Grace Brown crowned queen of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 1 month ago

After finishing second in 2020 and 2022, Grace Brown of Australia finally clinched her maiden victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes. Racing for FDJ-SUEZ, Brown replicated her aggressive approach from four years earlier, breaking away midway through the race to position herself for a potential win. Despite a strong challenge from a group including Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek), Demi Vollering (SD Worx-Protime), and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM), who managed to catch up late in the race, it was the Australian woman who was the strongest in the final sprint along the Quai des Ardennes in Liège, beating Longo Borghini and Vollering to emotionally celebrate her victory.

How the race unfolded

The eighth edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes faced a 152.9 km journey from Bastogne to Liège under clear skies, but with cold temperatures and challenging headwinds and cross-headwinds. Early in the race, failed breakaway attempts by Spela Kern of Cofidis and Titia Ryo from Arkéa-Samsic preceded a successful solo break by Sarah Gigante of AG Insurance-Soudal at the Côte de Saint-Roch. Further along, Stina Kagevi of Coop-Repsol, along with Sara Martín from Movistar Team and Kim Cadzow of EF Education-Cannondale, launched their own attacks. By the Côte de Mont-le-Soie, Sarah Gigante had established significant leads over her nearest chasers and the peloton, setting the stage for a dynamic race.

9 in the breakaway

During the race, Sara Martín and Kim Cadzow caught and passed Stina Kagevi on the challenging slopes of the Côte de Wanne, but their lead was short-lived as the main group absorbed them before reaching the Côte de Stockeu. Here, Sarah Gigante’s advantage had decreased rapidly to just one minute. On this steep climb and its subsequent descent, an elite group of eight riders broke away. In this group were European Champion Mischa Bredewold, Lucinda Brand, Eva van Agt, Élise Chabbey, Mikayla Harvey, Grace Brown, Flora Perkins, and Kim Cadzow. This group caught up with Gigante by the Col du Rosier. From the peloton, Julie Bégo of Cofidis launched a solo chase, but the leading nine maintained a 30-second lead over her and a substantial three-minute lead over the peloton as they approached the Côte de la Redoute.

La Redoute

As the peloton approached La Redoute, Lidl-Trek led the charge, setting the stage for a decisive break on the climb. During this segment, Élise Chabbey, Kim Cadzow and Grace Brown managed to break away from their fellow lead riders, who were gradually absorbed back into the main group. Soon the trio had established a one-minute lead over the chasers, who then waited for the main bunch to help their captains. Lidl-Trek used all the remaining strength of Lucinda Brand to go full throttle towards the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons and rapidly bring the gap between the leaders and the main peloton down from two minutes to roughly 40 seconds, before the final climb began.

It was here that Elisa Longo Borghini of Lidl-Trek launched a fierce attack, drawing only Demi Vollering of SD Worx-Protime and Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Canyon//SRAM with her. This trio caught up to the leaders with 9 kilometers remaining, just as Brown narrowly avoided a crash after misjudging a turn. Despite attempts by the Canyon//SRAM duo Niewiadoma and Chabbey to break free, all six leading riders reached the final stretch together along Liège’s Quai des Ardennes. In an exciting finish, Niewiadoma set the pace, with Longo Borghini in second wheel. The Italian Champion launched her sprint with 150 meters to go, but then Grace Brown passed her within the final 25 meters to claim victory.

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