Liege Bastogne Liege Femmes is another relatively new race on the women’s calendar. First held in 2017, it gives riders the chance to cover roads raced by the men’s peloton in one of their monuments. Although the race is called Liege Bastogne Liege still, the women’s race starts in Bastogne and before heading to Liege. The women’s course was subject to the same adjustments as the men’s in recent years. The finish line changing from Ans to the centre of Liege from 2019’s race.
The Queen of the Ardennes, Anna van der Breggen, won the first two editions of Liege Bastogne Liege. In 2017 Anna van der Breggen attacked over the top of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas and won solo. 2018 saw Van der Breggen chase down the solo attack of Amanda Spratt with 5km to go. Then she sped up the final climb to Ans quickest of the pair. Annemiek van Vleuten won the first amended edition in 2019. She attacked on the Côte de la Redoute and won by the comfortable margin of nearly 2 minutes. Lizzie Deignan attacked at the same point in 2020 and Grace Brown set off after her. The pair played a tight game of cat and mouse with the gap tumbling but Brown ran out of race route, finishing just 9 seconds behind Deignan. The pair were over 2 minutes ahead of Ellen Van Dijk in 3rd.
The race route changes offer rewards for attacking riders who look to drop others rather than sprint in Liege. So far, the better climbers have managed to drop those with better sprints pretty effectively. The previous route saw many steep, hard climbs late on that punished early attackers and saw advantages quickly dwindle. The battle, once more, will be whether the likes of Van Vleuten can drop riders such as Marianne Vos on the climbs. Both the Côte de la Redoute and the Roche aux Faucons provide long steep ramps on which to attack and get gaps.
2020 – Lizzie Deignan
2019 – Annemiek van Vleuten
2018 – Anna van der Breggen
2017 – Anna van der Breggen
2016 – Not Held
Sunday 25th April
10:20-11:45am BST on Eurosport 2, ES Player & GCN
Twitter Hashtag: #LBLwomen
Women’s Liege Bastogne Liege 2021 Route
Women’s Liege Bastogne Liege 2021 Favourites
Team DSM managed to score a top-10 at Fleche Wallonne through Juliette Labous. She held on well in the front group but others found they had more punch on the Mur de Huy. Labous was 8th in last year’s women’s Liege Bastogne Liege, finding herself out-sprinted by others in the lead group. Teammate Floortje Mackaij was 2nd here in 2019’s edition. She escaped late on to take the podium spot in front of the doomed chase group. She’s had a few top-10s in 2021. Liane Lippert was 10th here last season but has really struggled for form in 2021. Aside from 12th at Gent Wevelgem, she’s not really been a contender in any of the other races. It’s been a dramatic fall in form.
Team DSM have had to pull out of the race due to a positive COVID test
Amanda Spratt was 2nd in 2018 and was close to winning it. Her solo break was only caught by Annemiek van Vleuten who came past on the uphill slope to Ans. The chance in course hasn’t affected her too much, she was 11th in 2019’s race. She’s done well so far this year during Ardennes Week, finishing 4th at Amstel Gold and then 9th at Fleche Wallonne. Teammate Lucy Kennedy should be there to support her as well, she marshalled the front of the peloton well at Fleche Wallonne before finishing 19th.
Despite finishing 2nd last season, Grace Brown won’t be racing here this year.
The main climbers did what they needed to do by dropping Marianne Vos at Fleche Wallonne. They will need to do the same again at Liege Bastogne Liege. The only rider to win 2 Women’s WorldTour events in 2021 will be very dangerous if she’s still in the pack at the end. Vos managed to stay with the main chasing group last season, finishing 4th at this race. She needs the cards to fall in her favour but Vos can win here as well. Riejanne Markus is also another option for the Jumbo Visma team. She was 12th at the start of the year in Omloop het Nieuwsblad but hasn’t broken into the top-20 since. She has enough all-round ability to be there to help in the later stages.
Canyon SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma continues to show her good form finishing 2nd at Fleche Wallonne. She’s come close a couple of times this season now but it’s not approaching 2 years since she last won a race. The first stage of the 2019 Giro Rosa was the last time Niewiadoma was on the top step of the podium. Liege wasn’t kind to her last year, ending up in 19th place and in the 3rd group on the road. She should be better this season. Her teammate Hannah Barnes took one of her best results of the 2020 season at Liege Bastogne Liege Femmes. She finished 6th, battling amongst the leaders. Aside from a great 5th place at Omloop het Nieuwsblad there are no other top-10s in 2021 so far. It looks likely she’ll be racing for Kasia before her own interests.
TIBCO’s Kristen Faulkner is having a break-out spring season. She’s become a fixture in the top-20 of the biggest races. After impressing in the Flandrian Classics, she’s done well to take the same form into the Ardennes. Based on last year’s results, Liege Bastogne Liege should suit her more than Fleche Wallonne did. She was 20th in 2020 and should improve on that this year. With teammate Sarah Gigante unfortunately injured with 3 different broken bones and Lauren Stephens tailing off her good form, Faulkner should get the leader’s role.
The 2019 winner Annemiek van Vleuten will always be a contender. She has tried a few attacks in the last couple of races that haven’t stuck though which feels like the form peak is fading. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a chance although it’s harder to envision the sort of solo attack that won her the Tour of Flanders. Van Vleuten will need to attack and get a gap with another rider that hopefully she can out-sprint. She also can’t afford to not attack and reach the finish in a large group either.
The usual SD Worx phalanx will be racing. Anna van der Breggen cemented her legacy with a 7th win on the Mur de Huy this week. Since the parcours changes here she’s been able to sit in more with a best finish of 12th in 2019. This should be one of those races where she works as a neutraliser of attacks. Demi Vollering probably has the best shot at the win. She was 3rd in 2019 for Parkhotel Valkenburg, so can improve with this team working for her. She’s shown she has a good sprint and so that will prove useful at the end. After 2nd place at Amstel Gold this could be her first WorldTour victory.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is similar to Van der Breggen in that the old Liege Bastogne Liege Femmes course suited her better. She took a pair of top-10s when the race finished in Ans and her best since is 16th last season. No doubt she’ll attack and see what happens here. Her pair of crashes at Fleche Wallonne didn’t look too bad on Wednesday but may make her not 100% here. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak will also likely attack and pull back dangerous riders. This isn’t normally one of her target races so expectations should be tempered for her own success. Although one of those attacks could always succeed.
Elisa Longo Borghini continues to be one of the main in-form riders of the spring. She just pipped Annemiek van Vleuten to the podium on the line at Fleche Wallonne and almost leads the Women’s WorldTour standings again. Traditionally this hasn’t been a race in which she’s had huge success. Her best finishes are a pair of 9th places. Ruth Winder continues to impress after her Brabantse Pijl victory. She broke away at Fleche Wallonne and was only caught near the bottom of the Mur de Huy. She was still able to finish 7th despite her efforts, ahead of riders who had sat on.
Ellen van Dijk has a trio of top-5 results at Liege Bastogne Liege achieved on both routes. She won the Healthy Ageing Tour largely thanks to her time trial skills. She could get the nod here, particular in a sprint situation.
FDJ’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig probably suits the older route better. However, she still finished in the top 10 at 2019’s race. That maiden Women’s WorldTour win continues to elude but she’s racked up 5 top-10 results in this year’s WorldTour. You can see her sticking with the moves on Roche aux Faucons but being out-sprinted in Liege. Her teammate Marta Cavalli has the opposite issue in a race where her best result is only 18th place. Her climbing isn’t as strong but her sprint is much better. There are other doubts too, she suffered a knee problem at Amstel Gold that prevented her from starting Fleche Wallonne. She hopes to be recovered in time for Liege Bastogne Liege.
n.b. there are plenty of teams still to confirm their line-ups, this page is subject to change and will be kept updated
Women’s Liege Bastogne Liege 2021 Outsiders
Rally Cycling’s Krista Doebel-Hickok has always had great results back home in America. Results in the European peloton haven’t been as strong. Her 14th place at Fleche Wallonne this week equals her best individual European Women’s WorldTour result. It’s been 5 years since she was 14th at a stage at the Giro Rosa. With that form, she may be able to sneak into the top-10 here.
Liv Racing’s Sabrina Stultiens did well at Fleche Wallonne, finishing 18th on the Mur de Huy. She was part of the second group on the road, distanced by the attacks after the first ascent of the Mur. She was Liv Racing’s highest place finisher and the flatter finish at Liege could suit her better provided she crests the Roche aux Faucons near the front.
Anna Henderson continues to impress this season and was seen at the front of Fleche Wallonne when the TV coverage started. She was part of a trio that crested the Mur de Huy for the first time that day in a breakaway. She’s shown the ability to get over some of the steep climbs and with a bit of a luck could be in contention here. If the race remains calm she can use her great sprint to get a top-20 placing.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Elisa Longo Borghini