Adam Yates says he’s ‘high in confidence’ as he aims for a first Ardennes podium at La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday.
The Briton has only ridden Flèche twice before in his career, with a highest finishing position of 97th. The steep gradients of the finishing climb of the Mur de Huy (which this year is taken on three times) should suit Yates’ punchy climbing style, however he’s never been able to be present in the finale of the mid-week Ardennes Classic.
The 26-year-old has in fact performed better on the longer parcours of Liège-Bastogne-Liège where he finished eighth in 2017, and he should end a block of racing at the Monument on Sunday.
Despite a mixed record in the Ardennes in recent years, Yates says he’s coming in confident after a successful start to the season. Though he missed out on any overall titles in stage races so far this year, he took stage wins in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour of the Basque Country as well as second overall at Tirreno-Adriatico and Catalunya.
“I’m in good condition but I’ve never quite mastered the Ardennes races,” Yates said ahead of Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne. “The terrain suits me generally and Flèche is a bit harder than usual which should suit me more.
“I am nearing the end of a big block of racing which I am pleased about, with a few wins along the way, so my confidence is quite high but we will have to see how things go on Wednesday.”
As well as three ascents of the Mur de Huy this year, riders will take on eight other climbs, including three ascents of the Côte d’Ereffe and the Côte de Cherave. Yates will be supported in Flèche by Tsgabu Grmay, Damien Howson, Daryl Impey, Dion Smith, Nick Schultz as well as Michael Albasini, who has performed well in the Ardennes in the past, taking second place at Flèche in 2012 and third in 2015.
“We have some fresh riders coming in for Flèche Wallonne, notably Adam Yates,” said head sports director Matt White. “The race has one extra lap this year, so one more time up the Mur de Huy which makes it even harder.
“It is a really important race for us and I think we have a great chance with the riders we have.”