Women’s Liège Bastogne Liège History
A women’s Liège Bastogne Liège hasn’t been raced for too long with a history going all the way back to 2017. Anna van der Breggen took a pair of Ardennes Classics in the first two editions – winning Flèche Wallonne on the Wednesday and then Liège Bastogne Liège on the Sunday. Only 7 men in the history of the men’s races have won both races in the same year (Valverde the most with 3 times) and after the initial success, it hasn’t been done again since 2018. It’s a Dutch-led race for the most part as well with wins for Anna van der Breggen (twice), Annemiek van Vleuten (twice) and Demi Vollering all winning, Lizzie Deignan’s win in 2020 the only exception.
Now named Liège Bastogne Liège Femmes, the race has adapted in the same way as the men’s Liège Bastogne Liège. The old finish in Ans has been moved to Liège and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas removed from the final part of the race. That means we’ve seen the Roche-aux-Faucons climb become decisive for late splits. The largely downhill run to the finish from its summit makes it very tough for riders to get back to the front of the race again. One exception was in 2020 when Lizzie Deignan surprised the peloton and attacked on the Côte de la Redoute, holding off the chase to the finish.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Women's Liège Bastogne Liège 2023 Profile
Women's Liège Bastogne Liège 2023 Contenders
Twice a winner at the women’s Liège Bastogne Liège, Annemiek van Vleuten hasn’t quite been her usual imperious self so far in 2023. She wasn’t too far away at Flèche Wallonne with 7th after an earlier move but other years would’ve seen her able to go with Demi Vollering’s move on the Mur de Huy. The longer climbs at Liège Bastogne Liège should suit her better but it’s tough to see where she might strike out for victory. The podium is always a possible shout though. Liane Lippert is also up there with a shot after finishing 2nd at Flèche Wallonne and a couple of top-10s here in recent editions. Based on the current form, we may see Van Vleuten working for Lippert by going hard early and putting pressure on other teams.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is delivering the results that AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step took her on for with top-10s at both Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne too. That’s pushing the team closer to a spot in the Women’s WorldTour next season. This race represents another opportunity for a good finish. 4 top-10 finishes at Liège Bastogne Liège with a best of 4th place shows what the South African can do and it’ll be similar here. Lacking the sprint needed for a group finish, a solid upper-middle top-10 result is on the cards.
Team DSM can call upon both Pfeiffer Georgi and Juliette Labous at Liège Bastogne Liège Femmes. Labous was 12th on Wednesday which continues a theme of finishing mostly just outside of the top-10 this season bar one race. She normally does alright here as well, pretty much in that same bracket of the bottom or just outside the first 10 riders to finish. With the season she’s having, it will be interesting to see what Pfeiffer Georgi can do. 7th at Amstel Gold Race is encouraging when it comes to the climbs here and she’s got a fast enough finish to threaten the higher placings. The Brit has never raced Liège Bastogne Liège before but a very strong result is possible.
Demi Vollering is the obvious pre-race favourite whilst on a run of 4 wins from her last 6 races and only one result worse than 2nd all season. Whilst a lot is being made on the men’s side of an Ardennes triple this year, Demi Vollering is on course to match what her mentor Anna van der Breggen did in 2017 by winning all 3 Ardennes Classics in the same season. Honestly, it’s tough to see someone else winning Liège Bastogne Liège Femmes this year going into the race on Sunday.
FDJ-Suez can count on Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Grace Brown, with Marta Cavalli still very much out of sorts. The Dane has a trio of top-10 Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes results in the past but none are better than 8th place. She had a very unlucky race in Huy, crashing after just missing a bollard but getting done by an extra ridge in the road and seemingly finding more trouble thereafter. That race was a blip but not one that really says much about her form. Grace Brown has the best record here though, 2nd in 2022 & 2022. In a race that you’d think favours the purer climbers, Brown has found a way to contest and come home second behind lone leaders. 6th in Amstel Gold recently, the Aussie certainly has a chance.
Mavi Garcia took her best result of the 2023 season and for her new team Liv Racing TeqFind at Flèche Wallonne with 4th place. The Spanish rider climbed well up the Mur de Huy but couldn’t close the game to Demi Vollering at the front. I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do in the Grand Tours this year on some major climbs. She doesn’t have the best history at Liège Bastogne Liège, with a best finish of 13th last season. It’d be a surprise to see her not improve on that.
Trek Segafredo is ridiculously stacked here and if any team is able to take the race to SD Worx, it should be them. They’ve got former winner Lizzie Deignan who has never finished worse than 7th – probably a touch ask to match in her 2nd race back but it’s a good history nonetheless. Lucinda Brand will undoubtedly go on the attack and has a pair of top-10s herself at Liège Bastogne Liège. Elisa Longo Borghini has finished on the podium here in 2021 and has 4 top-10s from 6 editions making it a race she is sure to do well in. Amanda Spratt was 2nd back in 2018 and has flirted with 10th place in the last 3 editions she’s raced. Shirin van Anrooij is potentially a big threat after the way she won Trofeo Alfredo Binda, with the parcours here relatively quite similar. She’s always been a rider to keep an eye out for this Spring. Plus Trek has their wildcard in Gaia Realini who finished on the podium at Flèche Wallonne. No doubt she will climb well and can put pressure on the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons but should be less of a factor on the downhill run and sprint to the finish line.
If I had to pick which rider will finish highest, I’d go with Van Anrooij just ahead of Longo Borghini but we’re going to see all of them animating this year’s Liège Bastogne Liège.
Canyon SRAM’s hopes will be on Kasia Niewiadoma and Soraya Paladin. The Pole is the obvious climbing threat and initially looked good at Flèche Wallonne as the only rider to follow Demi Vollering on the Mur de Huy but paid for the effort and slipped back to 11th place. She’s been having a good Spring and should finish in her usual mid-top-10 spot. Soraya Paladin potentially represents a serious threat in a final sprint but it very much depends on if she’s in the front group of the race at that point. She was 4th back in 2019 but has been just outside the top-10 in the editions since. In good form at the moment with 5th at Amstel Gold, she will be in the hunt again.
Silvia Persico should be a threat once again. The Brabantse Pijl winner has been in the top-10 of both Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne and if she can keep together on the final climbs here, should have a good shot at a podium and maybe a win with the finishing sprint in Liège. The Italian has never raced here before, however.
There are a whole host of other riders to just keep an eye on but they are tough to fully tip here. The likes of Kirsten Faulkner, Krista Doebel-Hickok, Anna Henderson, Erica Magnaldi, Riejanne Markus and Yara Kastelijn are all right on that cusp. All of these riders tend to finish around 20th place here and whilst it feels like some of them will beat that this year with the form they’re on, they’re just worth keeping a dark horse eye on.
Women's Liège Bastogne Liège 2023 Outsiders
Mijntje Geurts continues to impress in this late part of the classics season. She backed up 20th at Amstel Gold Race with 21st at Flèche Wallonne and will now be on the radar of some bigger teams as a young rider with good potential. Another result around the top-20 at Liège Bastogne Liège Femmes will only confirm that.
Lifeplus-Wahoo’s Ella Harris continues to impress after getting into the break at Flèche Wallonne and still hanging on to finish 25th. It bodes well for the Kiwi to replicate something like that here with some form clearly in the legs in these climbing races. It might be leading towards a really strong result in Spain month that’s upcoming.
Megan Armitage is another rider impressing at the moment. The winner of Vuelta Extremadura after winning the hilly final stage, has also just finished 4th at GP Féminin de Chambéry last week, another hilly race. The Irish rider has so far not quite replicated some of these results on the highest WWT stage but it feels like only a matter of time with such results.