Your top five...

1. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb)
2. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale)
3. Mike Woods (EF Pro Cycling)
4. Warren Barguil (Arkea Samsic)
5. Dan Martin (Israel Startup Nation)

Flèche Wallonne
'Nobody can stop the Swiss!' - Hirschi powers to La Fleche Wallonne victory
30/09/2020 AT 16:46

Hirschi has it!

The Swiss rider wins La Fleche Wallonne.

He powered past Woods in the last 25 metres, with Benoit Cosnefroy just appearing to grab second out from under Woods' nose.

This lad has an amazing future ahead of him.

Woods goes past Porte with a big dig!

But has he gone too soon?

Richie Porte lights it up!

But doesn't get very far.

It's Pogacar, Kwiatkowski and Bagioli making the running

Hirschi is still there too with Benoit Cosnefroy. Incredibly, Omar Fraile has made it back.

Vansevenant and Uran caught

It's going to come down to the Mur de Huy.

Crash for Vansevenant!

Good lord. In his desperation to stay away he slightly overcooked a turn and went flying off the road and into the undergrowth.

That's a brutally hard blow to his hopes. He was able to get up and onto his bike quite quickly, but Uran has caught him now and they are together with just 1 km to the Mur de Huy.

8km to go – A mighty performance

Vansevenant is giving it absolutely everything and you have to wonder if he can get up the Mur de Huy after putting so much of his energy into the preceding kilometres.

The gap between leader and peloton is now 37 seconds. Uran is betwixt the two. I would say the balance of power is just tipping back towards the peloton again.

Rigo-ing for gold!

Huge attack from the Colombian demigod Rigoberto Uran. He's absolutely blitzed away from the peloton on the Côte du Chemin des Gueuses and he has immediately opened a gap.

He's taken 25 seconds out of Vansevenant's lead in just a few moments.

AG2R are the team taking responsibility or the chase, but they look unhurried. Or maybe just knackered?

10km to go – Daring to believe

The peloton has suddenly got quite cagey now. Vansevenant's lead has crept up to a minute again. What a debut this would be.

He has one more climb before the final assault of the Mur de Huy.

15km to go – Crash for Omar Fraile

Bad news for the Astana leader, he'll struggle to catch back on this late in the day and with such an infernal pace being set.

Costa is caught by the peloton and that leads to Jan Hirt attacking over the top.

48 seconds for Vansevenant.

18km to go – Still one minute for Vansevenant

And this is really impressive stuff. He's not losing much time at all despite the best efforts of Lotto Soudal, who are now the ones trying to close the gap.

Rui Costa has attacked out of the peloton and has about 15 seconds. This is good teamwork from UAE Team Emirates, with Pogacar now taking it easy in the bunch and able to watch the wheels while everybody else pursues his team mate.

20km to go – Paaschens left for dead!

Now this is really impressive. Mauri Vansevenant is riding in his first ever WorldTour race and he's just ridden away from his breakaway companion. He's going to make a real race of this!

And that move from the front of the race seems to have sparked a reaction in the peloton. Tosh van der Sande is the one who tried to force something, while Rui Costa and Jens Keukeleire are policing the front of the peloton.

25km to go – Only Paasschens and Vansevenant remain

Out front there's just Paasschens and Vansevenant remaining from the break. They have a gap of 2'30" to the peloton now.

It looks like Alessandro De Marchi may soon be caught by the peloton, which has already brought back that small move of six including Henao and Vakoc.

Attack!

There has been a weird sort of half-attack through the top of the Mur de Huy there. Not sure whether that's just some guys wanting to get the climbing done that little bit quicker or a genuine effort to make the race even harder and break things up

It looks to be six riders in this group and Krists Neilands, Peter Vakoc, Sergio Henao and Kevin Ledanois are involved.

30 km to go – Pen-Huy-ltimate climb time!

Second of three ascents of the Mur coming up. The break are just about still working together, although Mauri Vansevenant is riding away from them a little bit on these tough inclines almost without meaning to.

De Marchi and Schelling will be along in two minutes. Although as I type that, it does seem as though the German and the Italian have parted ways. Just De Marchi in the chase then.

You could at least get the hoover out...

In France when the Tour comes through, whole villages tidy themselves up for the occasion. Out comes the bunting, the roads get resurfaced, the chateau walls are scrubbed and painted, the abandoned cars are towed somewhere out of sight and the fields are beautified with hay bales and decorative machinery.

In Belgium and for Fleche Wallonne, naaaaatt so much.

40km to go – The race is on

Well we have started to see some serious pace and the result is a lot of guys tailing out of the peloton and a drop of two minutes in the break's lead. De Marchi and Schelling are about 2'30" behind the break, with the peloton two more minutes in arrears.

Lots of Sunweb jerseys up there at the front now, with one EF Pro Cycling jersey there to help out on the shoulders of Hugh Carthy.

47km to go – Ineos and Kwiatkowski at the front

The British team are bery close to the fron of the peloton and are committing way more men to the collective chase. Their man for today should be Michal Kwiatkowski, bringing some white-hot form into this race after just missing the Worlds podium on Sunday and that lovely stage win in the Tour de France.

Ineos have actually been pretty dedicated today in helping to manage the break, so they must have real faith in their man. Perhaps unluckily for Kwiatkowski, the man who beat him into fourth place is also here today; Marc 'The Haircut' Hirschi.

Final 50!

Hold onto your hats folks, this could get explosive. I misread the graphic earlier when I told you the break has 3'39". That was actually their gap to the chasing pair of De Marchi and Schelling. The full gap back to the peloton is a very healthy 6'10".

If De Marchi and Schelling can get across with a little bit of energy in the tanks, I think they could become a formidable sextet.

If the peloton is forced to chase hard in the next 30 or 40 km then we could see a race decided by a move before the Mur. Which, like, never happens.

Talent spotting

It was very interesting to see which riders came up to the front on the first passage of the Mur. Two Sunweb riders that are NOT Marc Hirschi but probably working for him to control things, Dani Martinez for EF Pro Cycling, and Tadej Pogacar and Rui Costa for UAE Team Emirates. No sign of Mike Woods, EF's most likely winner today, though.

63km to go – Mur de Hurty

So the Mur de Huy, for those unfamiliar, is a brutally steep climb that has been the decisive one in the race for as long as I can remember. I just checked and La Fleche has been finishing in Huy since 1983, which is not only longer than I can remember, it's longer than I've been alive.

Here's last year's finish to whet your appetite.

WATCH - Alaphilippe takes victory in dramatic Fleche Wallonne finish

The vital statistics are 1 km at 11.8%, but make no mistake that's the longest single kilometre in professional bike racing. The peloton has just reached the bottom of the climb, with the brak 3'39" up the road, and the counter-attacking pair of Alessandro de Marchi and Ide Schelling somewhere in the gap between.

70km to go – Third time's the charm?

We're just getting our first look at the closing circuit, which the peloton will tackle three times total. There are three climbs, with the legendary Mur de Huy to finish things off.

There's at least one tortuously tight turn at the foot of the Côte du chemin des Gueuses that has already made life tricky for a lot of riders in the peloton and I think we could be in for an explosive final 90 minutes of racing.

A few moments later on the way to the bottom of the Mur, we saw another micro-crash. It's stressful stuff for the riders. Great entertainment for us watching!

85km to go – What a bunch of losers

In stark contrast to the women's race won for the sixth time in a row by Anna van der Breggen, today's men's race had not one single former winner on the startline.

Julian Alaphilippe, newly minted world champion, has won the last two Fleche Wallonne men's races, and you have to go back to 2011 to find a currently active rider who is not Alejandro Valverde and has won this race. The dark wizard Valverdemort is skipping Fleche this year in favour of preparing for Liege-Bastogne-Liege on 4 October, while 2011 winner Phil Gilbert is also focusing on other targets.

This lack of the familiar favourites does make for a more exciting race in prospect, and a slightly modified course for this year's edition also adds a little bit of spice.

100km to go – Yellow jersey hungry for more

With 100km remaining of this stage, one of the teams most visible at the front of the peloton has been UAE Team Emirates. They're riding high after that unbelievable win in the Tour de France, and they clearly believe their Slovenian wunderkind, Tadej Pogacar can keep on winning bike races.

Here's the man himself, talking about his chances today and his remarkable 2020 season.

Tadej Pogacar on his 'crazy season' and why he could win Fleche-Wallonne

Big news out of Holland

We've heard in the last 24 hours or so that the two Dutch stages of the BinckBank Tour, a stage race based out of The Netherlands and Belgium, will not go ahead because of climbing rates of COVID-19 infection there in the Netherlands.

Not only is this a big blow to the BinckBank Tour, it also casts a shadow over other Dutch races, most ominously, the Amstel Gold Race due to take place on 10 October.

It's a worrying sign and – while the Tour de France was held up as the ultimate test of cycling in a pandemic-struck world – it shows that we are not out of the woods just yet.

You can read more on that story here.

Wednesday's BinckBank Tour stage cancelled due to Dutch Covid-19 restrictions

Earlier today...

Anna van der Breggen grabbed her first win in the rainbow bands at the first time of asking when she won the women's Fleche Wallonne for the sixth consecutive year.

If the last week has taught us anything, it's that Anna van der Breggen is quite good at riding up steep hills.

Van der Breggen storms up the Mur de Huy to win Fleche-Wallonne

121km to go – Big lead for the boys up front

We have covered 70 kilometres of the total 202 on the menu. The breakaway includes four riders, with an advantage over the peloton of 7'48".

Their names are Mauri Vansevenant (Deceuninck QuickStep), Aaron van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) and Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal - Wallonie Bruxelles)

Greetings!

Welcome to the live blog of LaFleche Wallonne, our first spring classic of the autumn.

Flèche Wallonne
Highlights from the men's edition of La Fleche Wallonne as Hirschi takes the spoils
30/09/2020 AT 16:44
Flèche Wallonne
After La Fleche Wallonne is it time for a change?
30/09/2020 AT 16:22