The women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège belatedly takes place on Sunday 4th October 2020. Whilst the men’s race is known as The Old Lady in recognition of its beginnings in 1892, the women’s race started 125 years later – the young lady. The race follows a similar route to the men’s race, taking in the climbs of the Côte de Wanne, Côte de la Haute-Levée, the infamous Côte de la Redoute and my favourite, the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons.
The 2017 and 2018 editions saw a slightly different route, reflecting the old finish to the men’s race going through Saint Nicolas and the final climb to Ans. As the men’s race changed in 2019, so did the women’s race to its current configuration. Liège-Bastogne-Liège has so far seen winners only arrive solo at the finish. The old finish at Ans has seen the closest time gaps with riders waiting until that climb to really strike out for home. Last year, Annemiek van Vleuten smashed the chasing pack to bits, attacking on the Côte de la Redoute and won by over 90 seconds.
The race had added something new for 2020 – live tv coverage! ASO, the race organisers, have been notoriously reluctant to add tv coverage to their Spring Classic races. However, the UCI has forced their hand by making all Women’s WorldTour races have mandatory coverage for at least 45 minutes. We’ve already seen the Giro Rosa punished for not adhering to the rules.
2019 – Annemiek van Vleuten
2018 – Anna van der Breggen
2017 – Anna van der Breggen
2016 – No race
2015 – No race
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Sunday 4th October
Women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2020 Profile
Women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2020 Favourites
Anna van der Breggen comes into Liège-Bastogne-Lièg after winning her last 3 races – the World’s TT, the World’s RR and Flèche Wallonne. She said that she hadn’t recovered properly after winning the World’s, naturally spending time to celebrate the win in style. Then after her Flèche Wallonne win she reckoned this race didn’t suit her abilities since the route change in 2019. Previously she’d won the 2 races on the old course but will probably have to launch one of her signature long range solo attacks to win again. Her teammate Chantal van den Broeck-Blaak is a solid alternative option. She was in a key break heading up the first ascent of the Mur de Huy on Wednesday and was able to assist Van der Breggen late on. If she’s still there after the Roche-aux-Faucons climb, she becomes a contender in the sprint. It’s a similar story with Amy Pieters.
It’s tough to rule out Mavi Garcia‘s climbing ability. Though it looks like we’re seeing her crest the peak of her form after 2-3 weeks of solid racing. She was struggling on the first ascent of the Mur de Huy in Flèche Wallonne and finished 38th in the end. Normally this race would suit Marta Bastianelli down to the ground. She’s been struggling recent with mononucleosis/Epstein-Barr, which explains her relatively poor performances before she took a break from racing. A fully-fit Bastianelli would be a favourite, at the moment you’d have to say it’d be a surprise to see her contending for the win.
Kasia Niewiadoma did her usual trick on the Mur de Huy of putting in an early acceleration and then being overtaken by those pacing an uphill sprint a bit better. She’s been amazingly consistent in recent races, which saw her finish 2nd in the Giro Rosa. She’s missing that big win in 2020 though. She was 6th in last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège and that’s probably where we’ll see her finish again this year. Her teammate Alena Amialsiuk does well in this race and was 8th last season. So far in 2020 she’s larger been playing a supporting role but the Autumn Classics might be her time to shine.
Liane Lippert is similar to Niewiadoma where it feels like she’s not quite able to win one of these big races, despite finishing well in all of them. Luckily for her, she took a great win at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. She’s clinging onto the U23 WWT leader’s jersey ahead of Harvey at the moment. There are just 4 points between them in the two-horse race. Lippert’s teammate Floortje Mackaij did a tonne of work to help her leader. She got into the same early break as Chantal van den Broeck-Blaak and drove Lippert into the bottom of the Mur de Huy. She still managed to finish 18th as well. Mackaij was 2nd in last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the downhill run-in from the final climb suits her escapologist tendencies.
Annemiek van Vleuten chose not to do Flèche Wallonne in the end after being on an early startlist. Despite her wrist apparently being pain-free to ride with, some rest was clearly in order after the World’s. She won the race last year by distancing everyone else and has never finished lower than 5th. However, it’s tough to see her go from quite so far out this season. The tough Roche-aux-Faucons climb is a more likely attack point. But if she doesn’t drop her rivals, she could lose out in the final sprint in Liège. It’ll be the first race we see her in the European Champion jersey. There’s no Amanda Spratt this season as she continues to recover from her broken collarbone.
Marianne Vos is a great contender for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. She’s someone who can crest the climbs and still have one of the best sprints at the end. She’s in great form after 3 Giro Rosa stage wins, 4th at the Worlds and 9th at Flèche Wallonne. Her teammate Ashleigh Moolman is a solid top-10 shout. She’s finished no higher than 5th but still has 6 top-10 since the season restarted. Their teammate Soraya Paladin was 4th last year but hasn’t had too many opportunities to get her own results when the top-pair have been racing.
Trek’s combination of Lizzie Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini should get a result again. Deignan is probably the better overall option as she’ll be able to contest the sprint at the end. Elisa Longo Borghini has lost a pair of head to head sprints against Van Vleuten this year, who isn’t exactly renowned for her sprint. Deignan was 2nd in the first edition of the race in 2017 and 7th last year whereas Longo Borghini has a pair of 9th place finishes. Demi Vollering is in great form again, finshing 3rd in Flèche Wallonne. She was 3rd in this race last year, winning the sprint by the chasing pack. Vollering in this form shouldn’t get into trouble on the climbs and be able to contest the final.
This isn’t Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig‘s best race, especially now with the flatter run to the finish line. She’s twice finished 10th but is in great form at the moment. Best best chance is to get into a small group over the top of the Roche-aux-Faucons climb and make sure that it isn’t caught by the end. Mikayla Harvey continues to impress after finishing 7th at Flèche Wallonne. Another strong result and she could take over the lead in the Women’s Worldtour U23 jersey competition from Liane Lippert. She might struggle relatively in the final sprint if she’s not there in a small group.
Finally, Lauren Stephens continues her great European season after finishing 15th at Flèche Wallonne. This race should suit her better with an obvious attack point or two and a flat run into the finish where she can maybe outsprint rivals. She’s a long shot given the class of the field but there is a way that you can see her taking the win.
Women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2020 Outsiders
Former Dutch champion Anoushka Koster is another that found herself in the early break in Flèche Wallonne. However, she was distanced on the Chemin des Gueuses climb near the end. She was still able to finish a respectable 27th place. If she carries on the form from Wednesday, she stands a chance of getting over some of the late climbs. Then Koster will be able to use her sprint in the final. Her best Liège-Bastogne-Liège finish is 17th on the harder parcours in 2017.
Movistar’s Katrine Aalerud has been in some form in recent races, she was 4th in Stage 8 of the Giro Rosa and 11th in Flèche Wallonne. She’s capable of cresting the climbs in this race with the best but what would let her down is the sprint at the end. She’s a good outside bet for the top-10.
The Russian Anastasia Chursina might become Ale-BTC’s best option in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. She was 16th on Wednesday and was racing well in the low-key Turkish races at the start of September. Quietly she was hovering around 25th place at the early season Omloop het Nieuwsbland and Omloop van het Hageland too. These things depend on some luck but she may get a top-15 placing.
Anna van der Breggen
Annemiek van Vleuten