Women’s Tour of Flanders 2021 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

Ellen van Dijk 2014 Tour of Flanders

The Women’s Tour of Flanders holds bona fide monument status in the women’s calendar. Taking place each year since 2004, De Ronde has seen a host of major riders take victories. The female version of the race doesn’t include the long flat section out of Antwerp but starts in Oudenaarde and gets straight into things. The race traverses many of the same sections as the men’s race with usually around the last 20 miles being exactly the same. That means in recent times we’ve seen riders tackle the Kruisberg-Hotond, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg finale.

The current forecast for this year’s race suggests not much wind and a solid 12 degrees temperature. What wind there is will be blowing from behind the left shoulder of the riders in the run-in to the finish.

The Women’s Tour of Flanders is notoriously difficult to win. There are only two multiple winners and the last of those was Judith Arndt’s second victory in 2012. Even the current masters of the women’s peloton, Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten have only one victory each. Different rider types can take the victory as well, with the onus on the climbers to drop those who can sprint before the flat run-in to Oudenaarde. If they haven’t succeeded then riders like Coryn Rivera (2017) and Marta Bastianelli (2019) can win. It’s a toss-up between a break winning and a reduced bunch sprint taking place.

Last year’s race saw Chantal van den Broek-Blaak take the victory with a solo break after teammate Anna van der Breggen shut-down Annemiek van Vleuten. Van Vleuten had attacked and got a gap but was joined by Van der Breggen who simply sat on, not prepared to assist in any way. With the break doomed, they both returned to the peloton. Shortly afterwards, Van den Broek-Blaak attacked, got a gap and won in Oudenaarde by a minute.

Recent Winners

2020 Chantal van den Broek-Blaak
2019 Marta Bastianelli
Anna van der Breggen
Coryn Rivera
2016 – Lizzie Deignan

TV Coverage

Sunday 4th April
15:35-17:35 BST on Eurosport/GCN

Twitter Hashtag: #RVVWomen or #RVV21

Women’s Tour of Flanders 2021 Profile

Women’s Tour of Flanders 2021 Climbs

Women’s Tour of Flanders 2021 Cobbled Sections

  • Lippenhovestraat (40.6km)
  • Paddestraat (42.1km)
  • Holleweg (57.8km)
  • Karel Martelstraat (68.1km)
  • Jagerij (70.5km)

Women’s Tour of Flanders 2021 Favourites

SD Worx are absolutely stacked as you’d expect. They’ve got the 2018 winner Anna van der Breggen and the 2020 winner Chantal van den Broek-Blaak leading. Plus there’s Amy Pieters who finished 2nd in both of those years as well. Jolien d’Hoore was 2nd in 2015, Elena Cecchini was 5th in 2015 and 6th in 2017. Finally, Christine Majerus was 8th in 2012. SD Worx are unique in having a team where every member has finished in the top 10 at the Women’s Tour of Flanders. Van den Broek-Blaak and Van der Breggen will be the attacking options with Pieters their best chance in a bunch sprint.
They’re all in good form in 2021 so far as well. Van den Broek-Blaak won Strade Bianche, Van der Breggen won Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Amy Pieters also won Nokere Koerse, d’Hoore a stage of the Healthy Ageing Tour and Majerus won Omloop van de Westhoek. Only Elena Cecchini is missing out so far this season. Demi Vollering is a late addition to the line-up, she should be a major part of the action on the climbs but can’t see her escaping in a break at this point.

Kasia Niewiadoma
Credit: Thomas Maheux

Canyon SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma looked to find some form at the mini-Flanders this week at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. Her joint break with Annemiek van Vleuten saw both riders work well in reaching the line ahead of a large chasing pack. She was undone in the sprint though and that may hinder her chances of winning unless she’s goes it alone. Her teammate Alena Amialiusik traditionally does well at the Women’s Tour of Flanders. She was 6th last season, equalling her best finish from 2015. Expect her to quietly avoid trouble and be around near the finish. Teammate Alexis Ryan was 3rd at Dwars Door Vlaanderen this week, a welcome return to form at the spring classics. She doesn’t have a good record at all in the Tour of Flanders but clearly has some good legs at the moment.

Marta Bastianelli has found some form again recently, taking 5th at Gent Wevelgem. The 2018 Women’s Tour of Flanders winner isn’t going to be one to launch an attack and breakaway but will look to hang onto the front group to the end. Her great form in 2018 saw her able to live with climbers Annemiek van Vleuten and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig before smoking them in the finale. It’s a similar story for Gent Wevelgem winner, Marianne Vos. She’s in great form, taking her first WWT win of the season after finishing 2nd at Trofeo Alfredo Binda. Her best result here since winning 2013’s race is 22nd in 2019 however. Clearly she has good legs in 2021 and should be a contender again.

Movistar took their first ever cobbled classic win at Dwars Door Vlaanderen thanks to Annemiek van Vleuten. She won this race way back in 2011 and despite great results, hasn’t re-visited the top step of the podium. 2020 was the first year she’d not finished in the top-10 since 2012’s race – as Boels Dolmans marked her out of the race. She will obviously be a contender but the entire peloton is aware of what she can do if left to drift off the front. The team will also have Emma Norsgaard if the race comes down to a sprint. She showed she can tackle the Flandrian bergs by finishing 2nd in Omloop het Nieuwsblad earlier this season.

Annemiek van Vleuten
Credit: BettiniPhoto

The 2019 3rd place rider Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will continue to be a contender and someone you always want to see do well. The better that she does, the more animated the interview! She was another to get swamped in the large bunch sprint behind Van den Broek-Blaak last year, finishing 16th. She is in good form in 2021, finishing 5th at Strade Bianche and 3rd at Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She’s the attacking option for FDJ. If it comes down to a sprint, then Italian Marta Cavalli becomes the favoured option for the team. She’s finished 10th and 11th here in the last 2 seasons. She started the season with 9th at Omloop het Nieuwsblad and 8th at Strade Bianche, evidence that her climbing is consistently up there now. She’s a dark horse for the podium – no pun intended.

Liv Racing come into this race with a strong team. Lotte Kopecky is one of the riders of 2021 so far and has a good history at the Women’s Tour of Flanders. She was 5th back in 2017, her breakout result at the time. She improved on that with 3rd in last year’s race. 2nd in Gent Wevelgem and 4th in De Panne shows good form. If she can make the selection she becomes a big danger in the final sprint. Her Italian teammates Sofia Bertizzolo and Soraya Paladin are also doing well. Bertizzolo was 4th in the 2019 race and was 8th at Alfredo Binda this season. Soraya Paladin was 12th in 2019, was 5th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and in the break at Gent Wevelgem with Elisa Longo Borghini that came so close to staying away.

It’s certainly tough to ignore Grace Brown at the moment, who’s stepped up with Van Vleuten moving on from Team BikeExchange. She won De Panne by stealing a march on the sprinters with a perfectly timed attack. That was after already finishing 2nd from a break in Nokere Koerse. She finished in the main group and 6th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen this week. There are others who can out-sprint here comfortably but teams will know that they can’t get Brown get off the leash. Her teammate Sarah Roy will come into contention in a small sprint. She was 5th in last year’s race and finished 8th at Gent Wevelgem recently.

Floortje Mackaij
Credit: Team DSM | Patrick Brunt”

Team DSM have had an underwhelming start to the season but Floortje Mackaij did well in finishing 7th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. At her best, she’s always capable of succeeding with a breakaway but probably lacks the sprint to win with others around her. Surprisingly, she’s yet to finish in the top-10 here, her best result is 12th set in 2020. Lisa Brennauer is a clear leader for Ceratizit-WNT. She also set her best result here in 2020, finishing 4th. She’s in good form so far in 2021, finishing 2nd overall at the Healthy Ageing Tour and then on the podium in 3rd place at Gent Wevelgem. She’s a rider who’ll be hoping that no-one escapes off the front as she comes into major contention in a sprint finish scenario.

The Trek Segafredo line-up is particularly top drawer with 3 former winners. Elisa Longo Borghini has got off to the best start in 2021. Her solo victory at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda showed her form and the doomed break at Gent Wevelgem showed the form is still there. She’s a former winner here, taking the victory in 2015 and has 6 top-10s in 9 starts. Teammate Lizzie Deignan is another former winner, in 2016. She’s been a little quieter in 2021, supporting the in-form Longo Borghini. Her best result of the year came at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, finishing 12th. She’s a very useful Plan B though. The team also has Ellen van Dijk, who won the Healthy Ageing Tour and was the 2014 winner here. She’ll be there or thereabouts as usual.

TIBCO’s Lauren Stephens has continued her late 2020 form into this season. She’s been steadily improving resultswise, finishing 10th at Gent Wevelgem after being 16th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She was 9th in last year’s race and will be hoping to break into the top-10 for a second season in a row. Her teammate Sarah Gigante has plenty of hype and seems to be getting the hang of racing in Flanders after finishing 11th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen despite going the wrong way in the final kilometre. Her best chances of a result at by making the selections and finding herself in as small a group as possible in Oudenaarde.

Sarah Gigante

Women’s Tour of Flanders 2021 Outsiders

Seems a surprising fact that Lizzy Banks hasn’t ticked off a Ronde van Vlaanderen participation yet, so it’s good to have that sorted in 2021. She’s always capable of blitzing a long-range effort and is an elite domestique for Lisa Brennauer here. If a breakaway is going to make it to the finish this year, having someone like Banks on board will be a massive reason why. Arlenis Sierra seems mostly recovered from the incident with a car a few weeks ago. She’s been solid in 2021 so far, with finishes of 17th at De Panne and 15th at Gent Wevelgem. In theory, those flatter races suit her more than the Tour of Flanders and she’s not had a decent result here in previous years. She can still sting a surprise though by being in a lead group at the finish and sprinting well.

Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire’s Thalita de Jong continues to impress this season. After finishing 3rd at Omloop van de Westhoek, she was 21st at the WWT Gent Wevelgem and then 13th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. She’s been quite visible at the front of the peloton so far in the 2021 classics season. Another top-15 result here would be a great step in the right direction as she returns to the top-end of the sport. TIBCO’s other main option is Kristen Faulkner who has done well so far in 2021. She was 4th at the GP Oetingen before finishing a great 8th place at the Women’s WorldTour level Gent Wevelgem last weekend. She represents the team’s best option in a small bunch sprint if she can ride the moves and ensure she’s there at the business end of the race.

Thalita De Jong 2
Thalita De Jong

The Plantur-Pura team have begun to make progress on the road, with Yara Kastelijn finishing 15th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. She’s the only member of the cyclocross based team to have raced here before, finishing 35th way back in 2017. She’s clearly in some form and may be the team’s best bet. Alternatively, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado might have something to say about that. After a quiet Gent Wevelgem and De Panne, we’re still not quite sure what to expect.

Finally, Eugenia Bujak quietly finished 8th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen this week. She’s got a solid record at this race, finishing a best placing of 17th in 2015 and generally hovers around the 20th-30th place mark. If she can replicate that finish from the ‘mini-Flanders’ this week, she might be able to improve that best finish. It will depend how team leader Marta Bastianelli fares during the race though.

Race Prediction

Lotte Kopecky
Marianne Vos
Amy Pieters