2024 Liège-Bastogne-Liège – Race Report

How the race finished

After two previous second placings, Grace Brown (FDJ Suez) finally raised her arms in victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, outsprinting Elisa Longo-Borghini (Lidl Trek) and Demi Vollering (Canyon//Sram Racing) after a long day in the breakaway.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

On a dry and windy Sunday afternoon, the women’s peloton rolled out in Bastogne for what is always a tough day, with over 2000 metres of climbing to come in the 152.4 kilometres before the finish line in Liège.

The first attack of the day came at 142 km to go, with Spela Kern (Cofidis) and Titia Ryo (Arkea BB Hotels) finding some space on the road, only to be reabsorbed shortly after. Some ten kilometres later Sarah Gigante (AG Insurance Soudal) slipped away solo, setting her up for a long day out ahead of  the peloton on the rolling roads.

Stina Kavegi (Coop Repsol) set off solo in an attempt to bridge, and was later joined by Kim Cadzow (EF Education Cannondale) and Sara Martin (Movistar). Through the tough mid-section of the grace Gigante held her pace, while the composition of the chasing group shifted. Kavegi and Martin were dropped, with Cadzow being joined by Eva van Agt (Visma Lease a Bike), Grace Brown (FDJ Suez), Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx), Lucinda Bran (Lidl Trek), Mikayla Harvey (UAE Team ADQ), Flora Perkins (Fenix Deceuninck) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon//Sram Racing).

At 62km to go, on the Col du Rosier, Gigante herself was caught by the chasing group, who held a 1 minute 20 second advantage over the peloton. With all the major teams represented, and the leader caught, the peloton sat up, letting the strong front group pull away. Julie Bego (Cofidis) looked to try to cross the gap solo, and showed her strength in getting close, but wasn’t able to make the connection.

At the base of the infamous, steep slopes of the Côte de la Redoute, the leaders had almost a three minute advantage. The group splintered on the tough gradients, with the trio of Grace Brown, Elise Chabbey and Kim Cadzow cresting the climb at the front of the race. The peloton also upped the pace on the climb, with only around 25 riders remaining at the top, and still around a two minute gap to cross. 

Bredewold, Brand, Gigante, Perkins and van Agt continued to ride in the gap, unsure whether to return to the peloton or forge ahead. In the peloton, UAE Team ADQ launched a string of attacks, but none went clear. Eventually, with the peloton hot on their heels, Bredewold dropped back and settled into a strong pace on the front of the peloton to help bring her leaders back to the front. When the other riders who had also been dropped from the breakaway were caught, Lidl Trek took over, putting their whole team to the front to quickly begin reducing the now dangerous gap the leading trio were maintaining.

Into the base of the Roche-aux-Faucons, the last major climb on the menu for the day, the leaders had just under a minute advantage. Chabbey pushed hard on the front, with Cadzow appearing to struggle but managing to winch her way back by the top. Behind them no one in the peloton lit things up from the bottom, but soon Longo Borghini couldn’t wait any longer, and launched on the climb. Demi Vollering SD Worx Protime) followed, with Marianne Vos (Visma Lease a Bike) and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) close by. As the climb pitched up a second time Vos couldn’t maintain contact, and the same trio as at Fleche Wallonne earlier in the week pulled clear. With 13km to go, the gap they had to close was around 35 seconds.

Riejanne Markus (Visma Lease a Bike) set about putting her leader, Marianne Vos back into contention, towing Niamh Fisher Black (SD Worx Protime), Juliette Labous (dsm firmenich Post NL), and the Canyon//Sram Racing duo of Neve Bradbury and Ricarda Bauernfiend with them. The group got within sight, but weren’t able to reconnect. Vollering and Longo Borghini, with Niewiadoma in the wheel, put in long efforts and were eventually able to cross the gap to Brown, Cadzow and Chabbey, the remnants of the breakaway.

Into the final ten kilometres Chabbey and Niewiadoma used their power as teammates to launch attacks, but were always marked out. As the group went at pace through a wet roundabout, Brown locked up but managed to stay upright. Cadzow went cross country to avoid Brown, but a gap opened up between her and the leaders. As Niewiadoma, Chabbey, Longo Borghini and Vollering looked at one another, Brown and Cadzow were able to work together to come back.

The attacks eased momentarily before starting again in the final two kilometres, where Chabbey and Longo Borghini were closed by Brown. Niewiadoma went early, tracked by Cadzow, and had a good gap through the Flamme Rouge. As Cadzow tired the gap extended, while the other riders prepared their sprints and bided their time. Vollering positioned herself at the back, hoping to get a jump on the others. With Niewiadoma still powering away at the front, Longo Borghini realised she needed to be the one to close the gap, and used the slipstream to come up and start her sprint. Behind her Vollering, Chabbery and Brown unleashed, with Brown slowly accelerating to pass Longo Borghini and take the win on the line. 

Full Results

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