Vollering Favourite For La Flèche-Wallonne Femmes

Who can beat Demi Vollering? Last year, nobody succeeded in the Ardennes. The Dutch rider won the Amstel Gold Race Ladies, La Flèche Wallonne Femmes and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes in one week, a “very special” treble that only her sporting director Anna van der Breggen had achieved in 2017. Since then, she has overwhelmingly confirmed her status as the new queen of climbing races by winning the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. Vollering (SD Worx-Protime) is, therefore, the sure favourite to win the 27th edition of La Flèche-Wallonne Femmes on Wednesday, 17 April.

For the first time, the race will run after the men’s race (finish scheduled for around 6 pm). Vollerin’s teammate Lotte Kopecky, fresh from her victory in the Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift in the rainbow jersey, is saving herself for her debut in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes on Sunday, 21st April, and will therefore leave the reins at SD Worx-Protime to Demi Vollering.

With an exceptionally solid line-up, Lidl-Trek will aim to thwart her dreams of a double and put on a show over the 143.5km course. The American team is the only outfit with several riders who have already finished on the podium at the top of the Mur de Huy: last spring’s revelation Gaia Realini (third in 2023) and Tour of Flanders winner Elisa Longo Borghini (second in 2013 and third in 2014). Borghini dominated Vollering on Wednesday with a solo win in the Brabantse Pijl in Flanders. All five Lidl-Trek riders on the entry list have already finished in the top 10 of La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, including Lucinda Brand (fourth in 2012), Brodie Chapman (ninth in 2019) and Amanda Spratt (fifth in 2018 and ninth in 2021).

In dazzling form at the Tour of Flanders with a second place, Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) hopes to finally lift her arms aloft in victory, after two podium finishes in 2017 (third) and 2021 (second). Ashleigh Moolman (AG Insurance-Soudal Team) is about to equal Italian Tatiana Guderzo’s record of 15 participations. The 38-year-old South African is amazingly consistent in the Belgian classic. She has finished in the top 7 a total of ten times, with two podium results (runner-up in 2018 and third in 2013). On the other hand, it will be the first participation for the promising 21-year-old Fem van Empel, two-time cyclo-cross world champion, who is Visma’s best chance for the win.

Fifth last year, Evita Muzic and Marta Cavalli will also be a talented pair to keep an eye on at FDJ-Suez. The Frenchwoman has been in good form over the previous month (tenth in the Strade Bianche, ninth in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda) and the immense talent of her Italian teammate is evident. In 2022, she beat Annemiek van Vleuten (and Demi Vollering, third) to succeed the “Queen of the Wall” Anna van der Breggen, who had just retired after seven successive triumphs in Huy.

24 teams, the main contenders:

Australia

Liv-AlUla-Jayco: Mavi Garcia (Spa), Ella Wyllie (Nzl), Urska Zigart (Slo)

 

Belgium

AG Insurance – Soudal Team: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Rsa), Sarah Gigante (Aus), Julie Van de Velde (Bel)

Chevalmeire: Hanna Nilsson (Swe)

Fenix-Deceuninck: Yara Kastelijn (Ned), Christina Schweinberger (Aut)

Lotto Dstny Ladies: Maureen Arens (Ned)

 

France

Arkéa-B&B Hotels Women: Lotte Claes (Bel)

FDJ-Suez: Marta Cavalli (Ita), Loes Adegeest (Ned), Evita Muzic (Fra)

Cofidis: Nikola Noskova (Cze), Julie Bego (Fra)

St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93: Marion Bunel (Fra), Victorie Guilman (Fra)

 

Germany

Canyon//Sram Racing: Elise Chabbey (Swi), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol), Ricarda Bauernfeind (Ger)

 

Italy

Bepink-Bongioanni: Andrea Casagranda (Ita)

 

Netherlands

SD Worx-Protime: Demi Vollering (Ned), Niamh Fisher-Black (Nzl), Mischa Bredewold (Ned)

Team dsm-firmenich PostNL: Esmée Peperkamp (Ned), Eglantine Rayer (Fra)

Team Visma | Lease a Bike: Fem van Empel (Ned)

Volkerwessels Women’s Pro Cycling Team: Quinty Schoens (Ned)

 

Norway

Team Coop-Repsol: India Grangier (Fra)

Uno-X Mobility: Simone Boilard (Can), Mie Bjorndal Ottestad (Nor)

 

Spain

Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi: Ane Santesteban (Spa)

Movistar Team: Olivia Baril (Can)

 

Switzerland

Roland: Anna Kiesenhofer (Aut)

 

United Arab Emirates

UAE Team ADQ: Erica Magnaldi (Ita), Alena Amialiusik (Blr)

 

United States

EF Education-Cannondale: Veronica Ewers (Usa)

Human Powered Health: Ruth Edwards (Usa)

Lidl-Trek: Gaia Realini (Ita), Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita)

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