Mitchelton-SCOTT women looking to carry positive momentum into Liège–Bastogne–LiègeFri 20 Apr 2018
The second edition of the Liège–Bastogne–Liège Women takes place on Sunday, with an in form Mitchelton-SCOTT women’s team looking to position Amanda Spratt and Annemiek Van Vleuten at the front over the iconic climbs of Wallonia.
A challenging and rolling 135,5kilometre route runs from Bastogne to Liège taking in four major climnbs including the Cote de la Vecquee, a Redoute, La Roche-aux-Faucons and the traditional climax over the Saint-Nicholas before the ramp to the finish.
After strong performances at both Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne, a versatile squad is ready and motivated to support Spratt and Van Vleuten on Sunday, with Commonwealth Games silver medalist Georgia Williams returning to Europe and completing the line-up alongside Australians Jenelle Crooks and Jessica Allen.
Jessica Allen (AUS, 25)
Jenelle Crooks (AUS, 23)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 30)
Annemiek Van Vleuten (NED, 35)
Georgia Williams (NZL, 24)
The races first editon in 2017 saw the key attacks go over La Redoute, La Roche-aux-Faucons and finally Saint-Nicholas with Van Vleuten leading a reduced chasing group behind eventual winner Anna Van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) and three riders in between. Van Vleuten crossed the line in fifth place with Spratt following in the top 30.
The course is hilly throughout and will sofetent up the legs until the major climbs come in the second half and it will be crucial to be at the front over the Cote de la Vecquee with just over 50kilometres to go.
This is where the early breakaway is usually brought back ahead of the definitive attacks that may come on La Redoute and the closing ascents, with Spratt and Van Vleuten in the ranks Mitchelton-SCOTT will be aiming to be aggressive and right in the mix.
Annemiek Van Vleuten:
“I feel good going into Liège, the course suits me a little bit better than Fleche Wallonne and with Spratty being in such amazing form – which she showed again on Wednesday, that gives us a lot of confidence to go together in the final.”
“Spratty has really stepped up this year and I am looking forward to racing together on Sunday and despite crashing on my shoulder in Fleche I took a lot of confidence from the race. I looked back at my time up the Mur de Huy and it was lot faster compared to last year so that reassures me that I am in good shape.
“We did a solid recon of the route and I really like this final and am very focused on Sunday, it’s the last of the spring classics and I can’t believe that it’s over already. It will be good to have Georgia back in the team after her Commonwealth Games silver medal and hopefully she’s not suffering too much with the jet lag.”
Sport director Gene Bates:
“Sunday’s race at Liege should suit our climbers more than the short, sharp and punchier climbs we contended with in Fleche Wallonne. It’s still a very difficult and challenging course, and easy to identify the important points on the parcours, but we have two strong and in form climbers in Annemiek and Spratty and they definitely prefer the longer ascents.”
“We’re going in really positively and with Georgia coming back into the team after a great ride at the Commonwealth Games we have some fresh legs and fresh momentum from a rider who did very well here last year.
“The race will come down to the later climbs and we can’t miss any of the major moves over La Redoute and De La Roche-aux-Faucons. It’s going to be really important for us to have Annemiek and Spratty up there at the front, riding aggressively and in a position to compete by the time the race hits the Saint-Nicholas.”
Liège–Bastogne–Liège Women, 135.5kilometers, Sunday 22ndApril.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.