Anna van der Breggen made it a clean sweep of Boels-Dolmans victories in the Ardennes races, winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the second time on Sunday. The Dutchwoman, who also won Flèche Wallonne last week, ground her opponents into the ground, winning by six seconds ahead of Amanda Spratt and nearly a minute from Annemiek van Vleuten (both Mitchelton-Scott).
Having attacked after the Côte del Roche-aux-Faucons, Spratt had been off the front coming into the city, and van der Breggen set off in pursuit with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) and Spratt’s team mate Annemiek van Vleuten.
But after Olympic champion van de Breggen dropped her two companions on the Côte Saint Nicolas, she then caught Spratt before the final ascent to the line in the Liège suburb of Ans.
As the pair climbed towards the finish, van der Breggen distanced the Australian to win alone.
How it happened
A peloton of 130 riders rolled out of Bastogne to take on the 136km race which covered much of the second half of the men’s event. It included the final three classified climbs, La Redoute, Roche-aux-Faucons and the Côte St Nicolas, which were preceded by the Côte de la Vecquée.
As soon as the flag dropped Louise Norman Hansen (Team Virtu) attacked, quickly gaining a lead of 25 seconds, as was soon joined by Rachel Nelylan (Movistar) and Maaike Boogaard (BTC City Ljubljana).
The peloton seemed happy to let the trio have their head, and they soon led by 40 seconds , with Cylance the team monitoring the front of the pack.
Shortly after, however, Boogaard was dropped on a small climb and the gap came down to just 20 seconds. Just as Dutch rider Boogaard was caught, Norwegian champion Vita Heine (Hitec Products) jumped from the peloton to the leaders and the day’s break was formed, soon leading by 1.05.
The first classified climb came after 74.5km and caused havoc in the bunch, with a number of riders dropped. At the same time the break was caught, though on the descent Claudia Koster (Team Virtu) managed to escape breifly.
With the race approaching the Côte de La Redoute, Boels-Dolmans set off in pursuit, closing the gap and leading the peloton onto the ascent.
Over the top, however, Canyon-SRAM played a one-two, first with Alena Amialiusik, then 2014 world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, who gained a nearly 50-second lead as she headed to the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.
It was here the race exploded, Van der Breggen, team-mate Megan Guarnier, Moolman-Pasio and Van Vleuten escaping only to be caught when they began finessing, but their attack had torn the group to shreds and only a 15 woman group remained to contest the final.
It has been another remarkable spring for Boels-Dolmans. The Dutch team have won six of the season’s nine Women’s WorldTour events, with Van der Breggen bagging four wins and Amy Pieters and world champion Chantal Blaak taking one each.
However, the team will not be competing at the series’ next event, the the three day Tour of Chongming Island beginning in China on Thursday, April 26.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes (136km)
1.Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans 3-34-23
2. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 06
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott at 58
4. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla at 1-00
5. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Sunweb at 1-13
6. Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Waowdeals
7. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Fra) Canyon-SRAM
8. Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels-Dolmans
9. Shara Gillow (FDJ- Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
10. Rossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance, all at same time