On Wednesday 17th April, it’ll be the 2013 Flèche Wallonne Femmes (aka Waalse Pijl), one of the biggest day races of the year. Remember last year, when it looked like Marianne Vos would win her fifth title, until Evie Stevens overtook her with metres to go? Damn, but that was great racing!
2013 is the 16th edition of the women’s race, and it’s the fourth round of the Road World Cup – and one of those time where a women race alongside the men’s race – and you could easily argue that the women’s course is more interesting. Bear in mind the UCI limit the distance the women can race to 140km, racing two laps of the long Huy to Huy loop the men race too – 131.5km – with two ascents (including the finish, of course) on the beautiful, crazy, wonderful Mur de Huy – 1.3km at an average of 9.3%, getting to 19% in places. Want to know what it’s like to ride? Before I tell you anything else, watch the Australian former World Number 1, Anna Millward, interviewed in 2009 as she climbs it!
Every time I think of that clip, I tip my hat to Bec*!
So, how do we follow the race? The host broadcaster is Belgian tv channel RTBF, and they provide the coverage that is used on all the different stations around the world. In previous years, they used to cut to the women racing up the Mur live during the men’s race, because at the time the women are racing, the men are on the back of the loop, where nothing happens (because when has this race ever been won anywhere other than on the Mur?). However, they stopped doing this last year, and you might want to tweet them at their sports twitter, ask on their facebook sports page or use the contacts form on their website, and ask them what they’re planning. (If you know how to ask the question in good French, especially in 140 characters, I’d love it if you can add that in the comments). There are fixed cameras all up the Mur, and tv stations frequently show eg the breakaway group and the chase group in split-screen, so we know the technology is definitely there, if they don’t want to leave the men’s race completely. We should get some highlights afterwards, on RTBF and Sporza – and I bet Sporza will show a post-race clip on their videozone. And there’ll definitely be highlights of the race, in English, on the UCI’s youtube on Wednesday night. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about being able to watch the peloton charge up the Mur…. such an exhilarating finish, imagine being among those crowds!
Edit! The race starts at 11:45 CEST, and is scheduled to finish between 15:17 and 15:47 – you can see the timing by hitting the “schedule” tab on the race website route page.
If you want to follow the race live, as always, twitter is the way forward. Still no Manel Lacambra, sadly, but we can always rely on the fantastic Boels-Dolmans mechanic, Richie Steege, and the Hitec Products UCK manager, Karl Lima – these two should be paid by the UCI for their incredible work updating us in real time – not forgetting photographer/journalist Bart Hazen, who’ll be there covering the race for Wiggle Honda. And as always, I’ve got a twitter list of people who live-tweet with information from the races, which I edit for each race with the people who have information direct from the race – I know that this time there’ll be live tweeting from the race on the ORICA-AIS twitter, for example.
We’ll have an open thread on Podium Café, where people can share any information they find while the race is happening. Look out for it on the day on their women’s cycling page – and if things like information on any tickers turn up, people will be sure to add it to the comments. I love the Café, I think it’s super-friendly, so if you want to talk about the race with us, please sign up, we always love new people to talk to!
The race is run by the ASO, so there’s the usual excellent race website, in French and English, with the route, the startlist, and all kinds of things. As ever, the startlist is liable to change – follow the changes on the always-excellent Cycling Fever startlist.
To find out more about the race, there’ll be a race preview on Podium Café – and there are previews on Les Déesses de la Route, on Velofocus and Velorooms. As always, Les Déesses is more of a narrative preview, while Velofocus has a lot of the stats, with links to streetview views of the route, and Velorooms, like Podium Café, has chat in the comments. I really love that the previews are so different and complementary – hat tip to Cyclopunk, Sean and jsg.
Edit! And for Spanish-reading fans (or even if, like me, you can read Spanish-ish) check out Saul’s preview on Cobbles & Hills
“We LOVE the spectators and the more they cheer us on the harder we go,”
I’m all excited now! I’m going to have to watch all the videos from last year, and live it all over again. I love this race, if there’s anything more I can do to help you enjoy it too, or if you have any more information you think I’d like, let me know – in the comments, on twitter or at prowomenscycling[at]gmail[dot]com. I’ll be editing in more information as I find it.
And finally, if you want to read some of my thoughts on how we can get more women’s cycling broadcast, you can head over to Total Women’s Cycling, and read the piece I wrote after the Ronde van Vlaanderen. I’m certain Flèche Wallonne will be another race that will demonstrate how much of an audience there is for women’s cycling, and hopefully this time next year there’ll be a lot more for us to see.
Edit! And here are the videos!