How a race is raced: La Flèche Wallonne

Take a dive into the peloton with 8th place finisher Krista Doebel-Hickok

April 22, 2022

What does it take to come in the top ten at a Women’s WorldTour classic? To find out, we spoke with our California native, Krista Doebel-Hickok, after her eighth place finish at La Flèche Wallonne.

Finishing 8th at La Flèche Wallonne is a great result. How do you feel?
I’m really happy with it. It was a big goal for me this year, a top ten at Flèche. I was 14th last year and I just always liked this race. I also knew the team was planning on giving me the opportunity and support to go for a result here so it feels really good to have gotten that top ten and there’s still room for improvement so that’s really motivating.

What role did your teammates play in supporting you?
All the girls were really eager to help however they could. I had teammates just floating around me, encouraging me. I missed a feed and one of my teammates like within one minute I had a girl handing me a bottle. Little things like that go a long way.

Kathrin, taking my clothes as I took them off one by one. “Take my gloves, oh and now take my vest!” The third time that I gave her clothes, she was like, “Uh, is that the last one?” I was like, “Yeah, thank you!” I think I just wanted to thank her three separate times.

It was one of those races that just having teammates around all day just there if I needed anything, that was really good. Kathrin, all day, just encouraging me, saying, “Really good! Stay there!” I knew I was riding in a really good position and she kept encouraging me to stay up there so that was really good.

Talk us through joining the break and the race finale.
Basically we saw the break go and we didn’t have anybody in it. It was pretty much all the teams present so when I saw a girl from Jumbo bridging, then I thought, “Ok, I’m here, I’ve got to go.” Also because there was a big enough group that maybe it would last to the finish so I bridged and then I just tried to save some energy but keep the group rolling.

When I saw that for sure we were going to get caught, then I started preparing for, “Ok the group’s coming around and you’ve got to jump on” but then you have the best girls in the peloton going full gas up a climb. Some went away and we were able to catch them before the final climb and then I just gave it what I had. It was really tough to go from, “Ok I’ve been working in a break" to feeling like “Oh my race must be over now,” like I’m not here for the finish but then you’re like no I am here for the finish!

I heard Daniel, our DS, in my radio. I couldn’t even really hear what he was saying but I knew it was like, “Gotta go! Go now!” and all day he had been telling us you’ve just got to be empty at the finish line, just empty and I just kept telling myself you want that feeling at the finish when you’re just totally empty. It’s kind of something I feel I haven’t gotten to experience this year because there haven’t been a lot of summit finishes and I just haven’t raced much so I just wanted that feeling at the end where there’s nothing more you could give. I think I was there.

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