It?s nearly Fl?che Wallonne time for the High5 GoExPro Australian Women?s Road Development Team. The sixth round of the UCI Women?s WorldTour takes the women?s peloton to Belgium for the mid-week Ardennes classic. Like the women?s race at Tour of Flanders, the women?s race at La Fl?che Wallonne is held on the same day and the same roads as the men?s race, and our six Fl?che debutants are thrilled to be amongst the action.
The 19th edition of the women?s race covers 137 kilometres, taking in 11 categorised climbs en route. The most famous of these climbs is the Mur de Huy, which the women?s peloton tackles twice. La Fl?che Wallonne finishes atop this leg-breaking climb that is synonymous with the mid-week race. The 1.3 kilometre ascent, with an average grade of 9.6 percent, tops out at a massive 26 percent gradient.
High5 GoExPro Australian Women?s Road Development Team for Fl?che Wallonne:
Comments from all six riders on their hopes and expectations for the biggest start of their career are outlined below.
Fl?che is by far the biggest race I?ve ever started. I don?t know what to expect for myself, which is why I always set small goals within the race that I can chase. For example, I might want to be in a certain position at a certain point. This allows me to find little successes along the way and build confidence as the race unfolds.
This past week has been a very solid week of climbing in Basque country. I?m hoping my legs are feeling refreshed after a few easy days and are ready for the hilly race!
The races we?ve done so far this spring have taught us all how to become more comfortable in the bunch, conserve energy and move up effectively. Positioning is absolutely key in these types of races, so coming into Fl?che I?m motivated and excited to do my best to position myself well. The rest will take care of itself. And let?s be realistic here, once you get to the Mur, you have no competitors other than the Mur itself.
I stayed back at the Aussie training centre (ETC) in Italy whilst my team mates raced Bira last week. After a nasty gastro-illness in Belgium and briefly turning into a hill-climber, it was a time to rebuild for my sprinting duties. While they were racing their little hearts out, I was training with ORICA-AIS, eating piadine and trying to get some muscle back!
Despite the hilliness of the terrain in the Basque country, I was disappointed to miss racing with my High5 GoExPro Aussie teammates, so it took a few days to get my head back on. I filled my days with training, Italiano caffe, laughter with my friends and even some hippy positive affirmations.
I?m back on track after my week in Italy, but I?m realistic that Fl?che is possibly the hardest race to return to following illness. That doesn?t make me any less excited for the onslaught. Any day I get to put on the green and gold and race alongside my teammates is a great one.
There?s no nervous energy for Wednesday as there?s nothing I can do to change my preparation. I have to race with whatever I have on the day, like I always do. The hills in Fl?che weren?t made for my obvious success, but I will be racing with the best ? chasing rainbows, national champs, past winners, future Olympians ? and see the return of Vos to the Women?s WorldTour peloton.
One of the first races we did in Europe was Gent Wevelgem. We raced up the Kemmelberg, and the atmosphere there was pretty amazing. Fl?che will be a whole new level. I?ve watched this race from the sidelines, and the atmosphere on the Mur is beyond compare. Racing will be surreal, and it will probably give me goose bumps. It?s going to be brutally hard, but honestly, I can?t wait.
I?m not strong enough to be there at the pointy end of the race, but I?d love to have an impact on the early action and help my stronger teammates stay fresh for the end of the race. If I can do that, I?ll be really happy with myself.
The word ?hard? gets tossed around quite a lot when people talk about Fl?che…
We all have our own mini personal goals for every race. Sarah Roy was really helpful in highlighting how important this is, especially when a win may not be realistic. Personally, I will rate my own success by how I position myself. This is my biggest weakness at the moment.?
Before sharing Moerig?s Fl?che Wallonne comment, a brief introduction to the new kid on the block:
I have been cycling going for nearly five years, racing at mostly at the national level in Australia. Last year I attended the selection camp for the Australian Development squad but ultimately didn?t make the final count. Both Martin Barras and Rochelle Gilmore encouraged me to persist with my dream of racing at the professional level, insisting that there were many pathways. One month later I was on a plane to Holland where I raced for three months as an individual. During this time I was lucky enough to guest ride for a British team, Podium Ambition at Th?ringen-Rundfahrt. From here I signed a contract for the 2016 season with Podium Ambition in their first year as a professional woman’s team.
Whilst racing in Spain last week at Emakumeen Euskal Bira, Martin approached me with an offer I couldn?t refuse. Before I knew it, plans were set in motion, and I was off to race Fl?che with the High5 GoExPro Australian Women?s Development Team.
I’m still pinching myself.
And Moerig on Fl?che:
This is by far the biggest race I have gotten a start in. I?m extremely excited to absorb the atmosphere that surrounds a one-day race like Fl?che. All the emotions and thrills experienced whilst racing will be heightened by the crowds.