Fleche Wallonne: Moolman-Pasio sixth as the team animates the race
Cervélo Bigla Pro Cycling team put on an incredible performance during Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday that had social media abuzz with the team tactics. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio topped off the team performance by finishing sixth while Marie Vilmann displayed her talent by placing 12th.
Allie Dragoo was the first rider from the team to be part of an early escape. From km23, Dragoo formed part of an escape that would survive for most of the day. At km82 with Dragoo’s break down to just her and another rider, Moolman-Pasio bridged the gap to have two Cervélo Bigla riders out front.
The move was a favourable one for the team as Dragoo worked for Moolman-Pasio as they approached the first ascent of the Mur de Huy.
“Today was a great effort from the whole team. It was a huge improvement from Amstel Gold Race. Everyone executed the team plan perfectly. Unfortunately for me, I had some bad luck crashing just before some heavy cross winds. That cost me a lot of energy to come back. At one point I thought that was my race done but Clara [Koppenburg] did an exceptional job to be with me all day and help me with the chase,” Moolman-Pasio said.
“I managed to re-join at 76km. Thomas encouraged me to give it a go on the climb to put the others under pressure. I felt really good and it was perfect because Allie was up the road. She gave me a lift into the Mur and I rode solo to the top but it was quite windy up there it didn’t make sense for me to keep going solo. After I was caught, Marie then jumped across and put in an exceptional effort. I’m really proud of how she went today. I said to her today was the perfect day for her and the kind of race she can do well in.”
After Vilmann and her escape partner returned to the peloton, Anna van der Breggen, Elizabeth Deignan (both Boels-Dolmans) and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Energie) attacked the peloton. Van der Breggen won the event for the third year in a row while Deignan and Niewiadoma rounded out the podium.
Team Manager, Thomas Campana was equally happy with the performance. “I am very happy. We were not happy with how Amstel Gold Race went. Boels is back to full strength which makes it hard to just wait and try to beat them. We wanted to animate the race and go through a tactic that will take some effort out of their top riders and open the final earlier than everyone expected. Unfortunately, Ashleigh had that crash. She is in super good form and had a crash just before her planned attack but the rest was amazing for us. We only had five riders and that was an amazing team performance. They followed the plan to perfection and can be very proud of that performance today.”
Moolman-Pasio concluded by saying, “I used energy in the attack and the chase but today I felt really confident and am making progress. I’m proud of the team and believe we can now go into Liege-Bastogne-Liege with some positive energy and try again.”
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig was 17th making it three riders in the top 20 on top of the steep finale.