Demi Vollering (The Netherlands/SD Workx) earned the biggest win of her career in Sunday’s fifth edition of the women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, proving the fastest from an elite quintet in Liège. Vollering was the runner-up to Marianne Vos last week in the Amstel Gold Race. Annemiek van Vleuten was the Sunday’s runner-up. With third place, Elisa Longo Borghini takes over the WorldTour lead from Marianne Vos, the Italian seizing the leader’s jersey for the third time this season after eight rounds.
The women would climb seven hills over 140.9 km, with the final three—Cote de la Redoute (2.7 km at 6.8 percent), Cote des Forges and the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons (1.3 km at 10.9 percent)—the key attack points. The Roche-aux-Faucons peaked 13.5 km from the finish in Liège.
🚩 Bastogne – Liège 🏁
📈 2300 M D+
⏰ : 8h35
📺 : 11h20#LBLwomen pic.twitter.com/tvquaVOGmZ
— Liège-Bastogne-Liège (@LiegeBastogneL) April 25, 2021
Fans anticipated a battle between two-time winner Anna van der Breggen and 2019 titlist Annemiek van Vleuten. Vos was looking for her third WorldTour win of the season. Reigning champ Lizzie Deignan wouldn’t defend her title and Leah Kirchmann and her DSM had withdrawn on Saturday after a COVID-19 positive in the team.
After a positive COVID-19 test within the team, we have taken the decision to withdraw our Women’s program from #LBLWomen to help protect the race bubble.
More: https://t.co/VaoSHEcjHE pic.twitter.com/Nl7dh61rsP
— Team DSM (@TeamDSM) April 24, 2021
Parkhotel Valkenburg also withdrew from race due to a COVID-19 positive.
A fugitive duo skipped away and was caught by the second climb of the day. A septet was the next to fly free and its remains were sopped up before the Cote de la Redoute. There, Ashleigh Moolman (South Africa/SD Worx) sprang away, eventually joined by Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark/FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope). Canyon-SRAM and Jumbo-Visma led a chase of 25 riders.
By the start of the Cote des Forges, the trio’s lead was only 12-seconds.
Despite Movistar’s efforts in the chase, the escapees’ gap increased on the Cote des Forges. Only the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons remained. The capture came with 19.5 km remaining.
The Final Hill
Van der Breggen’s pace on Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons shed a lot of riders. Vos was dropped. Vollering, van der Breggen, Moolman, van Vleuten, Longo Borghini and Katarzyna Niewiadoma tipped over the top leading the race. Vos and Uttrup Ludwig latched back on.
Vos and Uttrup Ludwig latched back on only to be tailed off along with Moolman after an effort from van Vleuten. Van der Breggen seemed to be working on the front of the five-rider group for teammate Vollering. The world champion led under the red kite.
Van Vleuten came flying up the right hand side, but it would be Vollering who would grab her wheel, come around her and take the win.
The Women’s WorldTour now takes a break of nearly a month, with the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas May 20 – 23 the next round.
1) Demi Vollering (The Netherlands/SD Worx) 3:54:51
2) Annemiek van Vleuten (The Netherlands/Movistar) s.t.
3) Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy/Trek-Segafredo) s.t.