Pauliena Rooijakkers in eleventh place was CANYON//SRAM Racing’s top finisher at Fléche Wallonne today in Huy, Belgium. The Dutch rider finished just ahead of teammate Kasia Niewiadoma with the race won by Marta Cavalli (FDJ).
A group of six riders went clear in the first two hours of racing, building a lead to over one minute. The advantage quickly fell when the peloton hit the final circuits, including three times each the Côte de Cherave and Mur de Huy. Elise Chabbey and Alena Amialiuisk rode an aggressive race and joined the breakaway creating a formidable 15-rider group as the peloton ticked off the steep climbs one by one. With one lap remaining the group had 1 minute and 20 seconds lead and only were caught on the final time up Côte de Cherave. Kasia tried to attack but was distanced in a counterattack, only to rejoin the leaders before the final Mur de Huy.
“Personally, I just didn’t have legs today,” admitted Kasia after the finish.
“It rarely happens, but unfortunately, it does sometimes. I wanted to do so much but for some reason, my body was not responding. The team performance, however, was very special today! Everyone was committed and ready to suffer. Elise and Alena being in the breakaway created a great situation for the team and I hope that we keep this style of racing for the next races. Personally, I hope I can shake off the bad feelings and take Sunday as another opportunity for a win for the team.”
Read the reactions of other CANYON//SRAM Racing riders after the Ardennes classic.
“The team was really good today with two riders in the first group making it easy for us in the pack. It was an ideal situation. On the second last climb, Côte de Cherave, Kasia did a good job trying to make a group go away. I knew that I can only help her by trying to hook up with a group and support her by following the attacks. Kasia came back and I thought she can still ride the final climb to get a good result. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the legs and I tried to do the best I could.”
“The team raced well, we started the team plan to make the race hard and put pressure on others. I felt good today. Elise and I started to attack with two laps to go and we created a breakaway. It was a perfect situation for our team. We decided that I should work in the break and that we try to save Elise. I gave everything I had to keep the gap for the breakaway and after we were caught, in the final 5km, I don’t really know what happened in the race.”
“It was a good situation with Alena and me in the break. I did a bit too much at the beginning of the break and then my legs were a bit tired. Maybe also after Paris-Roubaix. Alena was good in the breakaway and did a lot of work to make it survive as long as it did. I was hoping to be there over the last time up Côte de Cherave and be there with Kasia but couldn’t. I think the whole team did well and even if we don’t have the result we should look forward and try again. Everybody can have a bad day and we just need to keep believing in our strength.”
“We were in a perfect situation with Elise and Alena in the breakaway. At one point I was quite confident they could make it to the finish. But on the second last climb, the group came together and Kasia tried to make a difference there. The result is not what we were hoping for but we showed another time that we are present and active in the race. We can improve from this and make it useful for the next races. Personally, I was feeling quite good, I knew the climbs were a bit too steep for me but I tried to stay with Kasia and lead her on the climb as much as possible.”
“We were all extremely motivated before the race and the whole atmosphere was very positive. The first 50km of the race was quite calm and I was feeling good and was prepared to suffer on the laps around Huy. Unfortunately for me, I was involved in a crash a few kilometres before the entrance to the circuit. I somersaulted into a bush and luckily I came out fine. However, I needed a bike change. It was a stressful part of the race and I chased hard for a while but never saw the peloton again. I was very frustrated but this is the nature of bike racing. My teammates kept fighting and it was nice to see Alena and Elise in the breakaway. We didn’t get the results we were wanting but can keep our heads up high and look forward to Sunday’s race.”
LIEGE-BASTOGNE-LIEGE ON SUNDAY 24 APRIL
CANYON//SRAM Racing will go into Sunday’s Liége-Bastogne-Liége with an unchanged roster. Alena Amialiusik, Elise Chabbey, Mikayla Harvey, Kasia Niewiadoma, Soraya Paladin and Pauliena Rooijakkers will take on the final of the Ardennes Classics. The 142.1km race starts at 08:30CEST and is set to finish around 12:30CEST. It will be broadcast at 11:35-13:30CEST on France TV Sport, VRT, RAI, NOS, Eurosport, FloBikes, NBC Sports, GCN, TV2, SuperSport, Señal Colombia, J Sports, RTBF, ESPN, SBS, beIN Sports and Sky Sport.