Women’s Gent Wevelgem 2024 Race Preview

Marlen Reusser Gent Wevelgem Women 2023

Women’s Gent Wevelgem History

The Women’s Gent Wevelgem is one of the biggest spring classic races in the women’s calendar. The parcours allows for changeable results, as we’ve seen both expected sprint finishes and also the odd attack and small break contest the win. We saw that only last year with Marlen Reusser winning with a solo break from the Baneberg that the peloton was completely unable to respond to.

So far, the only multiple winner of Gent Wevelgem Women is Kristen Wild in 2013 & 2019. The race has developed steadily over the years and recently has become much closer to the men’s edition. The legendary Kemmelberg is now finally attacked from both sides and the additional windy section through De Moeren was also added last season.

Gent Wevelgem Women has leaned into the history of the area as the centenary years of the First World War passed and there are plenty of memorials of that conflict visible at the roadside. with that in mind, whilst there are plenty of other climbs in this race, the Kemmelberg is the one that captures the most attention. A hill fought over repeatedly in World War 1, the race’s hardest section passes an ossuary containing the bones of those who gave their lives on the hill.

Until last year, the sprinters were more likely to get their own way at the Women’s Gent Wevelgem. There are around 30km to race from the Kemmelberg back into Wevelgem, so unless the wind is just right, the gaps are tough to keep open on the long straight roads that favour the bunch. The forecast is for very strong winds this year, with a tail-cross wind ideal for echelons in De Moeren and then a tailwind finish after the Kemmelberg. We might see the race already in bits by the time the climbing starts, which helps to allow a solo winner or a small group finish.

Previous Winners

2023
Marlen Reusser
2022
Elisa Balsamo
2021
Marianne Vos

Women’s Gent Wevelgem 2024 Profile

TV Coverage

Sunday 24th 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)

15:00-17:30
All times in GMT

Twitter:#GW24

Startlist: FirstCycling

Women’s Gent Wevelgem 2024 Contenders

SD Worx will naturally be the favourites at this year’s Women’s Gent Wevelgem. So they will turn to the big names of Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes. Kopecky missed out on the win at Trofeo Alfredo Binda in the sprint but she wasn’t down to race in Italy until very late on. Her run of top-10 finishes in one-day races stretches all the way back to this race last season oddly enough. That was a rare exception with Kopecky coming very close without actually winning here. Strangely, it’s been similar to Lorena Wiebes. She was 2nd on her first attempt in 2019 but has steadily worse results here with a pair of DNFs in the last 2 seasons. Last year she crashed out after making a hash of trying to move up on the grass verge. We’ll see if we get a sprint like most years. The team can also roll the dice with Mischa Bredewold if they fancy recreating the win from last year. 
Last year’s winner Marlen Reusser belatedly joined the startlist and will relish another opportunity to win here. She ghosted away on the Baneberg whilst everyone else looked at each other and gave themselves too much to close down. A windy race again this year suits her chances and we’ve already seen this year that the peloton hasn’t quite learned its lesson. She had covid recently and her attacks at Trofeo Alfredo Binda didn’t get distance however.

Lild-Trek has a host of big names here but should be backing Elisa Balsamo in spades. Winning Trofeo Alfredo Binda showed that the climbs will be no issue here as they’re shorter and a bit punchier. She missed out in last year’s crash-strewn edition but beat Marianne Vos to the line to win in 2022 and will be confident of a repeat this year. The team has another previous winner in Lizzie Deignan, who won way way back in 2012 before the race achieved UCI status. She has a solid record here but really we’re looking at Elisa Longo Borghini and Shirin van Anrooij to go have fun attacking the peloton and putting pressure on SD Worx. A big card to play that was missing last year was Ellen van Dijk in break-killing duties. Returning to the peloton after becoming a mother, Van Dijk has won a pair of time trials and finished 3rd in GC at the Tour de Normandie Feminin last weekend.

The picture will be clearer for Team dsm-firmenich PostNL with Charlotte Kool and Pfeiffer Georgi as their nominated leaders. Kool has a very average set of results at the Women’s Gent Wevelgem with a best of 61st in 2022. Her riding has improved though with the hills still likely to pose a bit of a challenge but not quite so much compared to her development years. The flat finish into Wevelgem will suit her, it’s just a case of making sure she gets to contest it. Teammate Pfeiffer Georgi has finished 11th and 15th in the last 2 years and will be a useful foil. Her ideal situation is a smaller group making it clear to the finish to contest things.

Puck-Pieterse-strade-bianche.jpg-1
Puck PIeterse

It’s now 2 podiums in a row for Puck Pieterse after finishing on the 3rd step at both Ronde van Drenthe and Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She’s certainly been active and has chosen to extend the road part of her season before committing to the MTB for the Paris Olympics. She was able to position well at the end of the race last weekend to be one of the fastest of that front bunch of around 25 riders, but also well behind the more natural sprinters in Balsamo and Kopecky. Like Georgi, she will want a small group contesting the finish as a big group going for a sprint will probably see her swamped. One thing’s for sure, she will attack somewhere.

Emma Norsgaard should lead out Movistar here and has finished 5th and 9th in consecutive years not that long ago. The Dane is trying to push away from being known as a sprinter but will certainly be one with a fast finish no matter the race situation here. She has a best result this year of 5th at Omloop van het HagelandArlenis Sierra has been there or thereabouts at Gent Wevelgem Women with a best of 4th place in 2018. She’s been just outside the top-10 ever since. The Cuban is definitely capable of returning to the top-10 again this season. The team also has a nice wildcard to play in the 2015 winner, Floortje Mackaij. She managed to bridge across to the front group at Nokere Koerse but then Movistar squandered their numerical advantage leading to the finish. She can be used to put pressure on other teams.

There’s going to be quite a bit of hype for the return to the road of Fem van Empel here. she had another monster cyclocross season, winning every race except 2 across the whole winter on her way to the European and World Championships. Last year she started her return to the road a month later before going away to make an effort to qualify for the Olympics MTB races. When she came back to the road she had a very solid Giro Donne and a stage win at Tour de l’Avenir Femmes which confirmed her potential. On her first race back a top-10 at Gent Wevelgem would be a great result.

Chiara Consonni
Chiara Consonni

Despite having a fast finish, the Women’s Gent Wevelgem hasn’t been a Chiara Consonni race over the years. At one point that was because Balsamo was on her team but she’s still never finished higher than 69th either. There’s just enough climbing to make it tough for someone like Consonni unless her team is dedicated to pulling her back. It feels like they’ll see how deep she can go into the race and then pivot to Silvia Persico as the fastest finisher they’ll have left in the front group. Persico was 9th here in 2022 and is just starting to find some form with 8th at both Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Trofeo Oro in Euro recently. Eleonora Gasparrini can’t be discounted either but we’re still waiting for that form to come back after the crash a month ago.

After quite a few false dawns, it now looks like Chloe Dygert will actually be racing this one. She’s on the startlist and is set to go. She’s got the potential to do well and even contest the win on a good year but she’s not had a clean bill of health to start the year once again. Other doubts are also raised by her sole experience of Belgian classics racing is the 2022 Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Maike van der Duin might also be back to race this one too after finishing 3rd last season into Wevelgem. She’s had her season delayed because of a personal issue but hopefully is able to replicate last year’s result.

This definitely has the potential to be a Maria Giulia Confalonieri race again. It’s only 2 years since she finished on the podium in 3rd and the Italian has been looking strong recently. 3rd on a Tour de Normandie stage, 4th at GP Oetingen, 8th at Ronde van Drenthe and 10th at Le Samyn des Dames are all good results for a rider who can get over a good many hills and still have a fast kick.

The best Gent Wevelgem Women result that Thalita de Jong has comes from 2014 when the Dutch rider finished 14th. On her most recent edition, she was respectably 21st in 2021, which I guess means she might finish 24th in 2024. She’s having a super strong start to the season though, with a stretch of 11 top-15 placings in a row now. She’s yet to win but she is absolutely knocking on the door with 2nd places at GP Oetingen and Tour de Normandie. It’s hard to see her beating the likes of Wiebes or Balsamo if they’re there at the end but if they’re not…there are worse shouts than De Jong.

Grace Brown hasn’t cracked the top 20 at Gent Wevelgem and hasn’t blown particularly hot since starting her European campaign this year. The best non-Aussie result of 37th came at Le Samyn des Dames but the course here should suit her a bit more if she can push on and attack like Reusser did last year. FDJ-Suez can look to Gladys Verhulst-Wild for a fast finish and she’s coming off a strong weekend on home roads in Normandy. She took 3 stage top-10 results and a 10th in GC too there.

Kim Le Court 2024 Strade Bianche
Kim Le Court

After taking 9th at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Kim Le Court delivered a strong result at Trofeo Alfredo Binda last weekend too. She finished 11th in the Italian race, getting a touch swamped in the final sprint but holding her own. It’s another impressive result for the Mauritian as she continues to set new records for that nation in women’s road cycling.

A pair of recent 3rd places for Human Powered Health riders Ruth Edwards and Lily Williams have been a solid confidence boost. For Edwards, it’s a sign that her return to the peloton will allow her to pick up where she left off and she raced well in Italy at the Trofeo Oro in Euro. For Lily Williams, she took her first European podium result at Nokere Koerse and looks set to push on and get more results this year. She’s asked for more responsibility and chances to race for herself and could deliver again here. 

It feels like an age since Letizia Paternoster finished 3rd here in 2019. She’s not returned to Gent Wevelgem Women since and will want to try and replicate that result again this season. She took an impressive 4th on the uphill sprint at the Ronde van Drenthe but then went kinda missing during Nokere Koerse when it was expected to see a follow-up. She has the potential to do well but we’ll see. Her teammate Ruby Roseman-Gannon was 15th in last year’s race and should be in the mix. She’s got a decent kick but also is able to get over some of the hills we’ll see in the Women’s Gent Wevelgem. She’s coming off an 11th place at Nokere Koerse.

After starting the season with a bang by winning Trofeo Felanitx-Colònia de Sant Jordi, things have just been a bit quieter for Noemi Rüegg in the racing since 18th at Le Samyn des Dames is her best result outside of Spain but if she can reach the end of the race near the front then she will be one contesting things in the sprint.

Women’s Gent Wevelgem 2024 Outsiders

India Grangier
India Grangier

India Grangier is looking good this season with a number of consistent results in and around the top 20 of races. The French rider has a best result of 12th during the Vuelta Extremadura recently, which was secured on the shortened queen stage of the race. She’s shown she can cut it in the WWT peloton too, with 20th place at Omloop het Nieuwsblad netting Coop-Repsol some decent UCI points.

Babette van der Wolf and Kaja Rysz have been having solid starts to the 2024 classics season for Lifeplus-Wahoo. Van der Wolf has a best result of 6th at Drentse Acht and has been flirting with the top 20 at races like Le Samyn des Dames and Omloop van het Hageland. She might struggle a little bit with the climbs here but would be a fast finisher if she can make it to the end. Teammate Rysz is more likely to reach Wevelgem at the front and has a number of top-25 results already this season.

Anneke Dijkstra has been a good signing already for VolkerWessels, securing 5th at Le Samyn des Dames. That shows she is able to position herself well on tough courses with fast finishes. She dropped a little bit at Ronde van Drenthe with the climbing there a bit tougher and it might prove to be similar in this Women’s WorldTour race as well. There is definitely an upside and potential to what she can do. That’s also the case for Margot Vanpachtenbeke who took 14th on a super tough final stage in the Tour de Normandie at the weekend. She just snuck into the top 20 at Omloop van het Hageland too and is worth keeping an eye on.

Arkea-B&B Hotels’ Emilia Fahlin is an experienced campaigner and previously took 6th at the Women’s Gent Wevelgem back in 2021. She’s going to flit between being a road captain to mentor the younger riders on the team and being able to take results for herself this season after largely being a domestique in her later years at FDJ. She’s shown before she can get a good result in Wevelgem.

Top 3 Prediction

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