Road World Cup 2008
La Fleche Wallone, Belgium
Vos (DSB Bank) made the most of a strong finish on the Mur de Huy to take
round 5 of the World Cup at Fleche Wallone. The Dutch,
multiple-discipline, World Champion and reigning World Cup Champion timed
her effort to perfection and was able to take time to take a victory
salute at the finish.
warm, dry day which the riders enjoyed for the race complemented a
parcours which heated up in the latter stages. The climbs were mainly in
the second half of the course. As expected, the race stayed together until
the efforts of the brutal ascents. With narrow roads and steep hills, to
remain competitive, riders needed to maintain their position near to the
front of the peloton.
attempts by Team USA and Cervélo-Lifeforce riders were jumped on as soon
as they began to look dangerous, the most promising move of the race came
from three-times former winner, Fabiana Luperini (Menikini Selle Italia).
She attacked on the Cote de Boisseau and accelerated away to a comfortable
lead. Her maximum gap on the bunch was just over one minute, but the bunch
were aware of the potential danger and had pulled her back to within site
by the time they climbed the penultimate cote just after Ben-Ahin.
penultimate climb of the day proved to be the launching pad for the
finale. As they climbed the lower slopes, Nicole Cooke (Great Britain)
attacked and caused the race to split. With Cooke were Marta Bastianelli
(Italy) and Judith Arndt (High Road), as well as Marianne Vos, Amber Neben
Team Flexpoint) and other contenders.
the time they reached to foot of the Mur de Huy and the final kilometre,
the front group had formed. The severity of the Mur showed for another
year, though, as riders were lost from the back of the group. At the point
with 250 metres to go, where the road impossibly kicks-up again, Arndt and
Cooke were battling at the front, with Vos and Neben trailing. There was
daylight between these four and the chasers. However, the Mur ‘bites’
quickly and when a rider runs out of energy, there are no second chances,
no respite. In the closing 200 metres of the race, Vos overtook Arndt
and Cooke with a late surge. She continued to the finish line,
checking over her shoulders as she approached to make sure there were no
others with the legs to overtake.
assured, Vos punched the air with both hands in a victory salute, crossed
the line and then coasted to the side of the road. She finished one second
ahead of Marta Bastianelli (Italy), the reigning World Champion and then
another second later, Judith Arndt.
Wrubleski (Canada) has been showing good form recently and rode past
several riders during the closing metres to finish fourth. Amber Neben
(Team Flexpoint) was fifth and Trofeo Binda (World Cup, round 2) winner,
Emma Pooley (GRB) finished sixth. The rider wearing the Leader’s jersey,
Suzanne De Goede (Equipe Nurnberger) conceded her hold on the series,
finishing sixteenth (37 seconds) and gaining only a handful of points. It
was not enough to hold off Vos, who took over the World Cup series lead,
rising from fourth after the previous round in Drenthe, with a 19 point
lead over her compatriot.
Vos has 152 points, compared to De Goede’s 133. Third place is held by Judith Arndt, who slipped to third and now has 117 points. The largest jump in the rankings goes to Marta Bastianelli, who now lies fifth, moving up from sixteenth at the beginning of the day.
Marianne Vos cherished this victory over her win in this event last year, commenting that swhe thought it “sweeter” this year. She found it "a little bit stressy before the finish because it was hard and there are a lot of climbs," she explained, "and then a whole bunch came back and I was too far back at the beginning of the climb. I could manage it to the wheel of Nicole [Cooke] and Judith Arndt; then I knew I had a chance and I felt good. But everybody is in pain on the last climb. It was hard!"
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