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by Jeanine Laudy
March 25, 2016
Photography by Cor Vos
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
The Women’s WorldTour continues in Belgium for round four. While a relatively young race, it is Gent-Wevelgem that has been given the honour of being the first Belgian Women’s WorldTour of the year. Twenty-four teams will ride this year’s Gent-Wevelgem, which are the top 20 UCI teams except for Astana Women’s Team, plus Lares-Waowdeals, Servetto Footon, Bizkaia-Durango, Team Twenty16-Ridebiker and the High5 Australia Development Team.
After three Women’s WorldTour races, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) holds on to the leader’s jersey and Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) wears the young rider jersey.
With these positions in the classifications, we’re back to the same jersey wearers as after the first UCIWWT event in the Strade Bianche. Armitstead has increased her lead over Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) in the overall classification, having 240 points to her name over Van der Breggen’s 180 points. Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) climbed up to third place with 155 points after just missing the podium in the Trofeo Binda.
Gent-Wevelgem was an epic race in 2015, with strong winds that even blew some riders off the road during the race. In those circumstances it’s young Dutchwoman Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) who’s at her best, so when she made the breakaway, she was the woman to beat. Three women were able to escape from the lead group and it was indeed Floortje taking the win, ahead of compatriot Janneke Ensing and Aussie sprinter Chloe Hosking.
1. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur)
2. Janneke Ensing (Parkhotel Valkenburg)
3. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle High5)
Watch the highlights of the 2015 race here:
Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) is on the startlist again, so she’s definitely a rider to watch. She’s second in the young rider classification now, so she has two goals to do well in Gent-Wevelgem.
Boels-Dolmans will obviously try to defend the leader’s jersey of Lizzie Armitstead, but will also line up potential winners Chantal Blaak, Megan Guarnier and Ellen van Dijk, who will ride her first Women’s WorldTour race as she returns from a broken rib she suffered at inOmloop het Nieuws at the end of February.
At Rabo-Liv, neither Anna van der Breggen nor Kasia Niewiadoma are in the line up, the team giving Thalita de Jong, Lucinda Brand and Roxane Knetemann a chance to ride for their own chances. Van der Breggen might lose precious UCIWWT points here, but will be back in the Ronde van Vlaanderen to get back closer to Armitstead.
Other favourites for this race are Annemiek van Vleuten and Gracie Elvin of Orica-AIS, Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM), Iris Slappendel (United Healtchare), 2014 winner Lauren Hall (Team Tibco-SVB), Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla) and lots of favourites in the Wiggle High5 team again, with Emma Johansson, Jolien D’Hoore, Chloe Hosking, Amy Pieters and Elisa Longo Borghini in the line up – after a disastrous Ronde van Drenthe, the team had a morale boost at Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen with Amy Pieters and Jolien d’Hoore getting 1st and 2nd, so they’ll definitely be going for a Women’s WorldTour win in Wevelgem.
Although it’s called Gent-Wevelgem, the women’s race doesn’t actually run from Gent to Wevelgem. The start will be given at the Grote Markt in Ieper at 11.30am CET and the peloton will make a loop to the north, then head south from some climbs like the Kemmelberg and Monteberg, before heading north towards Ieper again and then turning eastwards to finish in Wevelgem.
With just over 115 kilometers, the race is slightly shorther than Omloop het Nieuwsblad and the other Women’s WorldTour races so far.