Omloop van het Hageland History
Omloop van het Hageland is the second part of the Opening Weekend for the women’s peloton. With no Kuurne Brussels Kuurne, the long-running Omloop van het Hageland fills the gap nicely instead. More often than not the race comes down to a sprint, with the parcours just hard enough to drop any unsuspecting rider. In recent years, the race has been a favourite of Marta Bastianelli with the Italian winning 3 times since 2016. Before her, Jolien d’Hoore, Lizzie Deignan and Emma Johansson all won the race twice each.
The parcours isn’t the hardest of the spring classics but there are just enough small climbs to keep things interesting. If the weather conditions are tough, then small groups and solo riders can get away. Ellen van Dijk won solo in 2018 and before then it’s Lizzie Deignan’s two wins in 2012 & 2014 which were the most similar.
Omloop van het Hageland 2023 Profile
Omloop van het Hageland 2023 Contenders
SD Worx’s line-up looks focused for the 2020 Omloop van het Hageland winner Lorena Wiebes. It’s clearly geared up for a sprint finish in mind with limited other options. Going full steam for the sprint and having engines like Marlen Reusser and Mischa Bredewold to close down any moves is a big luxury to have, especially as it still leaves 3 riders available to lead out Wiebes. It’s never fully guaranteed, as 10th place last year shows, but the might of SD Worx should ensure this year’s race comes down to a sprint.
Omloop van het Hageland is very much a Marta Bastianelli race. The Italian has finished lower than 2nd only once since 2013 when she was 28th. 3 victories at the finish in Tielt-Winge means she knows how to get this race done. In her retirement year, this will be one of the races she will target. She’s also got very strong sprinting help with Chiara Consonni and Eleonora Gasparrini for good measure. It may be that we see Bastianelli try and force moves and sprint from a smaller group and have Consonni has the big bunch sprint back-up plan. Gasparrini is coming off 4 consecutive 5th places at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.
Movistar should be fully behind their Danish rider Emma Norsgaard here. Podium places in her previous 2 editions mean she should be in the mix again, especially as the late bump shouldn’t cause her too many issues. She’s quietly in decent form as well in 2023, with 2nd at Women Cycling Pro Costa de Almeria and 4th on the final day at the UAE Tour Women. Emma Norsgaard has dropped off the start list but Floortje Mackaij is now on it instead. I tipped her to win Omloop het Nieuwsblad because of her current form and whilst she won’t win a big sprint, she can certainly go on the attack instead. Her teammate Sheyla Gutierrez could also be a decent threat and was 6th here way back in 2015. If anything happens to Mackaij then the Spaniard could step up.
This race should be right in the wheelhouse of Julie de Wilde. The Belgian so far typically gets her best results in those one-day races with a little bit of climbing that ultimately end in a sprint. Just need to look at her result at the Grisette GP de Wallonie last year and 2nd place at Dwars door Vlaanderen. Maybe not quite as quick as the pure sprinters like Wiebes, she will still be a contender when hills have dulled their legs. Teammate Marthe Truyen is often useful in a Belgian 1.1 race too, with a host of top-10s in them last season that helped get Fenix-Deceuninck into the Women’s WorldTour. I also can’t not mention Puck Pieterse after her cyclocross season. I don’t think we’ve seen her on the road since the 2019 junior Dutch national championships but everyone who has seen her this winter knows how quick she is.
Ilaria Sanguineti looks like the fastest finisher for Trek Segafredo here. The Italian already has some strong results this year through leading out Elisa Balsamo so effectively. She was 4th on Stage 1 of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, despite having her arms raised in the air celebrating her teammate’s win for the last 25-50 metres. It’s a similar story for her best result at Omloop van het Hageland. 9th in 2020 whilst leading out her then-Valcar teammate Teniel Campbell.
EF Education-TIBCO-SVB’s duo of Letizia Borghesi and Alison Jackson should be at work once more. The pair have linked up well in the Spanish races this season with one or both of them scoring top-10s in each realistic opportunity. Alison Jackson came closest to winning at Clasica de Almeria, being the first across the line from the bunch behind the lone leader. Borghesi for her part has 3 top-10s already this year from Almeria and Valenciana. They will play it by ear in the race but Borghesi has the better previous result with 16th last year compared to Jackson’s DNF in 2017.
BePink’s Silvia Zanardi is in good form again this year with an 8th and 4th place over in Spain at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. Each year it’s almost a surprise to see her still on the smaller Italian team but it does allow her to lead in races such as this. This race hasn’t been a particularly happy hunting ground for her, with a best finish of 23rd last year but chances are she will improve on this.
Mylene de Zoete had a strong UAE Tour Women for Ceratizit-WNT, with finishes of 5th and 6th in elite company. The Dutch rider is maybe not as fast as the likes of Wiebes but in this sort of race, has a very good shot at the top-10. The change of teams, so far, seems to have suited her.
Zaaf Cycling comes with its usual trio of contenders. There’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot who can attack and cover any small breaks that go clear, she’s also been 3rd here once before. Aussie Dani de Francesco is a candidate from a smaller group sprint and if Maggie Coles-Lyster can reach the finish, then she might get the nod as the purest sprinter of the trio. Mareille Meijering is in good form but I don’t think Omloop van het Hageland has enough climbing for her to be a major threat.
Roxane Fournier should get the nod for St Michel-Mavic-Auber93 at Omloop van het Hageland. She finished 3 times in the top-10 here, although that was between 2017-2019. Even at Chevalmeire in 2020, Fournier was 12th. She’s started 2023 strongly on her new team and could re-visit the top-10 again. She’ll be supported by the Canadian Simone Boilard, she’s maybe not had a blockbuster of a result so far in 2023 but 10th at Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and a solid 16th in GC at the UAE Tour shows her all-round abilities.
Omloop van het Hageland 2023 Outsiders
I’m not fully sure which BikeExchange-Jayco rider has the best chance in this year’s Omloop van het Hageland. Once upon a time it would’ve been Letizia Paternoster but the Italian only had a smattering of top-10s across all of 2022. At her best, she could be a potential winner here. Teammate Alyssa Polites made her name last season with a series of strong finishes in Belgian national races. She’s so far been on domestique duty but in this Flandrian race, we might see more of the Aussie.
It’s hard to decide which of the Parkhotel Valkenburg team is going to do the best at Omloop van het Hageland. The team hasn’t raced yet this season, although will have by Sunday due to Omloop het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. The likes of Marith Vanhove. Kirstie van Haaften and Femke Gerritse are all threats in this kind of race. All 3 took regular top-10s in Belgian 1.1 races last season with Gerritse a particularly attacking option.
The Parkhotel Valkenburg situation got a lot clearer – all 3 of the riders above have dropped off the start list but Sofie van Rooijen is there instead. Expect her to have a fast finish, maybe not on a par with the best sprinters but someone who can be in the mix.
Finally, Katharina Fox of MAXX-SOLAR ROSE will get her first run-out of the 2023 season. Fox was particularly impressive at the Thüringen Ladies Tour last year, often attacking and is always a threat at national level racing. I expect to see her in the break or at least making a move.