18 Abr 15 riders to watch in Flèche Wallonne (1.WWT)
Anna van der Bregen
After switching teams this season joining Boels-Dolmans, current Flèche Wallonne winner Anna van der Breggen had a slow start to the season, missing Strade Bianche due to illness and scoring very modest results at the following three UCI WWT rounds. Current Olympic and European road race champion Anna van der Breggen has hit some impressive form at one of the key moments of the season, the inaugural edition of the Ardennes Week. After finishing 15th in Ronde van Vlaanderen van der Bregen forwarded momentum at Healthy Ageing Tour, where finished second overall after winning TTT with Boels Dolmans, before claiming her first victory with Boels Dolmans in Amstel Gold Race, setting high expectations for the coming weeks and races, as well as setting herself as the first contender for Ardennes Week victory. Anna van der Bregen is our favourite to reedit her past two editions victories in Huy.
Once again, as Marianne Vos skips Flèche Wallonne, full WM3 Energie responsibility will lie on 22-year-old Polish rider Kasia Niewiadoma . During the current season Polish national champion (both road race and time trial) has kept her racing days to a minimum, counting them for great performances and good results proving she is on track to a face season that will likely be a turning point in her career, as her new role at WM3 Energie (after Rabobank-Liv farewell) will demand more results and responsibilities from the lightweight Polish rider. After claiming last Sunday in Amstel Gold Race her second UCI WWT podium in 2017 (she finished second in the inaugural round of the 2017 UCI WWT series) and despite the fact that she will have to fend for herself during the decisive part of the race Niewadoma is one of the favourites in Flèche Wallonne.
Annemiek van Vleuten
After abandoning Healthy Ageing Tour, in pursuit of a rest after her heavy 2017 race schedule, Annemiek van Vleuten proved again she has hit an impressive form sharing the third place with Kasia Niewadoma in Amstel Gold Race. After hitting some strong early season form winning Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and finishing third at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Dutch rider van Vleuten forwarded momentum performing persistently well and scoring some top results during the following months. Annemiek, who currently sits second at the UCI WWT standings, is one our top riders to follow in Huy.
Current UCI WWT leader is one of the top riders to watch in Flèche Wallonne and one of the biggest revelations of 2017, in her first full European season after switching teams joining Team Sunweb. After some modest results during the first weeks of the European season (but delivering good performances, being frequently on the breakaways and trying to put other quick finishers into difficulty) US rider Coryn Rivera has sky peaked during the past month claiming three UCI WWT podiums including two round victories in Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Ronde van Vlaanderen. Despite the fact that Rivera may not be able to match some of her opponents climbing skills, she will count on with the invaluable help of Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk, who is clearly able to bring her back to race leading position in the event Rivera gets dropped.
South African Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is one our top riders to follow in Huy, where she will try to bring the second UCI WWT victory of the season for Cervélo Bigla. After having a slow start to the season due to injuries sustained after crashing with a police motorbike parked in the middle of a roundabout during the Chrono des Nations time trial, Moolman-Pasio has proved she already on form ready to contest the victory in one of her favourite races. Her 2013 podium place (only after Marianne Vos and Elisa Longo Borghini) was a major turning point in her cycling career, that Moolman-Pasio will try to improve in this seventh 2017 UCI WWT round.
The reigning Commonwealth road race champion, twice winner of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup, third at the inaugural UCI WWT series, is one of the top riders to watch at Amstel Gold Race. After scoring a strong start to the season in Siena, where she finish third, the 28-year old British rider has had a difficult season due to illness. Last Sunday Lizzie Deignan rounded Boels Dolmans performance finishing second, proving she is again on form ready to fight for the victory in the seventh UCI WWT round.
Pauline Ferrand-Prévot made in Siena the most awaited comebacks of the 2017 season, only seven months after her post-Rio Olympics heartbreaking “open letter” where Ferrand-Prévot quoted that being World Champion simultaneously in three disciplines in one year was the worst thing that had ever happened to her, she is back on the start line of one of her favourite races. After playing a somehow supportive role during her first road races with Canyon-SRAM, Pauline has already hit some good form finishing 13th in Ronde van Vlaanderen and eighth in Amstel Gold Race. 2014 Flèche Wallonne winner is one of our riders to follow in Huy.
German rider Claudia Lichtenberg switched teams this season joining British registered Wiggle-High5. After a very solid 2016 season, where she delivered some great performances as well as showing some really form that made us recall some of her past great performances Lichtenberg has played a supportive or second-chance role this season on behalf of Italian Elisa Longo-Borghini. As Longo-Borghini misses Flèche Wallonne due to illness Claudia Lichtenberg will have to step up in pursuit of good performance for Wiggle-High5.
Italian road race national champion Elena Cecchini has been the best Canyon SRAM rider in this start to the season. Elena Cecchini showed some great form and consistency during the first weeks of the European season setting high expectations for the coming races. Expectations Cecchini has been able to exceed, being persistently in the top-10 during the fifth UCI WWT rounds held, including a second place in Ronde van Drenthe. After scoring a modest result in Amstel Gold Race Elena Cecchini, who sits in fourth place at the UCI WWT individual ranking, will seek to bring a strong personal result in Flèche Wallonne or a solid effort on behalf of her teammates Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Alena Amialiusik.
Australian rider Shara Gillow is one of our riders to follow in Huy. Together with Dutch rider Roxane Knetemann, Gillow switched teams this season, joining FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope after Rabobank-Liv farewell season. After showing some great early season form during Australian National championships, where she finished second at the ITT, Gillow has persistently performed well during the past months (delivered an outstanding performance at the first UCI WWT round of the 2017 series, finishing sixth in Strade Bianche). Together with her teammate Roxane Knetemann, Gillow will be a solid second-chance contender for FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope in Flèche Wallonne.
After hitting some great early season form during Santos Women’s Tour (finishing second overall and at the first stage) Ensing strengthen her impressive start to the season getting some top results (such as ninth at Le Samyn or 13th at Strade Bianche, eight at Dwaars door Vlaanderen before claiming her first UCI WWT top-10 in Ronde van Vlaanderen) proving herself as one of the revelations of the season. After finishing 14th in Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, Ale Cipollini rider Janneke Ensing is our top riders to watch in Huy.
After claiming the inaugural UCI WWT series victory and setting herself as the best rider of the 2016 season (winning Giro Rosa, Amgen Tour of California, Philadelphia, and being frequently on the podium), Megan Guarnier has had a tough start to the season missing most of her 2017 race schedule due to lingering confusion symptoms. In Maastricht American champion Megan Guarnier made an awaited comeback since Omloop Hageland. Despite the fact she hasn’t hit some strong form yet, Guarnier’s skill clearly match Flèche Wallonne race course finale making her a top rider to watch either contesting the victory or playing a supportive role on behalf of her Boels-Dolmans teammates.
British rider Dani King switched teams this season, joining US-registered Cylance after four seasons at Wiggle-High5, in pursuit of more race opportunities and responsibilities. Since focusing on the road in 2013, London Olympics TP champion (along with Laura Kenny and Joanna Rowsell) Dani King has evolved becoming one of best all-rounded super-domestiques in the international peloton. In 2017 King wanted to step up in order to become a top contender for both one-day races and stage races. After scoring some solid results (ninth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 16th in Stride Bianche and 15th in Trofeo Alfredo Binda) earlier this season, Dani King is one of our riders to follow in the Ardennes.
The Belarusian road rider is one of those riders that you must always have within your visual range in this type of race finales. Despite the fact that the Belarusian rider hasn’t hit some impressive early form yet, Alena Amialiusik’s skills really match race course conditions. Together with Elena Cecchini and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, she clearly forms part of a strong Canyon-SRAM roster that will try to claim its first ever victory in the UCI WWT series.