Yet Anvers will be all but forgotten by day's end, for Huy, or more correctly the vertiginous hill that bears its name and since 1984, the final battle scene each year at La Flèche Wallonne, will be front and centre Monday as the puncheurs of the Ardennes Classics do their Spring thing but only in Summer, and we get our first glimpse of just who is in what shape to contend for the top step in Paris, still twenty days in the distance.
Mountain passes & hills
Km 109.0 - Côte de Bohissau: 2.4 kilometre-long climb at 5.5% - category 4
Km 143.0 - Côte d'Ereffe: 2.1 kilometre-long climb at 5% - category 4
Km 154.0 - Côte de Cherave: 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 8.1% - category 4
Km 159.5 - Mur de Huy: 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 9.6% - category 3
Thrice climbed thrice in Flèche Wallonne though once only on Stage 3, ‘The Wall of Huy' or its less popular name, le Chemin des Chapelles (The Path of the Chapels), boasting sections around 17 per cent - with one bend hitting 26 per cent! - combined with a stage length of just 154km, should make for a highly explosive finale.
And, with the expected time differences, one will almost certainly see a change of race leadership before the Paris-Roubaix themed stage tomorrow (Tuesday, Stage 4).
Christian Prudhomme, Directeur du Tour de France, says:
"The first finish of the Tour at the top of the Mur de Huy will be noticed on the occasion of the third day of the race. But other than the promising show in the final moments of the stage, the hierarchy that will be established on the line will already give a good idea of the level of form of the top guns.
"In the same way that (Vincenzo) Nibali's performance in Sheffield announced the stunning masterpiece of the Italian on the 2014 Tour, the man who will tame the Mur should be one of the main actors…"
Matt White, Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director, says:
"This should be the first shake-up for GC. We finish on Mur de Huy, but we also do a couple of climbs (before) that were in this year's Flèche Wallonne.
"If you look at the history of Flèche Wallonne the last couple of years, a pretty big bunch has arrived at the bottom of the Mur de Huy. But the climbs they've included in this year's Flèche Wallonne and also in this stage, there will not be a bunch of more than forty or fifty riders arriving at the bottom - I can guarantee you that.
"I think the climbs in the last 30 or 40K will be (raced) at warp speed - and it will be very, very nervous. The top of the penultimate climb (Côte de Cherave) is 5 or 6K from the finish line; it's really hard - eight to ten percent, straight in front of you. You get to the top, (then) you descend for about 2K and you're back on the river - then you've got two-and-a-half K before the Mur de Huy. There's no time to come back (if you're dropped).
"It's for the Classics guys but it's for the Ardennes Classics guys. So, at the end of the day, all the GC favourites, they're pretty handy in the Ardennes. It's not their speciality - for some it is - but you'll see a mix of Ardennes Classics-type of riders and the GC guys.
"The nervous thing is that everyone knows this will be the first selection - well, it could be the day before, but this will be the first climbing selection - so it'll be fast from a long way out."