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For the first time in her career, Lizzie Deignan has won in Liege. The Trek-Segafredo rider won solo out of a breakaway that went on the Côte de la Vecqueé with 50km to go. Similar to Annemiek van Vleuten in 2019, Deignan made her winning move from said break on the Côte de la Redoute.
Only nine seconds behind Deignan, Mitchelton Scott’s Grace Brown rode into the finish to take second place. Deignan’s teammate Ellen van Dijk took the final podium spot from the splinters of the breakaway.
How it happened
Fall was truly in full swing as the women lined up for the final Ardennes Classic of 2020 in Bastogne.
The race remained all together on the wet roads of Belgium for much of the morning, until the 3 km Côte de la Vecquée where nine riders made their escape from the peloton. When the cards fell some big names had landed themselves in the move. Hannah Barnes of Canyon//SRAM, a very strong sprinter, Marianne Vos of CCC-Liv who just won three stages of the Giro Rosa, two Trek-Segafredo riders with Van Dijk and Deignan, Equipe Paule Ka’s Marlen Reusser the silver medalist from the World Championship Time Trial in Imola, Team Sunweb’s Juliette Labous, French National Champion in the ITT, Boels-Dolmans Amy Pieters, who has an extensive list of victories including Ronde van Drenthe and the GP de Plouay, Grace Brown who placed 5th at the Time Trial in Imola, and Movistar’s Katrine Aalerud the 2020 ITT National Champion of Norway.
With so many of the strong teams represented by some of their top riders, the break looked more like a leading group as they got closer and closer to the crucial sections of the race.
On the 2km long Côte de la Redoute, Deignan danced up the 8.9% gradient with the rest of the break clawing to try and keep up with her, unsuccessfully. The rest of the break remained compact over the top of La Redoute as Deignan powered away in a solo attempt at victory.
Behind the breakaway Demi Vollering and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig led the way in the peloton, with no Parkhotel Valkenburg or FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope riders ahead of the race, the responsibility rested on them to try and reset the race situation. Vollering’s pace on the front of the peloton fractured what was left. The group of six that chased from the peloton was only 1’24” behind Deignan, with the remains of the break between them. So, with 28km to go, the race was far from over.
Approaching the final climb of the race, Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, Deignan had close to a minute advantage on her former breakaway companions. Behind, the third group on the road had gained more riders and lost chasing momentum. With 20km to the finish Uttrup Ludwig, Vollering, and the rest of the remaining “peloton” had over two minutes to make up to catch Deignan.
On the 11% slopes of Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons Grace Brown went clear of the break to chase down Deignan alone. The rest of the break was not able to hold Brown’s pace, and over the top of the final climb, Brown was 30 seconds behind the lone leader.
As the kilometers ticked down so did Deignan’s lead from her pursuant Brown. The cooperation of the remains of the breakaway did not have the same effect as they continued to lose time to Deignan and Brown.
With 4km to go Brown had reduced her gap to Deignan to only 10 seconds, but it was not enough to catch the leader. Deignan was able to stay away from Brown and take her third World Tour victory of 2020. Brown rolled across the line within view of Deignan to take her first-ever World Tour podium.
“We have been waiting to win a classic like this, and I think we have been almost there so many times, I just had the perfect team today. This is for the team. This is a Trek-Segafredo win”. Deignan said after the stage. “The nicest thing about this team is that we are allowed to race on instinct and not to fear failure and I thought, you know what, I have to be over La Redoute before Anna (van der Breggen) and Annemiek (van Vleuten), it’s the best thing I can do to get over it first”.
Attacks flew from the remaining breakaway. With 500 meters to go Van Dijk slipped off the front and was able to hold off a sprinting Marianne Vos for the final podium spot.
With this win, Deignan was also able to reclaim the Women’s World Tour leaders jersey she had lost to Anna van der Breggen after Fléche Wallonne.
1. Elizabeth Deignan TSF, 3:29:48
2. Grace Brown MTS, +0:09
3. Ellen van Dijk TSF, +2:19
4. Marianne Vos CCC, st
5. Amy Pieters DTL, st
6. Hannah Barnes CSR, +2:21
7. Marlen Reusser EPK, st
8. Juliette Labous SUN, st
9. Katrine Aalerud MOV, +2:26
10. Liane Lippert SUN, +3:27