Van Vleuten storms to solo victory at Liege-Bastogne-LiegeSun 28 Apr 2019
Double time trial world champion Annemiek van Vleuten stormed to an amazing solo victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege to cap of an impressive spring campaign.
The Strade Bianche winner attacked over the famous La Radoute climb with 30-kilometres remaining and held off the chasing pack to take the spoils in style.
The win brings to an end a stunning classics season for Van Vleuten which saw her claim victory at Strade Bianche, before three runner-up finishes at the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallone.
Bad Weather, Fast Start
It was a fast start to the day in wet and windy conditions, with several riders finding the pace too tough in the opening kilometres. The high speed in the bunch prevented any early attacks from going until a solo leader edged clear after one hour of racing.
Their lead didn’t last long however, as Mitchelton-SCOTT moved to the head of the pack to bring the race back together before the Cote de Wanne. The tempo over the first categorised climb caused serious damage in the bunch, with the peloton reduced significantly on the slopes.
With the race reset following the descent, two riders attacked clear over the Cote de Brume and opened up a gap of over one minute. Mitchelton-SCOTT again amassed at the head of the pack with Australian Lucy Kennedy setting a strong pace.
The Winning Move
With the two escapees reeled back in, all eyes then turned to the famous Cote de la Redoute with attacks expected amongst the leaders, and so it proved with Van Vleuten attacking solo over the top.
The 36-year-old quickly stretched her advantage out to 45 seconds as a strong group of nine chasers formed behind. But as the chasing pack struggled to get organised Van Vleuten extended her lead further over the final categorised climb of the day, the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucon, with the margin growing to just shy of two minutes.
With the climbs dealt with, it was down to Van Vleuten to time trial her way through the streets of Liege to the finish line, and there was no stopping the reigning TT world champion as she put more time into her rivals to take the victory in impressive fashion.
Annemiek van Vleuten:
“Sarah Roy and Moniek Tenniglo did an epic lead out into La Radoute, I was super safe there, I didn’t have to do anything, then when we hit the bottom, I knew some girls were maybe out of position and I just went!”
“My words for today were ‘when I go, don’t look back, attack, commit and go’ and that’s what I did. I can’t control what the others were doing behind, so I just had to commit, and I know that I can do a 30-kilometre time trial.”
“The weather was a hard one, it was cold and I just had to focus myself and think ‘it’s my day’. I learned from the last two races, Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallone that I have to believe in my own strength, the longer it is, the better it is and the harder it is the better it is for me.”
“Shout out to my team because they made it hard on every climb, we took responsibility of the race to make it hard, so it was a real team effort which makes this win more beautiful. This was really high on my list and to finish off my spring with another win and three second places after my knee injury, I’m super happy.”
Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“Finally it’s a victory, the girls have been working really well in the three Ardennes classics and today it finally paid off. We got it just how we wanted it and how we planned it so that was really great to see it all come together.”
“We wanted to make it hard on the two climbs in the middle of the race and really tire people out and we succeeded with that, then Annemiek just launched it from the bottom of La Radoute, and that was the plan, to go and not look back.”
“She’s a brilliant time triallist and you know that those chasing behind would need to go really hard and work together to bring her back. When the gap went up to 45-seconds we started to believe she could do it, but you’re never sure until you cross the finish line.”
1. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT
2. Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb) +01'39"
3. Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg) +01'43"
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.