Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Claudia Lichtenberg will lead the black and orange team in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, as a former podium finisher in the Ardennes Classic race. The 31-year-old former German Champion is one of the strongest climbers in the peloton and, with the hilly 120km race finishing on top of the fearsome Mur de Huy, Lichtenberg will be looking to capitalise on her current good form.
“I’m really looking forward to race tomorrow,” she said. “Today we did the final lap, and I really, really love this race. I’m so much looking forward to hit the Mur and to make the most possible ever pain that you felt before in your life! Ja, I’m ready for that!
Unfortunately, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling will be without World Number One, and two-time Flèche podium-finisher Elisa Longo Borghini, as the Italian went down with illness shortly before Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. Performances from Lichtenberg – who was denied by an ill-timed puncture – and French Time Trial Champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot – who was constantly on the attack and still managed to finish 12th – however, mean that the team will be just as competitive without its leader.
“Elisa is not there, but Audrey did super two days ago, and for sure we still have a good team,” said Lichtenberg. “We always miss Elisa a lot when she’s not there, but every race you always have to deal with different things. With my flat tyre last Sunday we also missed a lot… but these things happen. For sure she’ll be back for the next races, and we’ll just make the best of it.”
With the race finishing on top of the Mur de Huy since its inception in 1998, la Flèche Wallonne Femmes had been won by the strongest rider on its slopes of up to 26%. After a change to the usual finishing loop in 2015, however, the race is open to a more tactical finish.
Despite the extra climb, however, Lichtenberg knows that the race will come down to a battle between the strongest riders in the peloton.
“I think that now, since the last three years, the Col de Cherave is in, it changes a lot because that can be the first decision for the race,” she explained. “It’s a really, really hard climb, and one of the most key points, I think. It’s not a big secret!
“It’s like this: if you’re the strongest, you will be in front. It’s that simple.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling Team for La Flèche Wallonne Femmes
Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Annette Edmondson (Australia), Emilia Fahlin(Sweden), Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan), Claudia Lichtenberg (Germany)