Flèche Wallonne Femmes 2024 Race Preview

Flèche Wallonne Femmes History

The women’s Flèche Wallonne, recently renamed Flèche Wallonne Femmes, has been a cornerstone event in women’s cycling since its inception in 1998, hosting many of the sport’s most formidable climbers. The race’s early history was dominated by Italian cyclist Fabiana Luperini, who clinched three wins in the first five editions and was a celebrated Giro Donne champion. Following Luperini, Nicole Cooke and Marianne Vos each had their periods of triumph, with Vos notably securing five victories between 2007 and 2013. Interestingly, since her last win, Vos has not returned to the podium.

Anna van der Breggen particularly shaped the race, achieving an unmatched streak of seven consecutive victories from 2015 to 2021. This included a memorable long-range solo break in 2017, where she and teammate Lizzie Deignan strategically overpowered their rival Kasia Niewiadoma. With van der Breggen retiring after the 2021 season, the field opened up for new champions.

In 2022, post-van der Breggen’s era, many expected Annemiek van Vleuten to dominate, yet it was Marta Cavalli who stepped up, capitalising on her form from a recent win at the Amstel Gold Race. The following year, 2023, saw Demi Vollering shine by winning on the Mur de Huy, the race’s defining climb. This 1.3km ascent, with an average gradient of 9.3% and sections soaring to 26%, is the crucial battleground where the race is decisively won. Vollering managed her effort on this challenging climb brilliantly, securing a well-earned victory through smart race management and strong climbing.

Previous Winners

2023
Demi Vollering
2022
Marta Cavalli
2021
Anna van der Breggen

Flèche Wallonne Femmes 2024 Profile

TV Coverage

Wednesday 17th April 2024

Live on Eurosport/Discovery across Europe
Peacock in USA 
FloBikes in Canada

15:55-17:15
All times in BST

Twitter:#FWwomen

Startlist: FirstCycling

Flèche Wallonne Femmes 2024 Contenders

Surprisingly, Demi Vollering is yet to win a race in 2024. The Dutch star did the Ardennes treble last season but we already know that won’t be repeated after finishing 22nd at Amstel Gold Race this weekend. She’s come close to wins with 2nd at Brabantse Pijl and 3rd at Strade Bianche but hasn’t been truly knocking on the door in the same way as in 2023. She will still be the race favourite here but it’s going to be reduced compared to previous years. Teammate Niamh Fisher-Black might also do well as a pure climber on the Mur de Huy but should be on lead-out duty for Vollering on the steep slopes.

Kasia Niewiadoma has come so close over the years to winning Flèche Wallonne Femmes with 5 top-10 finishes and a pair of podiums too. The Pole always suits an uphill sprint to the line but hasn’t been able to hook things up as yet. She’s still chasing a road win after nearly 5 years but would still be a good podium shout. The likes of Ricarda Bauernfeind and Antonia Niedermaier are also strong climbers for Canyon SRAM but I can see them setting pace on the Mur de Huy for Kasia. Based on the Amstel Gold Race there’s a chance that Bauernfeind tries to attack before the Mur as well to put pressure on other teams.

Gaia Realini was 3rd in her first edition of Flèche Wallonne Femmes last season. It seems like a finish absolutely perfect for the diminutive climber but the question is whether she has an explosive enough finish to actually take the win in the final metres. Elisa Longo Borghini has a similar record to Kasia here in that she’s had a trio of podiums over the years and a load of top-10s on top too. We know she’s in good form and will form a dual threat with Realini.

Mavi Garcia
Mavi Garcia

Mavi Garcia has been on a strong run at Flèche Wallonne Femmes in recent years with finishes of 4th, 5th and 5th in the last 3 years. The Spanish rider seems to be missing the punch needed to distance others for the win but has certainly been able to attack and put others under pressure. It seems likely we see her make a move which will be a useful springboard for whoever wins this year. Teammates Ella Wyllie and Caroline Andersson are also going to be useful and whilst they might not reach the same heights, either of them could sneak into the top 10.

The 2022 winner of Flèche Wallonne Femmes will be here again. Marta Cavalli has been struggling to reach the same heights since but is still a potential threat with the hope she will come good in a major race like this again. She’s only raced once in 2024 so far with a 49th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda in the books. Teammate Evita Muzic stepped up last year to finish 5th and is in some good form at the moment too. She was 10th at Strade Bianche, 9th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and 2nd at GP Féminin de Chambéry this weekend as well. She won’t be mentioned too much but is absolutely one to watch again this year.

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has been almost perfectly consistent at Flèche Wallonne Femmes over the years with a full 10 top-10 placings in 13 editions. The South African has managed to tick off all of the finishing positions between 2nd and 7th and would love to finally hit the top step. Teammate Sarah Gigante will also be a useful climber here and is leaps and bounds in better shape than when she last raced here in 2021 and suffered a broken leg, broken collarbone, and a broken elbow back then. It will be tough to have a worse experience this year!

Claire Steels
Claire Steels

We’re going to see the return to racing of Claire Steels after she fractured two of her vertebrae back at the UAE Tour Women. The Brit is returning at just the right time with Spain month around the corner and the Ardennes Classics here. She could be good here but the long layoff makes it tougher than normal to see it coming. Teammate Olivia Baril was 16th at Flèche Wallonne Femmes in 2022 and her form this season indicates that the Canadian might be able to improve on that. She’s taken a stage win at Vuelta Extremadura and 7th in GC before finishing 7th again at Trofeo Alfredo Binda too.

Erica Magnaldi doesn’t have a top-10 Flèche Wallonne Femmes result in 6 previous editions which is a surprising stat. She’s come close but for some reason, it hasn’t quite happened so far. The Italian is just coming in form at the right time too with a podium spot at GP Féminin de Chambéry this weekend.

Fenix-Deceuninck’s Yara Kastelijn managed to finish in the top-10 at Amstel Gold Race this weekend after getting into a long break and pulling all sorts of faces and turning herself inside out to stick with the move. She’s gone well at Flèche Wallonne Femmes previously with a 9th and 10th place in the last 2 seasons. A similar result seems possible this year too.

Like Magnaldi, it’s surprising that Juliette Labous only has a single top-10 finish on the Mur de Huy in 6 attempts over the years. The French rider is a very strong climber but I guess really needs a much longer effort to truly shine. 4th in GC back at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana and has been around 20th in the early hilly classics so far.

Veronica-Ewers-2023
Veronica Ewers

Veronica Ewers should be a strong threat here with the American known for climbing well and for finishing 14th last season. She’s been very very quiet so far in 2024 though, with zero notable results ticked off at the moment. Teammate Kim Cadzow has the potential to be a threat too but finished well down here last season. She had a stunning March with 5th at Trofeo Oro in Euro and a GC win at Trofeo Ponente in Rosa. Shas has top-10 potential. Clara Koppenburg is a pure climber but similarly to Labous probably needs it to be longer rather than an explosive effort. Her best finish in Huy is 23rd.

Uno-X’s Katrine Aalerud has a good record here with an 11th and 15th place previously but it feels unlikely she will repeat that this year after not racing for a month previously. The Norwegian is a good punchy climber but there are question marks. Teammate Simone Boilard is certainly in some form though with top-20 results at Amstel Gold Race, Brabantse Pijl and Gent Wevelgem recently. I don’t think she can go head-to-head with the explosive climbers here but could be an attacking option to go clear early.

Most of the attention on Visma | Lease a Bike will be on Fem van Empel who is still waiting for a really strong road result in 2024 so far. We know she has explosive power for days and maybe this will be the race she delivers the result. Eva van Agt was 18th here last year and part of the break that looked good until the final ascent of the Cauberg. And whilst her breakaway companions finished in the top-10, Van Agt finished 21st in the end. Mijntje Geurts has also been quietly good here in the last 2 years finishing just outside of the top-10 as an 18 and then 19-year-old rider. She could be a sneaky good option.

Another surprising stat is that Ane Santesteban‘s best result at Flèche Wallonne Femmes is only 10th after many years of taking on the Mur de Huy. Some of that is down to working for team leaders but the Spanish rider should be a contender as we know she can do punchy climbs. She went well at GP Féminin de Chambéry this weekend in finishing 6th place in France.

Flèche Wallonne Femmes 2024 Outsiders

Marion Bunel
Marion Bunel

Marion Bunel is a strong climber with some good results already in 2024. She finished 5th at the UAE Tour Women after finishing in the same spot on Jebel Hafeet and has been picking up top-10s in French races since. She was a big threat to the WWT talents on the climbs at the Tour de l’Avenir last season and is one to watch on these tough slopes.

Lotte Claes was only 62nd last season at Flèche Wallonne Femmes but has been going well so far this season. She’s been flitting just outside of the top-10 mostly across a chunk of races that includes Trofeo Palma, Vuelta CV Feminas and Vuelta Extremadura Feminas. Whilst all those come in Spain, there’s a chance for the Belgian on home roads.

We’ve seen BePink’s Monica Trinca Colonel come from almost nowhere this season to take a bunch of great results. Picked up after impressing with strong power numbers at a trial, she’s finished 4th in GC at the Trofeo Ponente in Rosa and 12th this weekend at GP Féminin de Chambéry.

Cofidis’ options might end up being on Julie Bego after Nikola Noskova had to not start the Amstel Gold Race this week due to injuring her foot in training beforehand. Bego has already finished 4th at Trofeo Oro in Euro and 12th at Brabantse Pijl last week in her first season as an Elites rider.

Top 3 Prediction