Team DSM’s Pfeiffer Georgi soloed away to victory after her well-timed attack created confusion in the ranks of the, then mainly, sprinters in the rest of the front group. With no rider prepared to bury themselves to catch Georgi, only to see their rivals sprint past, the Brit was able to just push on up the road and take plenty of time over the finish line. With just 7km left to race, her teammate Megan Jastrab launched an attack that baited the front group to chase, only for Pfeiffer Georgi to counter-attack and get the gap she needed.
A crash-strewn race saw proceedings neutralised earlier on in the day as the road became blocked due to the number of riders down. Marta Bastianelli found herself down in a ditch as a result of the mass spill. Going into the race, the key section of De Moeren was identified as the strong crosswinds on the exposed farmland was almost guaranteed to split up the race. That’s indeed what happened with a front group of 10 riders able to get away as the bunch fragmented into lots of small groups. That group included pre-race favourites like Lorena Wiebes and Elisa Balsamo but they were also isolated as 3 teams managed to get a pair of riders up there.
Alongside Balsamo and Wiebes were Alice Barnes and Amalie Dideriksen as solo riders with Shari Bossuyt & Maike van der Duin of Canyon SRAM, Megan Jastrab & Pfeiffer Georgi of Team DSM and Julie de Wild & Christina Schweinberger of Fenix-Deceuninck. The biggest losers in the wind were UAE Team ADQ, for whom neither Marta Bastianelli or Chiara Consonni had managed to get into the front group. They committed their whole team onto the front of Group 2 to close the gap, which held at around 14-15 seconds as both groups went through the finish line for the final local lap.
The twists and turns of De Panne and Veurne added the front group however and no headway was being made by UAE Team ADQ against a group that was consistently working well ahead. As the race headed back out into the countryside, the chase was broken as the gap steadily increased to a minute and more. With 30km still to go, it was clear the winner was coming from the front group now.
The next bit of drama saw a nasty crash by Alice Barnes as she touched wheels with the rider ahead, leaving Julie de Wilde nowhere to go. Both came down heavily, with Barnes requiring surgery on a fractured radius and De Wilde diagnosed with a fractured scapula. This was back in the wind on De Moeren and also saw Van der Duin and Schweinberger lose contact with the rest of the front group. That changed the dynamics so that Team DSM were the only team with more than one rider in the group.
The one-two attack with 7km was played to perfection and guaranteed victory for Pfeiffer Georgi, her first at Women’s WorldTour level.
“I’m so happy, it’s my first WorldTour win. We came here with a plan to race aggressively and the whole team did that; I was just finishing off a great team effort in the end actually. Everyone knew where it was going to split. We tired even before we even turned into De Moeren to try and thin out the bunch a bit and so that it was already hard going into that section.
Megan and I made the front split and then we tried again on the last lap to make it even harder so we could then race the final. We knew we couldn’t go to the finish with the others because they’re all fast, so we knew we had to attack. Megan attacked first to set me up then blocked and covered from behind, and I just went as hard as I could. My legs were on fire but I just gave it everything,
I had Albert on the radio giving me encouragement which really helped. It was head down all the way to the line. It’s just great to win in this way with the team.”Pfeiffer Georgi
“It was a tough day and very nervous. Everyone expected echelons and at the first passage through De Moeren we were already loose. Maybe it wasn’t the best situation for me because I was the only rider in the team up front. But we got the most out of it. I had expected them to try again on the last passage through the Moeren. I was in the front, so that was nice.
After Megan attacked, I also expected an attack from Pfeiffer. But sometimes you have to make a decision. Of course, they also looked at me and Elisa. n the last one and a half kilometers we knew we weren’t going to close it anymore, so then I focused on the sprint. I just went a little early. But a podium finish is good nonetheless.”Lorena Wiebes
2023 Classic Brugge – De Panne result
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