Team BikeExchange-Jayco women ready to play their cards at Flèche Wallonne & Liège-Bastogne-Liège  – Team BikeExchange Jayco

After a busy weekend with the second edition of Paris-Roubaix, Team BikeExchange-Jayco women are back in action with their ‘climbing’ group, ready to tackle the final two races of the Ardennes Classics, the iconic Flèche Wallonne Femmes and prestigious Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes.
The squad will line-up with a leading trio of Ane SantestebanAmanda Spratt and Alex Manly, after all showing good climbing form in the previous races, with Spratt a former fifth place finisher in Flèche Wallonne and second place finisher in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. 
Joining the trio will be Georgia Williams, Urska Zigart, Chelsie Tan (Flèche only) and Jess Allen (Liège only) with the team looking to play their cards right to be attentive and in moves with an aggressive style of racing.
The two one-day races round-out the busy northern spring classics, with Wednesday’s 133km event including three ascents of the famous Mur de Huy for the first time in the women’s race. A brutal 1.3km climb averaging 9.6% percent but with a maximum gradient of over 20%.

For Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it is a slightly bumpier and lengthier route of 142km with seven main ‘cotes,’ culminating with the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons just 14km from the finish line.
Team BikeExchange-Jayco line-up:
Jess Allen (AUS) * Liège only
Alex Manly (AUS)
Amanda Spratt (AUS)
Chelsie Tan (SIN) *Flèche only
Georgia Williams (NZL) 
Ane Santesteban (ESP)
Urska Zigart (SLO)

Amanda Spratt:
“Flèche is always a race I look forward to. This year I think it will be one of the toughest editions yet. We race up the Mur de Huy three times for the first time ever and the final loops have many more climbs. The inclusion of the Cherave climb again makes the final harder in my opinion. 
My form has been progressing race by race. I still need more time to hit my top form again, but I still come to the race with high motivation alongside a strong team. I am especially looking forward to having the amazing crowds back this year especially up the Mur! The atmosphere there is electric.

Ane and Alex in particular, have shown really strong climbing form in the last races so they will be key riders for us, and I am just looking forward to leaving everything I have out on the road in both races.”

Alejandro Gonzales-Tablas:
“We bring the climbers back into the team for Flèche Wallonne and Liège, they are both always really hard races, but we go in with confidence after seeing the riders’ performances over the last weeks. Spratty is improving every single race she does, and we saw that Alex is in good shape after her rides in the last races like Amstel and Brabantse. The racing in general has been really aggressive so we expect the same on Wednesday, and we will look to be animated and, in the moves, but like always it will be a case of who has the best legs in those final few hundred metres on the Mur de Huy.”

2022 Race Details:
Wednesday, 20th April: Flèche Wallonne Femmes – Huy to Huy, 133km
Sunday, 24th April: Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes – Bastogne to Liège, 142.1km

Photo: Chris Auld

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

Astana – Premier Tech to play several cards at the Benelux Tour – Astana

Astana – Premier Tech to play several cards at the Benelux Tour

While the last Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a Espana will see its final showdown, the stage race campaign continues in Belgium with the seven-stage race, the Benelux Tour, where Astana – Premier Tech arrives with several cards to play.

After a less than ideal Tour de France racked by stomach issues, Jakob Fuglsang returns to the start line to get back into the race rhythm.

“The final part of the Tour de France wasn’t what I was aiming and hoping for. I felt better at the Olympics but of course I had different results in mind. But that’s in the past, I had some great days with my family, could charge the batteries and trained for the final part of the season. The Benelux Tour will be my first race after the Olympics, therefore I need to see day by day, getting back into the race rhythm first, but if there are chances and my condition is good, then of course I will try something”, – says Jakob Fuglsang.

The seven stages offer something for different rider profiles with Astana – Premier Tech bringing a squad built for almost every day.

Italian ITT Champion, Matteo Sobrero, who finished inside the top 15 in the Tour de Pologne time trial, will be the man for the second day in Belgium, where a 11-kilometre, short but intense, time trial stage will be on the menu.

Samuele Battistella, who will also race at the Bretagne Classic before heading to Belgium, will be a card to play during the seven days of racing, while Hugo Houle can take his chances in different breakaways, and Fabio Felline and Yevgeniy Gidich will try to sprint in the fast stages.

“We will try on the stages which suit our riders to perform well, for example the time trial with Matteo. Jakob returns to racing after the Tour de France and Olympics, which took their toll after stomach problems, so we need to see how he feels being back in race mode. Samuele showed his condition at the Arctic Race of Norway by finishing fourth in the overall. He will for sure be a rider we can count on. We have a well-structured team but we are lining up among strong teams, which are preparing for the European and World Championships, so it won’t be an easy week of racing”, – says Sports Director Giuseppe Martinelli.

Benelux Tour (30 August – 5 September).

Rider roster: Samuele Battistella (ITA), Fabio Felline (ITA), Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), Yevgeniy Gidich (KAZ), Dmitriy Gruzdev (KAZ), Hugo Houle (CAN), Matteo Sobrero (ITA).

Sports Directors: Giuseppe Martinelli, Stefano Zanini (both ITA).

— Vitalii to www.astana-qazaqstan.com