Ferrand Prevot Wins Women's Fleche Wallonne
22-year-old Pauline Ferrand Prévot of Team Rabo-LIV earlier today won the Women’s Flèche Wallonne (La Flèche Wallonne Féminine 2014). The 2010 world road race junior champion finished the Mur de Huy climb just one second ahead of second place finisher Lizzie Armitstead of Team Boels-Dolmans with Elisa Longo Borghini crossing the finish line in third, four seconds after Prévot.
Marianne Vos, the five time winner of the event and teammate of Prévot, finished in 6th place.
The 139 riders who were lined up at the start line of the 17th Women’s Flèche Wallonne set off at 11:00 this morning under sunny skies in Huy. On the schedule was a 127 kilometer route (made up of two 63.5-km loops) and twelve climbs, including the legendary Mur de Huy (1.3 kilometer climb at a gradient of 9.3 %), at the top of which the finish line was located to offer the spectators maximum suspense.
The hostilities started early when, after 17 kilometers, Russia’s Ilinykh (Bizkaia) attacked and managed to build a lead of 55 seconds over the pack. The Russian rider, however, was soon caught, shortly after the summit of the Côte de Bellaire slope (after 31 km).
The Côte de Bohisseau (after 38.5 km) and Côte de Boussalle slopes (after 41.5 km) were climbed at a fast and grueling pace, with last year's second place finisher Longo Borghini being particularly active on both ascents and first to reach both summits.
The size of the main peloton group was reduced bit by bit and only about forty riders remained in the group when it reached Mur de Huy. The legendary and very intensive climb took its toll on the women and only 24 women remained in the group at the top of "the wall" when the riders passed it for the first time.
At this point, the leading group was made up of Moolman (1st to reach the summit of the Mur de Huy), Emma Pooley (Lotto-Belisol Ladies), Elizabeth Armistead, Ferrand-Prévot, Longo Borghini, Specialized-Lululemon's Evelyn Stevens and Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv). The pace dropped after the riders reached the refreshment point in Huy (after 64 km). This enabled 13 riders to regroup with the front riders. 40 km from the finish, the leading group totaled 35 riders with a lead of 03:40 over the rest of the pack.
Audrey Cordon (Hitec Products), a teammate of Longo Borghini and Moolman, went on the attack when the riders struggled with the Côte de Bellaire climb for the second time (after 95 km), 32 kilometers from the finish line and reached the summit with a 15 second lead on the chasing group. However, the Frenchman did not manage to build a significant gap and was caught just before the Côte de Boussalle (after 105.5 km), which Vos was first to conquer.
Lotto-Belisol's Liesbeth De Vocht chose this moment to attack, but it was in vain as the Belgian national champion was eventually caught on the climb up the Côte d’Ahin (after 116 km), 11 kilometer from the finish. With the finish line 10 kilometer away former Dane Linda Villumsen (Wiggle-Honda) burst away from the group and the time trial specialist managed to build a lead of up to 35 seconds when the riders reached the outskirts of Huy. Villumsen, however, was caught and finished 8th, behind eventual race winner Ferrand-Prevot.
2014 La Flèche Wallonne Féminine Results:
1 Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team