“My teammates had a super strong race and they were present in every attack in the final! I would have loved to pay back their work but I still have to improve my sprint. I was feeling good but in the end, I was too much at the front and in that kind of sprint if you are too much in the wind you will pay for it in the end. I learned the lesson the hard way. I’m really disappointed, more for my teammates than myself,” an upset Soraya Paladin after finishing out of the sprint for the win at Gent Wevelgem today in Belgium.
The race was won by current road world champion Elisa Balsamo (TFS) with Soraya behind in 25th place. The race came alive only in the build-up to the back to back climbs after 90km of racing. Kasia Niewiadoma was in a formidable breakaway but was joined by the chase group before the peloton hit the final Kemmelberg climb. As the peloton left the hills towards the finish in Wevelgem the leading group swelled to around 45 riders. From then, it was a flurry of constant attacks for the final 30km for every team trying to avoid a bunch sprint.
Teammates Tiffany Cromwell, Shari Bossuyt and Kasia were in the front group and tried several times to split the group and create an opportunity to turn the race around. Despite their efforts, it was a group of 40 riders that sprinted for the victory. Soraya opened her sprint early but was overpowered in the final rush to the line by a swarm of riders across the width of the road.
“The good thing is that I was feeling good on the climbs. Kasia was super strong after being sick, and in the final part of the race we were present with numbers. Let’s say everything was more than perfect until my sprint,” added Soraya.
Kasia returned to racing after missing Trofeo Alfredo Binda due to Covid-19 and said she was happy with her race. “I personally felt okay, definitely better than what I expected coming back from sickness. I’ve built my motivation before Flanders and Ardennes. I feel that we had a good race as a team. We were present in all important moves yet we missed on a final result to reward all that good work.”
The team will turn its attention to Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday 30 March.