All eyes are on Anna van der Breggen, the new world champion, to secure a record sixth consecutive victory at La Flèche Wallonne Feminine on Wednesday. Van der Breggen is in top form heading into this year’s event, that was postponed until September 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after winning the Giro Rosa and double world titles in the time trial and road race at the Road World Championships on the weekend.
The Ardennes Classics have been reshuffled as part of the late-season revised calendar with La Flèche Wallonne, which is normally sandwiched between Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, now opening the three events. Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which normally closes out the Ardennes, will be held on October 4, and Amstel Gold Race, that normally opens the series, will now take place on October 10 in the Netherlands.
La Flèche Wallonne is the oldest of the three one-day races that form the women's Ardennes Classics triple crown. The series has only been in place for women since 2017 when Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition made its return after a 14-year hiatus, followed by the long-running La Flèche Wallonne, and the debut of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Van der Breggen is the only rider to have won all three events in the same year which was in the inaugural year of the series.
The women's peloton has been competing in La Flèche Wallonne and battling for the prestigious victory on the Mur de Huy since 1998, and Van der Breggen and Marianne Vos are the only two riders to have won it on five occasions. Van der Breggen is the only rider to have won it five years in a row, accomplishing that feat when she beat Annemiek van Vleuten and Annika Langvad in the 2019 edition of Flèche Wallonne.
The women's peloton will race 124km with the start and finish in the Belgian town of Huy.
This year's race will take the peloton over the Côte de Warre, located 45km into the race, before entering the circuits.
On the circuits, the women will race twice up the three ascents: Côte d'Ereffe (72km and 104km), Côte du Chemin des Gueuses (82km and 114km) and the Mur de Huy (92km and 124km).
The race will end at the top of the second climb on the iconic, steep slopes of the Mur de Huy.
Can Van der Breggen make it six in a row?
Anna van der Breggen's searing attack over the steep Cima Gallisterna with two laps to go to win the world title at the World Championships on Saturday will be on everyone's mind as the peloton heads into the Mur de Huy on Wednesday. She is looking for her sixth consecutive win after winning titles in 2015-2019. Van der Breggen will be joined by strong support on the Boels Dolmans team that includes Chantal van der Broek-Blaak, Amy Pieters and Christine Majerus.
Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) will also be on the start line and a contender for a sixth title, too, after she won the 2007-09, 2011 and 2013 editions. She is a favourite, especially after winning three stages at the Giro Rosa, including stage 3 on the ultra-steep climb to Assisi. Vos will have a co-leader in Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, who is looking for redemption after an untimely crash took her out of contention at the World Championships.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) was left out of medal contention at the World Championships, too, after the electronic-gears battery failed and she was unable to change gears going over the final climb. She lines up in Huy hungry for a victory in the Ardennes Classics opener.
Elisa Longo Borghini and Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) make a great team, consistently helping each other to success at GP de Plouay, La Course and at the Giro Rosa. Watch out for this duo on the Mur de Huy. Longo Borghini took the bronze medal and Deignan finished sixth at Worlds on the weekend. It was no surprise to see Longo Borghini in contention on the Imola climbs, but Deignan was one of the strongest climbers in the race, just barely trailing Longo Borghini, van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten and Uttrup Ludwig.
Although Van Vleuten was cleared to race the World Championships with a broken wrist sustained in a crash at the Giro Rosa, she will not be on the start line for Flèche Wallonne. Amanda Spratt is also out of the race, recovering from a concussion sustained in the same crash. Mitchelton-Scott will still have a strong team with Lucy Kennedy, Grace Brown, Janneke Ensing and Georgia Williams.
Kasia Niewiadoma, Hannah Barnes and Omer Shapira put Canyon-SRAM in contention for a podium at this year's race. Niewiadoma finished seventh at Worlds, but has a punchy sprint on steep climbs making her one to watch.
Lianne Lippert (Sunweb) surprised with a fifth place at Worlds and is in great form ahead of the 'spring' Classics. She won the opening round of the Women's WorldTour in Australia in February and has had some strong performances at Strade Bianche, La Course and Giro Rosa, including fourth on the steep Assisi climb during stage 4, making her an outsider for the podium.
Visit Cyclingnews' dedicated women's page for full reports, results, news, features and galleries from the 2020 Ardennes Classics.
La Flèche Wallonne - Teams
- Ale' Btc Ljubljana
- Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano
- Astana Women's Team
- Boels Dolmans Cycling Team
- Canyon SRAM Racing
- Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
- Charente-Maritime Women Cycling
- Chevalmeire Cycling Team
- Cogeas Mettler Pro Cycling Team
- Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport
- Équipe Paule Ka
- FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
- Lotto Soudal Ladies
- Massi-Tactic Women Team
- Movistar Team
- Parkhotel Valkenburg
- Team Arkéa
- Team Sunweb
- Trek-Segafredo Women
- Valcar-Travel & Service
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