Anna van der Breggen wins Flèche Wallonne for the sixth year in a row
For the sixth year in a row, Anna van der Breggen of Boels-Dolmans won on the Mur de Huy. The newly crowned World Champion was the first in the final “sprint” of a wet edition of Flèche Wallonne.
Behind her, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope took second place, after fighting back from a mechanical in the final 25km. Demi Vollering of Parkhotel Valkenburg took an impressive third place.
An added bonus of the 2020 edition of Flèche Wallonne, for the first time in the history of the race viewers all over the world, were able to watch the final 33km play out live on their tv or computer screens.
How it happened
A break of three riders went away early but inside the final 70km, they became only two riders and were then brought back by the peloton with 52km to go.
Before the peloton hit the Mur for the first time, a strong, seven-rider break had tried to slip away, although they were unable to get enough time before the peloton hit the base of the climb. For some of the riders in the move it was a perfect play to land themselves in the reduced bunch over the top of the climb that they otherwise would have struggled to make.
On the first ascent of the iconic Mur de Huy, with 32km still remaining, an injection of pace by the South African National Champion Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, of CCC-Liv, splintered the peloton into various small groups. Through the feed zone at the top, it was Trek-Segafredo who was driving the pace in the lead group of roughly 30 riders with the French National Champion Audrey Cordon Ragot, who had been in that seven-rider move.
With both Elisa Longo-Borghini and Lizzie Diegnan in the lead group, Trek-Segafredo was highly motivated to keep the pace fast and keep any opportunists from trying to escape. Boels-Dolmans took control of the front with 11km to go and the final climbs in sight. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Amy Pieters set a blistering pace up the penultimate climb, splintering the front group.
Many of the big names were left to contest the win. The new World Champion Anna van der Breggen, Marianne Vos of CCC-Liv, Canyon//SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma, the Trek-Segafredo duo of Deignan and Longo Borghini, and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig were among some of the most likely riders to get a result.
As the riders hit the final kilometer and the base of the Mur, Van der Breggen was perfectly positioned. She set a pace in the final 700 meters that strung out the rest of the riders and also filtered a good portion of the riders out.
It looked for a second that Van der Breggen would have a fight on her hands, as Demi Vollering of Parkhotel Valkenbury came around the World Champion to set her own pace. Vollering has been consistently among the favorites this season and last, and finished third at La Course earlier in the season. However, no one looked as calm as Van der Breggen in the final 100 meters. She only stood out of the saddle in the final sprint, taking a slow-motion win, followed by Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Vollering in third.
By winning Flèche Wallonne Van der Breggen has also moved into the lead of the Women’s World Tour classification. The Women’s World Tour will continue with Liege-Bastogne-Liege on October 4th.
1. Anna van der Breggen DTL, 3:17:28
2. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig FDJ, +0:02
3. Demi Vollering PHV, +0:06
4. Elizabth Diegnan TSF, +0:11
5. Elisa Longo Borghini TSF, st
6. Ashliegh Moolman Pasio CCC, st
7. Mikayla Harvey EPK, st
8. Liane Lippert SUN, +0:18
9. Marianne Vos CCC, +0:22
10. Katarzyna Niewiadoma CSR, +0:25