As a special „treat“ for the 40th finish of La Flèche Wallonne atop the Mur de Huy, the peloton will tackle the brutal ascent of the Chemin des Chapelles on four occasions for the very first time. Another major change to the programme for Wednesday, 17 April is that the women will start in the early afternoon and finish an hour after the men at the end of an extended course (143.5 km).
The programme for Sunday, 21 April has also been inverted. Remco Evenepoel and his rivals will lead the vanguard to the Ardent City for the 110th edition of Liège–Bastogne–Liège. A while later, the women will follow the same course from Bastogne to Liège (147.6 km), clashing on climbs such as the Côte de Cornémont, which comes between La Redoute and the Côte des Forges.
25 squads —including four wildcard teams— of seven riders each will make up the 175-strong pelotons of La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège, while 144 cyclists representing 24 outfits will get to grips with La Flèche Wallonne Femmes and Liège–Bastogne–Liège Femmes.
Once a year, the roads of the Province of Liège lead to Huy and Liège and rekindle the fire of the Ardennes classics, a sequence of races that have gone down in cycling history. First raced in 1936 (on a course from Tournai to Liège), La Flèche Wallonne went through a watershed moment in 1985, when it moved its finish line to the summit of the Mur de Huy. The upcoming 88th edition, scheduled for 17 April 2024, will therefore be the 40th time that the race culminates on an ascent that immediately earned a spot among the toughest climbs in pro cycling.
To mark the occasion, the final circuit has been compacted to 31.6 km, with the Côte d’Ereffe and the Mur de Huy as the pièces de résistance. For the first time ever, the riders will have to drag their bicycles up these slopes (1.3 km at an average gradient of 9.6%, peaking at close to 20%, most notably on the Claudy Criquielion turn, named for the first victor on the Mur) an eye-watering four times! The successor to Tadej Pogacar, who clinched his first victory in 2023, will blast across the finish line around 4:30 pm, after 199.1 km of racing from Charleroi, which will host the start of the race for the 30th time.
Minutes after the gripping finale of the men’s race, the stars of La Flèche Wallonne Femmes will embark on their own adventure to tame the Mur too, in keeping with a fine tradition that goes all the way back to 1998. As usual, the women’s race will roll out of the Grand-Place in Huy, but the start of the 28th edition has been moved to 2 pm so that the crowds can give them a wild reception around 6 pm. On their way to the Mur, they will discover new ascents in Gives, Courrière and Évrehailles, coming at the beginning of a course that will be about 15 kilometres longer (143.5 km).
The order of the races will also be switched around on Sunday, 21 April. Liège–Bastogne–Liège Femmes will start in the early afternoon and draw to a close about an hour and a half after the Old Lady. Remco Evenepoel, eager to join Léon Houa, Eddy Merckx and Moreno Argentin in the ultra-select club of riders who have won the race three times in a row since its inaugural edition in 1892, will face the same climbs that sent him on a trajectory to his second triumph in 2023, including the detour to Cornémont, just after La Redoute, where he left Tom Pidcock in the dust.
Heading out from Bastogne, the women’s peloton will follow the very same route to Quai des Ardennes: a 147.6 km roller coaster peppered with nine climbs, starting with the Côte de Saint-Roch and also featuring the Wanne–Stockeu–Haute-Levée triptych before the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons, the last major challenge of the day. At the end of the adventure, glory awaits in the Ardent City.