18 Abr 15 riders to watch at Flèche Wallonne Féminine (1.WWT)
Emma is again one of the favourites to watch at Flèche Wallonne Feminine. Despite she has never won at the Belgian classic (she has finished second twice), the Swedish rider heads to the race just after winning two stages at Emakumeen Bira, as well as the general and the sprints classification. Once Wiggle High5 empathy problems seem to have been solved and taking into account her current form as well as her tactical and climbing skills, she will be a key rider that you would always need to have under control. Otherwise as soon as action starts she may surprise you being part of any of the decisive moves. She currently sits in third place at the UCI WWT individual ranking, thus she will try to win Fleche Wallonne and contest Boels UCI WWT supremacy.
Elisa Longo Borghini
The outstanding Italian rider heads to the Belgian classic after a very solid competition at Emakumeen Bira in which she played a key supportive role for her teammate Emma Johansson. Her fourth place in the Strade Bianche presaged a good season start for Elisa, however, an unfortunate flu prevented her not only from participating at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda but also from performing at the highest expected level. Elisa is a “Campeonisima”, able to bring some light at any time and shine and surely she will try to improve her podium appearances at the 2013 and 2014 editions.
US national champion, bronze medal at the World Championships in Richmond, third at the Giro Rosa and winner of the 2015 Strade Bianche, Megan Guarnier is one of the top favourites. Megan has been somehow shadowed by her teammates outstanding winning streak in the previous UCIWWT rounds. She heads to the Belgian race with the aim of improving her second place at the 2015 edition. She has shown her great form the previous week in Spain, where she has won Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria and one stage of Emakumeen Bira as well as finishing second overall.
“The Cannibal” is back! We have been waiting for this a long time and now it is real. Marianne will make her first appearance at the newborn UCI WWT. The legendary Dutch rider will bring even more media attention to the sixth UCI WWT round. Despite she has already won a UCI ranked race since her comeback, her current form is still unknown. She will be part of the Rabobank Liv “Big Four” with a clear aim: Contest and end Boels Dolmans winning streak. She has won La Fleche Wallonne four times and she is a top rider to follow.
The South-African rider has had a tough start of the season with an illness early on that prevent her from defending her time trial and road race national jerseys and a disqualification from Strade Bianche, the first UCI WWT event ever, as a result of a non-crossing rule violation. However, her bad luck is over. Ashleigh has just finished on the podium at Emakumeen Bira, where she has shown her good form as well her Cervélo Bigla team strength. She heads to one of her favourite races where she has persistently finished on the top 5 during the past four years. She finished in an outstanding fourth place last year despite sustaining severe shoulder pain due to a crash during a course recon training.
“My numbers are good, I see it every day in training so that’s been the most frustrating part. You get to a race and something happens that stops you from building that confidence, it’s just great to get that reassurance that the numbers don’t lie and the legs are coming good. Every Fleche Wallonne I’ve started I have finished in the top five, minus my first one where I crashed 15 kilometres from the finish. It definitely is a race that I love and I am looking forward to Wednesday.” said Ashleigh to her team.
Anna van der Breggen
After her successful comeback, from her heartbreaking crash at Ponferrada 2014 Worlds, Anna carried forward her winning momentum to consolidate her position as one of the best riders of the peloton and as the key rider for Rabobank Liv during the 2015 season winning the previous edition of La Fleche Wallonne. The Dutch rider is becoming again one of the key riders for Rabobank Liv in this early season together with the European champion Kasia Niewiadoma. Van der Breggen has just won her first race of the season last Saturday at Omloop van de IJsseldelta and she will try keep both her good form and momentum to reedit her 2015 victory at La Fleche Wallonne. She will be try, along with her Rabobank Liv teammates, to contest Boels Dolmans UCI WWT winning streak.
During the 2015 season, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot became the first cyclist ever to simultaneously hold the world road, cyclocross and mountain bike titles. On November she suffered a tibial plateau fracture during training, forcing her to refrain from racing, missing the 2015–2016 cyclocross season and switching her middle term programme for Rio 2016. The 24-year-old French rider came back to competitive road racing at Strade Bianche (where she finished eleventh), missed due to illness Trofeo Alfredo Binda and finished eight at Ronde van Vlaanderen, Despite her unknown form due to her lack of competition she is one of the favourite riders for the sixth UCI WWT round.
The 21-year-old Polish rider Kasia Niewiadoma did not participate at last week Emakumeen Bira, she won the 2015 edition of the race. She has been regular winner of the “best young rider” classifications and is one of the riders to watch for this race. The lightweight Polish climber will try to improve her fifth place last year. After finishing second at the Strade Bianche, seventh at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and tenth at Ronde van Vlaanderen, Kasia claimed yesterday her first victory of the season at Ronde van Gelderland. She is the current leader in the youth classification of the UCI WWT and she will very likely try to prove she is herself as one of the strongest climbers of the peloton.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Annemiek is one of the most experienced and fighting riders in the peloton, overall winner of the 2011 UCI Women Road World Cup and second last year at Fleche Wallonne. The Dutch rider will be the reference of her team Orica-AIS. Annemiek has shown herself in good form at the fifth rounds of the UCI WWT finishing seventh at Strade Bianche, ninth at the Ronde van Drenthe and eighth at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, sixth at Gent-Wevelgem and seventh at Ronde van Vlaanderen. After a very good performance at Energiewacht Tour, where she finished second overall, Annemiek will likely try to reedit her outstanding decisivo move at the past edition of the Belgian race.
After a hand injury earlier in December that made her end up her cyclocross season and switch slightly her 2016 programme to the Rio Olympics, and the various training camps she has attended away from home, in both Spain and South Africa, Jolanda heads to Huy with only three days of competition at Strade Bianche (where she finished twelfth), Trofeo Alfredo Binda (third) and Gent-Wevelgem (thirteenth). With no doubt whatsoever her superb performance at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, where she was only caught due to Armitstead impressive counterattack, will have boosted her morale and she will be 100% confident on her outstanding climbing capabilities. Furthermore it will be her last road race before the XCO WC starts in Cairns, Australia.
Ane heads to the Belgian classics after a very good and persistent performance at both Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria and Emakumeen Bira. She narrowly missed the top 10 overall and won the Best Basque rider classification. Besides, during the previous week in Spain she showed her great fighting spirit, trying along with her teammates to contest Wiggle High5 winning streak. They did not succeed but were key show makers with their ambitious breakaway attempt at the Basque round.
Third position in 2009 (under Häusler surname). German rider Claudia Lichtenberg has been switching good and bad performances at the first UCI WWT round. How will she perform at Fleche Wallone? She has delivered a good and persistent performance at Emakumeen Bira, where she has finished seventh overall. She will be a rider to watch.