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Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) earned her fifth career win at the Flèche Wallonne Féminine on Wednesday in Huy, Belgium.
The Dutch multi-discipline world champion was able to hold off Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitek Products) and Ashleigh Moolman (Lotto-Belisol Ladies) on the hilltop finish of the 131.5-kilometer fourth round of the World Cup.
“Every win is special, but for a fifth time on the Mur, it’s great, but it’s not getting easier,” said Vos. “As a big favorite, everyone looks to me. The team has to do a big job to control the race. I was still fresh to make a sprint effort on the Mur.”
Previously, Vos won the race in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011.
American Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) won the 2012 edition of the race but had to withdraw from today’s event because of the lingering affects from a March crash. Last year, Stevens beat Vos on the Mur de Huy to earn the victory.
Vos went on from that disappointment to win the Giro Donne, the gold medal in the Olympic road race, and the rainbow jersey in her home world championships, in the Limburg region of the Netherlands.
“Last year was special with the Olympics and winning the world championships,” she said. “Last year, when I was second at Flèche, I was not in my top shape here, I was sick before that. After Flèche, that was the moment that I said if I wanted to do well in the Olympics, I had to take a rest and get strong again. It was a key moment in my season to get beaten here by Evelyn Stevens. It helped me focus on the rest of the season.”
The early goings around Huy
The 131.5-kilometer race covered two circuits, with six climbs in each lap around Huy: the Côte d’Ereffe, Côte de Peu d’Eau, Côte de Bellaire, Côte de Bohisseau, Côte de Boussalle, and the Mur de Huy.
An eight-rider breakaway, including Kristin McGrath (U.S. National Team) and Katie Colclough (Specialized-lululemon) was able to get away after an hour of racing, but the peloton drew the escapees back on the first climb of the Mur de Huy.
On the Mur, Vos, Longo Borghini, Ellen Van Dijk (Specialized), and Emma Johansson (GreenEdge-AIS) were among a small group to distance the peloton. Alena Amialiusik (Be Pink) led over the top of the climb and the other escapees sat up to wait for the bunch.
The Belarusian rode solo for 30km before the peloton swept her up on the Côte de Peu d’Eau with 30km remaining.
Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giordana) was the next to go, attacking on the Côte de Bohisseau with 15km to go, but she ultimately fell 3km short.
Moolman and Longo Borghini led onto the Mur, but Vos surged high up on the climb to distance her rivals and savor her win, which made her a victor in five of race’s 17 editions.