Strong ride by Garfoot to finish in eighth place in La Flèche Wallonne Féminine

Wed 20 Apr 2016

The sixth WorldTour race of the season, La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, saw Australian time trial champion Katrin Garfoot climb strongly to finish in eighth place on the famous Mur de Huy.

Garfoot was able to stay with the favourites on the penultimate climb to keep herself in contention heading towards the summit finish in Huy. 

Sport director Gene Bates was pleased with ORICA-AIS' efforts today and the positive result from Garfoot.

"Katrin had a great ride," explained Bates. "The plan was to get a breakaway going between the third and second to last climbs, similar to what Annemiek Van Vleuten did last year so we could go into the final climb with a bit of a buffer."

"Katrin had help from the rest of the team to get herself into a good position going into the penultimate climb and from there she as able to go with five the leaders, just getting tailed off over the top but was then able to rejoin them at the bottom of the decent."

Although ORICA-AIS had high ambitions going into the race they are still able to walk away pleased with the whole performance in what was such a tough day. 

"Even though it's not the result we were ultimately looking for I think it is a really positive team ride," Bates continued. "The way they approached the race, the way they raced together and the result in the end on this course was very good for Katrin so the team can be really happy with today."

How it happened:

A sunny day welcomed the women's peloton to the start line ready for the sixth round of the inaugural WorldTour series. 

A group of seven riders quickly established a gap with the peloton, including all the race favourites, happy to let them go in the early stages of the race. 

The group consisted of seven riders from seven different teams and they worked together to continually grow their advantage. Jessica Allen (Australia), Cecilie Johnson (Hitec-Products), Emilia Fahlin (Alé-Cippolini), Sheyla Gutierrez (Cylance Cycling) and Lex Albrecht (Be-Pink), Katia Ragusa (Servetto-Footon) and Ann Sophie Duyck (TSVL-Etixx) held an advantage of three minutes as they summited the fourth climb of the day after 51kilometres.

With one lap completed the peloton headed over the steep Mur de Huy for the first time. Cresting the top the breakaway lost Ragusa and continued riding with six. 

As the leaders successfully maintained their lead, Rabo-Liv decided it was time to start the chase with three previous winners in their team line up. It was around 50kilometres to go that their chase caused the time gap to plummet back down. 

Once the leaders began the Côte de Bohissau the peloton finally swallowed up the breakaway riders with 34kilometres remaining and the race was on. Over the next climbs the main group split into two with the race favourites all present at the front. 

The nervous peloton brought back a solo breakaway attempt and as the race headed towards the penultimate climb the group exploded, and a small group of riders broke free over the top with Garfoot present.

As the leaders headed towards the Mur de Huy for the final time Anna Van Der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) attacked with Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) and the duo raced it out to the line with Van Der Breggen crossing the line first to take the victory.

Garfoot was the highest place finisher for ORICA-AIS in a respectable eighth place after a gutsy ride. The team are back in action on Friday 22nd with a time trial in Borsele.

La Flèche Wallonne Féminine Results:

1. Anna Van Der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) 3:50:36
2. Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) +0:08
3. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) +0:22
8. Katrin Garfoot (ORICA-AIS) +0:45