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After taking victory at the Amstel Gold Race just 10 days ago, the 24-year-old Italian was glued to Van Vleuten’s wheel up the final Mur de Huy climb as the two distanced Demi Vollering (SD Worx) behind. Coming round the Dutch rider in the final 50m, Cavalli timed her effort to perfection to take victory, beating Van Vleuten into second with Vollering in third.
Cavalli’s win comes after her FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope teammates Brodie Chapman and Evita Muzic executed an impressive chase to catch a strong breakaway in the closing 20km.
“It’s incredible after Amstel and Roubaix, I can’t believe that today I had good legs,” Cavalli said at the finish. “It’s not easy with Annemiek, because everybody knows how strong she is. So, to be able to attack her in the last 100m and win this race is for me the best emotion because we worked a lot and it’s deserved.
“It’s not easy on the Mur de Huy because it’s so steep. On the first part, you have to be quiet, because it’s just 900m but it’s more than four minutes of effort. Then I stayed in the wheel of Annemiek, and I waited until the last meters because I knew it was a little bit flatter and better than if you arrive with hard legs and after already a big effort.
“For me, it’s a big satisfaction, but also for my team because today we had a really good feeling in the race. We spoke a lot together, they protected me in the dangerous moments in the more open and windy areas before the Côte de Cherave, and they rode to catch the breakaway that we missed. It’s a big thanks to my team.”
— La Flèche Wallonne (@flechewallonne) April 20, 2022
How it happened
It was a slightly reduced peloton that took to the start in Huy early Wednesday morning, with the effects of illness, post-Roubaix injuries, and a busy spring meaning 11 of the 24 teams starting brought reduced rosters.
There was no shortage of attacking riders, though, and as soon as the official start was given, the breakaway attempts began. Though the categorized climbs wouldn’t come until the final 70km, the opening loop of hilly Ardennes terrain made for a tough start and despite an almost constant succession of attacks, no one was allowed more than a few seconds.
After almost an hour of racing, it was Liv Racing Xstra’s Katia Ragusa who finally managed to force and maintain a gap, quickly stretching out a lead of 17 seconds over the uncategorized hills of the opening loop. Ragusa was joined by Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar-Travel & Service) and Kylie Waterreus (Lotto Soudal Ladies), with the extra firepower helping to extend the leaders’ advantage to 30 seconds.
Finally happy to let a group go, the pace slowed slightly in the peloton and allowed another three chasers to attempt to bridge to the front of the race. Federica Piergiovanni (Valcar-Travel & Service), Pauline Allin (Arkéa Pro Cycling Team), and Silvia Zanardi (Bepink) bridged the gap to the initial leaders, in the process growing the break’s advantage to 52 seconds.
Heading into the base of the Côte de Cherave — the first of eight categorized climbs — the six leaders had an advantage of almost two minutes. Despite a crash in the peloton behind, the start of the climbs saw the break’s lead tumble as the pace in the bunch was upped significantly. As the first ascent of the Mur de Huy was over, the peloton trailed the breakaway by only 45 seconds, with Zanardi forging ahead solo whilst Waterreus was distanced.
🤗 Joli moment d’émotion pendant l’interview de @marta_cavalli98 !
Pour ceux qui douteraient que le cyclisme est un sport d’équipe. 😍
— La Flèche Wallonne (@flechewallonne) April 20, 2022
The unrelenting climbs brought with them a succession of attacks and accelerations behind. Over the Côte d’Ereffe, a group of 10 chasers escaped the peloton and joined the original leaders.
Anna Shackley (SD Worx), Alena Amialusik, Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM), Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo), Jelena Erić (Movistar), Esmée Peperkamp (Team DSM), Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco), Anouska Koster (Jumbo-Visma), Krista Doebel-Hickock (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) and Yara Kastelijn (Plantur-Pura) joined the remaining leaders and the 15 riders led by a minute and 47 seconds with 40km remaining.
Entering the second ascent of the Mur de Huy, the front group had shrunk to 10 as all five from the initial break were dropped. Back in the peloton, it was FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope — who missed out on the lead group — setting the pace, and the combination of its efforts and the effects of the climbs saw the leaders’ gap down to a minute going into the final 20km.
Canyon-SRAM battled hard to keep the lead group away, but the chasing peloton caught the leaders on the Côte de Cherave with 6km to go. The tough climb, and the efforts to make the catch, meant it was a very reduced group that crested the top of the Cherave with Vollering, Van Vleuten, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Elisa Longo Borghini among those making the right side of the split, whilst Kasia Niewiadoma made a big effort to chase back on.
Despite a late move from SD Worx, the favourites were all together heading into the bottom of the Mur de Huy finale as Arlenis Sierra and Paula Patiño set the pace for Van Vleuten.
Van Vleuten forced a high pace into the steepest part of the climb, leading with 400m to go, with only Cavalli and Vollering able to stick with the Dutch rider. Vollering was distanced Cavalli was firmly stuck to Van Vleuten’s wheel, where she remained until within the last 75m. Timing her effort to the very last moment, Cavalli dug deep to come around Van Vleuten in the final 50m, claiming her second major victory of the spring.
After winning Amstel Gold Race and finishing fifth at Paris-Roubaix on Saturday, the Italian is quickly becoming one of the best riders in the bunch as the WorldTour peloton heads into the next part of the season.
“After Liège I will take a break, and after that I will think about the Giro and the Tour,” she said at the finish. “It will be a long season.”
La Flèche Wallonne Féminine Results
|1||CAVALLI Marta||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||3:38:37|
|2||VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek||Movistar Team||0:00|
|3||VOLLERING Demi||Team SD Worx||0:10|
|4||MOOLMAN Ashleigh||Team SD Worx||0:17|
|5||GARCÍA Mavi||UAE Team ADQ||0:21|
|6||LONGO BORGHINI Elisa||Trek - Segafredo||0:30|
|7||LIPPERT Liane||Team DSM||0:33|
|8||DOEBEL-HICKOK Krista||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||0:37|
|10||SANTESTEBAN Ane||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||0:42|
|11||ROOIJAKKERS Pauliena||Canyon//SRAM Racing||0:46|
|12||NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna||Canyon//SRAM Racing||0:52|
|13||VAN ANROOIJ Shirin||Trek - Segafredo||0:52|
|14||KOSTER Anouska||Team Jumbo-Visma||1:01|
|15||SIERRA Arlenis||Movistar Team||1:07|
|16||BARIL Olivia||Valcar - Travel & Service||1:07|
|17||FISHER-BLACK Niamh||Team SD Worx||1:07|
|18||PATIÑO Paula||Movistar Team||1:07|
|19||MAGNALDI Erica||UAE Team ADQ||1:07|
|20||LÉVÉNEZ Sandra||Cofidis Women Team||1:07|
|21||VAN DE VELDE Julie||Plantur-Pura||1:16|
|22||COSTON Morgane||Arkéa Pro Cycling Team||1:19|
|23||PEPERKAMP Esmée||Team DSM||1:25|
|24||CHABBEY Elise||Canyon//SRAM Racing||1:28|
|25||SPRATT Amanda||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||1:28|
|26||SHACKLEY Anna||Team SD Worx||1:34|
|27||IVANCHENKO Alena||UAE Team ADQ||1:42|
|28||GEURTS Mijntje||Lotto Soudal Ladies||1:46|
|29||KOPPENBURG Clara||Cofidis Women Team||1:50|
|30||BIRIUKOVA Yuliia||Arkéa Pro Cycling Team||1:50|
|31||VAN DER HEIJDEN Inge||Plantur-Pura||1:50|
|32||DRONOVA-BALABOLINA Tamara||Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad||1:50|
|33||THOMAS Leah||Trek - Segafredo||1:54|
|34||PINTAR Urška||UAE Team ADQ||1:56|
|35||MORICHON Anais||Arkéa Pro Cycling Team||1:58|
|36||KRAAK Amber||Team Jumbo-Visma||1:58|
|37||ONESTI Olivia||Cofidis Women Team||1:58|
|38||LOWDEN Joscelin||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||1:58|
|39||GERRITSE Femke||Parkhotel Valkenburg||2:01|
|40||VAS Blanka||Team SD Worx||2:04|
|41||STANNARD Elizabeth||Valcar - Travel & Service||2:04|
|42||VALLIERES Magdeleine||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||2:06|
|43||NEYLAN Rachel||Cofidis Women Team||2:06|
|44||KIRCHMANN Leah||Team DSM||2:14|
|45||BRAND Lucinda||Trek - Segafredo||2:19|
|46||LUDWIG Hannah||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||2:21|
|47||STEPHENS Lauren||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||2:26|
|48||AALERUD Katrine||Movistar Team||2:42|
|49||PALADIN Soraya||Canyon//SRAM Racing||3:18|
|50||CHAPMAN Brodie||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||3:20|
|51||VAN DIJK Ellen||Trek - Segafredo||3:22|
|52||WILLIAMS Georgia||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||3:31|
|53||STIASNY Petra||Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad||4:02|
|54||AMIALIUSIK Alena||Canyon//SRAM Racing||4:04|
|57||MUZIC Évita||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||4:57|
|58||MANLY Alexandra||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||4:57|
|59||ŽIGART Urška||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||4:57|
|60||HONSINGER Clara||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||4:57|
|61||BERTIZZOLO Sofia||UAE Team ADQ||5:06|
|62||CLAES Lotte||Bingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport||5:08|
|63||HAMMES Kathrin||EF Education-TIBCO-SVB||5:14|
|64||ERIĆ Jelena||Movistar Team||6:08|
|66||TOWERS Alice||Le Col - Wahoo||6:44|
|68||UIJEN Elise||Team DSM||6:44|
|69||KERBAOL Cédrine||Cofidis Women Team||6:44|
|70||OTTESTAD Mie Bjørndal||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||6:51|
|71||MALCOTTI Barbara||Human Powered Health||6:53|
|72||MARTÍN Sara||Movistar Team||6:53|
|73||SOET Aafke||Team Jumbo-Visma||6:55|
|74||DOCX Mieke||Lotto Soudal Ladies||6:57|
|75||GIELKENS Esmée||Lotto Soudal Ladies||7:03|
|76||WIEL Jade||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||7:05|
|77||YSLAND Anne Dorthe||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||7:07|
|78||NOVOLODSKAIA Maria||UAE Team ADQ||7:07|
|79||HOLDEN Elizabeth||Le Col - Wahoo||7:10|
|80||KOREVAAR Jeanne||Liv Racing Xstra||7:10|
|81||KULYNYCH Olha||Bingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport||7:13|
|82||BUIJSMAN Nina||Human Powered Health||7:18|
|83||GAFINOVITZ Rotem||Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad||7:20|
|84||JACKSON Alison||Liv Racing Xstra||7:20|
|85||PIERGIOVANNI Federica Damiana||Valcar - Travel & Service||7:20|
|86||CHRISTIAN Anna||Le Col - Wahoo||7:20|
|87||DUVAL Eugénie||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||7:24|
|88||YONAMINE Eri||Human Powered Health||7:24|
|89||CARBONARI Anastasia||Valcar - Travel & Service||7:38|
|90||BARNES Hannah||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||7:38|
|91||CHRISTIE Henrietta||Human Powered Health||7:38|
|92||VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK Chantal||Team SD Worx||7:38|
|93||DEMEY Valerie||Liv Racing Xstra||7:45|
|94||JASKULSKA Marta||Liv Racing Xstra||7:45|
|95||BERTON Nina||Andy Schleck - CP NVST - Immo Losch||7:53|
|96||CLOUSE Katie||Human Powered Health||7:57|
|97||CURINIER Léa||Team DSM||7:59|
|98||ALLIN Pauline||Arkéa Pro Cycling Team||7:59|
|99||PERKINS Flora||Le Col - Wahoo||9:20|
|100||VANDENBULCKE Jesse||Le Col - Wahoo||10:34|
|101||RAGUSA Katia||Liv Racing Xstra||10:43|
|102||SZABÓ Zsófia||Andy Schleck - CP NVST - Immo Losch||10:47|
|103||CIPRESSI Carlotta||Valcar - Travel & Service||12:24|
|105||VAN ROOIJEN Anne||Parkhotel Valkenburg||13:43|
|106||DANFORD Georgia||Andy Schleck - CP NVST - Immo Losch||13:43|
|107||POPELIER Lotte||Bingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport||13:43|
|108||STERN Friederike||Andy Schleck - CP NVST - Immo Losch||13:43|
|109||BUCH Hannah||Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad||13:49|
|110||BURLOVÁ Kristýna||Lotto Soudal Ladies||13:56|
|111||WATERREUS Kylie||Lotto Soudal Ladies||14:06|
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.