Mitchelton-SCOTT women with genuine contenders for Wednesday’s Fleche WallonneMon 16 Apr 2018
After Amanda Spratt’s impressive third place at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday Mitchelton-SCOTT women go into the 21st edition of La Fleche Wallone Feminine with two genuine contenders for victory in Spratt and world time trial champion Annemiek Van Vleuten.
Such a positive start to the Ardennes Classics week does no team any harm and the Australian outfit go into the next race on the UCI Women’s WorldTour full of confidence and motivation.
Seven climbs over 118.5kilometres including two ascents of the iconic and brutal Mur de Huy will make for a tough race and the comapct five-rider squad will need to be at the top of their game.
In form Spratt and Van Vleuten lead with strong support coming from Belgian champion Jolien D’hoore and Australian duo Jenelle Crooks and Jessica Allen.
Jessica Allen (AUS, 24)
Jenelle Crooks (AUS, 23)
Jolien D’Hoore (BEL, 28)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 30)
Annemiek Van Vleuten (NED, 35)
An attack filled race in 2017 saw Van Vleuten record Mitchelton-SCOTT’s best ever result in the race with fourth, after chasing hard behind a trio of leaders that went clear over the Mur de Huy.
To take the race to the opposition. With two of the best climbers in the women’s peloton in Spratt and Van Vleuten, the course suits the team’s characteristics and the altered route could prove to be a boon to an attack minded team.
“I feel like I’ve made a good progression this season and certainly the third place at Amstel Gold was a really good result for me personally and one of the biggest results of my career.”
“I love these hard and hilly races so the Ardennes races definitely suit my characteristics well. For Fleche I think we have a very strong team again. I’m feeling good and Annemiek is in really great shape as well. She did not get to show her strength at all at Amstel Gold, so I think she will be itching to make everyone suffer on Wednesday.
“The course has changed for us with a larger first lap, but the final finishing loops are where we expect the race to be made - with six hard climbs including two times up the Mur de Huy I expect a very small selection will make it to the final kilometre to battle for the win.”
Sport director Gene Bates:
“It’s a slightly different course to last year, we climb the Cote d’Ereffe twice and also the Cote de Cherave and the Mur which may make for some negative racing before the final circuit.
“I think the change to the course and extra climb will make a lot of team’s quite wary of what is already a super hard race. With Spratty’s result and the team’s performance yesterday, we couldn’t have started the Ardennes week much better, she is in really good form at the moment and coming in really hot after Amstel Gold. With her and Annemiek we have two genuine contenders for the race.
“Of course, it’s a blow to lose an exceptional climber like Lucy Kennedy after crashing out of Amstel Gold, and we wish her a speedy recovery, but we have a strong team for Fleche and Liege and the girls are in a good place and highly motivated to get a result.”
La Fleche Wallonne Feminine, 118.5kilometres, Wednesday 18thApril.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.