Seven-time winner Anna van der Breggen not happy with new Flèche Wallonne Final

Seven-time winner Anna van der Breggen not happy with new Flèche Wallonne Final

"Mur de Huy requires specific way of climbing"


Whoever says Flèche Wallonne, says Anna van der Breggen. The Olympic champion from Rio de Janeiro won no less than seven times in a row atop the Wall of Hoei. Last year, as team leader, she guided Demi Vollering to victory. "I had a love-hate relationship with the Flèche Wallonne. You know it all comes down to one moment, the climb of the Muur van Hoei. Sprinters may be used to that, but for climbers it's only at the Flèche Wallonne."

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Anna van der Breggen: "The Flèche Wallonne is a tough race. Actually, the entire Ardennes block is. But the final climb makes the Flèche Wallonne different. The Mur of Huy is such a distinctive climb. Depending on what type of rider you are, you ride up it with a different approach. If you're not among the ultimate punchers, you can try to bluff, but you run the risk of standing still on the steepest part. If you know you're not among the absolute best climbers, you have to try to get away before the Mur to have a chance of winning."

"That has become a lot harder this year because the Côte de Cherave has been dropped from the course. I really regret that, because that slope made the finale doubly interesting. If you didn't want to wait until the Wall, there were options there to make the difference. Now you have a descent on a wide road towards the foot of the Mur of Huy. So it is even more likely that the pure climbers will come to the top and that an elite group on the Mur will determine who wins or loses. I myself did win the Flèche Wallonne once when we escaped with two before the Mur."

"The Flèche Wallonne is different compared to the other Ardennes classics. In the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, fatigue piles up. In the Flèche Wallonne you have quite a tame start, especially this year with the changes. Only in the finale does it explode and most are still fairly fresh. These are the races where you can and must go very deep. You know everything has to happen in a few minutes. That makes it a bit of a tough finish mentally. Climbers are not used to that. On a climb in the medium or high mountains you often have an effort of half an hour, where you can still decide where you want to make the difference. Here it has to happen on the Mur of Huy."

"Who are the favorites for this edition of the Flèche Wallonne? Demi Vollering, meanwhile, has the experience to finish it. She is always good in the Flèche Wallonne and is our only leading lady in this classic. She is surrounded by a strong team that will ride full in support. Lotte Kopecky will start as a luxury rider. Blanka Vas, Elena Cecchini and Femke Gerritse are there to sit in on any breakaways, so Demi can save her strength as much as possible until the Mur. We are also curious to see how Niamh Fisher-Black will fare. This is a climb that should suit her as well. In terms of challengers, I'm mainly looking at Kasia Niewiadoma, Elisa Longo-Borghini and Gaia Realini."

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