Australian Sarah Roy has sprinted to fifth place behind a solo winner at the Tour of Flanders after re-joining the chase group in the final kilometre.
Roy finished off a fighting performance by Mitchelton-SCOTT that saw Annemiek van Vleuten and Grace Brown the main protagonists in the final 25km of racing.
Lighting up the final 40km
An early move, initially seven riders that eventually shrunk to five, was caught with 40km remaining and subsequently set off a fiery finale of racing with Roy, Brown and Van Vleuten poised in the reduced bunch to mark their mark.
The first big effort came from Van Vleuten with 27km remaining and it was initially unmatched, only for the current world champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) to bridge across and refuse to work with the current European champion.
Despite initially losing contact in the surge, Roy and Brown re-joined the group as the Van Vleuten and Van der Breggen duo floating back to it, before Brown went immediately to the front to push the pace.
A second attempt by Van Vleuten on the Kwaremont failed to distance any of their competitors as Brown hung on in the group and Roy fought just metres behind.
Going down fighting
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) took advantage of a lull as the race approached the final 15km and with teammates to defend any attempts to join her, she rode out to a narrow advantage.
Not content with minor placings, the Mitchelton-SCOTT duo of Van Vleuten and Brown continued to chase and counter-attack in a bid for glory but, without any support from others, Van den Broek-Blaak continued to ride towards the line alone.
After countless attempts and an incredible show of the team’s fighting spirit, the chase settled momentarily which allowed Roy to reconnect just ahead of the final sprint.
With little time to recover, Roy put in a final push to the line to take fourth in the sprint for minor placings and fifth for the day.
“I wasn’t really expecting to get back on in the last five kilometres. Grace and Annemiek were in the front group and getting ready to try to go for a result and within a split second Martin and Alejandro could see in the car that I was about to make contact so he called it.
“I’m really thankful to have the support of the team and to have Grace in the finish to do a bit of a lead out with 500m to go which made it easier for me to find some space.”
“I am really disappointed not to finish on the podium but it’s the best result I’ve had here at Flanders. I had no idea how I would go here today but this is really promising for next year.”
Tour of Flanders – Women’s Results:
1. Chantal Van Den Broek-Blaak (Boels – Dolmans)
2. Amy Pieters (Boels – Dolmans)
3. Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal Ladies)
5. Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.