Van der Breggen wins La Fleche Wallonne Feminine

Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) made it two in a row at La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday when she out-climbed Evie Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) to the top of the Mur de Huy. The Dutchwoman launched her race winning move between the Côte de Cherave and the final climb to the finish, and only Stevens would or could respond.

"The first win here was nice, but the second one might be better," said Van der Breggen. "It was exciting to sprint to the line with Evelyn. The Mur de Huy is a beast, but I felt strong."

Van der Breggen and Stevens broke away from a leading group of seven that took shape over the penultimate climb. Van der Breggen had European road champion Kasia Niewiadoma for company, Stevens had American road champion Megan Guarnier. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5), Alena Amialiusik (CANYON//SRAM) and Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS) also made the selection.

Garfoot and Amialiusik lost contact with the leaders before Van der Breggen attacked. Stevens had been tasked with tracking Van der Breggen, Guarnier was responsible for following Niewiadoma.

"Anna didn’t mess around with that attack," said Stevens. “Even anticipating the move, it wasn’t easy to follow her."

The duo hit the base of the Mur with a 20-second advantage. Van der Breggen distanced Stevens when the road hit its most-punishing pitch of 26 percent through an S-shaped curve about mid-way up the final ascent. Stevens fought her way back to Van der Breggen. Stevens lost contact a second time and then a third but found Van der Breggen’s wheel again and again. One hundred metres from the finish, Van der Breggen rode Stevens off her wheel for a fourth and final time to solo to victory.

Eight seconds later, Stevens powered across the hilltop finish. Guarnier beat out Niewiadoma from the chase group to take the final spot on the podium.

Second place was bittersweet for Stevens, who won Flèche Wallone in 2012 and benefited from strong team support. Boels Dolmans Cycling Team won the first five rounds of the UCI Women’s WorldTour. With round six going to Van der Breggen, their impressive streak comes to an end.

"I was apologising to my teammates at the finish because they worked so hard all day," Stevens told Cyclingnews. "They were incredible. The work they did was just unbelievable. They were all so strong. We had won the last five weeks, and it was my turn today, and I wanted to deliver for them.

"Personally, it’s disappointing, too," said Stevens. "No one trains for second place. We came here to win today, and that’s what I wanted to do."

"I haven’t been in a position to contend in a long time, so initially, I was disappointed," Stevens added several hours later, following the podium presentations. "A bit removed, I’m feeling happy with how I rode and what I did today – like I’m back."

The early action set the scene for the nail-biting finale. A breakaway of seven riders dominated the opening kilometres. Emilia Fahlin (Alé Cipollini), Lex Albrecht (BePink), Anne-Sophie Duyck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx), Jessica Allen (High5 GoExPro Australian Women’s Development Team), Cecilia Gothaas Johnsen (Hitec), Sheyla Gutiérrez (Cylance) and Katia Ragusa (Servetto-Footon) broke away from the peloton around the 10-kilometre mark. The group hit the Côte d’Ereffe, the first of 11 categorised climbs over the 137-kilometre race, with a slim advantage that would grow to 3:15 before the first ascent of the Côte de Bohisseau.

The peloton allowed the breakaway to maintain an advantage between three and four minutes until the second passage of the Côte d’Ereffe. With 78 kilometres done, Rabo-Liv massed at the front of the peloton to slowly but steadily reduce the gap. Twenty-five kilometres later, it was mission accomplished. The peloton caught the breakaway on the second time up the Cöte de Bohisseau.

A selection was made just beyond the Côte de Bohisseau, and while race radio never gave numbers or names, the race caravan was told "all the favourites are represented" in the front group.

Carmel Small (Cervélo-Bigla) attacked over the top of the Côte de Solières. The American pocketed 15-seconds ahead of the Côte de Cherave but was caught on the the 1.3-kilometre penultimate climb that race organisers introduced last year.

On the Côte de Cherave a second selection of seven riders took shape. It was from this final leading group that Van der Breggen launched her bid for glory.

"We knew it was going to come down to the climb before the climb again," said Stevens. "When Anna jumped, I got on her wheel and followed best that I could.

"Props to Anna," said Stevens. "I was clinging to her wheel just hoping I could make it to the final 50 metres so that I could come around her, but she was just too strong today."

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team3:50:36
2Evelyn Stevens (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:00:08
3Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:00:22
4Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:00:23
5Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High50:00:25
6Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon SRAM Racing0:00:38
7Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle High50:00:43
8Katrin Garfoot (Aus) Orica-AIS0:00:45
9Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:00:48
10Jolanda Neff (Swi) Servetto FootonRow 9 - Cell 2
11Claudia Lichtenberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal Ladies0:00:53
12Carmen Small (USA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Malgorzta Jasinska (Pol) Ale' Cipollini0:00:55
14Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-AIS0:00:58
15Rachel Neylan (Aus) Orica-AISRow 14 - Cell 2
16Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Spa) Ale' Cipollini0:01:00
17Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels Dolmans CyclingteamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Janneke Ensing (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental TeamRow 17 - Cell 2
19Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon SRAM Racing0:01:03
20Anna Plichat (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana0:01:09
21Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Liv-Plantur0:01:11
22Nicole Brändli (Swi) Servetto FootonRow 21 - Cell 2
23Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-AISRow 22 - Cell 2
24Lara Vieceli (Ita) INPA - BianchiRow 23 - Cell 2
25Danielle King (GBr) Wiggle High5Row 24 - Cell 2
26Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City LjubljanaRow 25 - Cell 2
27Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Hitec Products0:01:21
28Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:01:23
29Joelle Numainville (Can) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team0:01:25
30Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:01:27
31Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Canyon SRAM Racing0:01:30
32Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon SRAM RacingRow 31 - Cell 2
33Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Hitec Products0:01:37
34Tayler Wiles (USA) Orica-AIS0:02:15
35Carlee Taylor (Aus) Team Liv-Plantur0:02:16
36Audrey Cordon (Fra) Wiggle High50:02:18
37Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon SRAM Racing0:02:21
38Eleonora Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans CyclingteamRow 37 - Cell 2
39Roxane Knetemann (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:02:33
40Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS0:02:34
41Jessie Daams (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies0:03:01
42Anna Zita Maria Stricker (Ita) INPA - Bianchi0:03:20
43Ganna Solovei (Ukr) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team0:03:39
44Tetiana Riabchenko (Ukr) INPA - Bianchi0:03:49
45Mayuko Hagiwara (Jpn) Wiggle High5Row 44 - Cell 2
46Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team0:03:56
47Olga Zabelinkskaya (Rus) Bepink0:04:06
48Flavia Oliveira (Bra) Lensworld-Zannata0:04:07
49Edwige Pitel (Fra) S.C. Michela Fanini0:04:12
50Katarzyna Pawlowska (Pol) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam0:04:16
51Rozanne Slik (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur0:04:29
52Ursa Pintar (Slo) BTC City LjubljanaRow 51 - Cell 2
53Léna Gerault (Fra) FranceRow 52 - Cell 2
54Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (USA) Cylance Pro CyclingRow 53 - Cell 2
55Jermaine Post (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team0:04:35
56Alexandra Nessmar (Swe) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team0:04:39
57Eva Buurman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental TeamRow 56 - Cell 2
58Jenelle Crooks (Aus) AustraliaRow 57 - Cell 2
59Kelly Van Den Steen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Etixx0:04:42
60Riejanne Markus (Ned) Team Liv-PlanturRow 59 - Cell 2
61Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Kseniya Tuhai (Blr) Bepink0:04:45
63Anisha Vekemans (Bel) Lotto Soudal LadiesRow 62 - Cell 2
64Svetlana Vasilieva (Rus) Astana Women's TeamRow 63 - Cell 2
65Ana Maria Covrig (Rom) INPA - Bianchi0:04:48
66Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Lex Albrecht (Can) BepinkRow 66 - Cell 2
68Sofie De Vuyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies0:04:51
69Dalia Muccioli (Ita) Ale' Cipollini0:04:52
70Ann-Sofie Duyck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Etixx0:04:54
71Alison Tetrick (USA) Cylance Pro Cycling0:05:06
72Polona Batagelj (Slo) BTC City LjubljanaRow 71 - Cell 2
73Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen (Nor) Hitec ProductsRow 72 - Cell 2
74Sarah Rijkes (Aut) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling TeamRow 73 - Cell 2
75Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Astana Women's Team0:05:14
76Charlotte Bravard (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86Row 75 - Cell 2
77Valerie Demey (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Etixx0:05:40
78Esra Tromp (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team0:05:52
79Séverine Eraud (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.860:05:56
80Charlotte Becker (Ger) Hitec Products0:05:59
81Anna Potokina (Rus) Servetto Footon0:06:18
82Jessica Allen (Aus) Australia0:06:49
83Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Ale' CipolliniRow 82 - Cell 2
84Amélie Rivat (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86Row 83 - Cell 2
85Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Lensworld-Zannata0:07:24
86Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita) Lensworld-Zannata0:07:41
87Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Lensworld-ZannataRow 86 - Cell 2
88Jessy Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Etixx0:09:54
89Kaat Hannes (Bel) Lensworld-Zannata0:10:27
90Willeke Knol (Ned) Lotto Soudal Ladies0:10:29
91Spela Kern (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana0:10:36
92Dorleta Eskamendi Gil (Spa) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team0:10:42
93Emilie Rochedy (Fra) FranceRow 92 - Cell 2
94Lucia Gonzalez (Spa) Lointek0:10:44
95Miriam Bjørnsrud (Nor) Hitec Products0:15:04
96Ingrid Lorvik (Nor) Hitec ProductsRow 95 - Cell 2
97Tatiana Antoshina (Rus) Astana Women's Team0:15:08
98Marlène Morel Petitgirard (Fra) France0:15:12
99Doris Schweizer (Swi) Cylance Pro Cycling0:15:13
100Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling0:15:18
101An-Li Kachelhoffer (RSA) Lotto Soudal LadiesRow 100 - Cell 2
102Sofia Beggin (Ita) Astana Women's Team0:15:19
103Greta Richioud (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.860:16:14
104Anabelle Dreville (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.860:16:23
105Fanny Leleu (Fra) FranceRow 104 - Cell 2
106Hannah Barnes (GBr) Canyon SRAM Racing0:16:40
107Monique Van De Ree (Ned) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team0:16:42
108Heidi Dalton (RSA) Bizkaia - Durango0:16:45
109Victorie Guilman (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86Row 108 - Cell 2
110Sara Penton (Bel) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team0:16:49
111Roos Hoogeboom (Ned) Bizkaia - Durango0:16:52
112Lierni Lekuona Etxebeste (Spa) Bizkaia - Durango0:16:58
113Kyara Stijns (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur0:17:08
114Alba Teruel Ribes (Spa) Lointek0:17:10
115Michela Pavin (Ita) INPA - Bianchi0:17:11
116Ilaria Sanguineti (Ita) BepinkRow 115 - Cell 2
117Kimberley Le Court De Billot (Mri) Bizkaia - Durango0:17:35
118Simona Bortolotti (Ita) Bepink0:18:28
DNFAurore Verhoeven (Fra) LointekRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFGloria Rodriguez (Spa) LointekRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFRocio Del Alba Garcia Martinez (Spa) LointekRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFMaria Del Mar Bonnin Palou (Spa) LointekRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFSaartje Vandenbroucke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - EtixxRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFFien Delbaere (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - EtixxRow 123 - Cell 2
DNFMargarita Lopez (Spa) Bizkaia-DurangoRow 124 - Cell 2
DNFElisabet Escursell Valero (Spa) Bizkaia - DurangoRow 125 - Cell 2
DNFAstrid Chazal (Fra) FranceRow 126 - Cell 2
DNFClaudia Cretti (Ita) INPA - BianchiRow 127 - Cell 2
DNFNicole Moerig (Aus) AustraliaRow 128 - Cell 2
DNFKimberley Wells (Aus) AustraliaRow 129 - Cell 2
DNFShannon Malseed (Aus) AustraliaRow 130 - Cell 2
DNFLouisa Lobigs (Aus) AustraliaRow 131 - Cell 2
DNFMaaike Polspoel (Bel) Lensworld-ZannataRow 132 - Cell 2
DNFVeronika Kormos (Hun) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling TeamRow 133 - Cell 2
DNFAmber Neben (USA) BepinkRow 134 - Cell 2
DNFKseniya Dobrynina (Rus) Astana Women's TeamRow 135 - Cell 2
DNFJelena Eric (Srb) BTC City LjubljanaRow 136 - Cell 2
DNFAnna Trevisi (Ita) Ale' CipolliniRow 137 - Cell 2
DNFEllen Skerritt (Aus) Ale' CipolliniRow 138 - Cell 2
DNFRossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance Pro CyclingRow 139 - Cell 2
DNFMaria Vittoria Sperotto (Ita) Servetto FootonRow 140 - Cell 2