In the most exciting season opener in recent memory, Krista Doebel-Hickok led Rally Cycling to a top-15 finish in La Flèche Wallonne. As part of the Ardennes Classics, the 130km race featured eight classified climbs including two ascents of the infamous Mur de Huy where Doebel-Hickok finished alongside the likes of Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma) and Ashleigh Moolman (SD Worx).
“I’m relieved to see that I am riding better than ever,” said Doebel-Hickok. “But I have mixed emotions because I know I was capable of more. Today was a great reminder that you can be surrounded by some of the best riders and still be out of position.”
After an attack by European road champ Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar Team) split the front group on the Côte du Chamin des Gueuses with 10km to go, Doebel-Hickok kept pace with the first chase group as they descended into Huy for the final ascent of the Mur.
🏁10km@AvVleuten has attacked and is thinning out the group on the Gueuses climb.
— UCI_WWT (@UCI_WWT) April 21, 2021
“Looking back on it, Annemiek’s attack was not a surprise,” added Doebel-Hickok. “I got too comfortable in the front group, took the climb in a poor position, and that was the end of my chance at a top-10 result. Sometimes you have to learn these lessons and they only motivate me more for Liège.”
Both of the team’s directors, Andy Bajadali and Joanne Kiesanowski, were on hand for the season opener in what they agreed was a great start for the team.
“The ladies gave a really strong effort today,” said Kiesanowski. “They will have a lot more confidence going into Liège now that they have a hard race in their legs and are getting back into the swing of being in the pro peloton again.”
Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège sends riders on a 141km course where they face the climbs of La Redoute and La Roche-aux-Faucons to closeout the Ardennes Classics. The race will be streamed on NBC Sports Gold in the U.S. between 4:20 am – 5:50 am CT. Canadian viewers can visit FloBikes. European fans can watch on GCN+.
LBL Roster: Holly Breck, Krista Doebel-Hickok, Heidi Franz, Leigh Ann Ganzar, Clara Koppenburg, and Sara Poidevin.
1 VAN DER BREGGEN Anna SD Worx 3:28:27
2 NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna Canyon SRAM Racing 0:02
3 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa Trek-Segafredo Women 0:06
4 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek Movistar Team ”
5 GARCÍA Mavi Alé BTC Ljubljana 0:22
6 LABOUS Juliette Team DSM 0:28
7 WINDER Ruth Trek-Segafredo Women 0:31
8 LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:32
9 SPRATT Amanda Team BikeExchange 0:35
10 VOLLERING Demi SD Worx 0:42
11 VOS Marianne Team Jumbo-Visma Women 1:32
12 MOOLMAN Ashleigh SD Worx 1:36
13 MAGNALDI Erica Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling 1:38
14 DOEBEL-HICKOK Kristabel Rally Cycling Women 1:39
15 AALERUD Katrine Movistar Team 1:42
16 THOMAS Leah Movistar Team ”
17 FAULKNER Kristen Team TIBCO – SVB 1:43
18 STULTIENS Sabrina Liv Racing 1:45
19 KENNEDY Lucy Team BikeExchange 1:48
20 MUZIC Évita FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope 1:50