Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Annemiek van Vleuten takes solo win

Final climb attack secures victory, Grace Brown and Demi Vollering complete podium.

Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

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Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) won Liège-Bastogne-Liège after almost 14km solo, with an attack on the final Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons climb delivering the Dutch rider her first WorldTour win of the season.

The five-rider chasing group finished 43 seconds down on the winner, with Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) sprinting to second ahead of defending champion Demi Vollering (SD Worx) in third.

This is Van Vleuten’s second victory in Liège, and her first since Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after three second places in the last two months.

“I couldn’t believe it until the finish line,” Van Vleuten said at the finish. “Because it was a block headwind after Roche-aux-Faucons, so I knew already at the start it would be hard for a solo breakaway, because if they start to chase, they have an advantage with the wind. So, if they started to work together, I knew that they would catch me, so it was just one option: aero, full time trial mode, and give everything.

“Winning has become harder in women’s cycling, I think. There are more contenders. I know that I’m better than ever, in the spring, but it’s not that it always gives you the win. To have the confidence today to go two times, over La Redoute and Roche-aux-Faucons, and then it worked out – that’s the best.”

More to come…

How it happened

It was another early start for the peloton on Sunday morning as the 128-rider bunch rolled out of Bastogne, ready to tackle seven categorized climbs over 142.5km of racing.

Owing to the downhill start on the undulating course, the racing was fast and hard from the flag, making it a fight to get into the breakaway. A move from Tamara Dronova-Balabolina (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss) and early Flèche Wallonne attacker Katia Ragusa (Liv Xstra) marked the first attempt of the day, but the pair were never given any room and were brought back after 10km.

A flurry of attacks followed but it would take 33km and almost an hour of racing until a group was allowed to go up the road. Eventually, Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), Jeanne Korevaar, Quinty Ton (Liv Racing Xstra), and Flora Perkins (Le Col-Wahoo) would be the day’s early break.

At the 100km to go mark, the quartet had a lead of 1 minute 40 seconds heading into the first climbs of the day, with the bunch seemingly happy to let them go but keeping their leash short.

Back in the peloton, two teams lost key riders: Movistar’s Jelena Erić abandoned, a blow to Van Vleuten’s efforts, whilst Trek-Segafredo also saw Taylor Wiles pull out and Audrey Cordon-Ragot struggle on the climbs. There was no lack of pace in the bunch, though, and the leaders’ advantage fell to under a minute again over the second climb of the day, the Côte de Wanne.

A push by SD Worx in the peloton proved effective, slashing the break’s advantage to 15 seconds by the bottom of the third climb. The team caught the breakaway by the top Côte de La Haute-Levée. With still half the race to go, everything was back together.

The calm didn’t last for long, as several riders took advantage of the regrouping to launch a move ahead of the Col du Rosier, the biggest climb of the day. It was the big WorldTour teams that got involved this time with the strong group of Marlen Reusser (SD Worx), Sara Martin (Movistar), Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo), Soraya Paladin (Canyon-SRAM), Evita Muzic (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange), Leah Kirchmann (Team DSM), and Clara Honsinger (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) opening up a gap of a minute on the climb.

As one of the major teams not represented up the road, UAE Team ADQ set the pace in the bunch but the advantage remained steady for eight leaders.

Though the break was working together, it seemed some teams were less committed than others, with Van Vleuten’s teammate Martin sitting on the back and SD Worx chasing from behind despite having Reusser in the group. On the Côte de la Redoute, the peloton had brought the leaders’ advantage down to under 30 seconds, and it was Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio who set a high tempo to string out the group.

Her efforts made the climb hard, but it was Van Vleuten who took advantage of the situation to launch an attack toward the summit, overtaking the previous break with only Reusser able to hold onto her wheel.

Behind the leading duo, a group formed of a mixture of the former leaders and the chasers, comprising Spratt, Muzic, Thomas, Paladin, Marta Cavalli, Elisa Longo Borghini, Vollering and Moolman-Pasio. Though pushing on in pursuit of Van Vleuten and Reusser, this group swelled as it was rejoined by the likes of Grace Brown and Pauliena Rooijakkers.

Despite Van Vleuten’s commitment, the Dutchwoman struggled to get any cooperation from Reusser, and the pair were caught by the chasers heading into the final 20km.

As soon as the catch was made, Brown launched a powerful counter-attack and stretched a gap of over 20 seconds. But when the race hit the final climb on the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, another attack from Van Vleuten saw Brown’s advantage tumble.

Van Vleuten initially took Cavalli, Longo Borghini, Moolman-Pasio, and Vollering with her, but the Movistar rider dug in and went solo over the top of the climb and she held an advantage of 16 seconds going into the final 10km.

Van Vleuten’s lead was never fully secure, but a slightly disjointed chase behind and a strong solo ride from her meant she went under the flamme rouge with over 30 seconds of advantage. She crossed the finish line alone to comfortably take the second Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory of her career, and her first WorldTour victory of the season, finally turning around a run of second places.

In the sprint for second, Cavalli led out Brown and Moolman-Pasio sprinted alongside Vollering. It was 2019 runner-up Brown who sealed second again, whilst defending champion Vollering had to settle for third.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes Results

1VAN VLEUTEN AnnemiekMovistar Team3:52:32
2BROWN GraceFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:43
3VOLLERING DemiTeam SD Worx0:43
4MOOLMAN AshleighTeam SD Worx0:43
5LONGO BORGHINI ElisaTrek - Segafredo0:43
6CAVALLI MartaFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:47
7SIERRA ArlenisMovistar Team1:58
8LIPPERT LianeTeam DSM1:58
9NIEWIADOMA KatarzynaCanyon//SRAM Racing1:58
10SPRATT AmandaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco1:58
11ROOIJAKKERS PaulienaCanyon//SRAM Racing1:58
12LABOUS JulietteTeam DSM2:05
13GARCÍA MaviUAE Team ADQ2:55
14KOSTER AnouskaTeam Jumbo-Visma2:55
15PALADIN SorayaCanyon//SRAM Racing2:55
16VAN ANROOIJ ShirinTrek - Segafredo2:55
17SANTESTEBAN AneTeam BikeExchange - Jayco2:55
18FISHER-BLACK NiamhTeam SD Worx2:55
19KASTELIJN YaraPlantur-Pura2:55
20MUZIC ÉvitaFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope2:55
21REUSSER MarlenTeam SD Worx2:55
22HENDERSON AnnaTeam Jumbo-Visma2:55
23THOMAS LeahTrek - Segafredo2:55
24PINTAR UrškaUAE Team ADQ2:55
25LÉVÉNEZ SandraCofidis Women Team2:55
26VAN DE VELDE JuliePlantur-Pura3:01
27MARTÍN SaraMovistar Team4:28
28HONSINGER ClaraEF Education-TIBCO-SVB4:28
29CHABBEY EliseCanyon//SRAM Racing4:49
30VAS BlankaTeam SD Worx4:49
31KIRCHMANN LeahTeam DSM4:49
32COSTON MorganeArkéa Pro Cycling Team4:49
33MANLY AlexandraTeam BikeExchange - Jayco4:49
34MORICHON AnaisArkéa Pro Cycling Team4:49
35PATIÑO PaulaMovistar Team4:49
36BARIL OliviaValcar - Travel & Service4:49
37MAGNALDI EricaUAE Team ADQ4:49
38KRAAK AmberTeam Jumbo-Visma4:49
39HAMMES KathrinEF Education-TIBCO-SVB4:49
40BRAND LucindaTrek - Segafredo4:49
41BIRIUKOVA YuliiaArkéa Pro Cycling Team4:49
42DRONOVA-BALABOLINA TamaraRoland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad6:09
43HOLDEN ElizabethLe Col - Wahoo6:09
44LOWDEN JoscelinUno-X Pro Cycling Team6:09
45LUDWIG HannahUno-X Pro Cycling Team6:09
46SCHOENS QuintyParkhotel Valkenburg6:09
47NEYLAN RachelCofidis Women Team6:09
48AMIALIUSIK AlenaCanyon//SRAM Racing6:09
49WILLIAMS GeorgiaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco6:09
50HARVEY MikaylaCanyon//SRAM Racing6:09
51AALERUD KatrineMovistar Team8:20
52MACKAIJ FloortjeTeam DSM8:20
53OTTESTAD Mie BjørndalUno-X Pro Cycling Team8:39
54KERBAOL CédrineCofidis Women Team8:39
55TON QuintyLiv Racing Xstra11:34
56CLAES LotteBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport11:34
58CHAPMAN BrodieFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope11:34
59BREDEWOLD MischaParkhotel Valkenburg11:34
60BUJAK EugeniaUAE Team ADQ12:57
61JACKSON AlisonLiv Racing Xstra12:57
62STEPHENS LaurenEF Education-TIBCO-SVB12:57
63VALLIERES MagdeleineEF Education-TIBCO-SVB12:57
64BARALE FrancescaTeam DSM12:57
65SOET AafkeTeam Jumbo-Visma12:57
66GEURTS MijntjeLotto Soudal Ladies12:57
67DOCX MiekeLotto Soudal Ladies12:57
68BUIJSMAN NinaHuman Powered Health12:57
69GERRITSE FemkeParkhotel Valkenburg12:57
70CARBONARI AnastasiaValcar - Travel & Service12:57
71TOWERS AliceLe Col - Wahoo12:57
72BERTON NinaAndy Schleck - CP NVST - Immo Losch12:57
73JASKULSKA MartaLiv Racing Xstra12:57
74WIEL JadeFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope12:57
75STANNARD ElizabethValcar - Travel & Service12:57
76YONAMINE EriHuman Powered Health12:57
77KOREVAAR JeanneLiv Racing Xstra12:57
78BARNES HannahUno-X Pro Cycling Team12:57

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.

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