Van Vleuten, Spratt set to animate Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Mitchelton-Scott are aiming to close out their Ardennes Classics campaign with a victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. Their best chances at victory are with time trial world champion Annemiek Van Vleuten and Amanda Spratt, who have both featured strongly in the two previous events Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne.

"I feel good going into Liège; the course suits me a little bit better than Flèche Wallonne and with Spratty being in such amazing form - which she showed again on Wednesday, which gives us a lot of confidence to go together in the final," Van Vleuten said.

"We did a solid recon of the route, and I really like this final and am very focused on Sunday, it's the last of the spring Classics, and I can't believe that it's over already."

Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which starts in Bastogne and finishes in Ans, is unchanged from last year's inaugural route at 136 kilometres. The first half of the race is undulating, followed by four significant climbs: the Côte de la Vecquée, La Redoute, Roche-aux-Faucons, and Saint-Nicolas, and then the last 1.5km to the finish line is 5% in Ans.

Mitchelton-Scott have had some success in the first two events with Spratt taking third place after being in the day's winning breakaway at Amstel Gold. She again animated the race at Flèche Wallonne, where she was in the decisive move of four riders, but they were caught at the base of the Mur de Huy with roughly one kilometre to go. She hung on for fifth place,

Van Vleuten crashed at Tour of Flanders and dislocated her shoulder but managed to finished third, just before the Ardennes Classics. She has been racing with a sore shoulder through Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne, where she crashed again but finished fourth on the Mur de Huy.

The team will also include Georgia Williams, Jenelle Crooks and Jessica Allen. Director Gene Bates said that the course suits Van Vleuten and Spratt, and that they expect the race to come down to the final climbs of the route.

"Sunday’s race at Liege should suit our climbers more than the short, sharp and punchier climbs we contended with in Fleche Wallonne. It’s still a very difficult and challenging course, and easy to identify the important points on the parcours, but we have two strong and in form climbers in Annemiek and Spratty and they definitely prefer the longer ascents.

"We’re going in really positively and with Georgia coming back into the team after a great ride at the Commonwealth Games we have some fresh legs and fresh momentum from a rider who did very well here last year.

"The race will come down to the later climbs and we can’t miss any of the major moves over La Redoute and De La Roche-aux-Faucons. It’s going to be really important for us to have Annemiek and Spratty up there at the front, riding aggressively and in a position to compete by the time the race hits the Saint-Nicholas."


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