Demi Vollering clinched a stunning victory at the final Ardennes classic of the year, Liege–Bastogne–Liege, in what was a supreme team performance from SD Worx.
World champion Anna van der Breggen played the perfect supporting role in controlling the lead group in the final 10km down the descent into Liege, then expertly leading out Vollering, in the final 200m, to out-sprint Annemiek van Vleuten of Movistar, who finished second, while Trek-Segafredo's Elisa Longo Borghini settled for third place.
Van der Breggen, who drifted off after putting Vollering in place to grab the victory, ended up in fifth place and able to celebrate as she watched her team-mate prevail.
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Vollering, 24, said in an emotional post-race interview that the victory is "a dream come true," and is the biggest win of her career so far.
"Amazing, the team did such a good job today... it’s such an amazing team. It was hard on the climbs and at one moment we were gone with this group that we finished with and first of us came back but it's better to not sprint with her [Marianne Vos] so I was really happy that there was a break again and the lead out of the last 10km or something was awesome."
She added: "This race I really like… two years ago was my first pro year, and now to win that’s a dream come true!"
'Amazing, awesome' - Emotional Vollering on Liege–Bastogne–Liege win
Vollering had managed to stay protected for much of the 140km race from Bastogne to Liege as the first breakaway of seven riders came 50km into the race. SD Worx team-mate Niamh Fisher-Black led the first of the attacks. As the bunch was caught on the third of the seven climbs, Fisher-Black built up an impressive lead up to 22 seconds, but it was short lived as she was soon caught on the Cote de la Redoute.
As the favourites tucked into the peloton once again, saving their energy for the remaining climbs, the breakaway trio of Lucinda Brand, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, still with 34km to go, extended their lead to 20 seconds. But the gap dissolved with 14km to go when Annemiek van Vleuten attacked.
Highlights: Vollering secures fine win at Liege–Bastogne–Liege
Van der Breggen, Vollering, Longo Borghini, and Katarzyna Niewiadoma were strong enough to follow, but dropped Jumbo-Visma's Marianne Vos on the final climb, who could not recover to the lead group.
For the final 10km descent into Liege, van der Breggen, who won La Fleche Wallone for the seventh time on Thursday with the help of Vollering who played a domestique role in the race, repaid her team-mate by controlling the group and leading out her fellow Dutchwoman to collect her first classics win.
Sunday's victory is Vollering's second podium in three editions of the race Liege-Bastogne-Liege following, a third place in 2019 -- the year she turned professional.
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