Linda Villumsen climbed to third at La Fleche Wallonne Feminine. While eventual World Cup winner Evelyn Stevens (Specialized - lululmeon) and Marianne Vos (Stichting Rabo Women) battled it out for the top step on the podium, Villumsen won the sprint behind to take third. Judith Arndt gave GreenEDGE-AIS another strong result to come in solo for sixth.
"A podium finish is a reward for how hard the team rode," said Sports Director Dave McPartland. "Basically, apart for last final kilometers, the whole race went exactly to our plan."
The first part of the 123 kilometer race were fairly quiet. The bunch stayed together until Amanda Spratt managed to sneak away from the field, 35 kilometers into the race.
"Spratty built up a minute lead straightaway," noted McPartland. "After gaining the minute, she slowly built up the rest of her advantage. She went up to 2:30 at the 80 kilometer mark and this set us up offensively and forced other teams to have to react."
The bunch caught Spratt after the first time up the Mur de Huy.
"We anticipated that the field would bring back Spratty, so as we started the final loop of 30 kilometers, we got ready to launch more attacks up the road," explained McPartland. "The field splintered coming through the feed zone, and Linda put in a move that provided the impetuous for the finale."
Clara Huges (Specialized - lululemon) and Lucinda Brand (AA Drink - leontien.nl) joined Villumsen in a three-rider move.
"Again, this set us up beautifully because I was confident that if those three came to the line together, Linda would win it," said McPartland. "On the second to last climb on the circuit, with nine kilometers left to race, Vos attacked. No one could go with her but Stevens."
"I heard on the radio that Marianne Vos and Evelyn Stevens had gapped the bunch," added Villumsen. "When they were within ten seconds behind us, I knew I would need to go with them when they passed."
Vos and Stevens bridged up and rode past Villumsen's break with ease.
"I tried to go with them and get away from the break, I was in," Villumsen said. "I gave it everything. I knew this was my only chance to win the race. It didn't work."
Realizing the chase was futile, Villumsen decide to conserve energy in the three-rider break to preserve her chance for the podium.
"When I couldn't chase down Vos and Stevens, I did everything I could to save myself for the finish," noted Villumsen. "I drafted to save my legs. I drank as much as I could take in. I mentally reviewed the sprint. This paid off."
Stevens took her first World Cup win over Vos while Villumsen was the best of the rest from her break.
"It was a great ride by the team and a huge effort by Linda," said McPartland. "She maybe wasn't the rider we had in mind for the finish but she was still able to deliver the result when it mattered."
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