Van der Breggen takes 'strange' seventh straight women's Fleche Wallonne

·2-min read

World champion Anna van der Breggen said on Wedneday it was "strange" to win the women's Fleche Wallonne for a record-extending seventh successive occasion in her final appearance in the classic before retirement.

Dutch rider van der Breggen edged Poland's Katarzyna Niewiadoma in a two-way sprint with Italian Elisa Longo Borghini in third after 130km of racing in Belgium.

Van der Breggen, 31, will finish her career at the end of the season as she plans to start a family.

"It's a strange thought that I am sitting here for the last time at this race," she said.

"Next year I won't bother the girls anymore, it's up to somebody else. I'm really happy to finish it off like this with seven straight wins," she added.

Earlier, Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar's Team UAE Emirates withdrew from the men's race just hours before the classic started due to Covid-19 cases.

Pogacar was scheduled to compete alongside last year's Fleche Wallonne winner Marc Hirschi.

"We regret to inform that UAE Team Emirates will not participate in Fleche Wallonne due to 2 members returning positive tests for Covid-19 on April 20," the outfit said in a statement.

"The two members of the team concerned, Diego Ulissi and one staff member (who is also vaccinated), returned two negative tests in the days before travelling to Belgium.

"Upon arrival to Belgium both underwent a subsequent test which returned a positive result," they added.

UAE Emirates said they aim to participate in Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege, another key early season race.

Belgian Wout van Aert won the first Ardennes classic of the season, the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday, but has been omitted from Jumbo Visma's lineup for Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne which starts in Charleroi.

Van Aert's team-mate Primoz Roglic and world champion Julian Alaphilippe are among the contenders in the 194-kilometre race.

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