International women’s cycling is already in Belgium for the triad of classics organised by Flanders Classics (Dwars door Vlaanderen last Wednesday, Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday and Ronde van Vlaanderen next Sunday). On Sunday, March 26th Flanders will be again the center of women’s cycling holding not only the UCI WWT race but also the Junior Nation’s Cup event Gent-Wevelgem (an U17 will be held as well to add up a total of seven Gent-Wevelgem events held). Like the UCI WWT event, the Junior Nation’s Cup event will also start in Boezinge, Ypres.
At this second UCI Women Junior Nations’ Cup event Spanish team CAF Turnkey Engineering will make its historic debut at the Junior series, created in 2016 with a mixed format comprising of two one-day races and two stage races.
That is why we wanted to ask CAF Turnkey Engineering rider Isabel Martín about her impressions and feelings ahead of the race as well as the importance of her participation in Belgium for women’s cycling base in Spain. “I think my current team is doing an amazing job to support the women’s cycling base, it’s an important step ahead of races such as World and European championships, rubbing shoulders with the best cyclists. On a personal level, it is an unbeatable opportunity and I hope to do it the best of my ability while learning a lot. “said Isabel.
“The goal for all of us will be to stay on the front, alert to the most important attacks, trying not lose contact with the front group. My goal would be to finish on the top 10, I know it is very hard because we are 180 riders taking part in the race and there is a very high level, but we have to aim for big goals and make the most of it.” stated Martín regarding her objectives ahead of the second round of the Junior Nation’s Cup.
A second round that maintains the same course from the previous edition with six laps to a 11.8-kilometer circuit, adding up a total race course of 70.8 kilometers. “The course is completely flat, I would love to race with more cobbles, like both the women and men elite riders will face, but I can do it well due to my rouleur conditions and I am really used to windy conditions. The key areas will be at the various direction changes, because many roads narrow and it is important to be aware in these moments.”commented Isabel Martín.
When asked about the main contenders for the victory, Isabel said: “Lorena Wiebes will be the most controlled rider after winning last weekend at Trofeo Alfredo Binda.” Among her favourites are also French rider Clara Copponi, Italian riders Martina Fidanza and Letizia Papernoster, British rider Jessica Roberts and the American National team.
Finally but not least, we asked Isabel Martín her objectives for the 2017 season, where participating at Gent-Wevelgem surely was one of her main objectives and thrills. “I want to have a good season to be able to get selected for the European and World championships, I want to step up after competing at these top international races. Above all my main goal is to grow as a cyclist” said CAF Turnkey Engineering rider Isabel Martín.
Spring has officially begun as the UCI Women’s World Tour heads to Flanders for one of the most iconic and emotional one-day races. The race of the poppies and the crosses will witness the fourth round of the UCI WWT. It will be the sixth edition of Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields Classic (the former two editions ranked under the national series while the latter three UCI WE ranked), a raced named after iconic war poem written during the First World War by John McCrae.
Sunday, 26 March 2017, local time from 10:55 am until 14:35 pm approx (UTC+2)*
Route 146.2km: Ypres – Wevelgem
After 700 metres of neutralisation, the 146 kilometres of 2017 Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields race course will start. The course has been partly modified from previous editions (lengthened nearly 30 kilometres) with its iconic and characteristic hills remaining as the key segment of the race. The village of Boezinge (Ypres) will host the start of the sixth edition of Gent-Wevelgem. The peloton will have to cover four laps to an initial 11.9-kilometre circuit before heading South to enter the traditional key sector of the race where riders will confront the five climbs of the day (both Kemmelberg and Monteberg twice and Baneberg once). After the final ascent to Monteberg riders will have roughly 40km to go, enough room for some regrouping after the important front selection expected at both Kemmelberg (with 75.8km and 45.9 km to go) and Monteberg (with 71.8km and 41.9 km to go). The Kemmelberg climb, which was a strategic battlefield during World War I, will be once again one of the race highlights and it is probably the most characteristic difficulty of this race. As in prior Gent-Wevelgem editions its international appeal will be used to commemorate WWI fallen and promote the solidarity between peoples and nations. We expect that the race will end up with either a reduced bunch sprint or a solo-breakaway attempted during the final kilometres of the race.
Favourites & Outsiders
Our favourite: Lucinda Brand
Dutch rider Lucinda Brand switched teams this season, joining Dutch registered Team Sunweb. After an amazing cyclocross season, where she finished fourth both at the Worlds and at two UCI World Cup rounds as well as finishing second in its final round at Hoogerheide, Brand has hit some impressive early road season form winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad four weeks ago and finishing fourth and third at the first two UCI WWT, in Siena and Drenthe respectively. After missing Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Brand proved she maintains her outstanding form finishing fourth Dwars Door Vlaanderen, held on Wednesday. She forms part of the strongest and most versatile roster for the race as Team Sunweb has several and diverse chances of winning with riders such as Dutch Ellen van Dijk, Canadian Leah Kirchmann, Dutch Floortje Mackaij or American Coryn Rivera. Along her teammates Lucinda Brand is one of the top riders to watch in the fourth round of the UCI WWT.
Our outsider: Sheyla Gutiérrez
After claiming her second pro victory at Le Samyn des Dames Sheyla Gutiérrez has been able to forward her good early season form during the past weeks, being frequently spotted on front race positions as well as scoring some good results. At Gent-Wevelgem “the Hippy Lyon” seeks to deliver another historic performance in the UCI WWT series, where the twelfth position scored at La Madrid Challenge is her best result so far. She can count on the help of her Canadian teammate Joëlle Numainville, who has started to hit some good form after a slow start to the season. Spanish rider Sheyla Gutiérrez heads to Gent-Wevelgem on a great form and mood, ready to roar in Flanders, where the lions are meant to shine.
Sheyla Gutiérrez (Cylance), Lorena Llamas, Lourdes Oyarbide and Yessica Pérez (Bizkaia Durango), Maialen Aramendia, Nicole de Wit, Dolores Gómez, Aroa Gorostiza, Isabel Martín and Sofía Rodríguez (CAF Turnkey Engineering) will be our Spanish representatives at the 2017 edition of Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields.
Who to follow
Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) soloed to her second UCI WWT victory at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, 27 March 2016. The Dutch rider slipped away from the seventeen-rider breakaway with around 10km to the finish line. Despite her compatriot van Vleuten efforts, Blaak immediately gained a gap that was never closed. She reached the finish line with over a minute advantage ahead of a seven-rider chasing group, where German champion Lisa Brennauer (Canyon SRAM) won the sprint to finish second while Dutch champion Lucinda Brand (Rabobank Liv) came third.
How to follow the race
The race won’t be live streamed.
Highlights at UCI channel.
A few Twitter accounts and hashtags (among others) to follow the race:
A few Facebook accounts:
*Keep in mind we will be changing clocks overnight in Europe (from UTC+1 to UTC+2 for ECT).