Words by Owen Rogers
Wiggle-Honda’s British track stars are aiming to play a key role in support of their team mates in today’s Flèche Wallonne Femmes, though all see some similarities between the track and the race’s finale up the Mur de Huy.
After completing their track commitments, they started the road season late and, though Dani King and Laura Trott, both have a few days’ competition in their legs, Flèche will be only be Joanna Rowsell’s second outing after failing to finish the GP Cornaredo back in March.
Though none placed particularly highly in last year’s race, it is one all three could do well in, their track background giving them experience of sustained efforts at maximum output, something comparable with the final climb of the infamous Mur de Huy. However, all three agree that sort of effort is a very different prospect after 126 kms of racing over hilly terrain.
“It’s a really tough race,” Rowsell told Cycling Weekly at the team hotel. “I’ve done it before and know what it’s about. The big capacity effort is probably pretty similar to the track, except when you finish on the track that’s it, with the Mur de Huy we’ve got to do it twice and there’s five other climbs on top of that.”
Trott cites other differences: “In a team pursuit everyone’s always moving forwards,” she told us. “Whereas going up that hill there’s bodies everywhere, some people are coming backwards, some are going forwards. It’s different, though I guess they’re both just as hard. In the team pursuit the last one and a half kilometres are where it really starts to bite, whereas here you’ve go the whole hill.” She said, before adding, “I really enjoyed it last year, even though I crashed after six kilometres,”
The Women’s Flèche Wallonne is the fourth round of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup, currently led by Lizzie Armitstead, and sees the return to competition of former winners Emma Pooley and World Champion Marianne Vos.
Lizzie Armitstead goes into Fleche Wallonne Femmes as Women's Road World Cup leader