The Grisette Grand Prix de Wallonie, an emblematic but still new race in the heart of Belgium, is a battleground for both the seasoned pros and the emerging talents. With the picturesque yet challenging terrain of Namur and its fortress awaiting, this 2023 edition promises to be a spectacular race. Last year’s winner Julie de Wilde won’t be here to defend her title but Justine Ghekiere, who looked set to win until missing the final corner will try to go one better. As the peloton completes their final preparations, let’s delve into the riders poised to dominate the headlines.
Unfortunately, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is no longer on the startlist for the 2023 Grisette Grand Prix de Wallonie!
Proven Pedigree: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Sofia Bertizzolo, and Silvia Persico
The roads of Wallonia will witness the big-name talents of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Sofia Bertizzolo, and Silvia Persico. Moolman-Pasio, with her new-found sprint finish and punchy climbing, offers an exciting prospect for the race’s steeper sections. Sofia Bertizzolo, having consistently showcased grit and determination, has marked herself as a potential podium finisher. The Italian is coming into form at just the right point. Completing this trio is Silvia Persico. She will look to recreate her 3rd place on the 2nd stage of the Tour de France this year. She’s got the possibility to make it up the climb and sprint for the win.
In Great Form: Marta Lach, Quinty Schoens, and Christina Schweinberger
Three racers in prime form at this point of the season are Marta Lach, Quinty Schoens, and Christina Schweinberger. Lach has had a really strong run in France the last couple of weeks with finishes of 1st, 2nd and 4th. She will be a threat in any finish provided she climbs well enough. Schoens is able to make strong attacks and was 9th here last season and has a good result of 2nd at Kreiz Breizh Elites recently. Meanwhile, Christina Schweinberger is an absolutely huge form at the moment. The Austrian has barely been outside of the top 10 since the Tour de France Femmes finished. 5th in the World Championships RR and 3rd in the TT were huge and she hasn’t slowed down yet.
Last Year’s Podium: Yara Kastelijn and Justine Ghekiere
Returning to Wallonia with accolades from the previous year, Yara Kastelijn and Justine Ghekiere come with heightened expectations. Kastelijn’s season has been strong, almost winning the Queen of the Mountains jersey at the Tour de France Femmes. She’s finished 10th in GC at both the Tour of Scandinavia and Simac Ladies Tour recently. Meanwhile, Ghekiere, having tasted success on this terrain before with that almost unfortunate 2nd place last year when set to win, enters with a bolstered confidence, aiming to once again grace the podium and perhaps clinch the top spot.
Strong Climbers: Clara Koppenburg and Rachel Neylan
With Wallonia’s undulating terrain playing a significant role, the spotlight shines brightly on the likes of Clara Koppenburg and Rachel Neylan. Koppenburg, who has been able to stay uninjured this year, is anticipated to make a marked impact on the race’s climb up to the Namur fortress. On the other hand, Neylan, with her seasoned experience and a natural proclivity for challenging ascents, stands as a genuine threat to her competitors. She’s a punchier climber and finished 4th in this race last season.
Emerging Talents: Anya Louw and Femke Gerritse
Signifying the sport’s promising future, Anya Louw and Femke Gerritse are the names ringing in many an ear. Louw, with her Australian roots and undeniable potential, seems on the verge of a defining moment in her career. She was 7th here last season and will hope to repeat it despite a quieter season in 2023. Also, the Dutch prodigy Gerritse, due to move to SD Worx next season, is already making waves with her results this year and should improve on her 12th last season in Namur.