Lovkvist Plans To Make His Move In 2009 Fleche Wallonne
Sweden’s Thomas Lovkvist says he wants to get a top result for Columbia-Highroad in Wednesday’s 2009 Fleche Wallone one-day Classic in Belgium, with his victory in the Eroica race in Italy earlier this year serving as extra motivation.
“Eroica’s finish is kind of similar to the final part of Fleche Wallone, a very similar steep uphill climb to the line,” Lovkvist says. “Knowing that I did well in the Eroica helps boost my confidence for this one, too.”
“Fleche Wallone is a race which always comes down to the last climb of the Mur de Huy, and you have to be in the top 10 or 15 when you start it or there’s no way you can win. Then half-way up there’s a very steep S-bend, where you have to make a final acceleration if you want to cross the line in first place.”
Lovkvist will also be taking part in the tougher Liege-Bastogne-Liege Classic the following Sunday, and he says the mid-week Fleche Wallone is ideal for seeing your real condition for the weekend’s race. If you’re no good in Fleche then you’ll be no good in Liege, that’s for sure. In that way it’s a test. But I went well in the Tour of the Basque Country, although I didn’t kill myself there, and I’ve got high hopes for the Ardennes Classics.”
Team Columbia-Highroad will also have last year’s Fleche Wallone winner Kim Kirchen as part of the their line-up, but team manager Valerio Piva says the rider from Luxemberg won’t be starting as a favourite.
“Kim’s first race back after being injured in the Tour of California was the Circuite de la Sarthe in France and that went well. But then he crashed in the GP Denain and finally opted to skip Amstel Gold. It’s more likely that he’ll use Fleche to concentrate on improving his condition than to go all-out for the victory, but you never know.”
“In any case, we’ve got a well-rounded team, with riders like Michael Albasini, who was seventh in Fleche Wallonne last year, and who’s in very good condition after the Tour of the Basque Country where he won a stage.”
This year’s race has a new climb, the Cote de Bousalle, situated third last on the 199 kilometre hilly course. “It follows immediately after the Cote de Bohisseau, and it’s about 4.5 kilometres long,” Piva comments. “Kim and Maxime [Monfort] rode over it the other day and they say it’s not important in itself, but added to the other climb, it could make quite a difference.”
Columbia-Highroad for the Fleche Wallone 2009: Thomas Lovkvist (Swe); Kim Kirchen (Lux); Michael Albasini (Swi); Craig Lewis (USA); Tony Martin (Ger); Maxime Monfort (Bel); Marco Pinotti (Ita); Frantisek Rabon (Cze).