Just before half past one, the start is given on the Grote Markt in Antwerp and the peloton leaves in direction Leuven for a race over 157.7 kilometers. In Leuven, the peloton awaits a number of local laps on a real Flandrien circuit. Along the way, several cobblestone sections and short steep climbs have been included in this final course. The finish is on the slightly ascending Geldenaaksevest and is expected around 4:45 PM.
No fewer than thirteen of our fifteen riders will compete in the fight for the rainbow jersey. Although they will not compete in their purple Team SD Worx outfit on Saturday, but in their national outfit. The participants of Team SD Worx are:
The Netherlands: Anna van der Breggen, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Amy Pieters and Demi Vollering
Belgium: Jolien D’hoore
Canada: Karol-Ann Canuel
New Zealand: Niamh Fisher-Black
France: Roxane Fournier
Great Britain: Anna Shackley
Hungary: Blanka Kata Vas
Italy: Elena Cecchini
Luxembourg: Christine Majerus
South Africa: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio
We highlight a few.
Anna van der Breggen managed to win both the world title on the road as well as in the time trial in Imola last year. Earlier this week she had to withdraw from the World Championship time trial. The road race of this World Champioinship will be her last appearance as a professional cyclist. Van der Breggen has indicated that she will help the other riders of the Dutch team. Does she have a problem with this? “No, nothing need to be done and everything is allowed. I’m really looking forward to it and happy to be here. I would also like to give something back to those girls who have ridden for me so often”, Van der Breggen said.
It is not yet the last race for the Belgian Jolien D’hoore. But it will be her last World Championships. And that in her home country. “The World Championships in your own country is something very special. I’m looking forward to it because the course is challenging. It’s going to be tough. But I will definitely try to enjoy it. There are many friends and relatives along the side. That certainly makes it special. Once in a lifetime!”
In addition to Van der Breggen, Karol-Ann Canuel will also ride her last race as a professional rider during the World Championships. “I’m pretty excited, I mean this is my last race but i don’t realize it yet. But for sure i’m thinking about it. The course is interesting. It will be hard for sure. There is going to be a big crowd and it will be an exciting race to watch and to be part of. Hopefully Team Canada can ride a good race together, with only 3 riders at the startline.” the Canadian looks ahead.
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak was the world champion of 2017. A title that she won after a beautiful solo. This is also her last world championship, although she will ride a number of races for Team SD Worx next spring. This season she was already supreme in the Strade Bianche, Dwars door het Hageland and the Simac Ladies Tour. “I am really looking forward to the World Championships. As a rider who always did well in the Flemish classics, it is of course great to ride my last World Championship on this course in Belgium. I suspect it’s going to be crazy now that the public is allowed back in. So I try to enjoy it a bit too.” says Van den Broek-Blaak.
The World Champion of 2017 has shown in recent weeks that she is in a good form. “In the recent months I have worked hard to be as good as possible at the start this weekend and next weekend, when Paris-Roubaix is on the calendar. With the Dutch team we will try to make the race as hard as possible and fight for the victory. After all, in the past four years a member of the Dutch Team has always won. And I will do everything I can to color the race.”
Photo credits: Getty Sport