With Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) the odds-on favourite to claim a fourth successive victory in La Flèche Wallonne this afternoon, race organisers have been urged to change up the parcours for future editions in order to provide opportunities for other riders.
The call was made by Lotto-Soudal's Thomas De Gendt, who said that Valverde was once again the outstanding favourite for this year's race, and that there was a need for the course to be changed if the race was to remain interesting and maintain its prestige.
>>> La Flèche Wallonne 2017 live TV guide
"I do not see how he can be beaten," De Gendt told Het Nieuwsblad. "As long as the finish line is at the top of the Mur de Huy and age has no impact on Valverde's body, we will see him win.
"The race organisers should have the guts to move the line four kilometres further on. That would make this Classic more than just a sprint uphill."
Watch: Ardennes Classics essential guide
De Gendt said that the current positioning of the finish at the very top of the steep 1.2km meant that the entire 204.5km race came down to two minutes of action, but said that he didn't think race organisers A.S.O. would make the changes he was asking for.
"We at Lotto-Soudal will try to prevent Valverde taking a fifth win, but I fear that is a hopeless task.
"There are three or four other teams with one goal to have 50 to 60 men entering the final sprint up the Mur de Huy. And I fear that there will be little to be done to stop Valverde, and the rest must be content with second, third, or fourth."
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