VIDEO - 2012 UCI Women's World Cup Flèche Wallonne race
Source: UCI YouTube Channel
ORICA-AIS Prepares for La Flèche Wallonne Féminine WC
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:
Amanda Spratt [@amandaspratt]
Emma Johansson [@emmaprocyclist]
Jessie Maclean [@aussiejessmac]
Loes Gunnewijk [@loesgunnewijk]
Shara Gillow [@sharagillow]
Tiffany Cromwell [@tiffanycromwell]
MENORICA-GreenEDGE Aim for Podium at Flèche Wallonne
Michael Albasini stormed up the Mur de Huy and onto the Flèche Wallonne podium last year. This year, Albasini shares a leadership role with Simon Clarke. Simon Gerrans, third at Amstel Gold race last Sunday, is resting up ahead of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The team that supported Gerrans’ podium remains largely intact for Wednesday’s race.
“We have plenty of confidence coming into Flèche,” said Albasini. “We rode great as a team at Amstel Gold, and we were able to stick to our plan well. Things are looking good for us for the next two Ardennes races.”
The men’s race features 12 rated climbs, most of which are packed into the second half of the 205 kilometre route. The Mur de Huy is the star of the show and the scene of the most decisive action. The route includes three passages up the Mur. The final ascent of the Mur is the race’s uphill finish.
“The finish for Flèche Wallonne is what makes this race special,” said Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage. “It’s made for only a select group of explosive riders. A lot of guys will try to escape before the uphill finish because they realise if they come to the last climb with a specialist, it’s almost impossible to win.”
Even for ‘a specialist’ like Albasini, the uphill finish is brutal.
“The final time up the Mur is a real killer,” he said. “It’s a bit over one kilometre long, but it’s really steep with a maximum gradient of 26 percent.”
Lapage hopes both Albasini and Clarke will make it the base of the Mur de Huy with the race leaders. He expects the team to fully commit themselves to this task.
“I want Alba [Albasini] and Clarke to start that last climb in a good position,” explained Lapage. “Pieter [Weening] will be saved for the late action, and Wes [Wesley Sulzberger], [Michael] Matthews, Travis [Meyer] and Christian [Meier] will cover moves during the second part of the race. Michael Hepburn is coming in for Gerro [Simon Gerrans], and he plays an important role in protecting our two leaders.”
“The team understands that it will be very important to stick to the plan we develop,” added Lapage. “Other teams have noticed that we are strong, so they will not make it easy for us. Because our condition is good, our confidence is great. We have several cards to play at the moment.”
Albasini shares Lapage’s confidence. “At the end of the day, we know how to ride as a team,” Albasini said. “We showed that at Basque when we won two stages, and we showed that at Amstel to put Gerro on the podium. No matter how the race unfolds, I’m confident of our ability to feature in the finish.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE for Flèche Wallonne:
For more information about the team visit, Green Edge Cycling.