Demi Vollering completed the much anticipated Ardennes Triple, the first since Anna van der Breggen won all 3 races back in 2017. The Dutch rider achieved it by out-sprinting Elisa Longo Borghini after the pair went clear on the Roche aux Faucons. It’s the 5th win of the 2023 season already for Vollering who can also point to wins at Strade Bianche and Dwars door Vlaanderen before the Ardennes triple.
After an early break by Severine Eraud was caught, a new break with Marlen Reusser, Amanda Spratt, Esmee Peperkamp, Anna Henderson and Kasia Niewiadoma went clear. They were able to keep pushing on to the Cote de la Redoute where Marlen Reusser set a huge pace and dropped her breakaway companions. Her gap was over a minute to a chase group of favourites with Amanda Spratt hovering between them. Movistar attacked and counter-attacked from the chase but it ultimately was hampering the ability of the group to close up.
Around 30km to go, it looked like we might have another Gent Wevelgem on our hands with Marlen Reusser looking almost destined for a solo win. However, Trek Segafredo put in some big turns once Spratt was caught. Shirin van Anrooij in particular able to do a prolonged amount of work into the base of the Roche aux Faucons. At one point Trek even had 3 riders just ghosting off the front with Gaia Realini keeping a watchful eye behind.
As the favourites began to see Reusser ahead, the gap closed with Van Vleuten attacking again but unable to get clear. On the second part of the climb, Reusser attacked again and took Longo Borghini away with her. An attempt to bridge from Van Vleuten was countered by Vollering and as she rode over the top of the initial pair and only Longo Borghini could match it before reaching the main road to Liege. On the descent to Liege, it became clear that the lead duo were going to contest the win.
Longo Borghini, who had been working with Vollering throughout was pinned to the front with 1.5km to go and forced to lead out the final sprint. Despite the Italian’s best efforts, Demi Vollering was able to come around her and take a historic treble win.
“This is really amazing, I still can’t believe it. I really have to thank the team, I am so proud. I was happy that Elisa wanted to participate in the final. In the last kilometre, we had to play poker. I knew I could gamble, with Marlen in the chasing group. That made it a bit easier. I am very happy with this victory. I really wanted to win today, since I could score a hat-trick. You don’t get the chance to do that every year.”Demi Vollering
“We rode great and executed the plan perfectly. We had Amanda Spratt in the run, while Lizzie Deignan and Lucinda Brand kept me and Gaia Realini up front. When Amanda was nabbed, we flew into the descent. As a result, we started the Roche-aux-Faucons with a head start. After that I kept pace because I knew Demi was coming. I followed her, but in the sprint she was stronger in the end. Cheers to her!
I hope to sprint against her again, but I need to train more on my sprint. I am very happy with my good Ardennes campaign. We have two third places with Shirin van Anrooij and Gaia Realini, and I am now second. We have a strong team with a lot of cards to play, so I am looking forward to the upcoming races.”Elisa Longo Borghini
“The sprint also plays in your head, but that doesn’t keep me awake. We rode really badly as a team, that was a shame. We had one task and that was to be in the leading group, so that one of them still rides away without us should not happen. That’s why we’re chasing the facts all day long. There will be a good team meeting to put things on edge.
It’s good to discuss afterwards, because this should not happen at this level. That was a pity, because we couldn’t carry out our plan. You ride all the time, lose pawns and I had to act early myself. You just don’t want that, you want to keep your legs fresh. That’s one side of the story, on the other side: Demi Vollering was just better, I couldn’t go. But I have to say: the difference was not that big, so that gives courage for the rest of the season.”Annemiek van Vleuten
2023 Liège Bastogne Liège result
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