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Wide-open women’s Fleche should serve up exciting race

In the absence of five-time winner Vos, all eyes will be on world champ Ferrand-Prévot who faces challenges from several big names

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With the absence of five-time Flèche Wallonne winner, Marianne Vos (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013), the race could be wide open when the best of the women’s peloton gathers in Huy, Belgium next Wednesday. Without her prolific Rabo-Liv teammate, world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot will have to defend her 2014 title with one less arrow in the quiver.

Wearing the rainbow jersey, the 23-year old Frenchwomen will be marked from the start. And her rivals may be more dangerous than ever.

England’s Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans), runner-up to ‘PFP’ last year at the top of the Mur de Huy, has already notched three wins this season, plus the overall at the Ladies Tour of Qatar. At the end of March, she won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda ahead of Ferrand-Prévot.

Armitstead’s American teammate Evelyn Stevens, winner of the 2012 Flèche, could also pose a threat, though she has yet to win a race this season, aside from the team time trial at the Women’s Tour of New Zealand.

Perhaps Italian rider Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) will pose the most formidable challenge to the Boels-Dolmans ladies. She’s on good form, having won the women’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) in a solo move earlier this month. Plus, she knows how to ride well at Flèche, placing second in 2013 and third in 2014.

25 teams: The leaders

Orica-AIS: Johansson (S), Scandalora (I)

Belgium Zannata: De Vuyst (B)
Lotto-Soudal Ladies: Cecchini (I), Daams (B)
Topsport Vlaanderen Pro-Duo: Druyts (B)

Canadian National Team: Pilote-Fortin (Can)

French National Team: Souyris, Lesueur (F)
Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope 86: Pader, Biannic (F)

Velocio-SRAM: Amialiusik (Blr), Brennauer (G), Cromwell (Aus),

Great Britain
Matrix Fitness: Trott (GB)
Wiggle-Honda: Longo Borghini, Bronzini (I), Cordon (F)

Ale Cipollini: Berlato, Tagliaffero (I)
BePink-LaClassica: Valsecchi (I)
Inpa Sottoli Giusfredi: Ratto (I)
Servetto Footon: Neff (Sui)

Astana Acca Due O: Solovey (Ukr)

Boels Dolmans: Armitstead (GB), Stevens (USA), Van Dijk (Nl)
Parkotel Valkenburg Continental Team: Rooijakkers (Nl)
Rabo-Liv Women : Ferrand Prévot (F), Brand (Nl), Van der Breggen (Nl)
Liv Plantur: Pieters (Nl)

Hitec Products: Becker (All), Guderzo (I)

Russian National Team: Kozonchuk (Rus)

BTC City Ljubljana: Bujak (Pl)

Bizkaia Durango: Ilinykh (Rus)

Bigla: Moolman Pasio (SA), Van Vleuten (Nl)

United States
U.S. National Team: Small (USA)

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.