Women’s Flèche Wallonne 2020 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

Mur de Huy

The 2020 Flèche Wallonne comes just a couple of days after the successful Imola World Championships. A strange quirk of the 2020 calendar given normally Flèche Wallonne takes place around 5 months beforehand. It also means we’re entering the next stage of the 2020 season – the Spring Classics! Or the Autumn Classics, or just the Classics.

The newly crowned World Champion Anna van der Breggen earns her Queen of the Ardennes nickname from her dominance in Flèche Wallonne. She’s won all of the last 5 races in a Valverde-esque run of dominance. Someone at Santini will be hastily knocking up a Boels World Champion jersey for her to race in.

This year’s route sees riders head out of Huy to tackle a climb before coming back to Huy to complete 2 laps of a finishing circuit. The Côte d’Ereffe and Côte du Chemin des Gueuses feature twice and so does the infamous Mur de Huy. The Côte de Cherave misses out in 2020 but there are plenty of opportunities for riders to attack without it. Not that that happens very often, 2017’s Flèche Wallonne was the last to be decided before the final climb of the Mur de Huy.

Recent Winners

2019 Anna van der Breggen
Anna van der Breggen
Anna van der Breggen
Anna van der Breggen
2015 – Anna van der Breggen

TV Coverage

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Thursday 24th September
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Women’s Flèche Wallonne 2020 Profile

Women’s Flèche Wallonne 2020 Favourites

The 5-time race winner and new World Champion Anna van der Breggen will once again be a massive favourite. I tipped her for a few of the similar uphill finish stages in the Giro but she didn’t appear to have the legs to stay with her rivals. But then in the Worlds, she gracefully disappeared off the front of the race on the steepest part of the final climb. It’s really tough to tip anyone else but those Giro stages introduce a little bit of doubt. Mavi Garcia has been 10th in both of the last two editions of Flèche Wallonne. There were hints towards the end of the Giro Rosa that she wasn’t as fresh as other riders as she was effectively in the 2nd week of stage racing. She ended up 18th, in the main chasing bunch, at the World’s too. Undoubtedly a good climber, she’s probably not got that sprint edge to win.

Mavi Garcia

Because of Van der Breggen’s dominance over the years, Annemiek van Vleuten has never won Flèche Wallonne. She was 2nd in 2019 and 4th in both of the years before that. It’s always tough to ignore her, even with the broken wrist. The injury certainly didn’t appear to slow her much in the World Championships. However, Van der Breggen has always had that little extra punch needed for the uphill sprint. Her best bet will be to reach the bottom of the Mur solo, but that’s easier said than done. With no Annemiek van Vleuten or Amanda Spratt, it’s an opportunity for one of their teammates to take charge. You’d think that could be Lucy Kennedy, however her 2020 season hasn’t been particularly great since winning the Herald Sun Tour. Her best finishes since are the 14th and 15th in the last stages of the Giro Rosa.

Kasia Niewiadoma has been consistent but hasn’t won a race yet in 2020. That’s probably going to be the case again here. She’s only once finished on a Flèche Wallonne podium but has finished 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th over the years to make her a contender. Erica Magnaldi is the best option for Ceratizit-WNT. She’s another who climbs well but might not have the punch on a relatively short climb. Her best hopes are to find herself in a reduced bunch going into the final ascent of the Mur.

The Paule Ka pair of Lizzy Banks and Mikayla Harvey were only 68th and 74th in last year’s race. However, both have moved on considerably from then. Banks won her 2nd Giro Rosa stage recently, having finished 2nd in the GP de Plouay behind Lizzie Deignan. Mikayla Harvey finished 5th Overall and won the white jersey to cap an excellent breakout race. Harvey’s best stage finish was 3rd on the steep uphill finish. Both riders are potential strong finishers here. TIBCO’s Lauren Stephens is in a rich vein of form. She won the Tour de l’Ardeche and then finished 11th in the World’s. She’s one of the few, like Lippert, to have done well in Australia at the start of the season and to have continued it through this odd season.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is always a favourite in a finish like this. She finished the World’s angry after her electronic gears stopped working, with fingers being pointed at the team mechanics for not charging the battery. Her best Flèche Wallonne result is 8th place last season. After missing out on the Giro Rosa, Parkhotel Valkenburg’s Demi Vollering will be looking to improve on her 5th place last season. She was 3rd in La Course in her last race before the World’s. She’s on the move to SD Worx next season so this could be her last Flèche Wallonne as an undisputed leader for a while.

Sunweb have a wealth of options. Liane Lippert was 15th in 2018’s race but she’s a better rider in 2020 than then. She was 5th in the World’s and finished 13th in the Giro Rosa after plenty of consistent uphill finishes. Her target will be to reach the top-5. Her teammates Leah Kirchmann and Floortje Mackaij were 17th and 18th in last year’s race. Kirchmann has been quiet since a good start to the season in Australia, mainly through helping others. It’s a similar story for Floortje Mackaij since Omloop het Nieuwsblad and her targets will be the Spring/Autumn Classics.

Trek have some elite options in Lizzie Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini. Neither of them have won Flèche Wallonne but both have finished multiple times on the podium. Deignan’s won La Course and the GP de Plouay in 2020 and finished 6th in the World’s. Elisa Longo Borghini has been finishing 3rd a lot recently. She took bronze in the World’s and also the final step on the podium at the Giro Rosa. Based on recent races she’ll try and go with the race-winning move but not quite be able to go with it. She’ll still finish ahead of most of the chasers and finish well.

Women’s Flèche Wallonne 2020 Outsiders

CCC-Liv’s Pauliena Rooijakkers has been having a good 2020 season. She was 7th in the 8th stage of the Giro Rosa and 3rd on the similar tough uphill finish at the end of the Giro dell’Emilia. In theory she’ll be working for the likes of Marianne Vos but could strike out in her own right to get a strong result.

Pauliena Rooijakkers

Movistar’s Katrine Aalerud finished 21st in her only Flèche Wallonne in 2017. She’s been in good form recently, finishing 4th on the steep uphill finish of Stage 8 in the Giro Rosa. She’s potentially more of a natural climber than a punchy one but could sneak herself into the top-10. Her teammate Paula Patiño is another potential option. She had less top individual stage results in the Giro Rosa but finished 8th Overall after being consistent. She was scoring top-10s in the Tour de l’Ardeche recently too.

Rasa Leleivytė continues to be in good form with 16th in the World Championships for Lithuania. She’s finished a best of 11th in Flèche Wallonne before but it was a long long time ago in 2011. The non-inclusion of the Cherave climb may help her get to the bottom of the Mur de Huy in the lead group and from there she can work her uphill finish magic. It’s a similar story for Tatiana Guderzo who finished 7th way back in 2010. She’s been hovering around the top-20 again in recent editions and was 7th in the Giro dell’Emilia this year. It will depend on if she’s on lieutenant duty for Mavi Garcia.

Maria Novolodskaya Fleche Wallonne
Maria Novolodskaya

The Cogeas-Mettler pair of Russians Aigul Gareeva and Maria Novolodskaya will be interesting wildcards. Novolodskaya, in particular, had a great Giro Rosa with visible late attacks. She became a favourite to win a stage but had an untimely slip to crash out whilst in the lead. Gareeva finished Stage 4 at the same time as Anna van der Breggen on a steep uphill finish.

Race Prediction

Anna van der Breggen
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig
Liane Lippert