Bahrain Victorious to Flèche Wallonne

As the cobble races have come to a close, Bahrain Victorious returns to the hillier Ardennes. 

The rolling courses with short and steep climbs in this part of Belgium await the peloton this Wednesday, April 20th, when the 86th edition of ‘La Flèche Wallonne’ takes place.

Starting in the town of Blegny in East Belgium, riders will take on 202.5km before the finish that has been a feature for the past 40 years, the Mur de Huy, with a brutal 1.3km ramp and 9.6%gradient.

The iconic climb is considered one of the toughest in cycling, and riders must tackle it two other times before the finish.

The heart of the race are the three loops around the town of Huy, including two further climbs, the Côte d’Ereffe (2.1km at 5%) and the Côte de Cherave (1.3km at 8.1%), besides the above-mentioned explosive Wall of Huy, for a total of 80km. The first 120km of the 202.5 km whole route is far from pan-flat, with some challenging short climbs that will test the legs if it doesn’t make a selection.

Usually, ‘La Flèche Wallonne’ sees climbers’ participation, although the winner has traditionally favoured the puncheur. Bahrain Victorious will line up a 7-man powerful squad, including experienced riders who already performed well in this Classic race. The specialists will be Wout Poels and Dylan Teuns, who was 3rd in 2017 in his home race: “Flèche is always a special race. 5 years ago, I was on this podium. Therefore, I’m motivated to try it again”. 

Poels and Teuns will have stellar support for the race with the experience of Sanchez, Caruso, Haig, Mäder and Williams.

Gorazd Stangelj, Bahrain Victorious Sports Director: “Scrolling through the names of our riders, we see that we have a strong team, although the finish up to Mur de Huy will be tricky. For this reason, we aim to make a hard race and arrive at the finale with a selected reduced group, including our leader Wout Poels, and Dylan Teuns, who will be free to play his cards. We have riders who are in great shape, such as Damiano Caruso, who will be helpful to make a tight race. That’s what we hope for, especially if it will be a windy day.”

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com

Matthews hungry for an Ardennes podium lining-up with a versatile support team for Flèche Wallonne & Liège-Bastogne-Liège – Team BikeExchange Jayco

Australian Michael Matthews will lead a mixed Team BikeExchange-Jayco squad at the coming Ardennes Classics, Flèche Wallonne & Liège-Bastogne-Liège, with the team lining-up with high confidence after the Australian’s recent strong and consistent performances.
The 31-year-old finished seventh in his last two races, Amstel Gold Race and Brabantse Pilj after making it into the front splits but is hungry to snatch a podium placing this week, after previously finishing in fourth place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and fifth place in Flèche Wallonne.
Surrounding Matthews will be a versatile team boasting various talents from the strength of experienced Chris Juul-Jensen, Jack Bauer, Tsgabu Grmay and Nick Schultz, through to the youthful motivation of Alexandre Balmer, Jesus David Peña and Jan Maas.

For Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, the men will tackle the Mur de Huy three times like most previous editions, with the close succession of short and steep climbs coming after 120km of racing. Sunday’s prestigious cycling Monument, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, will see the peloton tackle 254km before the main testing climbs come after 165km of racing.
Team BikeExchange-Jayco line-up:
Alexandre Balmer (SUI)
Jack Bauer (NZL)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Jan Maas (NED)
Jesus David Peña (COL)*
Nick Schultz (AUS)
Michael Matthews:
“I have been feeling good, the legs are good and I had two seventh place finishes in the last two races here, so I am feeling ready and motivated for these final two Ardennes Classics.

Flèche is always a hard race, and the Mur de Huy never gets any easier. I have been fifth here before so it gives me confidence that if I am in the right place, I can have a good result. Then for Liège, it is Liège, it is one of the cycling Monuments and a race I really would love to win. 

I have finished fourth in the race before, but I really want to try to get on the podium this year. It is a race that suits me, I expect it to be really aggressive racing like we’ve seen in all these races recently, but we’ve got a good mixed team for many situations that may unfold.”
Mathew Hayman – Sport Director:
“It is a hard iconic finish for cycling up the Mur de Huy, Michael has had some solid results up there, it is a climb that suits not only the punchy classics riders but also the pure climbers and we often see the light guys come in, so it is a bit of a cross over race of the classics.
We will be going all in with Michael, he has shown week in, week out, that he has got good form and he has had numerous top ten’s in these classics and we will continue to try and put him into a good position.
Liege is a longer race, there’s more chance for different race scenarios to happen. Flèche in recent years has always been a big bunch come to the bottom of the climb and essentially has been a race up the climb whereas in Liège, there is a lot more involved with getting to the final. Again we are looking to support Michael into the final, and we are hoping some of our other guys can step up to the mark and once we get around the Cote de La Rouche-Aux-Faucon, it is pretty much full on to the finish line.”

2022 Race Details:
Wednesday, 20th April: Flèche Wallonne – Blegny to Huy, 202.1km
Sunday, 24th April: Liège-Bastogne-Liège – Liège to Liège, 245.7km
Photo: Chris Auld

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

Astana Qazaqstan Team for La Flèche Wallonne 2022 – Astana

Astana Qazaqstan Team for La Flèche Wallonne 2022

Astana Qazaqstan Team will take part in the famous classic race La Flèche Wallonne, which will be held tomorrow on April 20th.

Rider roster: Leonardo Basso (ITA), Antonio Nibali (ITA), Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Yevgeniy Fedorov (KAZ), Simone Velasco (ITA), Stefan De Bod (RSA), Andrey Zeits (KAZ).


Sports director in race: Stefano Zanini (ITA).

Race information: https://www.la-fleche-wallonne.be/en/

Photo credit: @Gettysport

— Vitalii to www.astana-qazaqstan.com

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

La Flèche Wallonne (20 april) – Liège-Bastogne-Liège (24 april)

Julien Jurdie : « Get on the podium

« Our sporting goals for the Ardennes are quite simple: with the physical condition that Benoît Cosnefroy has recently displayed, we can hope to get on the podium and why not on the top step. For the past few weeks, he has shown that he is very strong and he will be supported by a committed team to position him in the best possible conditions. It is a complicated task but it is the right year to shine. He is capable of climbing onto the Flèche Wallonne podium again and he can confirm the good sensations he had at la Doyenne two years ago.
Mentally and physically, Benoît is equipped to succeed in these races. »Julien


The number


With Benoît Cosnefroy, Paul Lapeir, and Mikaël Chérel, three riders who come from the Manche department will be at the start of the two Ardennes races.

— Kévin Bottin to ag2rcitroenteam.com