Second and third for Mitchelton-SCOTT women at Liège–Bastogne–LiègeSun 22 Apr 2018
A great Ardennes Classics week for Mitchelton-SCOTT was capped by a double podium at Liège–Bastogne–Liège Women with Amanda Spratt in second and Annemiek Van Vleuten in third.
Third in Amstel Gold Race, fifth in Fleche-Wallonne and now second in Liège–Bastogne–Liège after yet another impressive attacking performance from Spratt, going clear into the closing 20kilometres the Tour Down Under champion was caught on the final climb by Anna Van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) and less than two kilometres to go.
Fighting bravely, but just losing contact over the top, Spratt held on for second with Van der Breggen taking the win and world time trial champion Van Vleuten sealing a memorable race for the Australian outfit by winning the sprint for third.
Early attacks flew out of the neutral zone with three riders forming the breakaway over the opening kilometres and gaining one minute on the peloton.
The situation remained the same approaching the first major climb of the day, the Cote de La Vecquee with 60kilometres to go, as the bunch hit the ascent the pace increased and simultaneously split the peloton whilst bringing the break within reach.
All back together with 50kilometres remaining and tensions beginning to mount the race split again with the anticipated attacks over the Cote de La Redoute, a strong group of faviourites formed behind a lone leader, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of Canyon-Sram.
Gaining 40seconds over the group that contained Spratt and Van Vleuten the Frenchwoman led onto the Cote de La Roche-aux-Faucons, but her lead was falling, and she was caught before the top by an elite quartet involving Van Vleuten and a chasing group with Spratt.
Spratt attack and a Mitchelton-SCOTT double podium:
The two leading groups came together with 20kilometres left to race and Spratt immediately launched an attack, pushing on over the flat roads towards the Cote de Saint-Nicolas and creating a gap of 55seconds that slipped as she hit the climb with Van der Breggen chasing behind.
As Van der Breggen made contact Spratt did brilliantly to hold on as the Dutchwoman attacked again and rode away to the victory with Spratt in second and Van Vleuten outsprinting Ashleigh Moolman (Cervelo-Bigla) for third place.
Amanda Spratt – 2nd:
“This has definitely been my best ever Ardennes Classics, I had a bit of a funny spring with some illness and injury and missed out on some of the cobbled classics. But I think it may have been a blessing in disguise because I have come in to these races a bit fresher.”
“I am really happy and satisfied with the result, we didn’t get the win, but the team rode amazing and I haven’t been up there in that many finals so that’s a step up for me this season and it’s great to have Annemiek up there with me, talking me through it as it’s happening.
“I’ve found a new appreciation for what you need to do to be up there competing in these races and Annemiek is such a strong and smart rider that she’s someone I can look to and learn a lot from and it’s great that we get to share the podium.”
Annemiek Van Vleuten – 3rd:
“It worked out really well in the final to have Spratty in the front meaning I could sit in with the chasers and follow. She produced another awesome attacking ride and really went for the victory and it was great seeing her going from the front.”
“I think we both showed that we are in very good shape and as a team we are hungry to attack and try to get results in the big races, we wanted to be good in these Ardennes Classics and for me it’s great to go into my Giro preparation on the back of such a good result.”
Liège–Bastogne–Liège Women results:
1. Anna Van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) 03:34:23
2. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:06
3. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:58
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.