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30-05-2022 | Herman Nekkers

Flèche de Wallonie, a brutal sportive

La Flèche de Wallonie from Spa has been one of the most challenging sportives in the Benelux for decades. Four distances and a smashing finale make it an undisputed classic in the world of sportives. CycloWorld was present last Saturday.

Last weekend I rode the long distance of the Flèche de Wallonie: 215 kilometers and 4000 meters of climbing. How many times I've ridden this event I don't know, but this might just be the 10th participation. Yda, whom I know from La Chouffe Classic 2 weeks ago, is my companion for the day.

Colleague Frank is riding the second longest distance (183 km/3300m+) along with CycloWorld administrator Ruurd and cycling mate Martijn.

The start

At 7 o'clock it is still cold in Spa. The weather forecast is somewhat uncertain. Fresh in the morning, around 14 degrees in the afternoon, dry all day. I receive my race number via the Scan & Ride system. With the bike in hand you show a QR code you received when you registered. You receive your race number and start riding. Simple and safe.

I decide to ride with clothing in several layers, even a rain jacket. The first climb goes directly to the Col du Rosier (west), one of the highest points in Belgium. In the descent I see 6 degrees on my Garmin. Fortunately, the temperature rises quickly and before I know it, I have reached the first feed station. As usual at Golazo events, it is well stocked. The raincoat disappears into the back pocket to stay there for the rest of the day.

Hill after hill


The day proceeds as usual. A large number of hills, with fairytale names like Côte de Borlon, Rue de Hottemme, Côte de Roche-a-Frêne, Ancienne Barriere and Côte Saint-Jacques, are crossed on the way to the famous finale. The whole day will be about saving energy and not going all the way.

The number of participants is much lower than in previous years. On the flat stretches there used to be groups where you could go along nicely. Now we ride almost the entire day in pairs or individuals. You can tell by the average speed. This is a lot lower than other editions and the legs are being squeezed a lot. The weather today is changeable. During the periods with sun it is warm, but as soon as the clouds increase it becomes chilly. On two occasions it even splashes a little.


A curious incident occurs on the Roche-a-Frêne, one of the trickiest climbs of the day. A heavy rider suddenly comes down screaming in the first steep turn, falls and cries out as if his last hour has struck. I stop and ask if he has broken anything. He just asks for help unclipping his pedal. Then he gets up and there's nothing to worry about. Weird guy.

The trilogy

The end of the Flèche de Wallonie will be, as always, formed by the famous trilogy: Stockeu, Wanneranval and Thier de Coo. Three brutal climbs that present themselves after 168 kilometers and that follow each other in quick succession. Suffering like there's no tomorrow. Lightweight Yda attacks the slopes every time and then slows down. I myself am more of a diesel, with the result that we arrive at the top together every time. Nice.

Photo: Arrival on the Rosier, it's done.

The last feed station is situated at a very strange place and also a bit late in the route. In Stavelot you go via a gravel path around the back of a hotel. Not entirely without risk. In previous editions the last resupply was earlier and more logically placed before the Thier de Coo.

And now the Haute Levée and Col du Rosier (east) are waiting for a dessert. Luckily the legs are still in a relatively good condition, so I can digest the last hills well.

The after-party

At the finish we are immediately welcomed by Frank, Ruurd and Martijn. Frank is usually very critical of the Walloon road surface, but even he notices that the roads have improved a lot. There are some remarks about inattentive signalmen.

Photo: Herman (l) and Frank afterwards

Frank: "This sportive has a subscription to good weather. This year the forecast was a bit uncertain, which was reflected in the number of participants. The parking lots remained largely empty. However, the people at home were wrong: it was great cycling weather in the Ardennes. Sometimes a bit chilly and with a tiny bit of rain, but most of the day it was dry with regular sunshine.

Some signalmen seemed to have taken a day off, because they weren't always paying attention. The road surface in the Ardennes was surprisingly good. I was 100% satisfied. The last supply point was a bit late in the route and oddly placed. Nevertheless, the organization was fantastic and I had a nice day of cycling."

All in all, we can see that after decades this classic power house still stands like a house. Put Saturday after Ascension Day in your diary.



  • Beautiful and challenging route.
  • Very good feeding stops
  • Enough and friendly staff.
  • Bicycle mechanic at provisioning.
  • Remarkable good road surface by Ardennes standards.
  • Good signage.
  • Good facilities at the start: scan & ride, guarded bicycle parking, enough toilets.
  • Good options to chill after finishing.


  • Some signalmen were not very attentive.
  • The location of the last resupply in Stavelot is strange and a bit late in the route.

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