A strong six rider squad line up for ORICA-AIS in La FlÃ¨che Wallonne FÃ©minineMon 18 Apr 2016
ORICA-AIS head into the sixth WorldTour race of the season, Flèche Wallonne Féminine, ready to take on the famous Mur de Huy with a strong six-rider squad.
The Australian outfit will line up with a well balanced, experienced team which includes 33-year-old Annemiek Van Vleuten who last year finished the race in second place.
After her consistent results so far this season, which includes a second place overall at the recent Energiewacht Tour, the team head into the race with confidence and high ambitions.
"We have got six really good riders lining up," explained sport director Gene Bates. "They each bring something different to the team and they've all shown in the last fortnight that they are in really good shape."
"Annemiek had a really good result last year in this race and she's been getting better and better each race, her recent results at Energiewacht Tour is confirmation of that."
Van Vleuten will be joined by competent climbers, Australian champion Amanda Spratt and world championship medallist Rachel Neylan, who have both tackled the Mur de Huy before, and will be key players for the team coming into the finale.
The three powerhouse riders, Australian time trial champion Katrin Garfoot, American Tayler Wiles and Gooike-Geraardsbergen winner Gracie Elvin complete the team line up, forming a well rounded squad giving ORICA-AIS different options on the tough, hilly course.
"Katrin has been in the top 15 at this race before and Tayler has also had strong results here," Bates continued. "Now we are getting into the races that suit Rachel much more and Amanda has just raced with the national team in Bira and shown her climbing abilities there."
"I think all six of these girls can all be there towards the end on this kind of course. They will need to be in fine form if we are going to beat the likes of Boels-Dolmans. The whole team really needs to be on top of their game and work well together.
"We are going into the race with high ambitions and we have multiple cards to play with this group of riders."
The 137kilometre WorldTour race will cover nine climbs including two ascents of the 1.3kilometre Muur de Huy, known as 'the wall' due to sections of the climb reaching a 26% gradient.
The riders with the best legs on the day will be left battling it out on the famous steep slopes of the Huy.
ORICA-AIS riders in La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (20th April):