Race preview: 2015 Gent Wevelgem

by Sean Robinson


We’re in Cittiglio this weekend for the second round of the World Cup, which means we’re missing out on Gent Wevelgem – another big women’s race happening over the weekend. When we learned that Sean Robinson of Velofocus was making the trek to Wevelgem, we reached out.

We’re pretty excited to announce that Sean has agreed to collaborate with Ella CyclingTips on a content swap of sorts. His Gent Wevelgem preview, race report and images will be featured on Ella, and he’ll borrow from our Cittiglio content for his posts over on Velofocus. We love what he does, and we’re happy to have the opportunity to share that with you in this space.

First up – the Velofocus Gent Wevelgem preview, which you can also read in its originally published format here. 


AT A GLANCE:

March 29
115 kilometres
Wevelgem, Belgium

SPOTLIGHT:

Gent Wevelgem, a race steeped in history but when it comes to women’s cycling the race is the young upstart on the UCI women’s calendar this Sunday. Over in Cittiglio, Italy riders are contesting one of the oldest races in women’s cycling, Trofeo Alfredo Binda World Cup, which is now entering it’s fourth decade. The two races have clashed on the calendar ever since Gent Wevelgem organisers introduced a women’s race to their programme in 2012. But the two are learning to coexist and their parcours are suited to very different riders with Gent Wevelgem, like it’s male equivalent being a target for the sprinters.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?

On the second time over the Kemmelberg the race went ‘Pop!’. A select group of 20+ riders escaped off the front. As the kilometres ticked by the group was whittled down to just eight. As the group went under the one kilometre to go flag the attacks began. Janneke Ensing went early only to be countered by Vera Koedooder. Lauren Hall followed, going on to out-sprint the two in the closing metres and claim one of the biggest wins of her career to date.

THE ROUTE

Despite its name, Gent Wevelgem never gets within 45 kilometres of Ghent. Starting in Ypres the race twists and turns through the Flanders countryside passing twice over the cobbled Kemmelberg closely followed by Monteberg. In the mid-sector of the race. The Kemelberg is only 350 metres long but it’s tough climb. Combining cobbles and a gradient that peaks at around 17% it’s a real challenge followed by a demanding descent and then it’s straight onto Monteberg.

The least these climbs will do is reduce the size of the field to contest the bunch sprint, but with just 35 kilometres to the finish on the second time over Monteberg they can provide a launch pad for race winning moves. It’s then a flat dash to the finish line in Wevelgem to crown the winner of Gent Wevelgem 2015.

Previous Podiums

2014
1. Lauren Hall 2. Janneke Ensing 3. Vera Koedooder

2013
1. Kirsten Wild 2. Sanne van Passe 3. Kelly Druyts

2012
1. Lizzie Armitstead 2. Iris Slappendel 3. Jessie Daams

WHO TO WATCH

Kirsten Wild proved she didn’t need much time to get into the road racing groove, winning the Novilon Eurocup in Drenthe on the first weekend of her road season with her new team, Hitec Products. Wild’s main competition is likely to come from local rider, Jolien d’Hoore. She’s been very strong so far this year, earning her first World Cup win at Ronde van Drenthe after a top spot finish at Omloop van het Hageland. When not winning races herself she has been turning herself inside out to deliver her teammates onto the podium.

If it’s a hard race then Liv-Plantur’s all-rounder, Amy Pieters could come into the mix. She may lack the top-end sprint speed of the likes of Kirsten Wild but she’s a strong rider who’s finished in the top ten at every race she’s competed so far this year. She’ll be looking to animate the race and upset the sprinters at the finish in Wevelgem.

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