Today one of the toughest races of the calendar took place, with wind, rain and cold temperatures adding another challenge for the riders. At 136.5 km length, the course of the fourth edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège featured five climbs. The first part of the route traversed through undulating terrain before the first climb, the Côte de Wanne (3.6 m, and 5.1 per cent) awaited the peloton. This was followed by the Côte de la Haute-Levée (3km, 7 per cent) and the Côte de la Vecquée (6.7 km, 4.9 per cent). After more than 100km of racing, the riders reached the Côte de La Redoute (2km, 9 per cent). Having completed this climb, the decisive phase of the race commenced, with the ascent of the 1.3km-long Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, featuring a gradient of 11 per cent. It was the last climb of the day, only 15 km ahead of the finish, before the riders crossed the line at the Quai des Ardennes in downtown Liège.
The peloton was not willing to let a breakaway go and forced a high pace despite the wet conditions. During the latter phase of the race, nine riders, including Marlen Reusser, broke free from the field and carved out a small advantage. However, in the end, a solo attack 30km from the finish by Deignan eventually gave her the stage win, with Marlen placing seventh in a strong field of chasers, after a strong performance.
“I’m really happy to have finished in 7th place at the first Monument that I’ve ever ridden. I’m also really pleased with the whole team, which worked so well together. I realised that I might have made some mistakes today, but I did manage to make it into the breakaway and I was committed to working with the other riders there. On the last climb, I was close to being dropped and it was at times a bit hard for me, but I stuck it out and prepared myself as best as I could for the finale. I could have perhaps done some things differently, but all in all, I think I can be happy with how the race went. I am still learning and I will improve in the next races to come.”
Team Owner Thomas Campana complimented the riders’ performance after the race: “We were not represented here by a full team, but we had a freshly rested rider in Marlen, and the team showed great potential as well as very solid teamwork today. Marlen took responsibility and got into the break and brought a top ten result home. This performance shows that we can go with almost every rider in this team, and place within the top-10 at a WorldTour race. Although some of our riders are still not very experienced yet, they have the will and the talent to make the right moves in the races and achieve good results. It was another great day, particularly as this was a hard race, with difficult conditions, with rain, strong winds, and cold temperatures. The team gave it their all and rode the race in great style. We also had some other riders in the top 20 today and I’m very proud of their achievements.”