ORICA-AIS Prepares for La FlÃ¨che Wallonne FÃ©minine WCTue 16 Apr 2013
ORICA-AIS will line up in Huy, Belgium on Wednesday with its heavy hitters ready for battle at the fourth round of the World Cup – La Flèche Wallonne Féminine. Last year Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) became the first American to win this prestigious race by outsmarting Marianna Vos (Rabobank Women) on the famous Mur de Huy.
The women’s peloton will see some changes to the 2013 course that will make for exciting and hard racing. Instead of following the final two laps of the men’s race, the women will take on two new laps, each includes six grueling climbs. The 2013 edition adds extra kilometres and hills compared to past editions.
“I just had a look at the changes, and it looks good,” says Emma Johansson. “I think it will be a hard race. It's some kilometres longer than normal, and from the first glance of the new course I think we are doing more hills than normal. I think the hills in combination with the distance will make it very hard!”
The Mur de Huy, the most challenging of all the climbs, is the last climb the riders will face on each lap. However, prior to arriving at the bottom of the Mur de Huy the riders must first get over five other formidable climbs. The question is which climb will cause the major splits?
“I think almost every climb can split the field if it gets raced hard enough,” explains Johansson. “For sure again you will feel the kilometres in the legs toward the end, especially if it gets raced hard.”
Expect the largest mass of spectators to be packed in like sardines along the Mur de Huy where they will get a close up of the women (and men) storming up the climb. The noise coming from the crowd is both deafening and motivating at the same time.
“We LOVE the spectators and the more they cheer us on the harder we go,” exclaimed Johansson. “Some members of Team Emma Johansson will be there and for sure we will hear them!”
Six women from ORICA-AIS will take to the start in Huy. Each will have a designated job, but only those watching the race will see how it unfolds.
“As always we have a very strong team at the start and together we can make the race hard for the rest,” proclaimed Johansson. “Me, Tiff [Tiffany Cromwell] and Shara [Gillow] are the stronger climbers and the other three have other strengths...Say no more, the rest you will have to see on TV or out on the road.”
ORICA-AIS for La Flèche Wallonne Féminine: