If you had to pick two favourites for the 2017 editions of La Flèche Wallonne, then you couldn’t have not chosen Alejandro Valverde and Anna van der Breggen.
Valverde took victory in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (having taken his first victory in 2006), while Van der Breggen has dominated the women’s race in 2015 and 2016.
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But could they do it again?
The Belgian race is the midweek Classic that splits the three Ardennes Classics, with Amstel Gold Race last Sunday and Liège-Bastogne-Liège coming up this weekend.
The race normally comes down to a sprint up the steep Mur de Huy climb that the race has become famous for, though the course takes it on a total of three times in the men’s race and twice for the women.
In fact, some have called for a change to the course finish to stop such formulaic dominance by the likes of Valverde, but for 2017 the finish remained the same.
Valverde came up against the likes of Dan Martin (Quick-Step), Michal Kwiatkowski and Sergio Henao (Sky) and Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott), who were all vying to end the Spaniard’s run on the race.
Van der Breggen would need to beat the likes of Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie), Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) as well as her own teammate Lizzie Deignan to take a third consecutive victory.