Johansson rounds up top ten at La Fleche Wallonne FeminineWed 22 Apr 2015
Swedish champion Emma Johansson has continued her return to form after injury, breaking into the top ten at La Fleche Wallonne Feminine, the fourth world cup of the season, this afternoon.
The result concluded a positive day on the road for ORICA-AIS that also saw Amanda Spratt finish strongly in 19th and Lizzie Williams showing good initiative to cover a timely move.
“It was a really positive race for us and we are really happy with the way everyone rode today,” sport director Gene Bates said. “Everyone had a role and they all did it to their best ability and 10th was the result we were able to come up with.”
“That’s a really impressive result for Emma considering she has only had one other race day this month, being Flanders.
“But also Amanda Spratt. That’s the first time we have seen her with good legs and it’s really pleasing to see. She has been working really hard lately and I know she wanted to get a good result today and this is reward for that hard work.”
The race began quite negatively as the pending finale played in the minds of the peloton.
As they began their first ascent of the Mur de Huy the race remained together. At its peak ten riders, including Spratt, had a minor advantage but would soon be brought back to the main pack.
It took almost 80km for the first real move to breakaway, a solo effort by Heather Fischer (United States). There was a reaction from the peloton and Williams launched a bridge effort to form a duo out front.
Unfortunately they weren’t permitted too much leniency and ten kilometres later the race was again all together.
Eventually with 25km left to race, the peloton split and a large group of 40-odd riders shaped the race lead, including ORICA-AIS’ Johansson, Spratt and Katrin Garfoot who took the queen of the mountain points on the third last climb.
The attacks then began, an initial duo were joined by a third rider with another five in pursuit. As they negotiated the new penultimate climb which peaked at five kilometres to go, the race splinted and continued to do so into the final Mur de Huy challenge.
Eventually it was Anna Van der Breggen (Rabobank – Liv) who attacked on the famous last ascent to solo to victory by 12seconds to Annemiek van Vleuten.
“We knew the additional penultimate climb would be difficult but we probably didn’t think it would blow the race apart as much as it did,” Bates said. “Once they got over that, nothing dramatic changed until the finish. It really did change the shape of the race.”