Vos wins women's Fleche Wallonne, Cooke fifth
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Marianne Vos won the women's Flèche Wallonne a fourth time today in Huy, Belgium. The Dutchwoman of team Nederland Bloeit shot ahead on the 1300-metre long Mur de Huy climb, leaving behind Swede Emma Johansson by three seconds. German Judith Arndt in third and Brit Nicole Cooke took fifth.
"It's short but really hard, a few seconds is only a few metres in this race," said Vos. "On some terrain I can't win, but I try to be as rounded as rider as I can be."
Vos previously won the race three consecutive times, from 2007 to 2009. With today's win, she has topped the race in four of the 14 editions. The race started in 1998, when Italian Fabiana Luperini won. Last year, Brit Emma Pooley won before claiming the Worlds time trial later in the year.
The 109.5-kilometre, one-day classic takes in many of the same climbs used in the men's race, also today.
Evelyn Stevens (HTC) escaped earlier in the race. The American held up to a minute's advantage, but on the first of two climbs up the Mur de Huy, the group brought her advantage to 10 seconds.
The raced stayed together until the final climb up Huy. Russian Olga Zabelinskaya tried an early attack, Cooke followed the leaders, but Johansson took the early advantage.
Vos followed Johansson, passed Cooke to take win number four, shooting an imaginary Walloon Arrow in the air to celebrate. Cooke finished 15 seconds back.
"I gave it may all," said Cooke, "so I can't have any complaints in my performance."
Pooley, who won the opening round of the 2011 women's World Cup, had to miss the race after breaking her collarbone during a training ride last week.
Women's Fleche Wallonne 2011
1. Marianne Vos (Ned)
2. Emma Johansson (Swe) at 3 secs
3. Judith Arndt (Ger) at 6 secs
4. Elena Berlato (Ita) at 15 secs
5. Nicole Cooke (GB) at same time
La Fleche Wallonne 2011: The Big Preview