Held for the first time in 2023, the Antwerp Port Epic Ladies gave the women’s peloton a chance to race the men’s gravel classic formerly known as Schaal Sels. There was no holding back with the non-paved sections either for the women, with many stretches of cobbles, bike paths and gravel providing a stiff obstacle for the riders. Marthe Truyen won the sprint between 4 riders at the finish, claiming her first professional victory in the process after finishing 3rd at Paris Roubaix Femmes this season.
Held at 1.1 level, it was a perfect race for those chasing points for the Women’s WorldTour battle and so the likes of Fenix-Deceuninck, Israel Premier-Tech Roland, Uno-X, Ceratizit WNT and AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step were all here. By the time the live coverage started with around 45km to go, the peloton was already split into a smaller bunch at the front. This was largely down to a crash that saw some teams with a strong numerical advantage over the others. After Arianna Fidanza had to leave Omloop der Kempen early yesterday, it was her sister that unfortunately had to abandon early today.
Teams with numbers included Fenix, AG and DSM and they began to whittle down the front group to around 9 riders with 20km to go. They had taken interlopers Cordon-Ragot and Koch along with them but had around 3 or 4 riders each to combat the strong solo riders. AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-step rolled the dice by having Britt Knaven attack off the front. The young rider, known for her time-trial ability, built a healthy gap before she was steadily pulled back by the work done by Fenix-Deceuninck.
Sensing an opportunity, Audrey Cordon-Ragot chose the right moment to attack and that made things even as only one rider from each of AG, DSM and Fenix was able to go with her. That left a sprint for the line by Marthe Truyen, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Franziska Koch and Marthe Goossens. Led out by Cordon-Ragot the riders were 4 abreast in a narrow finish, it was Truyen who was able to hold her arms aloft as Koch beat Cordon-Ragot to 2nd place. The podium ceremony had Cordon-Ragot in 2nd but this was later corrected.
2023 Antwerp Port Epic Ladies result
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