Marianne Vos sprints to victory at Gent-Wevelgem
Marianne Vos claimed Jumbo-Visma’s first victory, winning the sprint into Wevelgem after 141.7 km of racing.
Belgian national champion Lotte Kopecky of Liv Racing and German national champion Lisa Brennauer of Ceratizit-WNT finished second and third, respectively.
How it happened
Crosswinds and attacks split the peloton a few times prior to the final 50 km, but when the race neared the crucial final sections of the parcours, the field was all together. With 46 km to go a crash impacted the field and soon afterwards crosswinds forced the peloton to increase their pace. Approaching the final 40 km, riders started to find themselves out of the back of the race, but with no teams taking advantage of the winds the race soon slowed again.
Before the peloton hit the Kemmelberg Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) took to the front, causing cracks through the peloton.
Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) followed Van Dijk’s effort with one of her own, Marianne Vos glued to her wheel. Longo Borghini and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) crested the top of the climb together with a small gap to a group of five behind.
Vos, Lotte Kopecky, Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), Van Dijk, and Elena Cecchini (SD Worx) caught Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma with 35 km to go when Vos attacked her breakaway friends to bridge to the two out front.
The group of seven out front were chased by a group of 13 with 10 seconds between them and 32 km to go. Ceratizit-WNT, having missed the move, were active to bring the race together again.
As soon as the two groups came together Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) and Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) attacked, with Niewaidoma following. The move was shut down early, and Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) took over the pacemaking at the front.
With 30 km to go Henderson attacked, the young British rider timed her move well and got a bit of distance between herself and the stacked group. Behind Henderson, a large group of riders caught the reduced peloton, adding additional numbers to the chasing teams.
Into the final 25 km the gap to Henderson was 26 seconds, with no active chase behind the solo rider.
The peloton took a right turn and Trek-Segafredo jumped on the front, upping the pace and obliterating the peloton. Henderson was caught with 20 km to go by a group of eight, including Longo Borghini, Van Dijk, and Deignan. Amy Pieters and Christine Majerus (SD Worx), and Soraya Paladin (Liv Racing) joined the three Trek-Segafrdo riders, along with Elisa Balsamo and Vittoria Guazzini of Valcar-Travel & Service.
With 19 km to go Longo Borghini, almost accidentally, powered off the front of the lead group with Paladin behind her.
The gap for the two out front was 20 seconds with 16 km to go, with the race still fully on behind them. Lisa Brennauer jumped off the front of the remaining peloton to join the group out front, but with riders coming from behind, Van Dijk and Deignan tried to distance their breakaway companions. Majerus was having none of it and shut down Trek-Segafredo’s moves.
Canyon-SRAM, driving the pace from the regrouped peloton, reeled in the rest of the breakaway with 13 km to go. Longo Borghini and Paladin at this point had a 26 second lead on the rest.
The two leaders crossed the 10 km to go mark with a 29-second gap to the peloton, but as the kilometres ticked down so did their advantage. With 7 km to go, there were only 20 seconds between them, Canyon-SRAM and SD Worx were riding the front to bring back Longo Borghini and Paladin.
Paladin stopped pulling with around 4 km to go as their advantage dropped to only 6 seconds. But as the race approached the final 3 km Longo Borghini refused to give up.
If the finish had not been re-routed the two Italians perhaps could have stayed away for the win, but with an additional 2 km added to the race, they had more road to cover. Into the final km, Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ceratizit-WNT) attacked, bringing back the two out front with a few hundred metres to spare.
In the end, it came down to a reduced bunch sprint and after a day of not touching the front Marianne Vos took her first victory of 2021. Kopecky took a narrow second place from Brennauer who finished third.
1 VOS Marianne (Jumbo-Visma)
2 KOPECKY Lotte (Liv Racing) st
3 BRENNAUER Lisa (Ceratizit-WNT) st
4 BALSAMO Elisa (Valcar-Travel & Service) st
5 BASTIANELLI Marta (Alé BTC Ljubljana) st
6 FAHLIN Emilia (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) st
7 FAULKNER Kristen (Tibco-SVB) st
8 ROY Sarah (Team BikeExchange) st
9 NORSGAARD Emma (Movistar) st
10 STEPHENS Lauren (Tibco-SVB) st