Preview: Classic Brugge-De Panne

Written by: Felix Mattis
Posted 4 months ago

The first mid-week classic of the Women’s WorldTour season 2024 is just around the corner: Starting on the picturesque Grote Markt in Bruges, the Classic Brugge-De Panne will lead the peloton to the coastal town of De Panne. In one of the longest races of the year, the riders will have to cover 155 pan flat kilometres but also race through ‘De Moeren’ twice – a section right through the marshlands between Veurne and De Panne, where the road is slightly elevated above the fields and therefore extremely exposed. Echelons are almost unavoidable, as soon as there is at least a little bit of wind.

The race starts at 13:20 CET in Brugge, expected finish around 17:15 CET and you can follow our live tracker with updates in our app.

The Parcours

After the start the race leaves Bruges to the southwest to Zedelgem, and from there it moves west towards Nieuwpoort and then via Veurne to De Panne. After 67 kilometres, the bunch will cross the finish line for a first time and then tackle two long laps of 43.9 kilometres – along the coast to Koksijde, then through the old center of Veurne and towards the marshlands onto the open roads in ‘De Moeren’ and back to De Panne. Especially interesting there is a stretch of roughly five kilometres, which starts with 14 kilometres to go to the finish.

Afterwards it’s nine kilometres on more sheltered roads towards the finish in the Zeelaan in the centre of De Panne – a slightly curved finishing straight. If the wind does not play a big role, a bunchsprint is to be expected there.

The Weather

It’s a calm spring in Belgium so far and we can not expect a storm with high wind speeds on Thursday. Yes, it will be cloudy and after some days of more than 15° Celsius, the temperature is going down a bit again. But it is supposed to stay dry and expected onshore winds of not even 15 km/h are not exactly what would be needed to create echelons in De Moeren – because that would mean headwind in the potentially decisive moments of the race.

The Favorites

Team SD Worx – Protime announced on Monday it will be missing on the startline in Bruges. With Demi Vollering, Lotte Kopecky and Mischa Bredewold on training camp and Lorena Wiebes still suffering from her crash at Nokere Koerse last week, the dutch squad decided it has not enough riders ready to participate.

In the absence of the No. 1 team of the world the field seems to open up more for different favorites. But with the weather forecast in mind and a bunchsprint finish to be expected, the list of potential winners immediately shrinks down a bit again: Charlotte Kool (dsm-firmenich – PostNL) will lead the team of last year’s solo winner Pfeiffer Georgi and Elisa Balsamo (Lidl – Trek) comes to Belgium in great form after finishing second at the Ronde van Drenthe and winning Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy on Sunday.

Kool and Balsamo are the women to beat in De Panne, but there will be some other strong sprinters chasing for victory as well: Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) is expected in Bruges just as much as Chloe Dygert (Canyon – SRAM), Daria Pikulik (Human Powered Health), Georgia Baker (Liv – AlUla – Jayco), Martina Fidanza (Ceratizit – WNT), Clara Copponi (Lidl – Trek), Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ – Suez), Anniina Ahtosalo (Uno-X Mobility), Maggie Coles-Lyster (Team Roland) and the 19 year old twins Laura and Lucia Ruiz Pérez with their teammate Emma Norsgaard Bjerg, who could all sprint for Movistar at the end.

What happened last year?

On a rather windy day the sixth edition of Brugge-De Panne for women exploded in ‘De Moeren’ last year. A group of just ten riders, but prominently composed, broke clear at the first passage of the exposed roads through the marshland with still more than 50 kilometres left to race. The peloton re-grouped behind, but hesitated too long an never really chased strong enough, so when the ten leaders left Veurne for the last time and raced towards ‘De Moeren’ again, it was clear: The winner would come from the leading group.

Then Alice Barnes and Julie De Wilde crashed and also Christina Schweinberger and Maike van der Duin had to stop shortly, just when they entered the crosswind section again. At the front nobody waited anymore and six riders raced for the victory. Then Pfeiffer Georgi found the right moment and went solo with seven kilometers to go to win Brugge-De Panne. 1’10 behind her Elisa Balsamo sprinted to second place ahead of Lorena Wiebes, Megan Jastrab, Shari Bossuyt and Amalie Dideriksen.

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