Vollering, a star is born
April 25 th 2021 - 12:51
After perfectly helping out her SD Worx team mate Anna Van der Breggen in her quest last Wednesday of a seventh Flèche Wallonne, the roles were reversed on this 5th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège with the World Champion leading out Demi Vollering to her first prestigious success. At 24 years of age, the Dutch rider triumphs in Liège after outsprinting her compatriot Annemiek Van Vleuten and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini who whoever captures the purple jersey as the new leader of the UCI Women’s World Tour.
It was once again on the Place du General McAuliffe, named after the commander of the troops of the 101st Airborne Division of the US army defending Bastogne at the end of World War II that the 127 riders gathered together for the start of the 5th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. But this time, this now traditional start location was warmed up by a bright sunshine after two years of rain and freezing conditions. Certainly good news before the fierce battle that would take place on the 140kms of the course including 7 hills through the Ardennes area of Belgium on the way up to Liège.
FABER AND ZANARDI IN THE EARLY BREAK
Despite quite a few attempts, the pack had to wait until kilometre 9 to see Luxemburg’s Faber (ASC) break away. She was rapidly caught by Zanardi (BPK) and both ladies enjoyed a 1’ lead as they entered the village of Houffalize (km 19,5). Going through Vielsalm (km 46) the front ladies could count on a maximum gap of 3’25’’. That was the moment chosen by teams Trek - Segafredo and Movistar Team Women to start putting the pressure on as they intensified the chase. At the top of the Côte de Wanne, Faber made it first to the summit with a 10’’ lead over Zanardi and 40’’ on a pack of around 100 riders.
A GROUP OF SEVEN POWERS AWAY
The escapees were eventually caught at kilometre 62 going up the second climb of the day: the Côte de la Haute-Levée. On the following difficulty: the Col du Rosier, present for the first time on the course of the women’s race, Chapman (FDJ) managed to pull away. The Australian was rapidly joined by six other riders: Fisher-Black (SDW), Wiles (TFS), Kennedy (BEX), Koster (JVW), Chabbey (CSR), Thomas (MOV). The group led by Koster reached the summit with a 15’’ advantage over the peloton. On the long descent, the front seven become six after Kennedy sadly crashed and had to retire from the race.
MOOLMAN-PASIO, LUDWIG AND BRAND ON THE ATTACK
The lead group was finally caught at km 80. Once again, Fisher-Black gave it a go by powering off on the Côte de Desnié that had never been visited by “Liège. The young New-Zealander reached the summit with a slim 10” advantage over the pack but was later caught at km 102. As expected more action occurred on the famous Côte de la Redoute when Moolman-Pasio (SDW) shook up the peloton. The South-African made it clear to the top alongside Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ) with a lead of 5’’ on Brand (TFS) and 10’’ over a group including World Champion, Van der Breggen (SDW) and European Champion Van Vleuten (MOV). The front two were immediately caught by Brand on the descent. At the top of the Côte des Forges, they could enjoy a 30’’ advance but failed to get along and were caught at km 120.
FINAL SELECTION ON LA ROCHE-AUX-FAUCONS
In the final difficulty of the day, the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, Van der Breggen first and then Van Vleuten tried to take off. Eventually a group of five remained at the front including Van der Breggen, Vollering (SDW), Longo Borghini (TFS), Newiadoma (CSR) and Van Vleuten. They would never be caught all the way to the finish line set on the Quai des Ardennes. Perfectly led out by her team mate and recent winner of La Flèche Wallonne, Demi Vollering flew off to the first big success of her young career by beating to the line Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini. After having claimed the Giro Dell’Emilia back in 2019 and finished second of the Amstel Gold Race just a week ago, the new SD Worx recruit conquers Liège-Bastogne-Liège and seems promised to a very bright future dand probably bigger responsibilities when her leader Anna Van der Breggen retires at the end of this season.
In the new standings of the UCI Women’s World Tour, Elisa Longo Borghini captures the lead from Marianne Vos, only six in Liège, and will now wear the purple jersey while the blue jersey for the best yodung rider remains on the shoulders of Maria Novolodskaya (MNX).