Race report

Juliette Labous takes excellent 6th place on the steep Mur de Huy

La Flèche Wallonne Féminine

Photo Credit: Cor Vos

The second race of the Ardennes week saw the peloton take on Fleche Wallonne and the famously steep Mur de Huy finish. Rolling out from the start line in Huy, it was an attacking start to the race with numerous small breakaways formed but it was back together heading into the final 50 kilometres where a dangerous group of three broke clear.

The pace remained high throughout the day and heading onto the climb of Côte d’Ereffe, Coryn Rivera did a great job to position Juliette Labous before the already reduced peloton split once again and the breakaway was caught. It then became cagey in the peloton and lone-attacker Winder gained a gap over the peloton before Côte du chemin des Gueuses; where the hammer was put down. An infernal pace was set at the bottom and an elite nine rider group crested the summit together just behind the leader, with Labous once again showing her good form by making the move.

Approaching the foot slopes of the Mur de Huy for the last time it was all but back together, where it became rider against rider on the stingingly steep gradients. Labous measured her effort well, pacing the climb brilliantly and picking off riders who had went too deep at the bottom, finishing the race in an excellent 6th place for the team.

“It was a really hard race,” said Labous after the race. “We were really good in the first part, Esmée and Julia did a good positioning job; we were really out of trouble and under control when there were crashes behind. Liane, Floortje and Coryn could follow attacks. First I didn’t feel so good but the girls gave me confidence that I would grow into the race. Then it exploded before the Mur de Huy, with Coryn and me in the front group. Coryn did an impressive job to position me for the climbs. Ereffe was already hard with other teams going really strong on it but I felt quite good still. Then on the next climb it was full gas from the bottom to the top and I went all-out to make it into the group, which I was really happy about. I then reacted to attacks only when needed because I wanted to save the legs as much as possible for the final climb. On the Mur it was an honest finish and your legs speak for yourself and I just gave my all. I’m really happy about the sixth place, it gives us confidence for Sunday. I think we did a really great job as a team and I think we can be proud of our race today.”

Team DSM coach Bennie Lambregts added: “I think that we did a really good job today. The first important part of the day was to be in the front at 40 kilometres to go because of the narrow roads and climbs. Julia and Esmée did well to bring us into the front there so that the rest of the team could start in a good position. We tried to get into the break but didn’t make the move of three riders, but that was okay as it was only a small group. Coryn and Juliette then found each other really well in the reduced peloton and Juliette was in a really good position coming into the last three climbs, with Coryn doing a brilliant job at that. Then it was over to Juliette and she showed she’s really making the next step in her level to be there with that group and to get sixth place at the finish is super. Overall, the team performed really well today and we can be happy with the result going into Sunday.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 VAN DER BREGGEN Anna SD Worx 3:28:27 400
2 NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna Canyon SRAM Racing 0:02 320
3 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa Trek-Segafredo Women 0:06 260