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La Flèche Wallonne: Vollering ruling Ardennes Week with victory on the Huy

La Flèche Wallonne: Vollering ruling Ardennes Week with victory on the Huy

Demi Vollering extended SD Worx’s dominance of the 2023 Women’s World Tour by adding Wednesday’s La Flèche Wallonne title to the Amstel Gold Race trophy she claimed on Sunday. Her team has earned seven of the last ten WorldTour round. Once more, Olivia Baril was the top Canadian in 64th.

Introduction and Course

Marta Cavalli was back to defend her title, the 2022 victory coming after seven consecutive wins by Anna van der Breggen. SD Worx’s best bets were Vollering and Marlen Reusser. Trek-Segafredo sent a strong team of Elisa Longo Borghini, Shirin van Anrooij, Lucinda Brand and Lizzie Deignan, the latter making her season debut. Movistar’s Annemiek van Vleuten was looking for her first win of the season.

The Canucks were EF Education-TIBCO-SVB’s Sara Poidevin and Magdeleine Vallieres, Baril of UAE Team ADQ, Gabrielle Pilote Fortin representing Cofidis, and Simone Boilard of St Michel-Mavic-Auber93. Canadians had quite a run at La Fleche Wallonne in the early Aughts: Geneviève Jeanson won the 2000 edition, while Lyne Bessette and Susan Palmer-Komar were runners-up in 2002 and 2003 respectively.

After the first clamber of the Mur de Huy at the 52.5 km point, the riders faced 37.5-km finishing circuits, each with Cote d’Ereffe (2.1 km of 5.4 percent), Cote de Cherave (1.3 km of 7.5 percent) and the Mur de Huy, a 1.3 km wall that averages 9.3 percent but ramps up to 26 percent in one bend.

A breakaway duo hit the first assault of the Huy ahead of the peloton, and two became four heading into the first circuit. Cavalli and Deignan were among those dropped on the first passage of Cherave. The breakaway was pulled in soon after.

Huy II shattered the peloton and created a strong quartet of van Vleuten, Longo Borghini, Ashleigh Moolman and Katarzyna Niewiadoma, SD Worx excluded.

The van Vleuten quartet after getting loose on Huy II.

Final Circuit

Reusser and then van Anrooij brought the chase over to van Vleuten before the last trip up Cote d’Ereffe. Now a group of 20 watched Trek-Segafredo’s Amanda Spratt try her luck. Her closest pursuers comprised a trio, the peloton having swelled and Movistar pulling. Spratt found the foot of…

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