With a team in both the men's and women's editions of Flèche Wallonne, Wednesday afternoon will be a busy few hours for Team High Road. While the women's squad will be looking to continue their dominance of this season's World Cup series, the men are looking to their younger riders such as Edvald Boasson Hagen and Tony Martin to animate the race's early stages. Team director Rolf Aldag is hoping the shorter distance of 202.5 km - compared to the 257.4 km at Amstel Gold on Sunday - will see his young team more of a force in the finale.
"In Amstel, as we expected, the younger riders couldn't really go the distance beyond about 200 kilometres," said Aldag. "Twenty or twenty-one year olds find those really long races tough. But Flèche is a completely different ball game. It's shorter and we're hopeful that Edvald and Tony will be getting in the breaks early on."
The team's Ardennes Classics leader, Kim Kirchen, will remain as the main draw card should the early be reeled in - a much more likely scenario considering Flèche Wallonne's recent history. "Kim was in a great little move at the end of Flèche last year with Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) that only got reeled in at the foot of the Mur." noted Aldag. "At Amstel he said his condition was good, and he's feeling confident for the weekend.
"But Flèche is a strange race in any case. Some guys who've seen they can do well in Liège after a good race in Amstel hold back a bit, others who feel they haven't got so good form go all out to win. Last year the winner, Davide Rebellin, calculated it perfectly, he sat in the peloton all day, and then went for it on the Mur."
After victories in the last two World Cup races, the High Road women's team will be closely marked on Wednesday according to directeur sportif Ronny Lauke. "We'll be in the spotlight," he said. "Everybody will be watching and waiting for our moves. Our aim has to be to continue with the great run of success we've had up to now.
"Judith [Arndt] finished third in Flèche last year, but we'll be looking at all our options, not just relying on one rider. That's the way we've found we work best. The good news is we've got great morale in the team after these wins."
High Road men's team for Flèche Wallone: Michael Barry (Can), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Adam Hansen (Aus), Kim Kirchen (Lux), Tony Martin (Ger), Marco Pinotti (Ita), Frantisek Rabon (Cze), Vicente Reynes (Spa).
High Road women's team For Flèche Wallone: Kim Anderson (USA), Judith Arndt (Ger), Chantal Beltman (Hol), Luise Keller (Ger), Linda Villumsen (NZL), Oenone Wood (Aus).