Results and Highlights From La Flèche Wallonne 2024

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La Flèche Wallonne 2024 ResultsLuc Claessen - Getty Images

Cold, grey, wet, and miserable.

Wednesday’s La Flèche Wallonne looked like the Flemish spring. At the end of the race, NBC commentator Christian Vande Velde called it “the worst conditions we’ve seen in decades.”

Here’s are the highlights.

Men’s Race Recap

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Dario Belingheri - Getty Images

It was a quick turn for a day that started out sunny, with puffy white clouds dotting the sky. An early break of six was caught as soon as the skies darkened and opened up. Soon, the sheets of rain turned into sleet and hail, pounding the riders as they made their way from Charleroi to Huy.

With about 70 kilometers left in the 199.1-kilometer race, the peloton split, leaving a pair ofpre-race favorites out in both the literal and proverbial cold. That was the last the race saw of Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race winner Tom Pidcock and Groupama-FDJ’s David Gaudu. UAE Team Emirates’ Marc Hirschi, one of the other favorites heading into the race, was dropped as the peloton headed up the brutal Mur de Huy during one of the race’s four runs up the climb.

The absence of those three left the race wide open for the rest and Soudal Quick-Step’s Søren Kragh Andersen took advantage, putting a quick ten-second lead into the peloton over the Mur de Huy with some 60 kilometers left.

Andersen increased his lead, gaining nearly a minute-and-a-half on the peloton, ceding only a few seconds to the peloton on the penultimate climb up the Mur de Huy with 32 kilometers left to race. A few kilometers later, as the sun peeked through the clouds, a five-strong chase group split the difference between Andersen and the peloton.

By the time he reached the foot of the Côte d’Ereffe, the chase group was caught and Andersen’s lead was down to just fifteen seconds. He was caught and swallowed by the peloton almost immediately.

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Dario Belingheri - Getty Images

Tiny attacks followed over the next few kilometers, all of which quickly snuffed out.

With 5 kilometers left to race, the peloton was reduced to just a few dozen riders, including Visma-Lease a Bike’s Tiesj Benoot, EF-Education Easy Post’s Richard Carapaz, Lidl-Trek’s Toms Skujiunš, Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale’s Benoit Cosnefroy, and Bahrain Victorious’ Santiago Buitrago.

Seeming like a cruel joke, the sun finally came out with just a kilometer-and-a-half to go.

The group approached the Mur de Huy for the fourth time as a pack, everyone presumably waiting for the brutal 17% middle section of the hill before launching an attack.

With just 300 meters left to climb, Israel-Premier Tech’s Stevie Williams, still in his rain jacket, launched an attack up the left side of the narrow road, quickly putting an insurmountable lead into the group.

Kévin Vauquelin of Arkéa-B&B Hotels and Maxin Van Gils of Lotto Dstny followed, rounding out the podium.

No sooner than crossing the finish line did Williams jump off his bike, immediately pull on a parka, and zipped it all the way up to his chin.

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ERIC LALMAND - Getty Images

Women’s Race Recap

Coverage picked up the women’s race with about 35 kilometers to go in the 143.5-kilometer race, which put the race just a few kilometers from its first climb up the Mur de Huy. While it was chilly, the sky was thankfully much clearer than it was earlier in the day. Like the men, the early stages of the women’s race was in a deluge.

A three-rider lead group counting Sara Martin of Movistar, Julie van de Velde of AG Insurance-Soudal, and Elena Hartmann of Roland was nearly four minutes clear of the peloton, with a two-woman chase group of Grace Brown of FDJ Suez and Pauliena Rooijakkers of Fenix Deceuninck, trying to bridge between the two.

However, Hartmann was dropped soon after the climb kicked off.

Three-and-a-half-minutes after Martin and van de Velde crested the Mur, pre-race favorites Lotte Kopecky and Demi Vollering of SD Worx-Protime, and Lidl-Trek’s Elisa Longo Borghini led the peloton up and over the Mur.

As the peloton reached the foot of the Côte d’Ereffe, Brown and Rooijakkers were swallowed up. By then, the lead group’s gap lessened to ninety seconds.

EF’s Veronica Ewers crashed with just under 14 kilometers left, some ways up the Côte. With just 500 meters left in the climb, a few riders launched an attack which was quickly quelled by Vollering, Longo Borghini, and others. By then, the leaders’ gap was down to just 21 seconds. However, it went back up to more than thirty seconds almost immediately, with Rooijakkers attacking, once again stuck between the two groups.

By the time Rooijakkers caught the leaders, there were fewer than 10 kilometers to go, with a gap of 25 second to the peloton.

That gap was erased almost immediately when Elisa Longo Borghini bridged with Kopecky following closely on her wheel. Vollering stayed with the peloton, who caught the leaders within just three kilometers.

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Dario Belingheri - Getty Images

Without a clear team leader, Visma-Lease a Bike’s Riejanne Markus attacked with five to go, putting a sizable gap into the peloton. Thanks to the winding roads of Huy, she was quickly out of sight from the peloton.

At the foot of the Mur, Markus’s lead was 16 seconds. It was down to 12 by the time she reached the flamme rouge, however, she was caught soon after. At the front, Vollering, Canyon//SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma,AG Insurance-Soudal-Quick Step’s Asleigh Moolman Pasio, and Longo Borghini dictated the climb, leading a group of six away from the peloton.

With just a few hundred meters to climb, it the race became a war of attrition, with the group whittled down to Niewiadoma, Longo Borghini and Vollering.

With gritted teeth, Niewiadoma attacked decisively with about two-hundred meters to go. It was her first road victory since 2018’s Trofeo Alfredo Binda. Vollering finished second and Longo Borghini rounded out the podium.

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