Anna van der Breggen claims seventh consecutive La Flèche Wallonne victory

Kasia Niewiadoma finished second behind the world champion and Elisa Longo Borghini crossed the line in third.

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Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) crested the top of the Mur de Huy ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) to take her seventh consecutive La Flèche Wallonne victory. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) finished third a few seconds behind.

“It’s mostly about the Mur in the end but the race was hard from the beginning,” Van der Breggen said at the finish “The pace was really high on all the climbs and I think we made some tactical mistakes in the race so we needed to chase but the team did really great to fix that and even in the end Demi closed the gap almost to Ruth, that’s incredible. If you make a decision like that as a young girl it says a lot about your future. Of course, I am really happy that I could do it too and I could take this win for the team. It was a good battle with Kasia I must say, she was strong, but I am really happy I could win this one.”

“It’s a strange thought that I am sitting here for the last time. Next year I won’t bother the girls anymore, it’s up to somebody else. That’s a good thing, I am really happy to finish it off like this.”

Anna van der Breggen on her final La Flèche Wallonne victory

Niewiadoma nearly de-throned the queen of the Mur but said after the race she was happy with second. “I am happy to get on the podium, and yet, I wouldn’t call it disappointed but of course I wanted to win. You always have those mixed feelings. Although I know that Anna is the master of this climb.” When asked about Van der Breggen not being a threat in the 2022 edition Niewiadoma hinted that the increasing speeds of the women’s peloton will not open the door as much as people expect. “Of course, to be honest, with every passing year the women’s level is increasing so sometimes you think ‘that person isn’t racing so I should be winning’ but it’s not that easy.”

After some small breakaways spent time off the front the first major attack of the day came from Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of SD Worx on the Côte d’Ereffe with 19.4 km to go. The attack by Moolman Pasio set off a counter move from USA national champion Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo). Winder’s move put pressure on SD Worx, Canyon-SRAM, and Liv Racing to chase.

On the slopes of the Côte du chain des Gueuses with 11 km to go Van Vleuten made her signature attack. The European champion was matched by a group of top riders included Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), Niewiadoma, and Van der Breggen. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) suffered under Van Vleuten’s pressure and was distanced from the elite group.

After a series of attacks in the final 10 km Vollering took control of the group to chase back Winder.

Vollering single-handedly brought Winder within seconds of the chasers before the final kilometre of the race. Winder took the right turn into the Mur de Huy with only a few hundred meters on the chase as Van der Breggen moved to the front of the race. Van der Breggen set the pace up the final ascent of the Mur de Huy with Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma close behind. Van Vleuten made her way back to Van der Breggen as Longo Borghini was distanced.

In the final few hundred meters, Niewiadoma surged ahead but Van der Breggen was the strongest on the day and passed the Polish rider with 100 meters to go to take her seventh La Flèche Wallonne victory in a row. Niewiadoma held on for second and Longo Borghini crossed the line in third.

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