Van Vleuten flies again in the Ardennes
April 24 th 2022 - 12:42
After a series of places of 2nd in recent classics, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team Women) capped off her spring with an impressive one-woman show on the final ascents of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes. Already a winner in the Ardent City in 2019, the Dutch star put the hammer down on the Côte de la Redoute, and eventually went solo on the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. The ITT Olympic champion then made the most of her power to hold off her rivals and claim victory ahead of Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx). With a second victory in Liège, Van Vleuten matches Anna van der Breggen's record (winner in 2017 and 2018) and maintains the Dutch dominance.
It’s an early and fast start for the 128 riders setting off from Bastogne at 8:35. Despite some headwinds, the pace is high from the gun, with some early downhill sections. It takes many attempts and 32km of battle for a group of four attackers to make the break with Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), Jeanne Korevaar, Quinty Ton (Liv Racing Xstra) and Flora Perkins (Le Col-Wahoo).
The early attackers don’t make it far
The peloton control the gap under 2 minutes on the way to the first ascent of the day, Côte de Mont-le-Soie, to be summited at km 55.3. Flora Perkins is the first rider over the top.
The peloton move closer on the Côte de Wanne (km 63.6) and Team SD Worx set a strong pace on the way to Côte de La Haute-Levée (km 72). The gap is down to 15’’ at the bottom of the ascent. The attackers are reeled in on the climb and Ton is the last breakaway rider to be caught, 500m from the summit.
An impressive counter-attack
A new group of attackers gets away ahead of the ascent of the Col du Rosier with some strong contenders: Marlen Reusser (SD Worx), Sara Martin (Movistar), Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo), Soraya Paladin (Canyon//Sram Racing), Evita Muzic (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange), Leah Kirchmann (Team DSM) and Clara Honsinger (EF Education-Tibco-SVB).
UAE Team ADQ try to organise the chase, but the gap is up to 1’10’’ at Col du Rosier (km 82.6). The attackers push their lead to 1’30’’ on the climb up Côte de Desnié (km 99.5).
Van Vleuten moves on La Redoute
The peloton pick up the pace as the main favourites battle for the front positions ahead of the main ascents of the day. The gap is down to 1’ at the bottom of Côte de La Redoute. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SD Worx) light the first fireworks on the ascent, then Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) puts the hammer down.
The Dutch star, winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes in 2019, bridges the gap to the front of the race and keeps pushing. Only Marlen Reusser manages to follow her over the top. But the chasers only trail by 10’’ and a group of 16 favourites get back together with 22.5km to go.
Van Vleuten flies up la Roche-aux-Faucons
Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) immediately counter-attacks and opens a gap of 23’’ at the bottom of the final ascent of the day. Van Vleuten attacks again and goes solo at the front of the race 500m away from the summit of Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. Her lead is up to 12’’ over the top, with 13.4km to go to the finish in Liège.
She enters the last 10km with a lead of 20’’. And increases her lead to 30’’ for the last 3km, giving herself all the time necessary to celebrate victory. Grace Brown dominates the sprint for 2nd ahead of Demi Vollering.