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Van Vleuten conquers Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Leah Kirchmann in day's breakaway

After three consecutive WorldTour races as runner-up, Annemiek van Vleuten (The Netherlands/Michelton-Scott) won Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège to take over the WorldTour lead. Van Vleuten attacked on the Côte de la Redoute after Canadian Leah Kirchmann’s escape was caught and soloed 30-km to victory. Van Vleuten took the WorldTour opener, Strade Bianche, in March.

The Course

The women’s peloton faced five climbs over 138.5 km, including the Cote de la Redoute (2 km of 8.9 percent) cresting with 31 km to go and Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons (1.3 km of 11 percent) the last climb with 15-km remaining. The day was wet and chilly

Early Action

The peloton was flying right from the start flag, perhaps trying to keep warm. With 102 km remaining, a rider from BTC City Ljubljana bolted, but Mitchelton-Scott recovered her before the first climb, Cote de Wanne.

Kirchmann’s Breakaway

On the Cote de Brume Leah Kirchmann bridged to Mariia Novolodskaia. With 58 km to go the duo had a 1:30 advantage.

Over the Cote de Vecquée to two led. With 50 km remaining, Boels-Dolmans was doing the yeoman’s job of chasing. The penultimate climb was the famed Côte de la Redoute, 2 km at 8.9 percent, where Kirchmann and partner would succumb to the will of the peloton.

On Redoute, van Vleuten attacked, Anna van der Breggen and Lizzie Deignan in pursuit.

With 20-km to go van Vleuten held a 45-second advantage over Deignan and 55 seconds on a chase group. Only the 11 percent Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons remained. Deignan received reinforcements, but there was no denying van Vleuten on Sunday.

The Belgian race had an all-Dutch podium, as Kirchmann’s teammate Floortje Mackaij was runner-up and Demi Vollering third.

Leah Kirchmann was top Canadian at 18th.

2019 Liège-Bastogne-Liège

1) Annemiek van Vleuten (The Netherlands/Michelton-Scott) 3:42:10
2) Floortje Mackaij (The Netherlands/Sunweb) +1:39
3) Demi Vollering (The Netherlands/Parkhotel Valkenburg) +1:43
18) Leah Kirchmann (Canada/Sunweb) +2:47