gotten a point for that since he was in the finishing group?

    Not that it really matters, I’m in 40th place or something horrible like that!

  10. @all
    Disputed picks corrected; RedRanger, I had no clue WFT you were on at with the “Master” thing. Oh, and the double-quotes was what was messing up the posting bit and causing them to keep reposting. I’ll work on that.

    @Mcsqueak, I admire your creativity, but keep in mind that we go through and map 5 x n picks where n is the number of contestants, so we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what you could be meaning. That’s why we built the “dispute” interface.

    @others, there were some mis-mappings between the two Rodriguezesseses and the Sanchezesesesees so dispute away on those as well.

    Great race, great finish. I’ve never seen someone go off like that and stay away. I was half waiting for him to blow, but at a certain point I thought, “man, he’ll have to put it in reverse if he’s going to lose this lead, even if he does blow.”

    Class.

  11. Wow, quite a shakeup on the standings based on getting Veino in there. Ron bridged up to Scuba Steve, but G2 consisting of three riders is right behind.

    I scored zero points, by the way. Bugger that.

    I am sick with guilt that I picked Bertie, by the way. I’ll never pick that twatwaffle again.

  12. @frank

    Yeah, I figured it was a stretch! I should have put a better identifier in to make it clear. But ca’mon, you don’t have time play word games with 5×71 picks?

  13. Might be about time for some to ease up on the nickname game.

    A lot of them are pretty damn amusing, but when a bunch of other cycling fanatics have no clue who the hell you are talking about I think you’ve fallen off the back.

    Interested to see how things play out with the initial/actual finishing order.

  14. frank:
    I am sick with guilt that I picked Bertie, by the way. I’ll never pick that twatwaffle again.

    You and me both. I may even institute a principled boycott at the Giro. But that was one hell of a kick (again!) from Gilbert. My daughter didn’t go to bed with her crocodile last night, but came downstairs this morning””some 20km from the end””with croc in her arms. I knew it was all over at that point.

  15. Well, that reshuffling wasn’t so bad. Looks like I got lucky and bridged up. A lot of racing left though…

  16. Ron:
    A lot of them are pretty damn amusing, but when a bunch of other cycling fanatics have no clue who the hell you are talking about I think you’ve fallen off the back.

    Crapped out like a rainbow turd?

  17. xyxax:
    @Steampunk
    Damn, signed the wrong scorecard and incur a 2-stroke penalty.
    Both cyclingnews and steephill had Schleck 4th in their initial postings.

    Actually, I think making golf references on a cycling site is worth triple the penalty. But maybe that’s just me.

    It was curious to see some unidentified Astana rider digging deep right behind Gilbert, but then there was no sign of him in the final standings (Universal put Grimplette in fourth, too). And, unlike Sunday, they knew not to take the camera off Gilbert for even a second. Oh, the irony…

  18. As for the naming; I love the nicknames, but yeah, some of them are crazy just for the sake of crazy. We reserve the right to issue penalties for disputing a pick that is so far off the wall that’s just creating more work.

    But keep the nicknaming up; the clever ones will eventually find their way into the Lexi.

  19. That’s one of those finishes on the Huy I know I’ll be coming back to in years to come. Thanks @YouTube. That man’s kick is unreal, and from what, 3-4 hundred meters out? Ouch.
    As for the Schlecks, I fear they may be going the way of Garmvelo’s A-squad in the classics. I’ll be keeping an eye on them and thinking hard about whether or not to tip them. And fuck all, the one time I don’t listen to my head and go with A.Schleck instead of Veino, Veino comes through and C*ntodor instead of Gilbert, look what happens. Hail Veino.

  20. Hmmm… I know “J. Rodriguez” is a pretty obscure nickname, but somehow I feel like I should have gotten a point for putting him in 4th.

    Gotta say, I’m loving the VSP and how active everyone is in it. Tons of fun.

  21. It was a reference to his name being Igor who was dr frankenstein’s assistant. I’ll be less clever next time.

  22. @Marko

    Marko :
    @frankYeah but did she need to steal Flecha’s lame-o salute?

    Marko – Vos is good and tough enough to use whatever salute she likes. I certainly wouldn’t argue with her!

  23. @ZachOlson

    Hmmm… I know “J. Rodriguez” is a pretty obscure nickname, but somehow I feel like I should have gotten a point for putting him in 4th.

    Yeah, that’s a different problem entirely. That’s when I’m smokin’ through that list, buzzed on either too much espresso or not enough alcohol, Jackson and Joaquin are right next to each other. Same for the Sanchezeseeseseees.

    That’s a tougher issue to code against. Other than dumping the less likely options to the bottom of the list, which I think I will do, actually.

  24. ramenvelo :
    @frankNOOOOOOOO! So cruel, I thought I was getting a bumper sticker.

    Don’t feel too bad. Bumper stickers are only given out for the Monuments. :)

  25. @Frank Gotcha. Makes sense that you’d have every pro in the database instead of just the ones racing. From now on I shall not skimp on letters. It’s pretty cool that you do all this just for the love of the sport.

  26. ZachOlson :
    @Frank Gotcha. Makes sense that you’d have every pro in the database instead of just the ones racing. From now on I shall not skimp on letters. It’s pretty cool that you do all this just for the love of the sport.

    Actually, I think that Frank knows this site is like crack and that once he has enough of us hooked, he’ll start charging us and retire on the proceeds!

  27. @Marko, @Bianchi Denti

    Yeah, and she gets extra points for carrying enough speed at the top of a 1.3km climb with a 25% grade to be able to do such a salute.

    Arrow salute still lame, though, like Gilbert’s upturned visor. It just doesn’t matter as much.

    For consideration: does it matter that it’s for the Fleche Wallonne and not for the last name? Almost seems like shooting an arrow when your name is “arrow” is more arrogant than shooting an arrow when the race’s name is “arrow”, seems more deferential.

    But it’s still lame. It just doesn’t matter as much.

  28. @Buck Rogers

    Actually, I think that Frank knows this site is like crack and that once he has enough of us hooked, he’ll start charging us and retire on the proceeds!

    We jumped the shark with the hair article, so it’s over. Curtains. That and we did a post on the Gavia. Also crap. We’re packing it in. Time to head back over to Velonews for some quality. I’m looking for a buyer for the domain name. This will be a porn site before long.

  29. @xyxax
    Keep digging. I’m not sure you can get a minor and a game misconduct for the same infraction. I think you have to get a major penalty in there somewhere, too. Five for fighting, two for instigating, and a game misconduct.

    Speaking of which””and before I get called out for trolling””watching the Sedin twins cycle the puck is a thing of beauty…

  30. @frank
    Before u turn this into a porn site and laying down the V takes on an entirely different meaning how about u post my Murray to Moyne article?

    Oh and when it does go to porn I will still visit.

  31. @Marko

    Marko :
    @Bianchi DentiThat is an interesting point, she is one of those riders who very well could transcend the Rules.

    Exactly. If Gilbert rides with his visor/peak turned up, he’s redefine the rules. If I do the same, I’m just a dick trying to look like Gilbert.
    I tried an ironic Robbie McEwen “pointing to my chest multiple times with both index fingers” salute at the end of Welli-Roubaix. The fact that I was dead last AND still had another lap of the velodrome to do meant it was just embarrasing for all.

  32. Wait…are you guys trying to tell me you don’t come to this site to beat off? Then what do you want with pictures of sweaty, European men with their tight little shorts and smooth, muscular legs?

  33. @Marko, back to your earlier comment on snow in MN, we got about a foot in Bemidji last weekend and now the sky is shitting on us once again. If my bike wasn’t disassembled awaiting crucial parts I’d be fucking pissed.

  34. @ZachOlson
    And to think last year at this time I probably had 750k behind me. This year I’ve got less than half that, way less. It’s been a shitty spring for riding in these parts.

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