Elisa Balsamo wins Brugge-De Panne 2024

Balsamo beats Kool to win Classic Brugge-De Panne

Written by: Felix Mattis
Posted 1 month ago

Just four days after winning Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy, Elisa Balsamo (Lidl – Trek) also took the victory at Classic Brugge-De Panne in Belgium with an impressive sprint against Charlotte Kool (dsm-firmenich – PostNL). The Italian won in a bunchsprint after 155 pan flat kilometers on a cloudy day with almost no wind with quite a margin ahead of the dutch top sprinter. For Balsamo it was her second victory in De Panne after 2022.

Daria Pikulik (Human Powered Health) sprinted to third place ahead of Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ), Georgia Baker (Liv – AlUla – Jayco) and Chloe Dygert (Canyon//SRAM Racing).

“I’m very happy and I’m really satisfied about these two wins”, Balsamo said in her winner’s interview with Pro Cycling Women. “I’m in a really good shape and I’m feeling good. For me this is the most important thing, because after the crash last year, it was really hard to come back at a high level. So I’m very happy.”

After crashing at RideLondon Classique in late spring 2023, Balsamo had a difficult second half of the season, but this year she is back at her very best: She won two stages at the Volta Valenciana already in February, then finished tenth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, second at the Ronde van Drenthe and now won both, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Classic Brugge-De Panne. Interestingly she already came second in Drenthe and won in Cittiglio and De Panne two years ago as well – and then she went on to win Gent-Wevelgem on the following Sunday. So will she do so again this time?

“We will race with a strong team, so I think that this is an extra boost for us, but with such strong teammates, we can play some different option”, she kept her cards tight in De Panne.

How the race unfolded:

After leaving the Grote Markt in Bruges, the peloton stayed together for the first hour of the race, despite several attempts of small groups to break away. Then Nathalie Bex (Chevalmeire) started a solo move after a bit more than 40 kilometers and got a gap of 1’45, but the peloton started to accelerate soon and reiled her back in before De Panne was reached for a first time.

After the first passage of the finish line, Alessia Vigilia (FDJ – Suez) and Lisa van Helvoirt (VolkerWessels) went away, but when the marshlands of ‘De Moeren’ were reached with 64 kilometers to go, they also were back in the bunch. On the open roads in that area, many riders tried to break the race, but other than the year before the winds were not strong enough for echelons. Another solo attack from Gladys Verhulst-Wild (FDJ – Suez) only lasted roughly ten kilometers and when the final lap of 43 kilometers began, the peloton was all together.

FDJ – Suez continued their aggressive approach with Nina Buijsman, who started her solo with 23 kilometers to go and was chased by Charlotte Kool’s dsm-firmenich – PostNL team. But when they slowed down, the gap for Buijsman went up to 1’15 as she entered the ‘De Moeren’ section again. For a short moment it looked as if the durchwoman might really have a chance to win the race, but on the open roads the peloton played its advantage of playing with slipstreams and with 6.6 kilometers to go Buijsman was caught.

Then the preparations for the expected bunchsprint began and a final attack of Christina Schweinberger (Fenix – Deceuninck) with 3.5 kilometers to go was shut down from the dsm sprint train quickly. The women in white and blue and orange prepared everything to guide Kool to a possible victory and Rachele Barbiere led out the sprint for her captain, but on the final 160 meters Balsamo was just stronger and faster.

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