28-year old American Evelyne Stevens (Team Specialized Lululemon) has won the fifteenth edition of the women’s Flèche Wallonne. She caused a sensation on the last metres of the Mur de Huy, by beating Marianne Vos, four times winner of the event and leader in the women’s World Cup.
It was under grey skies and in cool temperatures that the start of the fifteenth edition of the women’s Flèche Wallonne took place in Huy, at 11.30 AM for its 157 competitors, representing 26 nations spread over 27 teams. The first few kilometres were marked by attempted breakaways, but the pack remained grouped and advanced at a regular speed: 36.5 kilometres were covered during the first hour.
The race sprang to life on the climb up the Côte de Peu d’Eau slope (after 39 km), where Italian Valentina Scandolara (ITA) hit the front with a ten second lead over Tiffany Cromwell (GEW) and the rest of the pack. After the pack caught up on the descent, it was then the turn of Amanda Spratt (GEW) to go on the attack. The Australian managed to open up a gap, with a lead of 2’40’’ over the pack at the summit of the Côte de Groynne slope (after 69.5 km).
The runaway rider was finally reined in on the first climb up the Mur de Huy (after 92 km), by a pack that was by then only made up of around fifty riders. It was at this moment that Linda Villumsen (GEW), Lucinda Brand (LNL) and Clara Hughes (GER) decided to take the initiative. At the top of the Côte d’Amay slope (after 108 km), the three breakaway competitors boasted a lead of 50 seconds. On the climb up the Côte de Bouillet slope (after 114 km), Dutchman Marianne Vos (RBW), four times winner of the event, and American Evelyne Stevens (SLU), set off in pursuit of the leading group.
They caught up with them seven kilometres from the finish, forming a group of five riders who tackled the final climb up the Mur de Huy together, with a lead of almost one minute over the rest of the pack. Marianne Vos attacked hard at the beginning of the ascent up the Mur de Huy, putting her rivals in difficulty. She lead all the way up the climb before ‘hitting a wall’ in the last few metres, enabling Evelyn Stevens to win the 2012 edition of the Flèche Wallonne. Linda Villumsen completed the podium. Judith Arndt (GEW), the recent winner of the Tour of Flanders, finished sixth.