Another powerful display from Demi Vollering saw her crest the Mur de Huy as the fastest rider and secure her second major win in a couple of days. She was made to work for it but delivered a strong near-solo performance to take control of the end of the race and ensure that her peers couldn’t come around before the finish line.
The racing amongst the favourites got underway on the second ascent of the Mur as Annemiek van Vleuten lifted the pace and created a split. It contained the world champion, Kasia Niewiadoma, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Elisa Longo Borghini. They pushed on and it took a strong turn from Marlen Reusser to bring them back. That sparked counterattacks from Trek Segafredo who were keen to get a rider up the road and get on the front foot. It was Amanda Spratt who got clear and established a gap of over a minute that couldn’t be bridged despite the efforts of riders like Erica Magnaldi, Ricarda Bauernfeind and Setmana Ciclista Valenciana winner Justine Ghekiere.
The breaks came to a close in the lead-up to the Cherave climb for the larger group and on the slopes for Amanda Spratt. As Demi Vollering set the pace, the lead group split up and only an elite group of around 8 riders was clear as the race re-entered Huy for the final time. The pace went out of the move though with everyone playing things cagey before the Mur. A second group caught back up and the additional teammates helped protect their leaders again. Isolated for one of the few times this Spring, Demi Vollering simply rode on the Mur in the lead spot and pushed a pace that no one could match.
Kasia Niewiadoma tried to go with her but ultimately suffered when the Pole couldn’t maintain the power. A gap went out to all of the other rivals that never quite got closed up again. On the steepest sections, Liane Lippert looked like she was about to close up to Vollering but the effort put her in the red zone and whilst she got close, it wasn’t close enough. Demi Vollering allowed herself a look over her shoulder near the summit and seeing the gap, smiled, knowing that the win was going to be hers. Lippert finished behind her in 2nd with Gaia Realini doing a storming ride to 3rd place and her first visit to the podium at Flèche Wallonne.
“I didn’t even feel very good on the road. I was so nervous, as I already finished third twice in Flèche Wallonne. Then I always came just short on the Mur de Huy. I feared it would happen again today, but my teammates believed in me. That was very important. My teammates helped me to focus during the race, to keep the faith and to keep a cool head. I can really speak of a team effort.
Marlen is a great time trialist and managed to keep the difference within limits. I then jumped up to it on a small climb. It was really tough for a while, but it turned out well because of my teammates. If you end up on the back foot in Flèche Wallonne, it is difficult to regain control of the race. However, we succeeded and on the penultimate climb I decided to continue, in order to thin out the group. On the Mur de Huy I then rode at my own pace. I looked back and was quite surprised to have such a big lead. I had to go very deep, but because of my teammates I was able to make this effort. I am really very happy.”Demi Vollering
“Second is a good result. I am especially very proud of how we rode as a team. We wanted to create a different price dynamic today. The plan was to put SD Worx under pressure. We decided with Annemiek to open the course a little earlier. This worked out well, as SD Worx had to waste energy to come back. We went for the win today, but finishing second behind Vollering is a good result. She is currently one of the best riders in the world. No, in Liège it is even better if you have two cards to play with. We form a good duo and it runs smoothly.”Liane Lippert
2023 Flèche Wallonne Femmes result
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