Team BikeExchange will line-up at Wednesday’s La Flèche Wallonne with a team boasting diverse talent, ranging from Colombian climber Esteban Chaves to Australian puncheur Michael Matthews.
After a stage win a Volta a Catalunya and a fourth-place finish at Amstel Gold Race yesterday, Chaves and Matthews head the seven-rider squad at the iconic one-day race which follows traditions for 2021, with the peloton tackling the brutally steep Mur de Huy no less than three times.
This year, the race begins in Charleroi and makes its way over to Huy before climbing the Mur for the first time to enter onto the finishing circuits, where the peloton will complete two laps. After placing fifth and eighth in the past, Matthews is no stranger to the 26% gradients of the Mur and will be supported by a mixed team, giving Team BikeExchange options for various styles of racing that can unfold.
Team BikeExchange at La Flèche Wallonne:
Brent Bookwalter (USA)
Esteban Chaves (COL)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Barnabás Peák (HUN)
Robert Stannard (AUS)
“It is a race that I am really looking forward to, I remember always watching this race on the TV when I was a kid in Colombia so I have good memories of it and this year will be my third time racing it.
I have the feeling it is a race that suits the climbers more than Amstel and I feel like the team performance and my form is good now, so we can have a really good result with Matthews or with myself. We will see how it goes, the way it is raced and also how the weather is that day, but it is a race that is always hard.
These one-day races are always pretty aggressive and the team worked awesomely in Amstel, so I am really looking forward to seeing what we can do now in Fleche and Liege.”
Mat Hayman – Sport Director
“It is a difficult race and a very demanding final. The climb of the Mur de Huy at the end, it is a particular climb and finish and there’s not many races that finish on a climb of that steepness or length.
We have two guys that are very capable, and they are very different riders; you wouldn’t normally have them in the same race. So, we have options for the final and it is exciting to see there are two guys that are totally different; one is a classics sprinter and the other is a pure climber, yet this finish actually suits both of them.
Michael has finished up there before in the top-10 and Chaves knows this race, he knows the climb and it is infamous, so to have raced up it before and not just have heard people taking about it is important. He has good knowledge of what to expect so I think we have very good options. Rob Stannard, he has also been moving well and we expect him to be there in the final and as active as he has been in the last few races.
We have a different start, starting in Charleroi, so there’s a couple of minor changes but the laps around the Mur are similar to other years so the guys that have raced here before know what to expect.”
2021 La Flèche Wallonne Race Details:
Wednesday, 21st April: Charleroi to Mur de Huy, 192km
Photo courtesy of Getty Images