Vollering is an absolute Queen
April 19 th 2023 - 12:41
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) impressed again as she tamed the Mur de Huy and all the rivals standing in her way to victory in the 26th edition of La Flèche Wallonne Femmes. Already a winner of the Amstel Gold Race (on Sunday) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2021), the Oranje star completes her set of triumphs in the hilly Northern classics, following the tracks of her former teammate and now sports director Anna van der Breggen. Put under pressure by her rivals, especially Movistar and Trek-Segafredo, Vollering took matters in her own hands and set a brutal pace on the final ascents to rise to glory. She’s a hot favourite for Sunday, in line with her other successes this Spring (Strade Bianche and Dwars door Vlanderen) and the dominant displays of performance of her team.
A 139-woman peloton set off from Huy’s Grand-Place under the sun, at 8:35. Attackers quickly try to get away but it takes 43km for two riders to really open a gap, just before the first of three ascents up the Mur de Huy. Caroline Andersson (Liv Racing Teqfind) and Antri Christoforou (Human Powered Health) enjoy a lead of 1’10’’ but the gap decreases to 30’’ at the summit (km 52.8).
Van Vleuten's early move
Rachel Neylan (Cofidis) and Ella Harris (Lifeplus Wahoo) counter-attack and bridge the gap after 60km of intense racing. Karin Soderqvist (Lifeplus Wahoo) but she’s reeled in by the bunch on the first ascent of the Côte d’Ereffe. Movistar and Canyon//Sram up the ante, already showing their will to shake the race, but SD Worx react for Demi Vollering.
The attackers are caught on the Côte de Cherave (km 84.4) and Annemiek van Vleuten’s Movistar accelerate again towards the second ascent of the Mur de Huy. And the Dutch icon, wearing the rainbow jersey, accelerates on the ascent. Only Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) accompany her at the front.
SD Worx must react again. And Vollering herself pulls the bunch to get back to the attackers with 33km to go. But Trek-Segafredo maintain the pressure and Amanda Spratt goes solo with 32km to go.
Justine Ghekiere (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step), Ricarda Bauernfeid (Canyon//Sram) and Erica Magnaldi (UAE Team ADQ) set off in pursuit. But Spratt is on for a one-woman-show. Atop the Côte d’Ereffe (18.4km to go), the chasers trial by 40’’ and the peloton by 1’05’’.
Movistar react to bring the gap down and Spratt is caught on the penultimate ascent of the day, Côte de Cherave, with 7km to go. Vollering sets a brutal pace on the ascent and only 10 riders can follow her into the last 5km.
The Oranje star is back at the front as she tackles the first slopes up the Mur de Huy. Into the last 400m, Liane Lippert (Movistar) and Mavi Garcia (Liv Racing Teqfind) are still with Vollering… But Anna van der Breggen’s successor surges to victory, the 13th for a Dutch rider in 26 editions of La Flèche Wallonne Femmes.