Anna van der Breggen scores a double-double
Four days after her fourth consecutive victory at the Flèche Wallonne, Boels Dolmans Cycling Team leader Anna van der Breggen again won Liège–Bastogne–Liège after claiming the first edition of the ladies' race in 2017. Aussie Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) and her Dutch teammate Annemiek van Vleuten took the other podium spots.
On Sunday 22 April, the second edition of the women's Liège–Bastogne–Liège took a 135-strong peloton consisting of 23 teams with six riders each from Bastogne, right in the heart of the Ardennes, to Ans, in the Province of Liège. Last year's 136-kilometre course was brought back without changes in a bid to earn the loyalty of the female cycling elite, who were looking forward to the famous La Vecquée (km 82), La Redoute (km 100), La Roche-aux-Faucons (km 116) and Saint-Nicolas (km 130.5) climbs.
Olympic gold medallist and defending champion Anna van der Breggen lit up the fireworks in the final kilometre to claim a repeat win in the race that brings the Ardennes campaign to a close. The 28-year-old Dutch rider crowned the Côte d'Ans ahead of Aussie Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT), who had earlier held a margin of almost a minute over a 19-rider group containing Van der Breggen. During a short rainy spell earlier in the race, the world number 1 had caught French rider Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Canyon // SRAM Racing) about 15 kilometres before the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons. Other cyclists in that group included South African Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) and her teammate Megan Guarnier, 2nd and 3rd in last Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne.
By beating Amanda Spratt by 6 seconds and fellow Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten by 58, the world champion —who also won Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders earlier this season— extended her dominance of the Ardennes classics, Alejandro Valverde style.