This is the first-ever Women’s Scheldeprijs! Flanders Classics who organise many of the top spring classics in Belgium at this time of year have added a women’s race to the existing men’s race in 2021. The men’s race is well-known as an unofficial sprinter’s world championships (along with the Champs Elysees) due to the winner’s list of that race. With that in mind, it feels on paper like the 136km long women’s race will follow a similar story.
The weather may have its say though and prevent a predicted big sprint finish. At the moment the forecast is for a chilly 6 degrees, made worse by the wind. 18mph westerly winds will make the start of the race quick before the race turns around and suffers on the way back to Schoten. The local lap, tackled 3 times, is similar with an easier half followed by a headwind as the race returns to the finish line. We could see the peloton split up, much as it did back at Driedaagse De Panne. Riders will have to be attentive to make sure they make the correct splits and don’t miss out.
2020 – Not held
2019 – Not held
2018 – Not held
2017 – Not held
2016 – Not held
Wednesday 7th April
10:45-14:00 BST on Eurosport/GCN
Twitter Hashtag: #SPWomen
Women’s Scheldeprijs 2021 Profile
Women’s Scheldeprijs 2021 Favourites
Ale’s Marta Bastianelli did well in a similar flatter Flandrian race at Gent Wevelgem by finishing 5th a week or so ago. She was a bit further behind in the hills but luckily won’t have many tough ones to deal with here. Her all-round ability and great finishing speed makes her a contender at the end.
Ale BTC Ljubljana has withdrawn from the race after a positive COVID test
Movistar’s Emma Norsgaard had her worst result of the season at the Tour of Flanders with 35th, mitigated by the work she did for Van Vleuten to take the victory. This is more her sort of race and in her current form could absolutely take the sprint victory. She’s come close this season with 4x 2nd place finishes, she deserves a trip to the top step of the podium.
Lorena Wiebes is the best absolute sprint talent on the start list. Like the rest of her Team DSM riders, she’s had an iffy 2021 so far. Her best result was 5th at Nokere Koerse but she’s missed out at Gent Wevelgem and De Panne as those races were affected by the conditions. That doesn’t bode well for her chances at Scheldeprijs with the wind guaranteed to be blowing. If the team can deliver her to the finish, she should be the favourite. This is Sarah Roy‘s type of race and she’ll be freed from Grace Brown protection duties too. In similar races in 2021, she’s been 10th at GP Oetingen and 8th at Gent Wevelgem. She’ll want a tough race, split into smaller bunches for the final sprint.
Canyon SRAM has a couple of different cards to play. If it comes down to a sprint then they should favour Alice Barnes. She managed to play the echelons correctly at De Panne and finished 8th in that Women’s WorldTour race. Her best result of the year is still the 2nd in the first stage sprint at the Healthy Ageing Tour. She can definitely finish in the top-10 at Scheldeprijs. We’ll no doubt see her teammate Lisa Klein attacking during the race. She’s been a regular sight off the front of the bunch, taking the racing to the rest of the peloton. That sort of riding saw her take 3rd Nokere Koerse. Alexis Ryan is a longer shot, but she’s in good form after finishing 3rd at Dwars door Vlaanderen last week.
A.R. Monex have been pretty quiet so far in 2021. You’d expect Arlenis Sierra to be up there in a sprint finish final but she’s yet to break into the top-10 this season. Her best finish was 15th at Gent Wevelgem and she was about there with 17th at De Panne too. With no major hills to worry about, it’ll come down to how well she surfs the wheels. That will decide whether or not she contests Scheldeprijs. Arkea’s Gladys Verhulst took a great 4th place at Le Samyn des Dames but has been a little bit quiet ever since. At two flatter races in GP Oetingen and Omloop van de Westhoek, she DNFed and finished 57th. If she can recapture that Le Samyn form, she will be a factor in the sprint.
Ceratizit-WNT have a couple of options in Lisa Brennauer and Maria Giulia Confalonieri. Brennauer should be the sprint leader after finishing 2nd at the Tour of Flanders this weekend. Also finishing 3rd at Gent Wevelgem showed that she has good sprinting legs. Plus she certainly has the ability to read the race and get to the finish in the right group. Maria Giulia Confalonieri has been given opportunities in the minor races so far in 2021. She nailed top-10s at Nokere Koerse with 7th place and GP Oetingen with 6th place. She was a great 16th at the Tour of Flanders too and is a very useful Plan B for the team.
Drops Le Col’s Emilie Moberg is probably their best option in this race with no Marjolein van ‘t Geloof on the startlist. She’s been doing well in 2021 with 25th at Omloop van de Westhoek and then 14th at De Panne. If she gets the chance to race for herself at Scheldeprijs, she can make the top-10.
Finally, Valcar’s Elisa Balsamo will be hoping to add another victory for the team after Chiara Consonni won Ronde de Mouscron on Easter Monday. Consonni is here too but should be leading out Balsamo. Balsamo took the win at GP Oetingen and had a strong trio of top-10s at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, De Panne and Gent Wevelgem. If the team can deliver her into the right position, she’s got a great chance to go head-to-head with Lorena Wiebes again.
Women’s Scheldeprijs 2021 Outsiders
Letizia Paternoster would normally be a contender in this sort of sprint finish but you can’t tip her with any confidence at the moment. The only race she’s taken part in during 2021 was Le Samyn, which she DNFed. It would be great to see her regain the form that saw her podium Gent Wevelgem in the past. Although that might come after the Tokyo Olympics. I’ve hyped Charlotte Kool a fair bit. Things were looking good early on this season when she finished 5th on the first stage of the Healthy Ageing Tour. Since then, she’s DNFed the two Women’s Worldtour races that would seem to suit her in De Panne and Gent Wevelgem. Hopefully, she returns to the radar here.
Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire’s Natalie van Gogh can be useful in a sprint. Plus teammate Thalita de Jong isn’t here to be the leader. She started the season with 16th at Le Samyn des Dames but has only been in the top-30 once since. With a different situation here, flatter parcours and a clearer path to an opportunity for herself, she might do well.
Jess Vandenbulcke has a best finish of 5th at Omloop van de Westhoek this season. She has the potential to match that here. She’s the sort of rider who should be hoovering up big results at this lower level sort of race. Especially with some of the bigger teams either not showing or not fielding full line-ups. She can certainly do alright in a sprint. Kathrin Schweinberger attacked plenty in Ronde de Mouscron and ultimately finished 23rd. She’s another whose best result came at Westhoek, 14th in her case. She’s normally solidly up there and hopefully can get her first top-10 since last August’s GP Euromat.