The battle in Belgium: The women’s peloton readies for Flanders

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With its 101-year history, The Ronde van Vlaanderen – the Tour of Flanders – is a Monument of cycling. It’s arguably the biggest cycling event in Belgium and one of the hardest one-day races on the calendar period. 

Brutally steep climbs, rough cobbles, technical narrow roads and brutal winds – this race has all the elements Flanders is (in)famous for, and the win comes with a lot of prestige. 

For the women’s peloton, Sunday will be the 14th edition of the event, here’s what you should know:

The Paterberg climb

Tour of Flanders fun facts:

1. Longer than previous editions, the 2017 course features 12 climbs and 4 cobble sections for a total of 153.3 kilometers.
2. Only one Belgian woman has won this monument, and that was Grace Verbeke (Lotto Ladies) in 2010.
3. The Dutch meanwhile have historically been most successful in this race, with five wins in total. Mirjam Melchers won twice and there were victories for Annemiek van Vleuten (2011), Marianne Vos (2013) and Ellen van Dijk (2014).
4. German rider Trixi Worrack (Canyon-SRAM) finished second in the very first women’s Tour of Flanders, back in 2004. She’ll be back at it this Sunday for the 14th edition.
5. Due to the harsh cobbles, many riders run wider tyres with lower pressure, and double bar tape. Comfort over weight.

The 2017 Tour of Flanders course with 12 climbs and 5 cobbled sections.

How to watch

TV: The race will start at 10.55 a.m. CET and finish approximately 3-3.5 hours later. Thanks to a campaign on Twitter (#WeWantRVVLive) to have live coverage of the women’s event, Proximus has stepped up to offer a broadcast of the women’s team presentation and the last hour and a half of racing on Proximus Channel 600. Sporza will show highlights of the women’s race throughout the men’s race, and an extended highlights video of the women’s race is expected after the finish of the men.

– Streaming: a livestream of the women’s race will be provided on the website of Flanders Classics and the Flanders Classics Facebook page. And: it’s not geo-restricted!

– Highlights: Sporza will provide an extended highlights video after the finish of the men’s race and we’ll also have the usual UCI highlights video. Additionally, we will share any videos we come across.

– Twitter hashtags: Use #UCIWWT and #RVVWomen to follow the race on Twitter.

Lauren Stephens (Tibco) attacks on the cobbles.

Our top 5 race favourites

1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5): the Women’s WorldTour leader since Strade Bianche and winner of the 12th Tour of Flanders women’s edition. She knows what it takes to win here.

2. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb): Omloop het Nieuwsblad winner and always in for a fight, not shying the work or an attack. With a strong line-up, Team Sunweb is once again a serious contender.

3. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans): she has showed strong form during all of the Spring classics, but hasn’t been able to take a win. After last year’s podium place in Flanders, she’ll be determined to take her first win there this year.

4. Jolien D’Hoore (Wiggle-High5): Belgium is looking toward Jolien D’Hoore to deliver a home victory, especially since she finished second in Gent-Wevelgem last week after being held up in the sprint.

5. Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM): with her top 10 finishes in all of the four Women’s WorldTour races so far, Cecchini is second in the GC now and eyeing a Women’s WorldTour victory.

Also watch for: Boels-Dolman’s Chantal Blaak and defending winner Lizzie Armitstead, Cervélo-Bigla’s Lotta Lepistö  in a sprint, and Sunweb’s Ellen van Dijk.

Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) and Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) had a fierce battle last year.

Current WWT series standings

General classification:
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) – 220
2. Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM) – 215
3. Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) – 205

Young Rider classification:
1. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla) – 12
2. Alice Barnes (Drops) – 10
3. Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans) – 6

Team classification:

2017 UCI Women’s WorldTour Calendar
4 March: Strade Bianche (Italy)
11 March: Ronde Van Drenthe (the Netherlands)
19 March: Trofeo Binda (Italy)
26 March: Gent Wevelgem (Belgium)
2 April: Tour of Flanders (Belgium)
19 April: Flèche Wallonne (Belgium)
5-7 May: Tour of Chongming Island (China)
11-14 May: Amgen Tour of California (USA)
7-11 June: Aviva Women’s Tour (Great Britain)
30 June-9 July: Giro Rosa (Italy)
23 July (TBC): La Course by le Tour de France (France)
29 July: Prudential Ride London (Great Britain)
11 August: Vargarda TTT (Sweden)
13 August: Vargarda Road Race (Sweden)
26 August: GP Plouay (France)
10 September: Madrid Challenge by la Vuelta (Spain)

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