“Fléche Wallonne is kind of similar to Strade Bianche; a lot of people want to jump onto the top step of the podium but it’s not an easy mission to accomplish!” Kasia Niewiadoma.
“Personally, I target Fléche Wallonne the most out of all the Ardennes classics,” said Niewiadoma, who has only once finished outside the top five in the last four editions.
“It’s always been on my list of dream races that I would love to win!”
The 24-year-old Polish rider from CANYON//SRAM Racing will spearhead the team’s strong roster on Wednesday 24 April for Fléche Wallonne Femmes in Huy, Belgium. Niewiadoma will have the support of Alena Amialiusik, Hannah Barnes, Elena Cecchini, Hannah Ludwig and Alexis Ryan.
Positive stress and energy
Niewiadoma continued, “You have to turn up to this race with nothing short of excellent shape in order to be able to race up the brutal Mur de Huy!”
“You have to be smart and sharp throughout the entire race. You definitely have to make friends with this burning feeling in your legs because the final 30km is like a fireworks display and your legs are going to feel it all!”
“Thinking of being the best rider on this insanely difficult course, makes my body and mind super stressed,” admitted Niewiadoma. “But at the exact same time I’m also excited and just full of positive energy for this race!”
With only seven climbs, the uneducated may hastily suggest Fléche Wallonne isn’t demanding. However, two times climbing each of the Côte d’Ereffe (2km at 5%), the Côte de Cherave (1.3km at 8%) and the Mur de Huy (1.3km at 9.6%) all stacked towards the final hour of racing, and the 118km race is anything but easy.
“The race is invariably hard with no time to relax, the climbs are proper climbs, and there’s constant action on the flat sections before you even get to the Mur! I really enjoy to race here and I’m looking forward to the start line on Wednesday,” said Alena Amialiusik.
Barnes returns to racing at Fléche Wallonne
“I had a break after Gent Wevelgem to recover and prepare for this mid-part of the season. I’ve had some nice time at home to focus on training and mentally prepare for what is going to be a busy period of racing and travelling, but I am really looking forward to it,” commented Hannah Barnes.
“The Ardennes are races that I enjoy and after missing them last year, I am even more motivated for them. I really hope to feel good on Wednesday and be the best support I can for Kasia. I believe I have the ability to be there in the final if I have a good day so hopefully my work in the past three weeks will show that,” added Barnes.
How to follow
When: Wednesday 24 April, 2019 | start 10:30CEST | finish 14:00CEST.
Where: 118km | Huy, Belgium.
How: on Twitter with #UCIWWT and #FWwomen. There is no livestream currently planned of the ASO-organised race.