January 25 th 2023 - 11:30
It could be a spring afternoon like any other, except this one brings together thousands of cycling enthusiasts on steep paths where extraordinary destinies intertwine. Look at the young retiree Philippe Gilbert. In 2011, the child prodigy from the Ardennes gifted his compatriots extraordinary memories with a historic classics campaign marked in particular by his conquest of the Mur de Huy, the first Flèche Wallonne won by a Belgian champion in almost ten years.
At the side of the road, all generations rubbed shoulders. The elders naturally invoked Claudy Criquielion, a prophet in his Walloon lands and the first winner of the Flèche on the Mur, in 1985, before he repeated the feat in 1989. The youngsters discovered a rural and electrifying atmosphere. Some of them had to be carried by their parents to see over the barriers but they had come with their bikes to measure themselves, already, on these terrible slopes where the cycling heroes rise and fall.
There was also Dylan Teuns, a young teenager whose first pedal strokes quickly brought to mind Criquielion. Gilbert flew before his eyes and, eleven years later, it was in the same place that he managed to get the better of Alejandro Valverde, another Ardennes master who had identified Teuns and Julian Alaphilippe five years ago as his potential successors...
From Herve and through Blegny, where the Doyenne of the classics was born at the end of the 19th century, to Huy, the roads of the Province of Liège will be steeped in history and the champions escorted by a passionate crowd. One just needs to prick up his ears to travel through the history of the event. And to keep his eyes open to see the champions of tomorrow get enthusiastic for the heroes of the spring.