The Wednesday after Easter sees the women’s peloton head to Huy, in the Walloon region of Belgium for one of the most famous races on the calendar, La Flèche Wallonne. The race is the fourth stage of the Women’s Road World Cup, led by Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) and marks the start of the road season for World Champion, Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv).
At a glance
23rd April 2014
World Cup standings
After winning Ronde van Drenthe and second at both Trofeo Binda and Ronde van Vlaanderen, Lizzie Armitstead has a healthy lead at the top of the World Cup standings, 120 points ahead of Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) in second place. The other positions are much closer with just 45 points separating Johansson in second and Armitstead’s team mate and winner of Ronde van Vlaanderen, Ellen van Dijk in fourth.
World Cup Top 10
|3||Anna van der Breggen||220|
|4||Ellen van Dijk||195|
|5||Elisa Longo Borghini||130|
|6||Annemiek van Vleuten||120|
Rabo-Liv riders lead all three of the ‘minor’ competitions. The Sprint, Climber and Youth jerseys will be worn by Iris Slappendel, Anna van der Breggen, and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, respectively.
What happened last year?
Despite the efforts of many teams they could not prevent Vos’ from claiming her fifth title on the Mur de Huy. With less than 200 metres to go Vos launched her final attack with only Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (then of, Lotto Belisol) were able to keep within touching distance but they would eventually battle it out for second place. Where Longo Borghini pipped Moolman-Pasio to the line.
|1998||Fabiana Luperini||Pia Sundstet||Catherine Marsal|
|1999||Hanka Kupfernagel||Edita Pucinskaite||Cindy Pieters|
|2000||Geneviève Jeanson||Pia Sundstet||Fany Lecourtois|
|2001||Fabiana Luperini||Anna Millward||Trixi Worrack|
|2002||Fabiana Luperini||Lyne Bessette||Priska Doppmann|
|2003||Nicole Cooke||Susan Palmer-Komar||Priska Doppmann|
|2004||Sonia Huguet||Hanka Kupfernagel||Edita Pucinskaite|
|2005||Nicole Cooke||Oenone Wood||Judith Arndt|
|2006||Nicole Cooke||Judith Arndt||Trixi Worrack|
|2007||Marianne Vos||Nicole Cooke||Judith Arndt|
|2008||Marianne Vos||Marta Bastianelli||Judith Arndt|
|2009||Marianne Vos||Emma Johansson||Claudia Häusler|
|2010||Emma Pooley||Nicole Cooke||Emma Johansson|
|2011||Marianne Vos||Emma Johansson||Judith Arndt|
|2012||Evelyn Stevens||Marianne Vos||Linda Villumsen|
|2013||Marianne Vos||Elisa Longo Borghini||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio|
Points and Prizes
As Flèche Wallonne is a World Cup race there’s two sets of points to be claimed. One towards the World Cup competition and the other towards UCI rankings. The top twenty share a prize purse of 5,130€, from 1,128€ for first place through to 84€ for twentieth. In addition to the prize money for the top twenty, the first rider over each of the 12 climbs on the course earns 250€ bringing the total prize money to 8,130€.
|Position||WC Points||UCI Points||Prize Money [€]|
The course starts and finishes at the top of the Mur de Huy, and consists of two clockwise circuits totalling 127 kilometres. The course has changed slightly from last year but retains its key features and of course the Mur de Huy finish for which the race is most famous.
The circuit includes a series of punchy climbs, first up is Côte d’Ereffe, just twelve kilometres into the course, before four further climbs over just 20 kilometres: Côte de Bellaire, Côte de Bohisseau, Côte de Bousalle and Côte d’Ahin. It’s then a fast, dash, 10 kilometres to the big one, the Mur de Huy. At 1.3 kilometres long and an average gradient of 8.9% it sounds tough but these statistics mask the true test of Mur de Huy.
The road is narrow at the base of the climb and the hardest part of the climb is around 800m long and averages 13%, including stretches well in excess of 20%. The three climbs contributing towards the World Cup climbers competition are concentrated in the second half of the race with points awarded on the two ascents of Mur de Huy and the second climb of Côte d’Ahin.
All eyes will be on Vos making her start to the road season after an extended off-season as she tries to balance the demands of road, cyclocross and most recently, mountain bike racing. But it’s not all about the Dutch superstar. Last year’s second and third place, Longo Borghini and Moolman-Pasio are now racing together at Hitec Products. Climbs like the Mur suit riders like Astana BePink’s Alena Amialiusiuk down to the ground. And, 2010 winner, Emma Pooley, returning to cycling with Lotto Belisol ear-marked Flèche Wallonne as one of the races she wanted to target.