Chabbey Takes Fourth in Liège

Elise Chabbey finished fourth after a brilliant performance in Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. After being in the breakaway and instigating several moves in the race’s second half, the CANYON//SRAM Racing rider finished the team’s Ardennes Classics campaign just off the podium. Teammates Kasia Niewiadoma, Ricarda Bauernfeind, and Neve Bradbury finished fifth, ninth, and eleventh, respectively, highlighting the team’s strong overall performance in the last of the one-day classics for this spring.

An early solo breakaway from Sarah Gigante (AGS) had a gap of more than three minutes on the peloton. Niewiadoma suffered a crash in the first 20km of racing but with a swift bike change, was brought back to the peloton by teammate Soraya Paladin.

Chabbey attacked on the third of nine climbs, Côte de Stockeu, forming a group of eight riders that bridged to Gigante. Despite not every rider willing to work, the leaders forged a gap of over three minutes and maintained a substantial lead before the brutal Côte de La Redoute. With Brown, then Chabbey, setting the pace, nine leaders became three, who looked optimistically at their prospects to stay away until the end as the kilometres ticked down.

Behind, the peloton chased in earnest and eventually, three riders, including Niewiadoma, joined Chabbey and company. The CANYON//SRAM Racing duo tried several attacks to avoid a sprint finish, with Niewiadoma’s final attempt creating the biggest gap as she rounded the final corner into the finish straight with a 10m and increasing gap. Caught painstakingly with less than 500m to go, it was Brown (FDJ) who won the sprint, with Chabbey in fourth and Niewiadoma holding on for fifth place.

RIDER REACTIONS

Elise Chabbey: “The plan was not to go in the breakaway that early, but I was there, and it was a good moment. Some riders were not riding, so only three or four were working. On La Redoute, I wanted to create a new group with some motivated riders. After we finished that climb, there were three of us, and we worked well until a certain point when both Kim (Cadzow) and Grace (Brown) also stopped doing so much.”

“I tried to go again on the last climb but couldn’t make a gap. When Kasia joined our front group, we had the advantage of numbers and tried different attacks to get away. I’m disappointed to finish fourth, but in the end, the team did a great race together, with four in the top eleven. We’re proud of our race.”

Kasia Niewiadoma: “I’m not sure what happened in the crash. I came into contact with the barriers and suddenly was on the ground. Ignoring the pain for the first part of the race was challenging. But once the action started, I could focus on the race and distract myself from the pain. Having Elise in the front was great for our team! We believed she was the strongest from that group, so we were confident with the race situation.”

“When I heard that Elise had two minutes with less than 20km to go, I still expected that she would make it to the finish without being caught. The gap came down quickly when the peloton chased super hard. In the final few kilometres, we knew there were faster riders in the group, so Elise and I took our opportunity to attack. My last attack was close to pulling it off, but in the end, I was caught.”

“Based on how she raced, Elise definitely deserved a podium spot. We keep fighting and believe that her victory will happen. I enjoyed trying something different in the final. It was a nice team race to finish off the one-day classics.”

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