With wins at Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, Boels-Dolmans hopes to complete a clean sleep of the Ardennes classic at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. Olympic road champion Anna van der Breggen won the first two of the Ardennes classics ahead of teammate Lizzie Deignan. The pair line-up for the first edition of a women’s Liège-Bastgone-Liège with strong support from Chantal Blaak, Karol-Ann Canuel, Megan Guarnier and Christine Majerus.
“We’re definitely motivated for a clean sweep,” said Deignan. “The Ardennes races are important to us, and they’re important to our sponsors. The way I see it, our motivation to win is greater and, if we pull it off, the win is even sweeter. We thrive on pressure. If you don’t, cycling isn’t the sport for you.”
The women’s race might be more aptly named Bastogne-Liège as the women’s peloton lines up at the turn-around point of the men’s race. The route travels north and the first of four climbs, the Côte de la Vecquée, appears at the 82.5-kilometre mark, more than halfway through the 135-kilometre day. Measuring nearly seven kilometres in length and with an average gradient of 4.9 percent, La Vecquée is the longest climb the women’s peloton has faced this season.
With the first climb completed, the women’s route intersects with the men’s route. The next three climbs will be familiar to cycling fans: La Redoute, Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas. Like the men’s race, the women’s race finishes with an uphill drag to the finish line in Ans.
“The route is incredibly hard,” said Deignan. “It has a good shot at being the toughest one-day race on the women’s calendar.”
A LOOK BACK
For the first time and only time this season, we are unable to look back. The eighth round of the UCI Women’s WorldTour is the first opportunity the women’s peloton has ever had to contest the oldest Monument on the men’s calendar. Its addition has given women’s teams a complete three-race Ardennes week for the first time in the history of the sport.
“If you had asked me last year which race I wanted added to the women’s calendar, I would have said Liège,” said Van der Breggen. “And now we have it.”
A LOOK AHEAD
Van der Breggen and Deignan have proven the perfect pairing for Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team’s Ardennes week ambitions. Van der Breggen’s climbing prowess perfectly compliments Deignan’s fast finishing kick providing Boels-Dolmans with options regardless of how the action eventuates at the pointy end of Liège. While performances over the last week have inevitably buoyed confidence within the team, there’s also a keen awareness that Liège presents new challenges in longer, harder hills.
“I think I’m going to love the race,” said Van der Breggen. “It has long climbs. It’s a tough race, maybe the toughest in the WorldTour, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Liège-Bastogne-Liège begins at 10:15AM CET and is due to finish between 1:45-2:15PM CET. All information we have suggests that there will not be any live broadcast. Your best source of information leading up the race is this guide from ProWomenCycling. We will, of course, share live links on race day.
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team for Liège-Bastogne-Liège:
Anna van der Breggen