Huy > Mur de Huy 133.1km
After dominating the race for the last 7 years, it’s time for Anna van der Breggen to step aside and let someone else become the Queen of the Mur de Huy. She’ll be hoping the crown is passed to one of her teammates, but a few others will have their eyes on the prize.
A little on the cloudy side, but it’s not bad conditions for a bike race.
The downhill run into the tight left corner that starts the Cherave climb is hugely important, it shouldn’t be underestimated. The Cherave climb is 1.5km at 7.8%, the start of it is very steep. Once it’s been crested, then it’s the run for the Mur de Huy. I don’t have to bore you with another rant about positioning.
The Mur is 1.3km at 10%, one of my favourite climbs in cycling. Attacking at the right point is crucial, Alaphilippe knows when to go.
It’s another round of SD Worx v Trek-Segafredo v FDJ v Annemiek van Vleuten. The reintroduction of the Cherave climb is brilliant news for those wanting to attack and split the race up, it plays into the hands of those teams with strong climbers. SD Worx look the strongest team to me, they’ll be happy to back in the hills after taking a kicking from Trek – Segafredo in Roubaix. They’ll have Vas, Shackley and Fisher-Black to make the race hard, leaving van den Broek-Blaak, Moolman and Vollering for the later stages of the race. Like usual, their key objective will be to isolate van Vleuten and then try to work her over.
Movistar will be hoping their key domestiques can last deep into the final lap, it’s vital that van Vleuten doesn’t use up energy earlier in the day. After taking three wins at the start of the season, she’s gone a little while without crossing the line first. Second here in both 2015 and 2019 show that she’s more than capable of challenging on the Mur de Huy, but it’s all about saving her bullets for the finish.
Then we have Trek – Segafredo, a team who have performed above and beyond this season. Longo Borghini would normally be a big favourite for this race but coming just days after such an effort in Roubaix, I do have my doubts. The same goes for all who raced on Sunday, I think they’ll find it too soon to challenge for the win.
Demi Vollering – 2nd in Amstel Gold and 1st in De Brabantse Pijl, she is looking very strong just now. She’s likely to get an easy ride throughout the race, thanks to racing for the strongest team, we’ll then see if she has the legs to win. She must start as the big favourite.
Ashleigh Moolman – a good second option for SD Worx. She was very strong in Amstel Gold; I expect something similar here. I think we’ll see her used as an attacking option before the final climb, if she attacks on the Mur or Cherave, the big guns will need to use energy to cover her, domestiques simply won’t be able to cope.
Katarzyna Niewiadoma – not won a race since June 2019, this is a huge chance for her. She was 2nd last year and her current form has been impressive. She knows that going up against SD Worx is always tough, but this is a great race for her.
Annemiek van Vleuten – same old story, she must work out how to drop the SD Worx team leaders. The steep slopes of the Mur de Huy are not always perfect for her, but we all know she’ll go out swinging. Her chances of winning depend on how many SD Worx riders are in the front group with 30km to go.
Elisa Longo Borghini – it’s too close to Roubaix.
Marta Cavalli – same goes for her, which is a shame, as this is a great race for her. If she can somehow dig deep, it would be great to see her fighting for the win.
SD Worx to get back to business and a win for Demi Vollering.