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Flèche Wallonne: Anna van der Breggen takes aim at seventh consecutive title

The world champion is riding her final Fleche Wallonne, but can she continue her record run of wins at the Belgian race?

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Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) has dominated the brutally steep slopes of the Mur de Huy during her career, winning Flèche Wallonne a record six consecutive times.

As the Dutch powerhouse takes aim at her final ascent of the Mur before she retires at the end of the year, could she be about to relinquish her iron grip on the title of Queen of the Huy or can she win for a seventh time?

After a difficult day out at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, where she finished almost nine minutes behind her compatriot Marianne Vos, van der Breggen is not so sure.

Also read: Ardennes week: Why we love the hilly classics

“I am a bit unsure how I will feel on Wednesday because if my form the same as it was at the Amstel then it won’t be good enough to win on the Mur,” van der Breggen said. “It needs to improve, and I can only know if it has when I am racing.

“If I am at my old level again, of course, I would love to make it a seventh because it is such a special race to win so many times. I love this race, especially the final.”

Should van der Breggen not feel at her prolific best on the Mur de Huy, SD Worx is never without a stack of backup plans. Demi Vollering has been on flying form during this spring and seems destined to take home a win before too long, while Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has twice finished on the podium in Huy.

Van der Breggen is ready to pass the torch to a teammate if she doesn’t feel up to the task.

“I would like to win, if I’m capable of that. I want to do it, but you need to be fair,” she said. “It’s my last opportunity but on the other hand I also feel like I won it six times already, so I know the feeling.

“We really have a team who is more motivated than ever. We have a lot of climbing talents and potential. It will also be a special feeling when one of my teammates wins this race.”

Anna van der Breggen wins Fleche Wallonne
Anna van der Breggen just can’t stop winning Fleche Wallonne

What it takes to win on the Mur de Huy

Van der Breggen could write a book on how best to win on the Mur de Huy. She has done it six times already and in varying ways, from her long-range attack on the run into Huy in 2017, to waiting until the final 200 meters to make her move the following year.

“It really asks for some self-knowledge,” van der Breggen said of conquering the climb. “In the beginning, I was not capable of winning on the Mur until I did.

“It is a quite different climb to most other climbs. It starts in the town already, but it is a long climb, and it is really steep so you should know how high you can go in your pace, not to blow up but still to have enough to sprint or to drop the others.

“If you make a lot of effort in the corners you can gain some places, but you can still lose a lot of places in the final 200 meters. That’s the same. It’s all about knowing how you are feeling.”