In this new addition to our calendar, the peloton was presented 10 laps of 12 kilometre with some cobble sections, and the ‘Bergstraat’. A small climb over 500 meters with an average of 8.4%.
Because of the hard wind the peloton stayed together for a long time, while a lot of riders could not follow due to the high speed. After 6 laps a small group take the lead, with Karol-Ann Canuel amongst them.
With about 50 kilometres to go, a group of 18 riders was formed, including 4 riders from Team SD Worx: Karol-Ann Canuel, Jolien d’Hoore, Christine Majerus and Amy Pieters. It quickly became clear that this group with favourites would compete for the victory.
On the last climb of the day, with 2 kilometers to go, both Amy Pieters and Marianne Vos get a small advantage, but soon the two were caught. In the bunch sprint which follows, Jolien D’hoore sprinted to a second place.
“The bunch stayed together for a pretty long time, which was a little bit annoying because it was quite nervous” says Jolien after the finish. “Halfway race we were able to form a group of 18 riders, with 4 riders of our team. Which was a good situation for us. We played the card Amy, because she was very strong today. But she and Marianne were caught and everything came together. So, then it was my turn to sprint, but I had given everything during the race and I didn’t have much left. Unfortunately, a second place. I’m very grateful to the team, they worked pretty hard, and it was a great team effort. I’m proud on them! Too bad I couldn’t finish with a win on my birthday. We are in good condition and can work towards Nokere Koerse next Wednesday.”
Sports director Bram Sevens adds: Our goal was to make the race hard from the start. There was a lot of wind, but not in the advantage to get some echelons. We had to be aware of Marianne Vos, but when both Amy and Marianne were ahead, we knew that Marianne would not continue with Amy. So, when the group came together, we focused on the sprint with Jolien but Balsamo turned out the be stronger. We have once again rode a pretty strong race, with 4 riders out of 18 in the decisive group. I am really satisfied!
Photo credits: Getty Sport