La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, Road World Cup #4, 23rd April 2014
If you ever listen to our women’s cycling podcast, you can imagine Dan cursing right now, because traditionally the Flèche Wallonne doesn’t give us much. Yes, I know, it’s run by the ASO, so very well-funded. And yes, I know there are fixed cameras all the way up the Mur de Huy, so it should be easy – and maybe you’ve been, and seen the women’s race key points beamed live onto the big screens – or maybe you remember from a few years ago, when the tv broadcasters used to cut to the women on the Mur each time, because of course watching anyone race hell-for-leather up the Mur is more interesting than watching the men reel back the inevitable doomed break on the back-end of the course…. but the sad fact is, the last few years haven’t been good for us Mur-lovers.
That’s a long way of saying don’t get your hopes up for live tv or any live streams. I will continue to wish for live coverage of the women’s final Mur run in the middle of the men’s coverage, and maybe highlights of the women’s after the men’s, but I am managing my expectations – and there ARE ways to follow live and see the action afterwards, and I’ll tell you all about that after I re-live last year’s race (starting at 12:39)
If you want more videos from last year, you can find them here – I was at that race, with the wonderful Hitec Products team – if you want my interviews, photos and over-excited account of seeing the race from the team car, head over here. And more videos – 2012, won by Evelyn Stevens, 2011, by Vos again, and 2010 by Emma Pooley.
UPDATE! What are some of the big stars of this race thinking about it?
Following the race
So, OK, watch the men’s race and hope… (if you don’t have it on tv, look in the three usual places for streams) but of course we can also follow along on twitter, because as always the teams love us – especially Boels-Dolmans and Rabo-Liv, because their mechanics Richard Steege and Sem Versteeg live tweet updates, in between un-bending bikes and sorting out punctures – and I can’t thank them enough. Click through to their twitters and thank them too!
Then there are the wonderful owner/managers – Hitec’s manager Karl Lima, and Wiggle Honda‘s Rochelle Gilmore, and this year the UCI have a twitter just for the World Cup – and I’ve collected all of these, and more accounts that are helpful, into my race twitter live race list, which is the nearest thing to a live ticker I’ve found. I’ll add anything else I see as I go. There’s a Flèche Wallonne twitter (although they focus on the men) and they’re using the #FlecheWallonne hashtag, although there’s also the #Fleche2014 hashtag…. so maybe there’ll be stuff there too? We can hope!
The race starts at 11:00 CEST Euro time (10am UK BST; 7pm Aus AET; 5am USA EST & 2am USA PST) and should end between 14:25 & 14:45 CEST (1:25pm BST; 11:25pm AET; 8:25 EST, 5:25 PST) We have a live-ish thread on Podium Café where we’re talking about the race, and I’ll be updating on twitter with anything else I find.
We’ll definitely get some video after the race – look to Sporza’s videozone, because they’re the fastest at putting up clips, even if they’re usually short. And then we’ll get 5 minutes or so within about 24 hours, and 26 minutes within a week more or less, on the UCI’s youtube, in English. As always, I’ll make a post with all the videos and photos I find after the race. Last year ORICA-AIS made this great video, and I hope we can see more of that this year….
So what’s the race like?
This is one of those races where the women’s shorter distances (127km) make for a much more fun race. The miss out the long run-in from Bastogne that starts the men’s race, and start and finish in Huy – so they race the same loop as the men, twice, with the same 11 categorised climbs as the men, finishing on the Mur. I’d actually make the men race the same course if it were me, because although you can glibly characterise it as “they all ride round and then the race starts on the Mur”, that’s not the case at all – the whole race is about attacking, attrition and break management, and it can be very hairy, as riders jostle for position the entire way round. And what I hadn’t realised until last year was that apart from the 11 climbs, there is very little that’s actually flat, because this area is rolling, for sure. Here’s the course information, and as it’s ASO, it’s an excellent resource.
I’ll update this post with more things I find
Interview with Evelyn Stevens, on winning the 2012 Flèche and much more, by Clara Beard on Bicycling – and a blog by superstar Ellen van Dijk, on being asked a really rude question. And here’s the Specialized video with Stevens talking about winning in 2012:
- Velofocus has his usual great preview
- Preview by Clara Beard on Bicycling
- ORICA-AIS’ round-table with the riders talking about the race
- Specialized-lululemon preview
- Boels-Dolmans preview (Dutch)
- Lotto-Belisol preview with Pooley quotes
- Rabobank-Liv preview, with Marianne Vos quotes
UPDATE! If you have any questions you want to ask the ORICA riders about the race, here’s your chance:
— ORICA-GreenEDGE (@ORICA_GreenEDGE) April 20, 2014
— ORICA-GreenEDGE (@ORICA_GreenEDGE) April 20, 2014
If you want to know what’s happened in the previous 3 rounds of the Road World Cup, here’s all the coverage from Podium Café.
Finally, if you’re new to the race, and are wondering about the salivating over the Mur…. well, it’s super-steep – 1.3km long, average gradient 9.8%, getting up to 19% in places, and it’s narrow and twisty in places, lined by a wall of screaming fans – here’s the profile, and I will take ANY opportunity to re-post this video of Aussie superstar & former World Number 1, Anna Millward, riding up it and talking about when she came second, and what it means for women’s cycling…. THANKYOU Bec*!