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Women's Dwars Door Vlaanderen Race History
The Women’s Dwars Door Vlaanderen has been a UCI race since 2017 and a lower level race for 5 years before then too. The race has evolved over the years from a largely flat race with 1 or 2 major climbs to last year’s version which was a much tougher affair with 10 climbs and 3 stretches of pavé. So it’s no surprise that the earlier editions were won by sprinters like Kirsten Wild, Amy Pieters and Lotta Henttala. Amy Pieters won 3 Dwars Door Vlaanderen races in a row between 2014 and 2016. As more hills were introduced since 2018, we haven’t seen another sprinter win.
Ellen van Dijk won in both 2018 and 2019 in a pretty similar fashion. She was able to win both races with a solo break that saw her finish almost a minute ahead of a chasing bunch. Last year’s extra climbs allowed a different type of rider to get away. Van Dijk was still up there but Van Vleuten and Niewiadoma were able to escape on the Knokteberg. Neither rider was caught but it was Van Vleuten with the stronger sprint ahead of the Pole. The Women’s Dwars Door Vlaanderen moves up a level in 2022 from a 1.1 race to 1.Pro instead.
The Knokteberg comes around 20km earlier than it did last year, which leaves only Ladeuze and the Nokereberg as hills in the last section of the race. Expect to see someone attempt to break on the hardest climb but with around 60km left to race from its summit, it will be a tough ask. Especially as the forecast wind looks unhelpful, with a headwind all the way back to Waregem. I’m expecting a sprint from a small bunch this season.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Ellen van Dijk
Women's Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2022 Contenders
Not seen since the start of March, Annemiek van Vleuten is back! Last year’s winner of Dwars Door Vlaanderen will once again be a contender. It feels like an age since Van Vleuten was outsprinting Demi Vollering for the win at Omloop het NIeuwsblad. The battle for her will be to go clear again or to whittle the front group down to a really small number. The Knokteberg will be a key climb once again. If it does come down to a sprint then Arlenis Sierra will be a shout for Movistar. She’s only 2 races into her season but 16th at Gent Wevelgem was encouraging. With fewer pure sprinters expected at the finish here, we can see Sierra at her best after a hard, hilly race.
In recent years, this has been Ellen van Dijk‘s race. The pair of victories in 2018 and 2019 were dominant and even last season, Van Dijk finished 9th. Her worst result in any Dwars Door Vlaanderen is 11th in her first attempt in 2017. Van Dijk has already won Bloeizone Fryslan this season, as well as a stage of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana whilst on the attack. We’ve seen Van Dijk put in huge stints for Elisa Balsamo in the last week, including at Gent Wevelgem where Van Dijk neutralised absolutely everything in the final kilometres. Van Dijk has the form, expect to see her attack.
Elisa Longo Borghini isn’t in imperious form yet in 2022. Her best finish so far is 5th, on her first race day of the season. We’ve seen her make attacks but mostly just to ensure they are brought back. We’re yet to see Longo Borghini able to go solo on a long ranger. There’s always a chance we see her have a go on the Knokteberg to test the waters.
Trek Segafredo also has Chloe Hosking if it all comes back to a proper sprint. She’s been a bit unlucky so far in 2022, when she’s had a chance to be the sprinter, she’s crashed out like at Nokere Koerse or stuck behind a crash like at Brugge-De Panne. With Elisa Balsamo in such immense form, Hosking will only get so many opportunities. If she gets over the climbs at the front here, then she’ll be in with a shout as most of the other pure sprinters aren’t here. Lucinda Brand is worth noting because she’s been 3rd and 4th here in the past. It’s her first road race of the season however and will probably be working for others.
Floortje Mackaij should be Team DSM’s leader here. She has 4 top-10 results in the last 5 years, with a best finish of 2nd in 2015. Even as the race has got hillier, Mackaij has been able to keep pace. She was 7th last season and I think that’s realistic for her to achieve again in 2022. Her teammate Liane Lippert will be a useful lieutenant for Mackaij. Lippert was 9th herself in the 2019 Dwars Door Vlaanderen. She’s in solid but not great form and I’d expect her to finish somewhere in the top-20 but not the higher reaches.
Noemi Rüegg was solid here last season whilst racing for Stade Rochelais, finishing 23rd. Now at Jumbo-Visma, she might get the leader shout in the absence of the likes of Vos, Henderson and Labecki. Rüegg was 7th at Nokere Koerse this season and on similar roads, including the Nokereberg itself, has the potential to repeat that sort of performance.
This race feels like it should be a good one for Sarah Roy on paper but she’s not had much luck here in the past with the best finish of only 24th. Roy is in good form in 2022, with 10th at Ronde van Drenthe and 8th in GC at Bloeizone Fryslan. If the small bunch sprint I’m expecting happens, surely Roy can improve that best finish at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. Her teammate Elise Chabbey has been in even better form in 2022. We’ve seen Chabbey regularly attacking and making breaks, including at Trofeo Alfredo Binda. There she got into an elite attack and shouted at the others to work as they killed the move. She still finished 7th however, along with 6th at Strade Bianche and 7th in GC at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.
FDJ’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has been her usual consistent racing self. She’s been in the top 10 in all but 1 race so far this year. We last saw her at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda where she finished 9th in the sprint. We know she’s good on the punchy climbs so shouldn’t be put into trouble by the climbing here. Her best chance of a high result here is ensuring that as small a group as possible contests the sprint. Uttrup Ludwig’s sprint is a bit underrated but she’s not going to outsprint the likes of Hosking.
Gent Wevelgem ended up being a touch disappointing for Alison Jackson. She was in the right place at the front but coming off the Baneberg, she crashed and it seemed to take forever to get the chain back on. She ended up rolling to the finish in 79th but it was a missed opportunity. We’ve seen what she can do this year, with 2nd at Drentse Acht. Potentially, Dwars Door Vlaanderen is going to be tough enough for her to be among the best sprinters left in the pack. Valerie Demey took advantage of Jackson’s mishap to finish 13th for Liv Racing Xstra at Gent Wevelgem. She’s quietly had a good 2022 so far, with 8th place at Omloop van het Hageland as well. She’s got a good chance of being there at the finish in her current form.
I was shocked to suddenly see a Roland Cogeas jersey at the pointy end of Gent Wevelgem. We’re just not used to seeing the jersey once the initial break has been caught. Tamara Dronova pulled it out of the bag to take the team’s first top-10 of the season. It was an eye-opening result and it remains to be seen if it can be followed up but seeing Roland Cogeas pull their weight is a good thing.
Marta Bastianelli continues to do well in 2022, after a pair of podiums Bastianelli was 6th in Gent Wevelgem. It’s a better start to the season than she had last year and hopefully, it continues here. She’s had an up and down past at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, with a couple of 30-something places mixed in with 2nd place in 2019 behind the solo Ellen Van Dijk.
Uno-X’s Susanne Andersen took her best Women’s WorldTour result of the year so far with 7th at Gent Wevelgem. She’s been showing strong sprinting at the end of hard races with a number of top-10s already. Andersen has done well at Dwars Doors Vlaanderen before with 9th in 2018. In a race with few natural sprinters, she should make the top-10 again.
Maria Martins has shown to be good on the flatter Belgian classics so far this season. 5th at Brugge-De Panne is the highest Women’s WorldTour result by any Portuguese rider and she was also 8th at GP Oetingen too. There may be some doubts about whether she will remain in the front group after the climbs but if she’s still there, she’s shown that she can sprint well.
The climbs at Gent Wevelgem proved just enough to distance Julie De Wilde from the front group. On this easier course, she should have more chance to be up there at the end. It’s starting to feel like it’s only a matter of time until the 2019 junior world championship runner-up gets a breakthrough result in the pro peloton.
Valcar will bring their 2 most in-form riders in Chiara Consonni and Silvia Persico. Consonni’s 79th place at Gent Wevelgem was the first time she’s finished outside of the top-10 in March 2022. We’ve seen Consonni do ok on shorter climbs like the VAMberg at Ronde van Drenthe but the longer ones that will be at Dwars Door Vlaanderen create more of an issue. There’s enough time after the Knokteberg to close the gap though with a concerted chase. Silvia Persico has been supremely consistent in the Women’s WorldTour this year, which has put her 11th in that competition. She notched her 3rd WWT top-10 at Gent Wevelgem and gives the team another all-round option.
Lucie Jounier started the season well for Arkea but we’ve not seen her race since finishing 4th at GP Oetingen at the start of March. This hillier spring classic race may see her drop back based on her Omloop het Nieuwsblad experience but we’ve already seen that she can sprint well in flatter races.
Women's Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2022 Outsiders
Cofidis rider Rachel Neylan is almost too strong a rider to be in the outsiders section. Her best result so far in 2022 is 18th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda which is solid but not quite where she was at the end of 2021. We saw Neylan in the front group of Gent Wevelgem but ultimately she was only able to finish 30th as the sprint took hold. I can see Neylan making it into a small group and doing well.
Her teammate Martina Alzini has had a fair few DNFs recently but there has also been a couple of high points with a top 10 at the final stage of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. There’s also 20th place at Le Samyn des Dames too. If you go back far enough, you can find a top-20 finish at Dwars Door Vlaanderen for Alzini too, in 2018. We know she can sprint at the end of tough races and whilst there are others out there who are usually stronger, she’s got an outside chance of sneaking into the top-10 here.
Elisa Serne is a young Belgian at Multum Accountants that finished 22nd at Brugge-De Panne last week. It was her first Women’s WorldTour race ever and she managed to negotiate the late crashes to finish just behind the first group containing the favourites. She won the bunch sprint behind the lead 4 escapees at Brabantse Wal Wielerevent before De Panne and is someone to keep an eye on.
IBCT’s Loes Adegeest was one of those 4 escapees but fell back in the sprint and finished 4th. The E-Sports world champion has been seen making regular attacks and getting IBCT some good airtime on the live coverage. It’s a classic case where the finishing results don’t tell the full story of what Adegeest has been up to in the race. Expect to see her attack.
Whilst most of the focus is on Blanka Vas, fellow Hungarian Zsofia Szabo does alright for Andy Schleck-CP NVST-Immo Losch. She’s not raced in 2022 so far but was getting consistent results in Belgian one-day races last year. She also took 9th on a stage of the Thüringen Ladies Tour, finishing higher than the likes of Henderson and Wild. It’ll require a bit of luck but the positioning of the major hills may help Szabo reach the finish at the front.