The peloton sets off from Bastogne, so effectually the women’s version of the race should be called Bastogne-Liège. The route through the Ardennes is far from flat, yet it takes awhile for the first official climb to appear. The first of nine classified ascents is the Côte de Mont-le-Soie at kilometre 52.
After the Mont-le-Soie Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes tackles one climb after the other. The Mont-le-Soie is quickly followed by the Côte de Wanne, Côte de Stockeu and the Côte de la Haute-Levée before the riders descend to the foot of the longest climb of the day, the Col du Rosier.
It’s also the longest descent of the day. The riders flies down the Rosier and then it’s time for the energy sapping Côte de Desnié, where the tension will be rising as the decisive phase of the 2019 and 2020 editions is coming closer. Both Annemiek van Vleuten and Lizzie Deignan attacked from a lead group on the Côte de la Redoute to solo to victory. The 1.6 kilometres climb out of the Amblève Valley goes up at 9.4%.
Last year, Van Vleuten tried to repeat her success formula of 2019 with an attack on La Redoute, but it didn’t work out. To begin with, Marlen Reusser was glued to her back wheel, and then a regroupment took place on the Sprimont climb.
Sprimont is not included this time. Instead the riders ascend for 2.8 kilometres at 4.4% to Cornémont before the Côte des Forges adds 1.3 kilometres at 7.8% to the mix. And then the last ascent of the day appears. The Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons is a hard climb in itself – 1.3 kilometres at 11% -, but what’s waiting after the summit is just as interesting. A short descent leads onto a 2 kilometres slope – the first kilometre at 3.6%, the second at 6.2% – before 5 undulating kilometres make way for the downhill into Liège. The last 2 kilometres of the race are played out on flat city streets.
When plan A turned sour last year, Van Vleuten opted for plan B. She overhauled attacker Grace Brown on the Côte de la Roche aux Faucon and reached the summit 12 seconds ahead of a chase group with Demi Vollering, Elisa Longo Borghini, Marta Cavalli, Ashleigh Moolman and Grace Brown. The Dutch star extended her lead gradually to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes for the second time in her career, while Brown bested Vollering in the sprint for second place.
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Liège–Bastogne–Liège Femmes 2023: route, profiles, more
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