La Fleche Wallonne Feminine - Live Coverage
Who will be crowned the next Queen of the Mur de Huy?
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of La Flèche Wallonne Féminine.
It's an early start for the riders today with the race rolling out for the neutral start at 08:35
This is a long-running race by women's cycling's standards - having been established in 1998. Past winners include Nicole Cooke, Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley and Pauline Ferrand Prevot.
The previous seven editions of the race were won back-to-back by Anna van der Breggen. With the Dutchwoman retiring at the end of 2021, however, the race is guaranteed to have a new champion by the end of today.
There are plenty of favourites waiting in the wings to take over van der Breggen's legacy. Not least her former teammate, Demi Vollering, who will have the added benefit of the seven-time winner directing the race for SD Worx.
Other riders to look out for include Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), who has never won this race, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM), who has podiumed twice at La Flèche Wallonne but never won, and Marta Cavalli of FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope who showed off her climbing form at the Amstel Gold race a few weeks ago.
The peloton will race over 133.4km including laps of the Mur de Huy climb - which they will tackle three times.
The route takes the riders from Huy around a long loop of 65km before they enter the finishing circuit, which they will complete three times. There are three climbs on the citcuit, the Côte de Cherave, the Mur de Huy (at the top of which is the finish line), and the Côte d'Ereffe.
Here is the full startlist. With Marianne Vos and Riejanne Markus testing positive for Covid-19 over the weekend Jumbo-Visma have just three riders taking to the start today.
Paris-Roubaix champion Elisa Longo Borghini is also here.
Just a few minutes to go and here’s the start list for today’s La Flèche Wallonne!#uciwwt #FWwomen pic.twitter.com/kaWYQ3M82kApril 20, 2022
The riders are ready to start!
#FWwomen #LaFlecheWallonneFeminine #UCIWWT pic.twitter.com/wJ55HFBbrlApril 20, 2022
And they're off! The neutral start has been given.
🏁 The race has officially started 🏁
134km to go
Amstel Gold winner Marta Cavalli ahead of today's race:
“It’s quite different race today compared to the last two. I think I have good shape and I’m confident because I have two big results in the last two races that I am going to be in the race and fight on the Mur de Huy today.”
"I think a lot of riders want to make the difference here in this hard race and I hope to be able to be in the game."
“I think at the bottom of the last Mur de Huy will be a small bunch because it could be already a big fight in the last loop.”
Annemiek van Vleuten:
“It’s hard. It’s quite an explosive climb and I’,m not a super explosive climber. But if the race is raced hard I will be able to make a good effort on the Mur, but if it’s raced conservatively and everyone is waiting for the Mur it will be harder for me.”
A breakaway of five got away but has now been caught while another rider is up the road.
123km to go
Riders are still trying to form a break but as yet nobody has gotten away
115km to go
Demi Vollering before the start:
"I'm a bit nervous. I'm really excited for these races and I really want to do good races now so that makes me a bit nervous but I think that's also good because also you are more focused so I'm really looking forward to it."
Ashleigh Moolman Pasio is racing her last Fleche Wallonne today, she's barely been outside the top-10 at this race but has never won, can she change that today? Here's what she had to say at the start:
"Flèche Wallonne has always been my favourite race of the spring classics. It’s a race I’ve always performed well in. I've always been mostly in the top 10 or top 5 with the exception of two races I think.
Today I‘d really love to win. It’s the final time I’m racing Flèche Wallonne so I’m really motivated. We have a strong team. We obviously have Anna van der Breggen in the car, she’s our inspiration, she’s won the race seven times. So for sure we’re super motivated and we’ll do everything for an SD Worx win.
Of course we have the best leader in the car in Anna but there’s no formula to riding the Mur de Huy, even Anna will say that herself. Every year it’s a little bit different, it’s about feeling the pace, feeling the body and giving enough but holding just that little bit back to be able to accelerate over the line.
I'm feeling really good, I've had good shape throughout the spring, I used Zwift racing as part of my pre-season preparation and I really believe that it's given me the that extra edge. A lot of strength, racing on Zwift is super hard, so coming on to the road I feel really well prepared so looking forward to today."
Attacks have been flying but the bunch are still all together.
100km to go
A breakaway has formed! Katia Ragusa (Liv Racing Xstra), Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar - Travel & Service), and Kylie Waterreus (Lotto Soudal Ladies) have a gap of 30 seconds
The break now have 40 seconds on the peloton and there are three as yet unidentified riders chasing in between.
85km to go
14km to go until the first ascent of the new climb, the Côte de Cherave (1.5km at 7.6%)
The chase group consists of: Silvia Zanardi (Bepink), Pauline Allin (Arkea Pro Cycling Team), and Federica Damiana Piergiovanni of Valcar-Travel and Service.
The chasers have joined the break and the gap is now 53 seconds with 80km to go.
80km to go
The riders are approaching the first ascent of the Mur de Huy, the gap for the break is now up to 1'50"
There has been a crash of around 20 riders in the peloton
Kylie Waterreus (Lotto Soudal Ladies) has been dropped from the front group.
🏁 62km⛰ first crossing of the finish line at the top of the Mur de Huy (1.3km at 9.6%). 🇮🇹 Silvia Zanardi is leading. ⛰ Premier passage sur la ligne d'arrivée au sommet du Mur de Huy (1,3km at 9,6%). 🇮🇹 Silvia Zanardi a pris quelques longueurs d'avance. #FWwomen pic.twitter.com/XzYEgSbXfGApril 20, 2022
After the Mur the break's gap is now down to 44 seconds
57km to go
2km to the first of two ascents of the Côte d'Ereffe (2.4km at 4.6%) and the gap for the breakaway is back out to 1'30"
The gap is now 1'19"
A group of chasers is trying to bridge
11 riders have bridged to the front five and the gap is 1'54"
The additional riders are:
Anna Shackley of SD Worx, Alena Amialiusik and Elise Chabbey of Canyon//SRAM, Leah Thomas of Trek-Segafredo, Jelena Erić of Movistar, Esmée Peperkamp Liv Racing, Anouska Koster of Team Jumbo-Visma, Kristabel Doebel-Hickok of EF Education First Tibco SVB, Pauline Allin of Arkea Pro Cycling Team, Yara Kastelijn
of Plantur Pura, and Amanda Spratt of Team BikeExchange.
Federica Damiana Piergiovanni (Valcar-Travel & Service), Pauline Allin (Arkéa Pro Cycling Team), Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar - Travel & Service), and Silvia Zanardi (Bepink) have been distanced from the front group.
35km to go
The gap between the front eight riders and the peloton is 2'30"
The break are approaching the Mur de Huy for the second time.
Anna Shackley (SD Worx) and Yara Kastelijn (Plantur Pura) are leading the break up the Huy
The gap is now at 3'15" at the top of the Mur.
Brodie Chapman, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Kasia Niewiadoma, and Elisa Longo Borghini are leading the peloton up the Mur
The gap is now down to 1'39"
It's still Brodie Chapman of FDJ pulling the peloton with her teammate Evita Music on her wheel. The gap is now 1'47".
Paris Roubaix winner Elisa Longo Borghini is also near to the front.
27km to go
Chapman is making a dent on the break's advantage. The gap is down to 1'26"
Problem for Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SD Worx)
Bike change for Moolman Pasio
The break are on the final ascent of the Côte d'Ereffe but the gap is only at 1'05" now.
20km to go
Ashleigh Moolman Pasio has been brought back to the main peloton by Chantal van den Broek Blaak
It's Brodie Chapman for FDJ on the front once again as the gap to the break is now right down to 50 seconds
Alternate reality: Moolman-Pasio hands her bike over to van der Breggen and the Queen goes and wins her eighth title wearing sandals and white jeans.#FWwomen🇧🇪🏹 pic.twitter.com/QrQkk7x11aApril 20, 2022
37 seconds now as Chapman continues to work. FDJ clearly have confidence in their leader Marta Cavalli after her Amstel Gold win.
UAE Team ADQ now take over the chase
The peloton have the breakaway in their sights
15.5km to go
Evita Muzic (FDJ) leads with Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) on her wheel
Jelena Eric of Movistar has dropped back from the break to the peloton and is now chasing her former breakaway companions down. The gap is now just under 27 seconds.
Elise Chabbey (Canyon//SRAM) is riding on the front of the breakaway
The Côte de Cherave is 5km away and the gap is 20 seconds - will we see someone jump from the peloton and/or the break?
Chapman is back on the front of the peloton and the gap is just 14 seconds now
The riders are coming into the bottom of the final time up the Côte de Cherave and the gap is just 11 seconds
7.7km to go
Ellen van Dijk of Trek-Segafredo comes to the front now - surely the final death knell for the breakaway?
Attack from Yara Kastelijn (Plantur Pura) from the breakaway at the foot of the Côte de Cherave
Anouska Koster counters as the reduced peloton catch up to the remainder of the breakaway
The favourites are all there including Annemiek van Vleuten, Kasia Niewiadoma, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, and Elisa Longo Borghini.
Anouska Koster still has a small hap but Demi Vollering (SD Worx) is bringing the group up to her
Ashleigh Moolman Pasio attacks
Annemiek van Vleuten follows with Marta Cavalli
There are 12 riders in the front group with five chasers behind. Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon//SRAM has been caught out and is in the second group. The gap is 20 seconds.
Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx) attacks
2.8km to go
Arlenis Sierra attacks from the peloton
The Kasia Niewiadoma group has regained contact with the front of the race
All together. Arlenis Sierra (Movistar) leads the group into the final ascent of the Mur
Annemiek van Vleuten leads up the Huy
All together, no moves just yet
Elisa Longo Borghini, Mavi Garcia, and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio are distanced
The front grouo are: Marta Cavalli, Annemiek van Vleuten, Liane Lippert, Demi Vollering
Van Vleuten attacks and gets a gap
Cavalli is on van Vleuten's wheel with 250m to go
Van Vleuten accelerates but Cavalli is looking strong
Marta Cavalli of FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope wins!
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) takes second and Demi Vollering (SD Worx) takes third.
1. Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) 3:38:37
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) +0"
3. Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) +10"
4. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Team SD Worx) +17"
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) +30"
6. Liane Lippert (Team DSM) +33"
7. Kristabel Doebel-Hicock (EF Education First-Tibco SVB) +37"
8. Yara Kastelijn (Plantur-Pura) 40"
9. Ane Santesteban (Team BikeExchange) +42"
10. Pauleina Rooijakkers (Canyon//SRAM) + 46"
"It’s incredible, after Amstel and Roubaix I can’t believe that today I did that. I still can’t believe it because it’s not easy with Annemiek because everybody knows how strong she is and to be able to attack in the last 100m and win this race is for me the best emotion because we worked a lot and it’ s deserved.
Of course it’s not easy, on the Mur de Huy because it’s so steep and in the first part you have to be quiet because it’s just 900m but it’s more than 4 minutes of effort.
I stayed in the wheel of Annemiek and I waited in the wheel until the last moment because I knew it was a little bit flat and if you ride with hard legs and already a big effort in your body it can be the difference.
For me I know 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, we were always together. They protected me in the important moments in the more open and windy sections and before the first Côte de Cherave on the first loop and they rode to catch the breakaway that we missed. So a big thanks to my team, not just to the riders but also to the staff because they develop a lot with the bikes and just yesterday evening the lat check with the wheels and try to make the bike as light as possible. It was a team job.
After this we take a break and after I will think about the Giro and the Tour. It will be a long season."
Thanks for joining our live text coverage of La Flèche Wallonne, in case you missed it you can read the full race report here.
Join us on Sunday for the final race of the 2022 spring classics: Liege-Bastogne-Liege!
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