The men and women’s versions of the Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège have been scheduled for 21 and 25 April, respectively, after returning to their usual slots on the calendar.
The Flèche Wallonne is bringing back the traditional start in Charleroi, with a course steeped in the history of the race all the way to the final climb up the Mur de Huy, while Liège–Bastogne–Liège will have an extra sting in the tail thanks to the addition of the new Côte de Desnié.
The women’s two races have also been backloaded by the organisers. The men and women’s courses will converge in the final 90 kilometres in the Flèche Wallonne and the final 80 kilometres on the road to Liège.
New partners are stepping up to the plate, including AG, Shimano and Decathlon, while Cofidis has renewed its commitment to the ardennes classics.
The newly crowned world champion was the only one left with a bitter taste in his mouth after the exceptional autumn editions of the classics, held at the tail end of the 2020 season. Marc Hirschi and Anna van der Breggen’s wins in the Flèche Wallonne, followed by Primož Roglič and Lizzie Deignan’s victories in Liège–Bastogne–Liège, were in line with the character of the Ardennes classics, coming at the end of gruelling races in which only the strongest and toughest riders stayed in contention until the finish. Six months later, it is time for the pretenders to the crown of the Flèche Wallonne to reset their clocks to the usual dates. The men will roll out of Charleroi, which hosted the start of the race from 1998 to 2012. The road to Huy will follow the traditional east-west trajectory and pit the peloton against the Côte d’Yvoir for the first time, but the Côte de Gives, another addition to the course, is where things will really get serious. Following two 32 km loops with a profile that looks like the serrated edge of a saw blade, the final showdown will take place on the unique Mur de Huy, the ultimate litmus test for punchers. The women’s race will merge onto the course of the men’s race for the final 90 kilometres. Will Anna van der Breggen, the undisputed master of the Chemin des Chapelles, with six victories to her name, be able to extend her dominance on this beefed-up course?
Liège–Bastogne–Liège moved its finish line back downtown in 2019. An audacious solo move earned Jakob Fuglsang the win that year, while last October it was a group of five attackers that vied for victory in a messy sprint. This time round, the home straight on Quai des Ardennes will come after almost 260 kilometres of racing on a course featuring the brand-new Côte de Desnié, a nasty climb (1.6 km at an average gradient of 8%) that comes shortly before the decisive Côte de la Redoute, the point where lactic acid starts to reach agonising levels. The riders will have to leave something in the tank if they want to use the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons as a springboard to try and win the Old Lady. The same holds true for the ladies, who will start this year’s edition in Liège and tackle another gruelling 141 km course: the fifth running of the women’s race will take the peloton to the Côte de Desnié, Col du Rosier and Côte des Forges for the first time.
Three new partners and a renewed commitment
• In 2021, the ardennes classics are delighted to welcome AG on board as the new „Major Partner“ of the four Belgian races. Cycling has been part of AG’s DNA for a long time. Through its partnerships, AG seeks to promote cycling as a sport and as part of everyday life. This partnership is a long-term commitment, running until the end of 2024.
• As announced a month ago, Shimano is now an „Official Partner“. The Japanese firm will leverage its experience and know-how in the field of neutral technical support.
• Decathlon is now an „Official Provider“. Its focus will be on young fans and bicycle safety.
• Finally, Cofidis, which has been at our side since 2012, is extending its commitment to the Ardennes classics as an „Official Partner“.
Amaury Sport Organisation is proud to have the support of all the partners of the ardennes classics and acknowledge their strong commitment.