Johansson backed for Mur battle at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine

Mon 20 Apr 2015

ORICA-AIS will back Swedish champion Emma Johansson at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, the fourth world cup of 2015, this Wednesday.

Starting and finishing atop the Mur de Huy ahead of the men’s race, La Flèche Wallonne Féminine will be Johansson’s second race after breaking her collarbone following a return at the Ronde van Vlaanderen World Cup just three weeks after suffering the injury.

The 31-year-old was a late withdrawal from yesterday’s Ronde van Gelderland due to sickness, but has recovered upon waking this morning.

“Emma will be our draw card rider,” sport director Gene Bates said.

“She had an disrupted build up to Flanders, but got through to her credit.  She has since had a little bit of a break and has put in a really good preparation leading into this race, except for the sickness on the weekend.

“We are confident she is going well and we are looking forward to seeing how she can go up the Mur de Huy on Wednesday afternoon.”

Buoyed by a fresh ORICA-AIS team, Johansson will enjoy the support of former Australian champion Amanda Spratt, 2015 Santos Women’s Tour winner Valentina Scadolara and 2015 Oceania time trial champion Katrin Garfoot.

2015 signings Lizzie Williams and Rachel Neylan, the latter in just her second race for the team, complete the line up.

“We have a really good team for this race,” Bates aid. “All the riders, except for Katrin Garfoot, have had a little break and time to prepare quite specifically for this race.”

“It’s Rachel Neylan’s second race for the team and she has been building really well. She is probably not at her peak fitness yet, but she has taken some good steps forward towards the Tour’s later in the year.

“Valentina and Amanda have been training well at home and they are really excited to come back in and play a pivotal support role for Emma. It might be getting up the road in a good breakaway to force other teams to chase, or it might just be direct support in the bunch and making sure she is in a good position leading into those last couple of climbs.”

Much like the men’s edition, the final ascent of the Mur de Huy has traditionally been the deciding feature to win or lose a team the bike race and, despite the additional climb added this year, Bates predicts that pattern to continue.

“In previous years it really has all come down to that final climb but with the additional new climb with five kilometres to go, we will see how that affects the outcome,” Bates said.

“I think it’ll just dwindle the race down further than what it normally would with a reduced group getting to the Mur de Huy in the final. I still think it’ll come down to that climb regardless.

“You can do everything right, all your nutrition, good position and looking after yourself all day but the true test is in that final 200m of the Mur. If you have the legs you can make a big difference, if you don’t, you are not going to be there at the finish.”

ORICA-AIS at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (22 April):

Katrin Garfoot
Emma Johansson
Rachel Neylan
Valentina Scandolara
Amanda Spratt
Lizzie Williams