Chantal van den Broek-Blaak wins Tour of Flanders with solo attack
Boels Dolmans continued their winning ways with Chantal van den Broek-Blaak at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Van den Broek-Blaak made her move after the Oude Kwaremont and before the Paterberg, and was able to ride alone to the finish to take her first Ronde van Vlaanderen.
As the chase group got farther away from the sole leader the race for second looked like it would be the best sprinter of the chase. In the sprint, Amy Pieters made it 1-2 for Boels Dolmans and Lotte Kopecky of Lotto Soudal sprinted to third.
How it happened
It was an aggressive start to the Ronde van Vlaanderen, with a lot of attacks from the start. Five rides successfully separated themselves from the peloton and were able to achieve over a three-minute gap with around 70 km to go. That gap came down rapidly as the peloton neared the crucial climbs of the race, specifically the Kanarienberg and the cobbled Taaienberg with 39 km to go.
Inside the final 35 km as the break of five started to get swept up two strong riders went off the front, Alena Amialiusik of Canyon//SRAM and Riejanne Markus of CCC-Liv, and were able to get over 20 seconds almost immediately. The two go up to 41 seconds but Van der Breggen was determined to keep them close. On the Kruisberg with 26 km the gap evaporated as attacks started from the remaining peloton.
After the Kruisberg Annemiek van Vleuten saw an opportunity to go, followed by Anna van der Breggen, but when Van der Breggen refused to pull through Van Vleuten also sat up, so the two of them were caught by the chase group very quickly.
Van Vleuten’s next move came on the Oude Kwaremont, with 16 km to go. The European champion was not able to get space, and as the group approached the top of the Oude Kwaremont Chantal van den Broek-Blaak attacked. The 2017 World Champion looked very strong as she rode away from the chasing group, led by Van Vleuten.
Over the Paterberg, the final climb of the day, Van den Broek-Blaak had a 13 second lead on the chase of heavy hitters including Van Vleuten, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenberg), Grace Brown (Mitchelton Scott), and a few more Boels Dolmans riders.
With very little cohesion in the chasing group the two Mitchelton Scott riders, Van Vleuten and Brown alternated attacking the rest of the group. They attacked many times, none of them successful, and with each attack the chase continued to fall apart, allowing Van den Broek-Blaak to ride to victory.
After Van den Broek-Blaak had crossed the line the sprint for second opened up, with Amy Pieters taking second in front of Belgian National Champion Lotte Kopecky.
1. Chantal van den Broek Blaak (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal)
4. Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT)
5. Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-Scott)
6. Alena Amialusik (Canyon//SRAM)
7. Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenberg)
8. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo)
9. Lauren Stephens (Team Tibco SVB)
10. Marta Cavalli (Valcar – Travel & Service)