Anna van der Breggen wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with solo attack

by Abby Mickey

photography by Cor Vos


With a 14 km long solo breakaway Anna van der Breggen punched her first victory of 2021. The world champion won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad by 23 seconds over the Danish national champion Emma Cecilie Norsgaard and Amy Pieters, who took third from a reduced peloton.

“I’m really happy of course, it’s the best way to start a new season,” Van der Breggen said at the finish. “Especially when the team is riding like this. It gives a lot of confidence for the upcoming races and also for the rest of the season.”

How it went down

For much of the early race, the peloton remained compact, with only three riders making their way off the front. Lizzie Bennett (Drops – Le Col), Claudia Jongeruis (Bingoal Casino – Chevalmeire Cycling), and Kylie Waterreus (Multum Accountants Ladies) at one point held four minutes over the peloton, but their break was no threat.

The three riders off the front were reabsorbed by the peloton with 44 km remaining, just before the Molenberg, the first cobbled climb of the day.

Over the top of the Molenberg, the world champion Anna van der Breggen took to the front to set the pace. Her injection of speed cracked the peloton apart on the small Belgian roads, two riders caught out by the speed were Annemiek van Vleuten and Lizzie Deignan, both favourites for the victory.

Over the 2 km long Haaghoek cobbled section the gaps from Van der Breggen’s time on the front looked to be race-ending. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Christine Majerus joined Van der Breggen at the front to keep the chasers from rejoining the front of the race.

Next up was the Leberg climb followed by the Berendries climb and then the Elverenberg – Vossenhol climb. These three climbs, in quick succession, broke up the pacemaking of SD Worx only to send one of their new recruits, Demi Vollering, off the front.

On the Elverenberg – Vossenhol Vollering shot off the front of the peloton, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Hannah Barnes took to chasing but were closely marked by the rest of the front group. Vollering’s gap grew to half a minute while the peloton behind struggled to find cohesion. With their sprinter Lotte Kopecky in the lead group, Liv Racing took up the chase.

The Muur – Kapelmuur hit the race with 19 km to go, and once again Van der Breggen took over the front. At the base of the climb, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) attacked. The Italian national champion was not able to get away from Kopecky, who led the rest of the group over the cobbled climb.

Kopecky and a select group caught Vollering with 17 km to go, and immediately Van der Breggen attacked. Kopecky was quick to jump on Van der Breggen’s wheel. Next to attack was Longo Borghini, again. Borghini was joined by Vollering and Soraya Paladin of Liv Racing.

Behind the three a larger group formed as the damage of the Kapelmuur was undone.

The final climb of the day, the Bosberg, was Longo Borghini’s final launching pad to try for a long-range attack, but the Italian was not the only one who saw the Bosberg as an opportunity.

Van der Breggen danced up the final cobbled climb as the lead group once again splintered. After the aggressive stretch of racing, the chasing group struggled to motivate to chase down the world champion.

As chase attempts failed the attacks started, handing Van der Breggen a few crucial seconds. Into the final 5 km, Van der Breggen held just over half a minute to the group behind.

In the end, Van der Breggen stayed away to take the first victory for SD Worx, who took over title sponsorship of the team from Boels-Dolmans. The sprint for second was won by Danish national champion Norsgaard, with the final podium spot claimed by Van der Breggen’s teammate Pieters.

Results

  1. BREGGEN Anna van der, SD Worx
  2. NORSGAARD Emma Cecilie, Movistar +0:23
  3. PIETERS Amy, SD Worx st
  4. KOPECKY Lotte, Liv Racing st
  5. BARNES Hannah, Canyon – SRAM st
  6. BASTIANELLI Marta, Alé BTC Ljubljana st
  7. BRENNAUER Lisa, Ceratizit – WNT Pro Cycling st
  8. BROWN Grace, Team BikeExchange st
  9. CAVALLI Marta, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope st
  10. BORGHINI Elisa Longo, Trek – Segafredo st

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