Photo Gallery: Ardennes week on the Women’s WorldTour

by Simone Giuliani


For a second year the Women’s WorldTour got to contest a full Ardennes week of racing and all eyes were on Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans). The Dutch rider took a clean sweep of all three races last year and with a powerful team full of possible winners, there was no question that she or one of her teammates were odds on to win at every event.

That didn’t mean the wins were going to be handed to them though, with the other teams lined up determined to try and chip away at the dominance of Boels and get their own potential winners up the road. We saw breaks aplenty throughout the racing, with Mitchelton-Scott, Canyon/SRAM and Cervelo Bigla constantly firing shots.

Mitchelton Scott’s Amanda Spratt was one of the most aggressive of the week, off the front at the pointy end of every single race. Cervelo Bigla’s Ashleigh Moolman and Canyon/SRAM’s Pauline Ferrand-Prevot were also quick to leap out and break up the field, but ultimately Boels dug in and reigned supreme.

First it was world champion Chantal Blaak who took the win for the team from a break. Then last year’s undisputed Queen of the Ardennes, van der Breggen, stepped back into the limelight to take the final two victories and leadership of the Women’s WorldTour.

Here are the images that tell the story of the week of hard fought racing in the Ardennes:


Amstel Gold

The Amstel Gold signalled the beginning of Ardennes week, with a fiery and televised 117 kilometre route from Maastricht in the Netherlands. It then finished with four laps of a loop that concluded over the Cauberg. The race returned to the calendar in 2017 after a long absence and that, along with the introduction of a women’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, signalled the start of a full women’s Ardennes week.

The pivotal move for the 2018 edition of the race came when a break of eight established a gap with 60 kilometres to go after the peloton was split apart on the steep ramps of the Keutenberg and then finished with a sprint of two. You can see how the race unfolded in the video highlights package from the UCI and the photo gallery below:

La Flèche Wallonne

On Wednesday it was onto the 118.5 kilometre Belgian Flèche Wallonne, which finishes on the climb of the Mur de Huy. It was the 28th birthday of three-time defending champ Anna van der Breggen but celebrating it was the furthest thing from her mind. Not only did she have a race to try and win, but the team’s thoughts were with their mechanic Richard Steve who had suffered a heart attack on Monday. The morning of the race before rolling out they received the welcome news that he was now awake.

Liege-Bastogne-Liege

The 136 kilometre Liege-Bastogne-Liege was the final race of the week and the final chance for the other teams to stop Boels Dolmans from sweeping up every single victory of the Ardennes racing block for a second year in a row. An uncharacteristically mild Ardennes race day greeted the riders as the final act played out. Momentarily it looked like Boels Dolmans may actually be beatable at the Ardennes.

However, with van der Breggen on the charge, the challengers were pulled back into line and the week finished the way it started, with Boels Dolman on the top step of the podium.

*Additional reporting by Shane Stokes.

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