Following her victories in the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, Marta Cavalli is aiming for a historic treble on Sunday on the roads of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes.
Ø The Italian rising star will battle again with her compatriot Elisa Longo Borghini, winner in Roubaix, after a spring dominated by transalpine riders.
Ø The Orange stars, with Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering leading the way, want to bounce back to the top step of the podium on roads that have often favored them.
Liège, the Ardent City, can also be a land of conquest, redemption or consecration for the pedaling stars gearing up for a last summit in the Spring Classics campaign. On Sunday, some 144 riders are expected to start the 6th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes, including the champions who have just shone on the cobblestones of the North and the Ardennes hills.
From Bastogne, where the peloton will set off for 142.5 hilly kilometers, Marta Cavalli will be particularly watched. After a surprise win in the Amstel Gold Race, the Italian impressed in Paris-Roubaix Femmes (5th) and imposed her talent on the slopes of the Mur de Huy. She is moving towards a potential historic triple Amstel-Flèche-Liège, a performance that only Anna van der Breggen has achieved (in 2017).
On the roads of the Ardennes, Cavalli will vie with her compatriot Elisa Longo Borghini, winner in Roubaix, 6th in La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, and 3rd in Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes last year. The Italian star will once again enjoy a very strong support in the ranks of Trek-Segafredo, which notably counts on the Dutch powerhouses Ellen van Dijk and Lucinda Brand.
The Oranje are used to shining in Liège, and several of them are expected to be at the forefront on the slopes of La Roche-aux-Faucons. Second in Huy on Wednesday, also second in the Strade Bianche and the Ronde van Vlaanderen earlier this season, Annemiek van Vleuten is looking for a way back to success in Liège, where she won in 2019.
She will have to face the young SD Worx armada, led by defending champion Demi Vollering (3rd in the Flèche), with the support of the experienced Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and the guidance of the young retiree Van der Breggen. Another Dutch star, Marianne Vos is uncertain after missing Paris-Roubaix Women with Zwift following a positive Covid-19 test.
The 24 teams
Team BikeExchange-Jayco: Amanda Spratt (Aus)
Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire-Van Eyck Sport: Denise Betsema (Ned)
Lotto Soudal Ladies: Kyie Waterreus (Ned)
Plantur-Pura: Yara Kastelijn (Ned)
Arkéa Pro Cycling Team: Morgane Coston (Fra)
Cofidis Women Team: Rachel Neylan (Aus)
FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope: Marta Cavalli (Ita)
Canyon//Sram Racing: Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol), Soraya Paladin (Ita)
Le Col-Wahoo: Eider Merino (Esp)
Bepink: Silvia Zanardi (Ita)
Valcar-Travel & Service: Olivia Baril (Can)
Andy Schleck-CP NVST-Immo Losch: Nina Berton (Lux)
Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: Joscelin Lowden (Gbr)
Movistar Team Women: Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned)
Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad: Tamara Dronova
Liv Racing Xstra: Sabrina Stultiens (Ned)
Parkhotel Valkenburg: Mischa Bredewold (Ned)
Team DSM: Liane Lippert (Ger), Floortje Mackaij (Ned)
Team Jumbo Visma: Marianne Vos (Ned), Anouska Koster (Ned)
Team SD Worx: Demi Vollering (Ned), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Rsa)
UAE Team ADQ: Mavi Garcia (Esp)
EF Education-Tibco-SVB: Lauren Stephens (Usa)
Human Powered Health: Barbara Malcotti (Ita)
Trek-Segafredo: Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita), Ellen van Dijk (Ned)
Photo: ASO/L Legon