Fleche Wallonne preview

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The 2016 edition of the women’s Fleche Wallonne brings the professional cycling peloton together for the sixth round of the Women’s WorldTour.

Each year, the professional peloton test their legs in a race that often sets the scene for the whole season. It was this race in which last years winner Anna Van der Breggen took her first World Cup lead of 2015, which she later went on to win in December.

This years roster boasts 25 teams from 12 different countries and followed by Liege-Bastogne-Liege a few days later, brings this years classics season to a close. This is a race that truly demonstrates the strengths that women’s cycling continue to reach, with the course having lengthened by 40km in the last 10 years.

This year riders will cover 136km and endure 11 climbs, 5 of these featuring twice. A few small changes have been made to the route and the introduction of the Cote de Solieres adds 16km to the course and could change the face of the race. The peloton will have to use strategy and intuition to adapt to the changes in order to make their mark on this extraordinary classic.

The race begins in the beautiful town of Marche-en-Famenne and finishes at the top of the famous Mur de Huy. With an average gradient of 10% (some sections reaching 20%!) the 1.2km climb is sure break up the field.

After her long awaited return to the peloton earlier this year, Marianne Vos makes her WorldTour debut at the race and is definitely one to keep your eyes on. She holds the record number of wins at Flèche Wallonne with five victories in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013.

Previous winner Pauline Ferrand-Prevot also takes to the start line this year and will be keen to bring home another win at the 19th edition of the race. Cervelo-Bigla rider Ashleigh Moolman finished within the top 4 from 2012-2015 and being her favourite race on the calendar, she will be extremely keen to be first to reach to summit of Mur de Huy.

Boels-Dolmans bring Megan Guarnier, Ellen van Dijk and of course Lizzie Armitstead to the 19th edition of the race. All of these riders have had an impressive start to the season and have played a part in Boels-Dolmans being the team to beat this year. Alongside these riders, Boels also bring Evelyn Stevens. After her hour record attempt, she rejoined the peloton last month and as a previous winner of the race we are really intrigued to see what she brings to the Mur de Huy.

Voxwomen will be on hand to bring you a race report and live tweets. Follow us on Twitter @Voxwomen.

By Emily Brammeier