Elisa Longo Borghini wins Ronde van Vlaanderen: The reactions

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 3 weeks ago

In a thrilling finale, Elisa Longo Borghini of Lidl Trek claimed victory at the Ronde van Vlaanderen Femmes 2024, sprinting to victory in the final 200m. The Italian Champion showcased her strength, beating Polish rider Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon//Sram racing Team in an exciting sprint. Teammate Shirin van Anrooij finished third.

Elisa Longo Borghini

‘’Winning this race means a lot to me. I would like to thank my trainer, Paolo Slongo, and my husband, Jacopo Mosca, and the entire Lidl-Trek team for how they supported me today. The girls were incredible out there today, as always, as was the support from the staff in the car. I had a small crash and a flat tire and I went down, and they were supporting me in a super nice way. In the end, finishing first and third in a race like this is incredible. This win is also for Lizzie. She crashed on the first cobble section and, unfortunately, broke her arm so hopefully we put a smile on her face.’’ Said the newly crowned winner of Flanders to ProCycling Women.

“I like hard races but I am not necessarily a very quick rider but in these scenarios, when the race is long and people are tired, what comes out is your efficiency and the freshest always wins and I still felt good at the finish. In the last three kilometers, I knew we still needed to push really hard and we couldn’t play ‘the game’ just yet. But, in my mind, I knew what I needed to do. I told myself, ‘you feel good, you win this!’

“Shirin was amazing today, she came back and attacked immediately. I kept reminding her that with 30 seconds you can win Flanders because we were roommates this week, and I showed her a little bit of when I won in 2015 and they told me that if you are out of the Kwaremont with 30 seconds you can win and so I kept telling that to her. SD Worx were riding hard though until the bottom of there and so the gap was getting smaller and smaller. Then on the Paterberg, I heard from the car to just go and to make it hard because numbers are always good for us.’’

 

 

 

How the race unfolded

The race started on Easter day at 13:25 in the centre of Oudenaarde, the town with it’s heart beating Flanders. Here it was where all the women’s editions has started and finished so far. If you mention Flanders to outsiders they instantly will say: Oudenaarde. It is the beating heart of Flanders and cycling. When the flag was dropped for 163km of racing the sun was out, it was a nice 14 degrees Celcius temeperature ands life was good. Some riders try to break from the peloton but two attacks were neutralized by the peloton.

A big crashed scared the fans all over the world. World Champion and favorite for the win Lotte Kopecky was on the ground as well. Luckily she was able to get back on her bike as qwuickly as possible to continue racing. Teammate Marlen Reusser, Lidle Trek’s Lizzie Deignan and Monica Goodwood of Coop-Repsol weren’t so lucky. Reusser suffered a broken jaw, Deignan a broken elbow and Goodwood got an unknown injury and were rushed to the local hospital.

Then a group of 5 riders attacked, managed to stay away and got a maximum of two and a held minutes from the peloton, in the early kilometers controlled by Team DSM Firmenich PostNL. Justine Ghekiere, Mieke Docx, Gladys Verhulst, Josie Talbot and Elena Pirrone worked well together, the break happened for more than 50km but before the peloton reached the Wolvenberg the advantage came down quickly to 20 seconds and we knew that the break was over soon, But crashes in the peloton made sure that the advantage grows again.

Crashes were the main order of the day. The cobbled sections were slippery and the riders were nervous, never a good combination. Another crash with still 75km to go. Now its Elisa Longo Borghini that punctures her front tire, misses the corner and is on the asphalt. She quickly changes her bike and is on her way again.

The peloton, led by Team DSM Firmenich PostNL’s Pfeiffer Georgi is dropping the advantage to the 5 riders in the front quickly. With Team Sdworx-Protime right behind them, fireworks was expected soon.

Pfeiffer Georgi

‘’Our plan was just to keep us in position like we knew. We saw like, the first sector there was crashes so we just wanted to stay out of trouble. Obviously, Koppenberg was. Everyone knew it was going to be a nightmare and it was a shame that we had to walk up it, but, I got back to the front but just didn’t have the legs in the end.’’

 

On the Berendries Demi Vollering opened up the gashandle and thinned the peloton even further, and closing the gap to the break away riders fast. With 55km to go the break is over…almost. Justine Ghekiere of AG In surance Soudal Quickstep wasn’t happy with the fact to be back in the belly of the peloton that she attacked again and got another 30 seconds or so from the chasing peloton. But on the Koppenberg the break is officially over.

Lotte Kopecky

Another crash mid climb, Chloe Dygert slipes away and taking some riders with her. Then Lotte Kopecky runs uphill with the bike in her hand.

Lotte Kopecky finished 5th: “I was not far enough in front for the Koppenberg, that was partly due to circumstances because I was pushed a bit, but it was also partly my own fault. I had to set foot because they went off the bike in front of me and on the Koppenberg there is no room to pass them. With that, a very strong leading group was gone and we were running behind. I then tried to ride as hard as I could to get Demi Vollering back in position. Eventually I tried to set the pace as high as possible in the chasing group so we could rejoin. That succeeded, but cost a lot of strength. So it gives a double feeling. It’s a shame we couldn’t get more out of it, but I’m going to turn the knob around quickly and focus on the next goal: Paris-Roubaix.”

The carnage of the Koppenberg left 8 new riders in the lead. Amongst them were Marianne Vos, Puck Pieterse, Kasia Niewiadoma, Shirin van Anrooij and Karlijn Swinkels.

Behind this group a group with Kopecky and Vollering followed. She is riding hard to bridge towards the first group, but don’t come close enough to merge.

 

Demi Vollering

Demi Vollering: “It’s a huge shame. Especially when you see how strong we still rode as a team in the end. Only we were constantly behind after the Koppenberg. Luckily Lorena Wiebes was able to limit the damage and with her we were still represented at the front. But Lotte and I missed the battle on the Koppenberg because we had to get off our bikes. In the end, I wasted a lot of energy in the chase. We completely drained ourselves. When you’re two or three in front, you can play the game. Now it was important not to give up and to keep believing in it. When you see how Lotte still came back and kept fighting and also went full in the last kilometer … There was more in it. I had hoped to just be there on the Paterberg, but this was a maximum effort for me. There was just nothing more in it because I had already used up so much energy. Too bad, I hope to win this one day.”

In the front group Shirin van Anrooij attacks. Karlijn Swinkels is doing everything she can to ride with her fellow countrywoman, but van Anrooij has the better legs. Later Puck Pieterse joined Swinkels in the chase to van Anrooij.

Karlijn Swinkels

‘’I think it was my hardest race of my life. It was really, really tough with the weather condition, but also you have to keep focused every time. And I was actually thinking that my race was already gone in the Molenberg because I had to chase back. After that I had to change my bike. And then in the Koppenberg, everything was how we expected was the chaos and luckily we were with two of us in the first group and then we just try to play the game. But yeah, after I fight till the finish line because when you are dropped at one point, you just hope to keep at least the top ten results.’’

 

 

The final Koppenberg for van Anrooij. When she is over the summit its 12km relatively flat towards the finishline in Oudenaarde. Swinkels and Pieterse are caught by the chasing group but are countered by Elisa Longo Borghini and Kasia Niewiadoma who bridge to van Anrooij. Now Lidl-Trek is in a great position having two riders in the final 10km to the finish.

In the closing kilometers, when it started to rain hard, Elisa Longo Borghini unleashed a powerful sprint, demonstrating her tactical smartness and determination for the win. With a burst of speed, she surged ahead, leaving her rivals in her wake and crossing the finish line and wins, for a second time since 2015, the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Behind her, Niewiadoma claimed a hard-fought second place, showcasing her strength and unwavering resolve. Meanwhile, Van Anrooij secured a third place, rounding off the podium in an impressive display of skill and strength.

Kasia Niewiadoma

I’m happy, to be honest, because it was extremely hard, hectic and dangerous race. So I’m happy that as a team we were still able to find each other in this madness, let’s say, and especially in the key moments, we were able to put me in a position where I could benefit from because as we knew from last year, Copenburg was very important approach to that climb was insane, to be honest, like, really insane. So I was able to, like, get in the top, I don’t know, ten or whatever, make it over the climb without having to walk up there. So that was already a big success. And from there on, we just played, played hard. It was a really hard final.

 

 

Shirin van Anrooij

“I am certainly not disappointed, I think third is very good for me. The goal was to win with the team and we won it. It was very tough. I expected that too. Although I made it extra difficult for myself by being too far away on the Koppenberg and having to do a long chase. Of course, then I also attacked but, I just really enjoy it when it’s a really tough race. The rain and the length made it more fun.

“I get that it might look crazy on TV, I initially thought that Kasia had closed the gap, but, in the end, it was the right tactic. I was really going through it myself. I really trust the tactical choices of Jeroen Blijlevens and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg from the car. On the one hand, I did think about winning, especially when I still had a gap after the Paterberg. I didn’t expect that at all, but it quickly became clear that I had to wait for Elisa and Kasia. Then I realized that I had to wait for Elisa, because she was the fastest. You don’t know if I would have been able to stay ahead and ultimately we won, which for us is the most important thing. There are two of us on the podium, so a very successful day.”

Next race coming up: Paris Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift

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