Greatest Spring Classics Races – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women


Race Information & History

Race Type: Hilly Cobbled Classic

The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women opens the Spring Classics season, as it does in the men’s version. Since 2009, the race takes place on the same day and uses much of the same route too. This sometimes comes with its own challenges as we saw in the 2019 race.

The race first took place in 2006 with Dutchwoman Suzanne de Goede taking the inaugural victory. She would go on to take a second victory in 2009. Only Emma Johansson has matched her pair of victories in 2010 and 2011. Since 2012, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women has been won by a different rider each time. Surprisingly Marianne Vos has never won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women.

The early editions saw bunch sprints for the finish, the parcours not quite selective enough. The finish line was often in Gent and so a reasonable distance from the last climb. 2012 saw Loes Gunnewijk and Ellen van Dijk, both great rouleurs, attack on the flat cobbles of the Paddestraat and stay away from the peloton in the final 25km. Their 70-second lead is one of the biggest gaps a small break has secured to take the victory.

Like the men’s race, the finish moved out of Gent to Ninove in 2018. It shook up the race with a surprise winner in Christina Siggaard but it was still a 25 strong bunch sprint finish. The last two editions though have been won by Chantal Blaak (2019) and Annemiek van Vleuten (2020) with big solo breaks.

Annemiek van Vleuten wins in 2020

Greatest Race

2012 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women

The 120km race exploded at the halfway point on the Côte de Trieu (or Knokteberg if you’re Flemish). An elite group of 12 managed to separate themselves from the peloton on the steep, wooded slopes. The Greenedge-AIS was well represented with Gunnewijk, Spratt and Cromwell all in the front group. Hitec had both Elisa Longo Borghini and Lise Nöstvold.

This lead group managed to gain 1 minute’s advantage before Ellen van Dijk launched a solo bid to leave the peloton and join them. She’d been left behind at the base of the Paterberg, unaware of the local roads.

The move of the race took place, with 30km to go, on the flat cobbled section of Paddestraat where Loes Gunnewijk attacked. Van Dijk was the only rider able to match the acceleration. With both riders having teammates in the small group behind, they were able to disrupt the chase and prevent other contenders from closing the gap.

Reaching the outskirts of Gent, the pair had a lead of 90 seconds over the chasers. Loes Gunnewijk was led out by Van Dijk, sprinted first with 300m but Van Dijk overtook her. The slight rise to the finish line took its toll and as Van Dijk faded, Gunnewijk overtook her again to claim a maiden Omloop het Nieuwsblad for Women victory.

Loes Gunnewijk 2012 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women
Loes Gunnewijk with Ellen van Dijk trailing behind

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women
Iconic Section

The Côte de Trieu is climbed 2-3 times during Dwars Door Vlaanderen. It’s usually one of the last climbs before the finish line in Waregem.

The Côte de Trieu is 1.9km long at an average of 4.9%.

Located around 30km before the finish, attacks often happen on this climb as riders try to gain distance for the following descent. The climb is right on the Wallonie/Flanders border and is also known as the Knokteberg on the Flemish side.

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