Women’s Classic Brugge De Panne 2024 Race Preview

Pfeiffer Georgi Classic Brugge - De Panne 2023

Women’s Classic Brugge De Panne History

Since its inception in 2018, the women’s Classic Brugge-De Panne has emerged as a pivotal fixture in the early part of the spring classics cycling calendar. Despite its relatively young age, this classic has quickly established itself as a usually sprint-heavy affair, with the flat parcours favouring riders adept at unleashing explosive finishes.

In the five editions held thus far, bunch sprints have been the norm, with only two exceptions standing out: Grace Brown’s impressive solo victory in 2021 and Pfeiffer Georgi’s in 2023. Brown’s masterful performance, capitalising on heavy winds to break away late in the race, underscores the unpredictable nature of Brugge-De Panne and the significant role weather conditions play in shaping outcomes. Last year’s race saw the peloton hit by winds and a small group form. Georgi took up the reins to attack and avoid a sprint finish with the likes of Lorena Wiebes expected to win late on.

While Lorena Wiebes has claimed victory in this classic and will always be a pre-race favourite, her dominance is not as pronounced as expected. Despite winning once in 2020, Wiebes endured challenges since, highlighting the race’s unpredictability and the fierce competition among sprinters.

Weather forecasts suggest that wind will play a smaller role in this year’s race with a predicted speed of only 13km/h. This might be enough to force small breaks but won’t have the same damage as last year’s race.

Previous Winners

2023
Pfeiffer Georgi
2022
Elisa Balsamo
2021
Grace Brown

Women’s Classic Brugge De Panne 2024 Profile

TV Coverage

Thursday 21st March 2024

Live on Eurosport/Discovery across Europe
MAX in USA
FloBikes in Canada
VRT1 in Belgium (freely available but requires a Belgian SMS to create an account + a VPN is needed)

14:00-16:30
All times in GMT

Twitter:#ClassicBruggeDePanne OR #BruggeDePanne

Startlist: FirstCycling

Women’s Classic Brugge De Panne 2024 Contenders

Lorena Wiebes will be the big favourite here, especially after the way she finished off Ronde van Drenthe. Last year’s race was a rare time that someone managed to outsmart her and SD Worx but with a calmer day expected, this should be more conform more to form. There is solid sprint opposition here in Kool and Balsamo but Wiebes is the only one with a Women’s WorldTour win so far in 2024. Teammate Marlen Reusser should keep things in check and could always ride off too in an attack to soften up the other sprint trains. She’s had covid recently though so her form isn’t quite as strong as it was when winning Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.

Charlotte Kool hasn’t quite got firing yet in 2024 with a best finish of only 7th at Le Samyn des Dames. Illness early on this season is to blame largely, so we’ll see how she fares in a race that should suit her more. She’s probably slightly faster than Wiebes on a pure flat finish but we haven’t been lucky enough to see evidence of that so far this year. If Kool can return to top form she has a chance for the win.

The third rider in the triumvirate of sprinters in the current peloton is Elisa Balsamo. She has a great record at Classic Brugge-De Panne with a win in 2022 and a 2nd place in last year’s race. She took 2 wins at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana but was bested by Wiebes on the VAMberg at Ronde van Drenthe. It will be interesting to see how she stacks up in the big 3 on the flat in De Panne this year.

Hoping to join the mix will be Chiara Consonni. Her results are solid but missing that first win of the season. 5 top-4 positions so far this season is certainly a good start but they also include missed opportunities when the likes of the 3 riders above her here haven’t been racing.  She’ll have support from Karlijn Swinkels and Sofia Bertizzolo at Classic Brugge-De Panne and both can aim to do well if the race does break up. Swinkels in particular looked good at the Trofeo Oro in Euro recently, finishing 2nd. Whereas Bertizzolo has been on the attack, including a move at Nokere Koerse last week that was swallowed up by the power of Lotte Kopecky.

Emma Norsgaard was 2nd here in 2021, winning the bunch sprint behind solo victor Grace Brown. She’s been just starting to knock on the door this season with top-10s at Omloop van het Hageland where the Dane was 5th and at Nokere Koerse where she finished 7th. She’s looking to be more than a sprinter so might be looking to force a move so that a small group contests the victory this year.

Vittoria Guazzini
Vittoria Guazzini

Vittoria Guazzini has got off to a strong start in the spring classics this season winning Le Samyn des Dames and taking 6th at Ronde van Drenthe. Not necessarily a pure sprinter, she has shown that with her current form, her finish is still pretty quick. A tough race would suit her. FDJ-Suez can also consider Gladys Verhulst-Wild who took a top-10 at the Women’s WorldTour level UAE Tour before 5th at the Tour de Normandie this weekend. Both become stronger contenders the smaller the final group size.

It’s tough to pick a Canyon SRAM contender at the moment with both Chloe Dygert and Maike van der Duin on the early start list but with a history of being removed the closer we get to races. Van der Duin was 7th in last year’s Classic Brugge-De Panne and should be able to match that if she races.

We’re still waiting for that first strong result of the year for Julie de Wilde and unfortunately, Classic Brugge-De Panne isn’t a particularly happy hunting ground. She was doing well in last year’s race and in the race-winning break, only for a touch of wheels in the wind to send her down and suffer a fractured scapula. The potential is there and it’s only a matter of time until the form returns. Marthe Truyen got Fenix-Deceuninck’s best result at Nokere Koerse with 9th place matching the 9th she also got at Drentse Acht too. You still have to be more confident in Christina Schweinberger who led out Truyen at Nokere Koerse. Another for whom a smaller group will be ideal, she’s the in-form rider on the team with 3 top-10s recently.

Kathrin Schweinberger of Ceratizit WNT was the sister with the better result at Nokere Koerse, just squeaking into the top-10 in the final spot. On a team with a number of riders with a fast kick, Schweinberger does get an opportunity every now and again, finishing 4th at Trofeo Felanitx-Colònia de Sant Jordi earlier this year. Arianna Fidanza is always worth tipping and finished 15th at Nokere Koerse for her best result outside of Spain this year. She has 3 top-10s in races over in Spain this season.

Sofie van Rooijen had a great long weekend last week with a first UCI win at Drentse Acht and a follow-up of 4th at Nokere Koerse too. There’s long been promise there but something seems to have clicked for Van Rooijen recently. She should be able to keep the run going at Classic Brugge-De Panne, even if a challenge to the Big 3 might be tough.

Human Powered Health’s Daria Pikulik would be a contender here but there’s no guarantee she’ll remain on the startlist after her crash at Drentse Acht. She’s a fast finisher and has already beaten Chiara Consonni this season as an idea of where she might stack up if healthy. If she’s not racing then Linda Zanetti will be there to take over. She’s been 3rd at Clasica de Almeria and in a pair of Trofeo Ponente in Rosa stages too. She’s a good non-WWT one-day race finisher and that could translate to the Women’s WorldTour soon too. Maelle Grossetete also is getting more opportunities and was leading at Nokere Koerse only to not really deliver. The French rider is in the mix and looking for more responsibility than was offered previously at FDJ.

Maria Giulia Confalonieri
Maria Giulia Confalonieri

Uno-X has a wealth of fast finishers here. Maria Giulia Confalonieri is on a good run of form with 4 top-10 results in the last couple of weeks. The best of those was 3rd at the Tour de Normandie and 4th at GP Oetingen. She should get the leader’s nod but Anniina Ahtosalo has also been good recently too. 2nd at Le Samyn des Dames and 4th just behind Confalonieri at the Tour de Normandie too. The latter was impressive as it came from almost holding off the peloton after a break in the last 15km of the stage. She might be deployed in similar fashion at Classic Brugge-De Panne.

An easier race with a conventional sprint finish will suit Georgia Baker nicely. The classics haven’t been great for her but the Aussie took a pair of 4th places in the Women’s WorldTour level UAE Tour not that long ago. If it all separates out into a hard race then Baker might not be a contender but a big bunch finish might see her in the top-10 this year.

Lots of the Roland team will have covered plenty of travel miles before getting to the Classic Brugge-De Panne. Maggie Coles-Lyster will race here after heading to Hong Kong for the Track World Cup over there. Coming in from the opposite direction will be Tamara Dronova after spending weeks in El Salvador racking up the UCI points. Dronova hasn’t been quite so strong in European races this year but should have had her confidence raised. Coles-Lyster took a 5th on the opening stage of the UAE Tour Women this year and will aim to recreate that in Belgium.

Noemi Rüegg certainly got her 2024 season off to a good start, winning Trofeo Felanitx-Colònia de Sant Jordi and barely finishing off the podium when January turned into February. She might be able to recreate that in De Panne. An alternative will be Lotta Henttala, with the Finn known as a fast finisher, especially on a flatter race like this one. She’s not really got a race result of note yet in 2024 but was 4th in the 2019 Classic Brugge De Panne.

Women’s Classic Brugge De Panne 2024 Outsiders

Ilse Pluimers
Ilse Pluimers

AG Insurance-Soudal’s Ilse Pluimers should get the nod here for the team with Marthe Goossens unfortunately out with a broken collar bone suffered at Nokere Koerse. She’s certainly got power and has consistently finished in the top-20 or so this year so far. A harder race would suit her better but the path is now clearer for Pluimers to get the leadership.

Fauve Bastiaenssen had a few notable results last season but got her best result so far in 2024 at Nokere Koerse with 8th. The Lotto Dstny team as a whole have been doing well this year, with Thalita de Jong leading by example. She won’t be at Classic Brugge De Panne so it should be a clear-cut role for Bastiaenssen to try and repeat her result in Nokere.

Laura Ruiz Perez certainly impressed at the UAE Tour Women, taking 7th on the opening stage in a big bunch sprint. The young Spanish rider made the jump up to Movistar this off-season and has sprinting potential. With Emma Norsgaard on the team that’s not quite so obvious a role and she’s struggled in some of the tougher spring classics so far. However, a non-windy Classic Brugge De Panne might give her a chance to sprint once again.

Anneke Dijkstra is another of the VolkerWessels team that has impressed this season. 5th at Le Samyn des Dames is the highlight of her 2024 season so far and shows that she can finish fast in a smaller group. She should be supporting Sofie van Rooijen here as the quicker option but if anything does happen then it might fall to Dijkstra to take up the reins.

Top 3 Prediction

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