Defending champion Hirschi to face teammate Pogacar in tough Fleche Wallonne field

Marc Hirschi will face stiff competition for his Fleche Wallonne title on Wednesday night after it was revealed fellow UAE Team Emirates rider and defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar will also be in the mix.

WATCH La Fleche Wallonne LIVE, FREE and in HD on SBS VICELAND and SBS On Demand tonight from 7:05pm (AEST).

Hirschi claimed last year's instalment in surprising fashion, joining Belgian icon Eddy Merckx as the only two to win on debut.

At 22 years of age, the Swiss stunned the field to become the youngest-ever winner of La Fleche Wallonne and he will now have it all to do to repeat the feat.

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Pogacar recently finished off the Tour of the Basque Country after winning the UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico, while Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), veteran Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) and 2019 champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) are also in contention.

However, despite Hirschi's standing as defending champion, UAE Team Emirates sports director Andrej Hauptman confirmed the team's leader remains undecided.

"We have Hirschi who won the race last year, Diego [Ulissi] already finished in the top 3 [in 2019] and Tadej [Pogacar] feels good so we have more than one leader," he said.

"We’ll see who feels better and we’ll decide in the race who we ride for."

This year's route is set to cover 192 kilometres from Charleroi to Huy, while La Fleche Wallonne Feminine will span 130.2km in Huy alone.

Double world champion Anna van der Breggen is aiming to win the Belgian event for the seventh straight time, in what would be an extension of her all-time record.

Fellow SD Worx teammate Demi Vollering, meanwhile, could pose as van der Breggen's biggest threat, as could Denmark's Cecilie Uttrup (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and 26-year-old Australian, Sarah Gigante (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank).



 


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2 min read
Published 21 April 2021 at 11:27am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS