Van Der Breggen began forging her first World Cup win of 2015 when she bridged across to a two rider move containing her Rabo Liv teammate Roxane Knetemann and Dutch rival Annemiek Van Vleuten (Bigla Pro Cycling). Then after Knetemann’s hard work helped ensure the three-rider move stayed clear, Van Der Breggen broke away from Van Vleuten early on the Mur de Huy to claim a solo win by twelve seconds.
"This was one of my big goals for 2015, it’s one of the nicest races in the World Cup series, and if you see the list of winners before you can see how important a race it is," Van Der Breggen said afterwards.
The change of the Flèche Wallonne route, she argued, with the addition of the second last climb, “makes it harder, and better, I think.”
"It’s one of the toughest races there is, with so many climbs you have to be good, you can’t hide anywhere,"
Asked if she had been a protected rider for the race, she replied diplomatically “Our team is all really in good shape, we were all in the front all the time, you can see that Roxane was in the breakaway. But our big goal was to go for the win and on the second last climb I tried to go for it first there.”
A second attack after cresting the Cherave worked out better and took her across to the leading move. "We had different possibilities and it worked out like this;" she explained. Knetemann herself held on for an impressive seventh.
The World Cup triumph on the Flèche Wallonne came six months after Van Der Breggen crashed out of the World Championships with a broken pelvis following a multiple pile up late on in the women’s trade team time trial. And she warned that some sporting revenge could well be on her agenda next September in Richmond.
"I had my goals there last year, but I couldn’t race there because of the crash, but of course it’s a big goal. [World Champion] Pauline [Ferrand Prevot, eighth in Flèche Wallonne and one of the sport’s leading riders] is my teammate in every other race apart from there. And it’s a big goal."
Third in the Tour of Flanders and in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Van Der Breggen’s victory propels her into the lead of the World Cup series, with 290 points, with Van Vleuten also moving up into second, with 226 points.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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