Women’s Tour of Flanders Race Information & History
Race Type: Hilly Cobbled Classic
The first Women’s Tour of Flanders took place in 2004. The route followed the last 55km of the men’s race with a bit before it to take the distance up to 94km. The finish parcours from that time is now used for Omloop
The second edition saw a mishap in the final kilometres as a chasing group rode the wrong way. They ended up crossing the finish line from the opposite direction to the race and 20 riders were disqualified, including some big names. Mirjam Melchers won the race in a head to head sprint with Susanne Ljungskog. Melcher retained the title in 2006.
The Women’s Tour of Flanders continued to gain distance. When Nicole Cooke won in 2007, it was up to 122km in length. 2009 saw the biggest bunch sprint yet with 15 riders contesting the win in the final kilometres. The biggest change to the race took place in 2012 as the finish moved to Oudenaarde. This changed the finish so riders went over the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg in the final before a flat 10km ride to Oudenaarde.
The race reverted to type in 2018 with Anna van der Breggen winning with a solo attack nearly 30km from the finish. 2019 saw a group of 3 hold onto a few seconds advantage after the Paterberg with Marta Bastianelli outsprinting Annemiek van Vleuten and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.
2018 Women’s Tour of Flanders
No early breakaway was allowed to disappear down the road. Only Natalie van Gogh gained a minute before being reeled back in. The peloton was losing riders though thanks to crashes and attrition on the climbs. It was the Muur van Geraardsbergen that ignited the race with 58km to go.
6 strong riders gained a gap at the top – d’Hoore, Niewiadoma, Majerus, Van Dijk, Brennauer and Moolman – but didn’t push on. The peloton now only had 30 to 40 riders left in it. Boels-Dolmans pushed hard on the Kanarieberg to whittle those numbers down further. They did the same on the Kruisberg, Amy Pieters reducing the peloton down to 10 riders.
Afterwards, Anna van der Breggen attacked. Ellen van Dijk just missed the move and was unable to join her. The disorganised chase group ha
Ashleigh Moolman attacked
Anna van der Breggen won by 68 seconds. Her teammate Amy Pieters finished 2nd fresh from not chasing. Annemiek van Vleuten sprinted to 3rd place.
The Paterberg forms a focal point for the women’s race as well as the men’s race. Crowds line the steep cobbled climb that often decides the race. In 2019 it helped distance those with tired legs, Katarzyna Niewiadoma, in particular, that day.
The climb is 0.4km at an average of 12.5%. The steepest part reaches 20% near the top where riders find themselves grinding up the final metres.