Van Vleuten and Spratt back for more at Fleche WalloneMon 22 Apr 2019
Mitchelton-SCOTT are back in action on Wednesday hoping to go one better than Amstel Gold as they take on La Flèche Wallonne Féminine.
Double time trial world champion Annemiek van Vleuten will line-up in the Belgian Ardennes buoyed by her narrow second place in the Netherlands on Sunday and she will be joined by Australian Amanda Spratt fresh from an attacking performance.
Jess Allen (AUS, 26)
Grace Brown (AUS, 26)
Lucy Kennedy (AUS, 30)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 31)
Moniek Tenniglo (NED, 30)
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED, 36)
The 118.5km route from Liege to Huy hardly contains a single stretch of flat road as the peloton heads up and down throughout the day.
The race will finish and will likely be decided over the two tough finishing loops that centre around the brutal ascent of the famous Mur de Huy. The legendary ‘Wall of Huy’ is 1,300metres in length with a punishing average gradient of 9.3% and a maximum of 26%.
Van Vleuten has climbed to fourth place in the past two seasons, finishing one place ahead of her teammate, Spratt in 2018. Van Vleuten’s best result at Fleche Wallonne came in 2015 when she finished runner-up to four-time winner Anna van der Breggen, while the team’s best showing came back in 2012 with former rider Linda Villumsen taking third place.
“Flèche is a different race to Amstel. We don’t have the same narrow roads like in Holland and for sure it’s not as technical. I think for us, we still want a hard race and we want to come into the finale with a tired bunch, so we need to think about the best way for that to happen.”
“I think the whole team can take a lot of confidence from our performance at Amstel. It was cool to be a part of such a strong team plan and really use all of our strengths so well. Sometimes you can be disappointed with a second place, but this time the whole team was buzzing and proud of what we achieved.”
“The main thing is the team showed on Sunday how strong we are and I think we can take that feeling and motivation to the start line on Wednesday. Of course, everyone looks to the finish up the famous Mur de Huy climb so we have to be prepared to absolutely kill ourselves up there to achieve the maximum result - a win!”
Annemiek van Vleuten:
“Sunday gave us a lot of confidence heading into Flèche, both Spratty and me showed good form and the whole team rode amazing, so that gives us big a boost for Wednesday.”
“A hard race is always good for us, so we’ll be looking to make it tough again, but in Amstel Gold it’s more important with the narrow roads and the shorter climbs.”
“In Flèche the climbs are longer which suits Spratty and me a bit better than the short two-minute efforts at Amstel Gold and even though the Mur de Huy is short, it’s still a four minute effort.”
Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“Amstel was great and seeing that the team were really strong it gives us good motivation ahead of Wednesday. We have Spratty and Annemiek in great shape, so the team are motivated for Flèche now.”
“Flèche is quite a bit different to Amstel, the climbs are longer and the roads are bigger, so it’s a different kind of race and when you see what has happened in the last couple of years, it’s more of a waiting game ahead of the Mur de Huy.”
“I don’t think this year will change too much to previous years, but for us it will be about having our eyes open and waiting to see what the other teams plans are.”
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.