Australian rider Sarah Roy fought to fourth place today in Gent Wevelgem, after making into a select breakaway group of eleven riders that formed over the Kemmelberg, and just managed to hold off a fast chasing reduced peloton to contest the race victory in Wevelgem.
Roy proved she had the legs on the day, making it into the elite selection, but in the end it was her former teammate Jolien d’Hoore (Boels-Dolmans) that took the race victory after a lengthy and hard edition of the iconic Belgian Classic race.
Depsite numerous attempts throughout the day, the race remained mostly together until the final ascents of the Molenberg and cobbled Kemmelberg. Riders slowly dropped from the peloton as the kilometres ticked down, rather than attacks sticking and breakaway groups forming ahead.
It was on the second and final time over the Kemmelberg, with just over 30kilometres remaining, that the real fireworks began. The pace was furious and Roy displayed pure power to stay towards the front all the way up the climb as the peloton totally fragmented behind.
On the descent, the Australian found herself in a select group made up of just six riders, before being joined by five more chasers once they hit the flatter roads on the run-into Wevelgem.
The group of eleven riders worked together to establish an initial lead of around 45 seconds, but as the finish line drew closer, the reduced peloton organised themselves and began a hard chase.
Touch and go
Inside the final five kilometres the leader’s advantage drastically reduced down to just 20seconds and it looked as though their chances were over.
Barreling down the finish straight the chasing peloton had the group of 11 in their sights. Trek-Segafredo and Boels-Dolmans had numbers to their advantage in the front and acted quickly by launching attacks, which ultimately increased the pace and gave the group some extra time to play with.
Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) opened up the sprint with D’hoore coming past in the final few metres to take the win. In the end it proved to be just enough to hold off the chasers by eigth seconds on the line. Roy just missed out on a podium spot but after an impressive effort in the WorldTour race.
“It’s been quite the road for me to find some form so I’m really pleased with how I felt today. I felt really good climbing the Kemmelberg and can be happy that I was in the front group.
“In the end the second bunch was only 9-10 seconds behind with a few kilometres to go and with three Trek-Segafredo riders and two Boels-Dolmans riders in the group I was concerned about their tactics.
“A lot of attacks came and I went pretty deep to go with them. I felt I had no choice. I tried to ride the sprint smart, I wanted to come from behind with speed but I didn’t find the moment and ended up reacting to the others starting.
“I felt like I was in the wind the last 400-500m and didn’t really get to contest the sprint properly. I’m really disappointed with my decisions in the end and the outcome of my sprint especially after the help from the team in the earlier part of the race.
“With every race these days feeling like it may be our last, the pressure and want for results can be high. We can definitely take today’s ride as confidence for the next but let’s hope there is a “next” race.”
2020 Gent Wevelgem Women’s Results:
1. Jolien d’Hoore (Boels-Dolmans) 3:33:15
2. Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) ST
3. Lisa Brennauer (Creatizit-WNT) St
4. Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Photos courtesy of Getty Images