Ronde van Vlaanderen never fails to be an exciting race with action and challenges coming one after the other in a build-up to the finish line in Oudenaarde. Today’s edition was touted as being up there as one of the toughest courses of the prestigious classic. Kasia Niewiadoma was the best-placed rider for CANYON//SRAM Racing in eighth with Sarah Roy just behind in twelfth. The race was won by Belgian road champion Lotte Kopecky (SDW) ahead of Annemiek van Vleuten (MOV).
“There was a lot you had to be attentive and sharp with. Mentally and physically I felt very exhausted after the finish line,” explained Kasia.
“I felt that fatigue was growing with every cobblestone sector and climb but I tried to remind myself that it’s hard for everyone and in the end, it’s all about giving your best. In the final, I could feel that my sharpness was gone. Usually, in the finals, you have to react and not let fatigue overcome your mind. I should have been on Annemiek’s wheel as she wanted to cover every SDWorx attack but instead, I stayed some wheels behind.”
Kasia’s best finish at Flanders was sixth place in 2019 and today’s eighth means she has now finished inside the top ten on five occasions. Asked about how she is feeling about the result, “I’m not sure how I’m feeling about eighth at Flanders. I’m getting stronger yet was not able to do my absolute best on the cobbles. I am looking forward to the Ardennes classics now.” Kasia responded.
Read the reactions of other CANYON//SRAM Racing riders after the spring classic.
“My legs didn’t feel fantastic in the beginning but I rode into the race, and my legs felt more capable later on. I was pleased to be in the main group heading into the final two climbs. Soraya was a good help on the big road before the Kwaremont but I wasn’t in a great position once I hit the cobbles and lost my nerve a bit so I’m disappointed with myself for that because I didn’t give myself the chance to even try to follow the move there. It was wet leading into the Paterberg and with those twisty roads leading into it, I just relaxed at the back feeling confident I would be able to stay with my group as it’s quite short so suits me better than the other climbs.
In the final kilometres, there were a lot of attacks and no cooperation whatsoever. I followed some moves but knew my role was to sit tight and let these riders take me to the line and go for a sprint result. I gambled and tried not to do too much work but in the end, three riders rode away and joined the group ahead which is disappointing. I would have preferred to have been sprinting from that group for sure. The group behind caught us with 2km to go and I found my teammates who followed a late move which allowed me to find my way and see what was left in my legs. It’s good to finish 3rd from my bunch and 12th overall, I can take some confidence from that with the strength of my sprint but next time I hope to be rewarding this team with something better for all their efforts.”
“My move on the Paddestraat definitely wasn’t part of the plan. It just happened. I went into Paddestraat in a good position with Kasia. I wanted to take the gutter as every opportunity to help save your legs in the earlier part of the race is crucial. Unless you’re first, the gutter can be dangerous. I got the first position and rode tempo. On the exit, I had a small gap and no one was chasing. I saw a group of three just ahead and thought why not. It took some pressure off the team behind and I sat in pretty comfortably until the Molenberg 35km later where I wanted to make sure I got over ahead of the peloton.
Once I was caught I went back to supporting my teammates until the next critical sector. The entry to the Koppenberg was as messy as expected. Fighting for positioning and helping teammates. The climb itself was hard but I was expecting it to be more slippery. I did struggle a bit with it and after that, I didn’t have much left in my legs. Adding the Koppenberg made the final harder, not just because of the climb itself but for everything that came after. Flanders is a relentlessly hard race but this course was up there with one of the tougher ones.
My form is good. I felt strong. The steeper cobbled climbs are tough for me whereas I know in Amstel they’re steep but all tarmac. I aim to play a strong role there for the team.”
“For me, it was not the best day on the bike. From the beginning, I didn’t have super good legs. I had a crash after 30km and changed bikes. I still wanted to be there and tried with what I had. At the Koppenberg I did a big effort to bring back the group for Kasia. Then, I was a bit empty and I had to survive the best I could to be near the front. Overall it was still an okay race for the team. Kasia was her usual strong self. I expected it to be a super hard race but when you don’t have good legs then it’s even harder. I look forward to another try at Flanders next year. “
“Personally, I felt good until 120km into the race and then I felt horrible. I went with a move from Ellen van Dijk on the Valkenberg which was good and I was happy to be able to do that for the team. After the long cobblestone section to Stationstraat, I had no energy left and I dropped from the main group. In general, I liked how everyone gave their best to position each other or take over in important moments. But I’m disappointed that I couldn’t give more and be there in the most exciting part of Flanders, towards the final.”
“My role was to cover the middle part of the race. After the Molenberg, I followed some attacks but my legs weren’t super good so I tried to help the team with the positioning as much as possible. Personally, it wasn’t my best race but I tried to give my best for the team.
I think with adding the Koppenbeg the race is, even more, a real classic race, it was chaos before entering the climb. Every team was fighting for position and after that, the race exploded. We had Kasia at the front and she was really strong. We had Sarah in the next group ready for the sprint. It wasn’t the best situation but still, it was good.”