Cycling: Valverde Strong Favorite For Ardennes Classics

The Belgians swept the Cobbled classics this year, with Greg Van Avermaet cleaning up at Paris-Roubaix, E3 Harelbeke, and Gent-Wevelgem; while countryman Philippe Gilbert took the Tour of Flanders (Van Avermaet finished second).

Now, with little time wasted, we move on to the Ardennes classics. In the span of seven days, we’ll see three of the most exciting one-day races of the year. There’s the Amstel Gold this Sunday (April 16th), la Fleche Wallonne the following Wednesday (April 19th), and Liege-Bastogne-Liege next Sunday (April 23rd).

Let’s take a look at the favorites.

Amstel Gold Odds

The Amstel Gold is both the youngest and the most unpredictable of the Ardennes Classics. With narrow roads and treacherous urban terrain, the race is infamously dangerous and race-altering crashes are not uncommon.

Team Sunweb’s Michael Matthews heads the favorites alongside Quick-Step Floors’ Philippe Gilbert, who is seeking his fourth Amstel Gold win.

Also on the list is Alejandro Valverde, who is the stand-out favorite for the other Ardennes classics, and Michał Kwiatkowski, who is having a great season so far with wins at Milan-San Remo and Strade Bianche. The hero of the moment, Greg Van Avermaet, is also predictably among the favorites.

Odds to win the 2017 Amstel Gold:

Philippe Gilbert: 9/1

Michael Matthews: 9/1

Alejandro Valverde: 23/2

Michał Kwiatkowski: 93/7

Greg Van Avermaet: 93/7

Sonny Colbrelli: 93/7

Fleche Wallonne Odds

Alejandro Valverde has won the last three editions of la Fleche Wallonne, and he’s the hot favorite to win it again. The punchy up-hill finish suits the Spanish veteran perfectly so it’s no wonder he’s made a habit of winning the event.

Also in the running is Dan Martin, who was out-sprinted by Valverde last year, and Sergio Henao, who placed second back in 2013. As expected, Philippe Gilbert and Michal Kwiatkowski are also among the favorites.

Odds to win the 2017 Fleche Wallonne:

Alejandro Valverde: 9/11

Dan Martin: 21/4

Sergio Henao: 93/7

Philippe Gilbert: 93/7

Michał Kwiatkowski: 24/1

Liege – Bastogne – Liege Odds

Yet again, Alejandro Valverde will start the Ardennes Monument, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, as the pre-race favorite. The three-time winner started last year’s edition as the favorite but lost after making some strategic errors.

Dan Martin, Michał Kwiatkowski, and Philippe Gilbert are once again high on the list of favorites. And 2014 winner, Simon Gerrans, also stands among them. However, like with the Fleche Wallonne, Valverde towers above the field as the outright favorite.

Odds to win the 2017 Liege – Bastogne – Liege:

Alejandro Valverde: 3/2

Dan Martin: 17/3

Michał Kwiatkowski: 93/7

Simon Gerrans: 47/3

Philippe Gilbert: 19/1

Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick / Ans – Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 26 avril 2015, arrivée (B18) / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons