Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank heads back to the Belgian hills Wednesday to compete among the best at the 24th edition of La Fleche Wallonne Féminine, part of an intense week of Women’s World Tour racing in the Ardennes.
La Fleche Wallonne Féminine, French for the “Walloon Arrow,” has the distinction of being the third oldest women’s race on the calendar. The long-standing prestige attracts a world-class field to this Women’s World Tour race and the Mur de Huy (1.3km climb at 9%), the iconic and pivotal ascent to the finish line always adds an extra dose of drama to the event.
This year, the 130km Ardennes Classic has eight categorized climbs, with four in the final circuit, including the Côte d’Ereffe (2.1km at 5.6%), the Côte du Chemin des Gueuses (1.9km at 6,7%) and the Mur de Huy twice.
Hugs after Amstel Gold Race. Photo/Twila Muzzi
“We’re just back from a recon of the course, and I think it’s a great course for our team,” team director Rachel Hedderman said. “The initial long lap is very different from last year, with more climbs and what feels like a harder parcours in general. In the past few races, we’ve had some really good performances with several top ten results, and I’m looking forward to seeing if we can improve on that even further.”
La Flèche Wallonne will be broadcast on GCN+ for European and Asian-Pacific audiences and Flobikes for Canadian and Australian fans. In the U.S., the race will be broadcast on NBC Gold. Check the websites for viewing times in your country.
Kristen Faulkner waves before Amstel Gold Race. Photo/Twila Muzzi
Kristen Faulkner finished an excellent 15th at Amstel Gold Race this past weekend and is excited to see what the team can do at Flèche Wallonne.
“The Flèche course is completely different from last year except for the final circuit, and it feels a lot hillier,” Faulkner said.
“There is a steep climb at 60km, similar to the Mur de Huy, so I think there will be some early splits and breaks. The final half of the course has many climbs in quick succession, so the attrition will really start about 50k in. I think we need to go into this race with the same mindset we have every race: be towards the front as much as possible, and especially once the ‘racing’ really begins after km 50.”