Le Mur: a Dutch wall?
January 22 nd 2019 - 12:00
Perhaps it will be necessary to set up a Dutch Corner on the climb up the wall-like Mur de Huy; or rather a Dutchwomen’s Corner, especially for one in particular: Anna van der Breggen, in contention for an unprecedented fifth triumph in a row on the women’s Flèche Wallonne. In the men’s race, Joop Zoetemelk is the only Dutchman to have triumphed on the Ardennes Classic (in 1976, seven years before the finish came to Huy!), but his countrywomen have helped to fly the colours of the Netherlands year upon year in Wallonia: nine successes out of the last twelve editions, from the first victory by Marianne Vos to the most recent symphony by Anna van der Breggen.
An early emerging prodigy, Vos is still on form at present, and continues to elicit comparisons, thanks to her glorious conquests, with the lord of the discipline Eddy Merckx, a homage that was quick to accompany her first pedal strokes. The Queen of the Ardennes, Anna van der Breggen, has the opportunity to do even better than Alejandro Valverde, who won four consecutive editions before the new generation usurped is crown on ‘his’ race up Le Mur last spring. Though a daunting prospect, Anna van der Breggen’s domination could inspire the rivals of the Olympic and World Champion. The Dutch excel in the Ardennes, but the pack that will set off from Grand-Place in Huy has an increasingly international accent.