Van der Breggen expresses disappointment over no TV coverage at Fleche Wallonne

Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) celebrated her fifth consecutive victory in La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, a feat unprecedented in the history of both the men's and the women's races. The reigning world champion joined Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) as five-time winners but expressed her disappointment that organisers ASO did not televise the women's race.

"By now I think we deserve to have live coverage so that people can follow us," Van der Breggen said. "Because many people would like to, and we would like to show it. I think it is time."

Unfortunately, fans could not watch the race live and witness van der Breggen's historic victory – same as with her previous four wins at Flèche Wallonne. There was no live coverage of the women's race. The fixed cameras on the Mur de Huy film the final climb, and the footage is shown on screens at the finish and in the press room, but it was hit-and-miss whether this footage was broadcast on TV.

The women's finish is sometimes shown during the broadcast of the men's race, but the men's live broadcast did not start until the women's race was already finished this year. 

Nearly all other Women's WorldTour one-day races offer a live broadcast, the only exceptions being La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Guangxi. Van der Breggen spoke out on this and appealed to the organisers to improve on this for future editions.

"We were fighting the whole day, we had echelons on the road, so it is a pity," she said. "This is one of our biggest races, same with Liège. So, please, everybody, write that down, we want the coverage next year. Amstel was a good example of how to do it."

Record-equalling five victories

The Flèche Wallonne victory was the first road victory of the year for Van der Breggen as well as the first victory in the 2019 Women's WorldTour for her Boels Dolmans team. Having won five of the series races by this time in 2018, Van der Breggen's win was a weight lifted off their collective shoulders.

"That big victory was not there yet, neither for me nor for the team," Van der Breggen said. "So, it's good for all of us to have a big victory now. It's nice to win again. You don't really think about the previous years during the race, five years in a row, it makes me feel a bit old."

Winning a race five years in a row means that the Flèche Wallonne must suit Van der Breggen. She explained how the final of the race played to her strengths, and that the hardest thing on the steep Mur de Huy is to hold back until the right moment.

"The race is different every year, but the finish is always on top of the Mur," she said. "And the second-last climb is also really hard, so it is always a hard final, and I think that suits me. Today, there were attacks, but we did not go full, so we came to the Mur with quite a big group. And that is difficult. You feel the pressure of going hard to follow other girls, but you cannot go too early because then you blow up.

"It is my fifth win, by now I know how to ride it and to pace it. You start it with heart rate 185 already, so it is difficult, but you have to wait until you really give it all, if you do it too early, then you don't win. I just tried to do my best today, and luckily it was enough."

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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.