La Flèche-Wallonne 2020 - Hirschi, first time lucky
September 30 th 2020 - 16:47
Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) got today a ground-breaking victory in his maiden participation at the Flèche Wallonne. The Swiss rider overpowered Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Michael Woods (EF Education First) to become the third youngest winner in the race’s history and the second ever Swiss rider to triumph on this event, joining the legendary Ferdi Kübler, winner in 1951 and 1952. This edition of the Flèche Wallonne followed the race’s usual pattern, with a long breakaway starring most of the day and an uphill sprint in the Mur de Huy determining the outcome.
166 riders took the start on the 84th edition of Flèche Wallonne at 11.33 to race over a 202 kilometres course from Herve to Mur de Huy. It was after 4 kilometres that four riders broke away from the peloton: Mauri Vansevenant (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Mathijs Paasschens (WB Bingoal) and Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie). Several other riders tried to join them, but they were unable to. After 20 kilometres, the group had built a one-minute gap to become the breakaway of the day.
De Marchi and Schelling on the chase
UAE Team Emirates and Ineos Greandiers took the reins on the bunch, letting the breakaway clock a time gap of 9’10” at the kilometre 50 of the race. The advantage of the front group decreased from then on and. By the entrance of the final circuit, it had come down to 5’20”. Right after the first climb to the Côte d’Ereffe, with 80 kilometres to go, Alessandro de Marchi (CCC Team) and Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) attacked from the bunch. Their pursuit went on for more than an hour until the Italian dropped the young Dutch rider on the second-to-last climb to the Mur de Huy. With only the last lap ahead, the breakaway had a 1’30” advantage on De Marchi and 2’15” on the pack.
Mauri Vansevenant’s one-man show
It was on the last lap that Vansevenant began to drop his breakaway companions one by one until he finally was alone at the head of the race with 21 kilometres to go. The rest of the attackers, De Marchi included, were brought back by the bunch, where Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) was one of the most offensive riders. On the Côte du Chemin des Gueuses, with 10 kilometres to go, Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First) broke away from the pack and caught Vansevenant 3 kilometres from the finish after the Belgian rider suffered a small crash. The duo was brought back to the bunch right at the foot of the final climb to the Mur de Huy. The favourites waited until 400 meters to go to accelerate, with Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) upping the pace and Michael Woods (EF Education First) leading the sprint soon after to be overtaken within the final hundred metres by Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) and Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r La Mondiale), first and second over the finish line ahead of the Canadian cyclist.