The Women’s Gent Wevelgem is another one of those fairly recent additions to the women’s pro calendar. 2020 sees the 7th edition and so far, no rider has won it more than once. In addition to the Recent Winners list below, Lauren Hall won the first edition in 2014. Taking place over similar roads to the men’s Gent Wevelgem, the race has pretty much played out the same as well. Recent years have been bunch sprints but we have also see solo riders or small groups take the win as well. 2019’s race saw Kirsten Wild take the big bunch sprint ahead of young talents Lorena Wiebes and Letizia Paternoster.
The gravel roads or Plugstreets have added something new to the race but the main deciding point of the race is the Kemmelberg. This steep, cobbled climb saw sustained fighting during World War I and it’s fitting that a race that passes so many cemeteries from that conflict includes it. The women’s peloton will climb the Belvedere side twice and not be subjected to the steeper Ossuary side of the hill. From the climb it’s a relatively flat 20km or so to the finish line in Wevelgem.
2019 – Kirsten Wild
2018 – Marta Bastianelli
2017 – Lotta Lepistö
2016 – Chantal Blaak
2015 – Floortje Mackaij
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Women’s Gent Wevelgem 2020 Profile
Women’s Gent Wevelgem 2020 Favourites
Lorena Wiebes just lost out to Kirsten Wild in last year’s race. It was a real head to head sprint, launched with 200 metres to go which saw Wild have the power to win. 2020 hasn’t given Wiebes many opportunities to shine. She won her last race for Parkhotel Valkenburg before the lockdown at Omloop van het Hageland. Wiebes then got off the mark for Team Sunweb by winning the Grote Prijs Euromat. She is the biggest favourite if the race comes down to a sprint. Her teammate Floortje Mackaij will be an interesting foil. She won Gent Wevelgem as a 19-year-old back in 2015, attacking a small bunch that had gone clear. She’ll have fashion a similar chance to take the win here, going long rather than waiting for the sprint.
The packed Sunweb team also contains Coryn Rivera and Liane Lippert but Rivera should be working for Wiebes and Lippert would have to escape the peloton like Mackaij to have success, despite her 2nd place at Brabantse Pijl.
Kirsten Wild hasn’t raced much on the road in 2020. She spent the early part of the season gearing up for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. When those games were cancelled, she had to reassess her aims. Wild took part in the Giro Rosa without any results of note. The mainly uphill finishes wouldn’t have been to her liking anyway. Last year’s Gent Wevelgem winner is always in with a shout but there are no real indicators of form to go on.
Another rider who has questions about their form is Marta Bastianelli. She’s recovering from illness but was seen near to the front regularly in Brabantse Pijl. She then dropped back at the business end of the race to finish 30th. If Bastianelli can remain in touch over the Kemmelberg, she may be able to re-gain some confidence. Her strong sprint finish saw her place 4th in 2019.
Chloe Hosking is always a solid outright sprinter option. She showed her prowess on short cobbled climbs when she finished 8th in Omloop het Nieuwsblad at the start of the 2020 season. For a time she looked like the only rider who could keep up with Annemiek van Vleuten on the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Since then she’s won a stage of the Tour de l’Ardèche and GP International d’Isbergues. She’s been on the podium before at Gent Wevelgem, back in 2015. Astana’s Arlenis Sierra should be a contender once again. She was 4th in 2018 but got overwhelmed in the massive bunch sprint last year and finished 14th. She’ll be looking for the race to be as hard as possible with the peloton thinned out a bit more. She’ll be around near the finish though, looking to improve on the 13th place at Brabantse Pijl.
Ellen van Dijk was a late scratch for Brabantse Pijl. Forcing me to have a re-think about a main favourite for that race. This race doesn’t necessarily suit her and it’s been a few years since someone was able to prevent the sprinters winning. Van Dijk will no doubt put in an attack somewhere on the final run-in. But the parcours seems to favour the peloton instead of solo riders. There’s no specialist sprinter on the Trek team this year. So the likes of Lizzie Deignan will be trying to get clear with a small bunch that she can outsprint. Plus Elisa Longo Borghini will be attacking plenty as well. Trek Segafredo will be hoping for anything but a bunch sprint.
It’s tough to ignore Grace Brown at the moment after her nearly moment at Liège Bastogne Liège and her win at Brabantse Pijl. She’s in amazing form and like Van Dijk will have to go long to win Gent Wevelgem. The peloton should be wising up to her strength but there’s a chance she can get a gap on the Kemmelberg and keep it to the finish. Emilia Fahlin also did well at Brabantse Pijl, finishing just behind Lotte Kopecky in the bunch sprint to take 5th place. She seems to have recovered from her crash at the Giro Rosa and is sprinting well this season. Her best results are 4th at Omloop van het Hageland and 7th at La Course.
Hannah Barnes seems to have re-found some form, she was 6th at Liège Bastogne Liège recently to go with a 2nd place on a Giro Rosa stage. She’s been 6th in Gent Wevelgem before, back in 2018. She should be the main Canyon SRAM sprint option. Lotto’s Lotte Kopecky won the bunch sprint to finish 4th at Brabantse Pijl this week. An unfortunate puncture just as the race left the neutralised zone couldn’t have helped as it took around 8km to get back to the peloton. She’s in great form, winning the 7th Stage of the Giro Rosa and the Belgian national champs recently. She was 6th in last year’s race here.
Elisa Balsamo of Valcar is another solid sprinter option. She’s not had an amazing 2020 season so far, although she did win the European U23 championship. Other than that she’s sprinted to 8th place in La Course. She was 9th here last season.
Boels Dolmans have a decent combination in Amy Pieters and Jolien d’Hoore. Pieters was 5th at Liège Bastogne Liège recently so should be able to climb the Kemmelberg well enough. She’s finished 5th in the last two editions of Gent Wevelgem as well. Jolien D’Hoore has been quieter in 2020, missing out to Lotte Kopecky in the national championships and other than that, not too much to speak of. She’s twice finished runner-up at Gent Wevelgem, in 2018 and 2017, but based on current form, Pieters will be the main option for the team.
Emma Norsgaard started the season with great results winning a Setmana Ciclista Valenciana stage and reaching the podium of Omloop van het Hageland. She won the Danish national champs and was 3rd in the U23 European Champs. The Giro Rosa finishes didn’t really suit her so this might be another chance for success. NXTG’s Charlotte Kool had similar results in those early season races, finishing 6th in both. Since then, she’s combined a few DNFs with 2nd place at the Grote Prijs Euromat. She’s not guaranteed to make it over the Kemmelberg with the peloton, yet could do well if she does make it.
Finally, TIBCO’s Lauren Stephens continues to impress. She almost made the break that saw Grace Brown win Brabantse Pijl but had a moment when trying to ride off the cobbles and in the gutter of the road. She ended up finishing 10th. She’s another who is going to need to escape the peloton and keep the racing hard to get a strong result.
Women’s Gent Wevelgem 2020 Outsiders
CCC-Liv’s Valerie Demey didn’t get to race Brabantse Pijl in the end after a confirmed positive test arrived late. Potentially the team will have to self-isolate so there is a chance they won’t be able to race Gent Wevelgem either. Demey sprinted well recently to take 6th in the Grote Prijs Euromat. She’s also been around the top-20 in similar races this season. She’s someone who may do well provided they’re still in the peloton over the Kemmelberg.
The Parkhotel Valkenburg team have the combination of Anoushka Koster and Karlijn Swinkels. Koster was 6th in Trophée des Grimpeuses and was unlucky to not quite hang on to the lead group in Flèche Wallonne. Her teammate Karlijn Swinkels might be the more natural sprinter though. She was 5th in GP International d’Isbergues and a decent 17th at the uphill finish in Brabantse Pijl.
The Boels Dolmans roster is always packed and Christine Majerus often quietly pops up to get good results. She’s been putting in the attacks in recent races. But other than her national championships, her best results have been 2nd at Le Samyn and 5th at the Clasica Femenina Navarra. We’ll see her put in an attack somewhere during the race and there’s always a chance it will stick. Nina Kessler is potentially the main sprint option for TIBCO. Provided she’s able to reach the finish in the lead group that is. She took 4th on a recent stage of the Tour de l’Ardèche but has often gone missing during hilly races in 2020.