Cavalli beats Van Vleuten to win Flèche Wallonne Féminine

Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) won La Flèche Wallonne Féminine by outsprinting Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team) after a thrilling climb up the Mur de Huy.

A strong breakaway had been caught on the penultimate climb, the Côte de Cherave, where several attacks fragmented the peloton. Only 16 riders entered the Mur de Huy together, and Van Vleuten made her move with 350 metres to go on one of the steepest parts of the climb.

Cavalli was the only one who could get back onto Van Vleuten's wheel and waited patiently, starting her sprint on the final 100 metres and passing the Dutchwoman with 75 metres to go to win. Demi Vollering and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (both Team SD Worx) finished third and fourth, with Margarita Victoria García (UAE Team ADQ) in fifth place.

“After Amstel and Roubaix, I can’t believe I had these legs today,” said Cavalli. “It isn’t easy to beat Annemiek, everybody knows how strong she is, and to be able to attack her in the last 100 metres and win is a great emotion. We worked a lot and it’s a deserved victory.”

Reliving the final climb, Cavalli underlined how important it is not to attack too early – with her teammate Brodie Chapman videobombing the interview to congratulate.

“The Mur de Huy is so steep, and in the first part you have to be patient. It’s just 900 metres, but it’s more than four minutes of effort. I stayed in the wheel of Annemiek and waited until the last metres because I knew it flattens out a bit, and if you arrive there after a big effort, you can make the difference,” Cavalli said.

“It is a big satisfaction for me, but also for my team. We were always together in the race, they protected me in the open and windy areas, and they rode to catch the breakaway that we missed. A big thanks not just to the riders, but also the staff, they work a lot, put together the lightest bike possible, it was a perfect team job,” the 24-year-old finished.

How it unfolded

A breakaway of six riders formed 50 kilometres into the 133.4-kilometre race that included two ascents of the Côte d’Ereffe and three ascents each of the Côte de Cherave and Mur de Huy. The breakaway’s advantage of 1:50 minutes had shrunk to only 26 seconds on the first climb of the Côte d’Ereffe, just inside 50 km to go, and after the climb, a group of ten riders including Anna Shackley (Team SD Worx), Alena Amialiusik, Elise Chabbey (both Canyon-SRAM), Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo), Jelena Erić (Movistar Team), Esmée Peperkamp (Team DSM), Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange-Jayco), Anouska Koster (Team Jumbo-Visma), Krista Doebel-Hickok (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB), and Yara Kastelijn (Plantur-Pura) bridged to the front.

While the early escapees were dropped on the following climb, the ten new frontrunners crossed the finish line atop the Mur de Huy at 31 km to go with an advantage of 1:40 minutes. Moolman-Pasio suffered a puncture 24 km from the finish but quickly made her way back to the peloton where FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope had put Chapman and Évita Muzic to work.

With the help of UAE Team ADQ and Movistar who had Erić drop back to help in the chase, this gap had been reduced to only ten seconds at the bottom of the penultimate climb, the Côte de Cherave, seven kilometres from the line. Here, Kastelijn made an attempt to extend the breakaway, and Koster counterattacked, leaving only the two Dutchwomen off the front as the rest of the break was reeled in by the favourites.

An attack by Niamh Fisher-Black (Team SD Worx) caught Kastelijn and prepared a move by Vollering who bridged to Koster with a small group in her wheel. Moolman-Pasio’s counterattack was brought back by Van Vleuten. On the descent to Huy, Fisher-Black came back to the group and attacked immediately, with Kastelijn, Liane Lippert (Team DSM), and Arlenis Sierra (Movistar Team) bridging to the New Zealander.

The work of Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) reeled in the group at the two-kilometre mark, and the Movistar duo of Sierra and Paula Patiño led out Van Vleuten into the Mur de Huy. The 39-year-old took control and whittled down the group before accelerating and opening a gap with 350 metres to go, but Cavalli clawed her way back into Van Vleuten’s wheel and outsprinted the Dutchwoman to win her second hilly classic within 11 days.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marta Cavalli (Ita) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 3:38:37
2Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar Team Women
3Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx 0:00:10
4Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) SD Worx 0:00:17
5Mavi Garcia (Spa) UAE Team ADQ 0:00:21
6Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo Women 0:00:30
7Liane Lippert (Ger) Team DSM Women 0:00:33
8Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:00:37
9Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Plantur-Pura 0:00:40
10Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Spa) BikeExchange-Jayco Women 0:00:42
11Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:00:46
12Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:00:52
13Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Trek-Segafredo Women
14Anouska Koster (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women 0:01:01
15Arlenis Sierra Canadilla (Cub) Movistar Team Women 0:01:07
16Olivia Baril (Can) Valcar-Travel & Service
17Niamh Fisher-Black (NZl) SD Worx
18Paula Patiño Bedoya (Col) Movistar Team Women
19Erica Magnaldi (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
20Sandra Levenez (Fra) Cofidis Women Team
21Julie Van De Velde (Bel) Plantur-Pura 0:01:16
22Morgane Coston (Fra) Arkea Team 0:01:19
23Esmée Peperkamp (Ned) Team DSM Women 0:01:25
24Elise Chabbey (Swi) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:01:28
25Amanda Spratt (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco Women
26Anna Shackley (GBr) SD Worx 0:01:34
27Alena Ivanchenko (Rus) UAE Team ADQ 0:01:42
28Mijntje Geurts (Ned) Lotto Soudal Ladies 0:01:46
29Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cofidis Women Team 0:01:50
30Yuliia Biriukova (Ukr) Arkea Team
31Inge van der Heijden (Ned) Plantur-Pura
32Tamara Dronova (Rus) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
33Leah Thomas (USA) Trek-Segafredo Women 0:01:54
34Urska Pintar (Slo) UAE Team ADQ 0:01:56
35Anaïs Morichon (Fra) Arkea Team 0:01:58
36Amber Kraak (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women
36Olivia Onesti (Fra) Cofidis Women Team
38Joscelin Lowden (GBr) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women
39Femke Gerritse (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg 0:02:01
40Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) SD Worx 0:02:04
41Elizabeth Stannard (Aus) Valcar-Travel & Service
42Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (Can) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:02:06
43Rachel Neylan (Aus) Cofidis Women Team
44Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team DSM Women 0:02:14
45Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo Women 0:02:19
46Hannah Ludwig (Ger) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women 0:02:21
47Lauren Stephens (USA) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:02:26
48Katrine Aalerud (Nor) Movistar Team Women 0:02:42
49Soraya Paladin (Ita) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:03:18
50Brodie Chapman (Aus) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:03:20
51Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Trek-Segafredo Women 0:03:22
52Georgia Williams (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco Women 0:03:31
53Petra Stiasny (Swi) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 0:04:02
54Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:04:04
55Silvia Zanardi (Ita) BePink 0:04:57
56Justine Ghekiere (Bel) Plantur-Pura
57Evita Muzic (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
58Alexandra Manly (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco Women
59Urska Zigart (Slo) BikeExchange-Jayco Women
60Clara Honsinger (USA) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
61Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) UAE Team ADQ 0:05:06
62Lotte Claes (Bel) Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport 0:05:08
63Kathrin Hammes (Ger) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB 0:05:14
64Jelena Eric (Srb) Movistar Team Women 0:06:08
65Kiona Crabbé (Bel) Plantur-Pura 0:06:44
66Alice Towers (GBr) Le Col Wahoo
67Millie Couzens (GBr) Plantur-Pura
68Elise Uijen (Ned) Team DSM Women
69Cedrine Kerbaol (Fra) Cofidis Women Team
70Mie Bjørndal Ottestad (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women 0:06:51
71Barbara Malcotti (Ita) Human Powered Health Women 0:06:53
72Sara Martin Martin (Spa) Movistar Team Women
73Aafke Soet (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women 0:06:55
74Mieke Docx (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies 0:06:57
75Esmée Gielkens (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies 0:07:03
76Jade Wiel (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:07:05
77Anne Dorthe Ysland (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women 0:07:07
78Mariia Novolodskaia (Rus) UAE Team ADQ
79Elizabeth Holden (GBr) Le Col Wahoo 0:07:10
80Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Liv Racing Xstra
81Olha Kulynych (Ukr) Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport 0:07:13
82Nina Buijsman (Ned) Human Powered Health Women 0:07:18
83Rotem Gafinovitz (Isr) Roland Cogeas Edelweisse 0:07:20
84Alison Jackson (Can) Liv Racing Xstra
85Federica Piergiovanni (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
86Anna Christian (GBr) Le Col Wahoo
87Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:07:24
88Eri Yonamine (Jpn) Human Powered Health Women
89Anastasia Carbonari (Ltu) Valcar-Travel & Service 0:07:38
90Hannah Barnes (GBr) Uno-X Pro Cycling Women
91Henrietta Christie (NZl) Human Powered Health Women
92Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned) SD Worx
93Valerie Demey (Bel) Liv Racing Xstra 0:07:45
94Marta Jaskulska (Pol) Liv Racing Xstra
95Nina Berton (Lux) Andy Schleck-CP Nvst-Immo Losch 0:07:53
96Katie Clouse (USA) Human Powered Health Women 0:07:57
97Léa Curinier (Fra) Team DSM Women 0:07:59
98Pauline Allin (Fra) Arkea Team
99Flora Perkins (GBr) Le Col Wahoo 0:09:20
100Jesse Vandenbulcke (Bel) Le Col Wahoo 0:10:34
101Katia Ragusa (Ita) Liv Racing Xstra 0:10:43
102Zsófia Szabó (Hun) Andy Schleck-CP Nvst-Immo Losch 0:10:47
103Carlotta Cipressi (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service 0:12:24
104Marketa Hájková (Cze) BePink 0:12:29
105Anne Van Rooijen (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg 0:13:43
106Georgia Danford (NZl) Andy Schleck-CP Nvst-Immo Losch
107Lotte Popelier (Bel) Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport
108Friederike Stern (Ger) Andy Schleck-CP Nvst-Immo Losch
109Hannah Buch (Ger) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad 0:13:49
110Kristyna Burlová (Cze) Lotto Soudal Ladies 0:13:56
111Kylie Waterreus (Ned) Lotto Soudal Ladies 0:14:06
DNFMikayla Harvey (NZl) Canyon-Sram Racing
DNFTayler Wiles (USA) Trek-Segafredo Women
DNFJuliette Labous (Fra) Team DSM Women
DNFStine Borgli (Nor) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
DNFChelsie Tan (Sin) BikeExchange-Jayco Women
DNFLéa Stern (Swi) Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
DNFPien Limpens (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
DNFRosalie van der Wolf (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
DNFAmandine Fouquenet (Fra) Arkea Team
DNFTyphaine Laurance (Fra) Arkea Team
DNFElise Vander Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies
DNFGabrielle Pilote-Fortin (Can) Cofidis Women Team
DNFJulie Hendrickx (Bel) Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport
DNFValentina Basilico (Ita) BePink
DNFPrisca Savi (Ita) BePink
DNFJade Teolis (Fra) BePink
DNFMatilde Vitillo (Ita) BePink
DNSClaire Faber (Lux) Andy Schleck-CP Nvst-Immo Losch

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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.