Spratt and Van Vleuten spearhead Mitchelton-Scott challenge at Fleche Wallonne

Australian team out to improve on world TT champion's second place at Amstel

Annemiek van Vleuten's second place at the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition on Sunday showed just how good the Dutchwoman's form is right now, and will be used as a sign that her Mitchelton-Scott team has what it takes to win Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne Féminine.

Also spearheading the squad's challenge will be Australia's Amanda Spratt, who's targeting the spring Classics this year, and the hillier parcours at Flèche – compared to Amstel – arguably makes Mitchelton the team to beat at the Belgian race this week.

"Flèche is a different race to Amstel in that you don't have the same narrow roads as you do  in Holland, and for sure it's not as technical," Spratt said on the team's website.

"I think the whole team can take a lot of confidence from our performance at Amstel. It was cool to be a part of such a strong team plan and really use all of our strengths so well," she said. "Sometimes you can be disappointed with a second place, but this time the whole team was buzzing and proud of what we achieved.

"The main thing is that the team showed on Sunday how strong we are, and I think we can take that feeling and motivation to the start line on Wednesday. Of course, everyone looks to the finish up the famous Mur de Huy climb, so we have to be prepared to absolutely kill ourselves up there to achieve the maximum result: a win," she said.

Similarly, Van Vleuten said that her second place at the weekend behind Amstel winner Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) had given the whole team a confidence boost going into Flèche.

"Both 'Spratty' and I showed good form, and the whole team rode amazingly, so that gives us big a boost for Wednesday. The climbs are longer, which suits Spratty and me a bit better than the short two-minute efforts at Amstel Gold, and, even though the Mur de Huy is short, it's still a four-minute effort," said Van Vleuten.

Mitchelton-Scott sports director Martin Vestby added that Flèche is often "a waiting game" ahead of the final climb of the Mur de Huy, and that it's important to keep an eye on the competition.

"Flèche is quite a bit different to Amstel," he said, "but I don't think this year's race will be too different to previous years. It will be about having our eyes open and waiting to see what the other teams' plans are.

"Amstel was great, and, seeing that the team was really strong, it gives us good motivation ahead of Wednesday. We have Spratty and Annemiek in great shape, so the team are motivated for Flèche now."

Mitchelton-Scott for the 2019 Flèche Wallonne Féminine: Jess Allen, Grace Brown, Lucy Kennedy, Amanda Spratt, Moniek Tenniglo, Annemiek van Vleuten

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