HTC-Columbia women prep for women’s Flèche Wallonne

HTC-Columbia has several options for wins at Wednesday's women's Fleche Wallone, but Judith Arndt's record at the race makes her the first name that comes to mind.

HTC-Columbia has several options for wins at Wednesday’s women’s Fleche Wallone, but Judith Arndt’s record at the race makes her the first name that comes to mind.

Arndt missed last year’s race because of injury, but she has finished on the podium for the previous four editions, taking second in 2006, and third in 2008, 2007 and 2005.

“Judith has had a lot of near-misses in this race and it would be wonderful to hit the bull’s-eye this time around” said team manager Ronny Lauke.

Lauke said the team has other options for Fleche, which is the fourth event in this year’s women’s World Cup.

“This is a great race for Noemi Cantele (fifth last year), and Evelyn (Stevens) has been climbing very well this season, too. They’ve made the course a bit longer and harder too, which suits our style of racing.”

Stevens and Kim Anderson were already in Belgium this week, but airport closures have forced the rest of the team to hustle.

“Judith, came by train from Leipzig, Noemi (Cantele) and Linda (Villumsen) drove by car from Milan, Luise (Keller) got the train to Berlin from the Czech Republic and then hired a car from there,” he said.

“We’ve had some great wins so far this season, but not yet in a World Cup event. It would be great if that happened on Wednesday.”

HTC-Columbia women’s team for Fleche Wallone: Kim Anderson (USA); Judith Arndt (Ger); Noemi Cantele (Ita); Luise Keller (Ger); Evelyn Stevens (USA); Linda Villumsen (NZ).

The 109-kilometer women’s Fleche Wallonne starts and finishes in Huy, Belgium. It’s held on the large and small finishing circuits of the mens’ race, leaving off the 63 km that the men race from Charleroi to Huy that the men race and completing one of the small finishing circuits (which includes the Mur de Huy), instead of the two laps that men complete. The race has been held since 1998 and has been won the last three years by Marianne Vos.

Besides Anderson and Stevens, other Americans at the women’s Fleche Wallonne include Liz Hatch (Lotto) and Tibco’s Megan Guarnier, Devon Haskell, Brooke Miller, Kristin Lasasso and Amanda Miller.