Stop #4 is a grind, and those with big engines will capitalise. Right from the start, athletes will take on the unforgiving current of the Meuse River as they power against the flow for the first half of the swim. Survive that, and the pain swiftly transitions from the arms to the legs as the bike section kicks off with the largest climb on the 35K loop, taking the race away from the cobblestone roads of the Citadel and into the flowing forest trails that surround the city.
This is where the 2023 European Championship was held in 2023, and where Felix Forissier and Loanne Duvoisin made one of the biggest statements of their respective World Cup campaigns. But perhaps just as memorable were the completely unexpected weather conditions. Light rain and plenty of mud in many prior editions of the race have given the power riders even more of an advantage, but the extremely hot, dry, and dusty conditions that marked 2023 will raise a lot of questions when it comes to tyre choice and bike setup this year.
The return to the Citadel in 2024 comes as a single-feature race with no Short Track to account for, so expect every ounce of power this top tier of athletes has to be poured into the start of this race. The front pack should be settled by the top of the bike climb, then the battles begin.
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