Lorena Wiebes wins by inches in Gent Wevelgem

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 4 months ago

With inches apart, Lorena Wiebes of Team Sdworx=Protime wins Gent Wevelgem in Belgium. It is the fourth victory of the Dutch rider in the Women’s WorldTour this season after winning two stages in the UAE tour and the Ronde van Drenthe just two weeks ago. She also won the GP Oetinge (not WWT). The team did everything right in the second half of the race and the Dutch rider only needed to finish it off. She did, but it was close with Italian Champion Elisa Balsamo of LidlTrek just second. Chiara Consonni of Team UAE ADQ sprinted to third.

The winds of Flanders proved to be a challenge for riders in this year’s edition of the Gent-Wevelgem. The peloton did not gather under the historic Menin Gate in Ieper as previous editions due to constructions on the war memorial, but at the Market next to the War Museum in Ieper before setting off for the battle on the roads ahead.

The weather predictions weren’t great to start with. Expected gusts of wind of 60km/h, rain and possible hail was waiting for the riders as they set off from Ieper. But the weather gods were soft on the riders today. The extreme hard winds were not there, as was the hail and rain. But that didn’t mean it was an easy race.

How the race unfolded

 

As the neutral zone concluded, the peloton surged forward, eager to establish early dominance. The flat roads provided little shelter from the relentless wind, forcing riders to stay vigilant and adapt their tactics on the fly.

Within the opening kilometers, several breakaway attempts were made, as riders sought to gain an advantage before the race reached the exposed plains of De Moeren. However, the peloton remained vigilant, quickly shutting down any potential threats.

Despite the peloton’s efforts to stay together, a determined group of six riders managed to escape the clutches of the main field.

Working together seamlessly, they established a cohesive breakaway, building a significant lead as they pushed through the wind-battered landscape. They get more than 5 minutes from the peloton.

Behind the breakaway, the peloton faced its own challenges as teams fought for position amidst the speeding peloton. Riders fought to maintain contact with the bunch, while others succumbed to the relentless pace, forced to drop from the peloton.

When the peloton turned left towards de Moeren, right after Veurne favorites like SD Worx-Protime, Lidl-Trek, and DSM Firmenich Post NL asserted their dominance, positioning themselves at the front of the peloton in anticipation of the decisive moments to come.

De Moeren proved it’s worth. With a hard crosswind the peloton split into 4 different groups, after the breakaway group already passed with ease. But the wind wasn’t hard enough to echelon the riders for a long time and by the time the peloton reached Oost Vleteren they were all back together.

Then the climbing started. At the Baneberg World Champion Lotte Kopecky attacked and showed her strength. Striding on the pedals she got 7 riders with her. Amongst them were van Anrooij, Pieterse and Longo Borghini. The peloton was chasing the 8 riders, and they got a small advantage of 20 seconds.

But it wasn’t an attack that would stick, the rest of the peloton followed and got the 8 back in the belly of the peloton. Then Christine Majerus attacked, and the speed of the bunch went up instantly. When Marlen Reusser was setting the pace in the front of the bunch, she was thinning out the peloton even more.

The Kemmelberg didn’t split the riders into mayhem as predicted. Ofcourse Team sdworx-Protime attacked and thinned out the peloton more, but as the climbing finished and the riders made their way towards the finishline in Wevelgem, a bunch sprint was inevitable.

Emma Norsgaard didn’t want to go with Kopecky, Balsamo and Wiebes to the finishline and attacked in the final 20km of the race, got 10 seconds but was later chased back.

As the race entered its closing kilometers, the stage was set for a thrilling finale. Lotte Kopecky was a perfect lead out for her Dutch Teammate Lorena Wiebes of Team Sdworx-Protime as she seized the opportunity, launching a perfectly timed sprint to secure the win by the narrowest of margins. The World Champion played a pivotal role in delivering her to victory, highlighting the importance of teamwork in the world of professional cycling.

Elisa Balsamo missed out on the victory and was extremely disappointed.

 

Amidst cheers and applause, Wiebes stood atop the podium, celebrating her hard-fought victory alongside her fellow competitors. Elisa Balsamo of Lidl-Trek claimed second place, with Chiara Consonni of UAE-ADQ rounding out the podium in third.

 

Next stop for the Women’s WorldTour is de Ronde van Vlaanderen!

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