Preview: La Flèche Wallonne Fémmes 2024

La Flèche Wallonne Fémmes is the second-oldest women’s one-day classic, after Trofeo Alfredo Binda, and is raced on the same day as the men’s equivalent. It has run since 1998, making this year’s edition the 27th. It has been ratified by the UCI as part of the Women’s World Tour since its inception in 2016.

Taking place in the Walloon region of Belgium, La Flèche Wallonne (the Walloon Arrow) includes over 2000m of altitude gain as it travels across the rolling hills of the Ardennes in south-west Belgium, concluding on the formidable Mur de Huy. It forms the central race of the set of one-day races known as the Ardennes Classics, and is traditionally a dynamic and punchy affair featuring plenty of attacking.

The race takes place on Wednesday 17th April 2024. It is the 13th round of this year’s Women’s World Tour.

The Route – Huy – Huy (Mur de Huy) (143.5km)

Heading west and then south from the city of Huy in the Liège province of Belgium, the women will begin a day of relentless ups and downs which characterise the Ardennes Classics after just seven short kilometres on the flat. In fact, three category four climbs are tackled on the loop that heads out around the area, before the peloton turns north and returns to Huy for two loops of a finishing circuit that includes the race’s central feature, the Mur de Huy.

Many words have been applied to the fearsome feature climb of La Flèche Wallonne, but ‘intimidating’ is probably the most accurate. At 1.3km in length, what the ‘wall of Huy’ lacks in distance it more than compensates for in gradient. Averaging 9.8%, the climb begins steadily but reaches pitches of up to 17% at its fiercest, and will burn the legs of even the most accomplished of climbers as they attempt to power up its soul-destroying gradient.

The final 50km of the race completes two circuits of Huy, including two climbs on each repetition, the Côte d’Ereffe,  which at 2.2km long with an average gradient of 5.9% represents one launchpad, and the Mur de Huy itself, which is tackled for the first time with 32km remaining on the stage, before the final ascent of the wall up to the finish line, where the winner of the 2024 edition of the race will be crowned.

Riders to Watch

With their DS Anna van der Breggen winning seven consecutive editions of the race, Demi Vollering returned the glory to Team SD Worx-ProTime in 2023 after a year in which Marta Cavalli of FDJ-SUEZ upset the team’s perfect run. Vollering will be confident heading into the 2024 edition of repeating her assured victory, in which she put space between herself and the rest on the Mur de Huy.

Hoping to disrupt her progress, last year’s podium finisher Gaia Realini will be hoping to improve on her result for Lidl-Trek, and the experience of her teammate Elisa Longo Borghini can never be ruled out on a big occasion. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ) will be intent on hanging on up the final climb alongside the front-runners as she comes back from injury in the Ardennes.

Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM) has ridden a strong classics campaign so far this spring and will hope to continue her good form and make the most of the climbs, and as usual, Soraya Paladin and Elise Chabbey will be alongside her to animate the race with early attacks and break up the bunch.

AG Insurance-Soudal will look to their experienced Ardennes specialist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio to have an impact in the final stages of the race, and Liv AlUla Jayco bring a squad of hopefuls which include veteran Mavi Garcia and strong climber Urska Zigart. They represent outside chances for a win, as does Team dsm-firmenich PostNL’s Juliette Labous.

Riders to Watch

5-stars Demi Vollering

4-stars Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig

3-stars Gaia Realini

2-stars Elisa Longo Borghini

1-star Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio

Summary

When – Wednesday 17th April 2024

Where – Belgium

What – One-day race

TV Coverage: Discovery+, Eurosport

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