Dutch rider Marianne Vos has won the 14th edition of the women’s Flèche Wallonne, beating Sweden’s Emma Johansson and German Judith Arndt, taking the lead in the World Cup rankings as well. She has also written herself in to the event’s history books by being the first woman rider to tame the Wall of Huy four times.
The starter’s orders given at 11.31 AM in hot sunny conditions saw a pack of 153 riders representing 23 nations and 26 teams get to grips with the race. In spite of a number of successive attempts at breakaways, the pack remained grouped at a regular speed. Guarnier (TIB), Vekemans (VLL) and Miller (TCW) respectively were the leading three riders at the summit of the Côte de Peu d’Eau slope after 38.5 km. Sara Mustonen (HPU) led the still grouped pack to the top of the Côte de Haut-Bois slope at the 44 km point.
The race was sparked into life as it climbed the Côte de Groynne slope (after 49 km) thanks to Adriana Wisser (TCW), who boasted a lead of 15’’ over her pursuers. At the top of the Côte de Bohisseau slope (after 55 km), she still led by the same margin, followed by a small group, but was relentlessly reined in by them. It was then the turn of her team-mate, Evelyn Stevens (TCW) to grab the spotlight and breakaway on the Côte de Bousalle slope (after 58 km).
At the foot of the Côte d’Ahin slope (after 69 km), Wisser possessed a lead of more than one minute over her pursuers, led by Noemi Cantele (CWT). At the foot of the Wall of Huy (on the 1st climb after 80 km), her lead had been reduced to around twenty seconds. A successive series of attacks scattered the pack. With 25 km left to go, she still had a lead of 50’’. However, she was caught during the climb up the Côte d’Ereffe slope (after 98.5 km) and it was a pack of thirty riders that prepared itself for the final ascension.
The explosive power of Marianne Vos (NLB) resulted in a decisive attack which none of her rivals could match. She crossed the finishing line on her own, tasting victory for the fourth time on the Flèche Wallonne. Behind her, Emma Johansson (HPU) won the sprint to the finish ahead of Judith Arndt (TCW). Nicole Cooke, a three times winner of the event, finished fifth.