15 names to follow at Gent-Wevelgem (1.WWT)

 Floortje Mackaij

Dutch rider Floortje Mackaij comes back to the roads that witnessed her first professional victory at 2015 Gent-Wevelgem edition. Despite the fact that 2015 edition had a lower startlist level (due to the fact that the race was held in clash with UCI World Cup Trofeo Alfredo Binda event) than this edition, the 20-year-old Dutch rider will be one of the riders to watch. In  start of the spring season Floortje has shown her good classics and sprinting skills , finishing seventh at Ronde van Drenthe and fourth at Le Samyn among other good results.

@ cyclingonline.nl
@ cyclingonline.nl


 Leah Kirchmann
After riding in the desert in the Ladies Tour of Qatar, Leah Kirchmann got her season in Europe of to a strong start. The Canadian rider finished fourth at OHN and second at OvhH during the first Belgium classics weekend. Leah carried forward her momentum at Strade Bianche where she finished tenth despite the fact that the Italian race does not match perfectly her ridding skills. Result that she repeated at Ronde van Drenthe before winning her first race of the season at Drentse Acht van Westerveld. Canadian rider will try to complete her great classic season with a victory at the fourth round of the UCI WWT.

 Elizabeth Armitstead 

The reigning World, Commonwealth and National road race champion and twice winner of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup, winning the overall competition in 2014 and the final edition in 2015 is one of the top contenders of the fourth UCI WWT event. In 2016 the 27-year old British rider has won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche and Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the first and third races of the newborn UCI Women’s WorldTour. Despite being dropped from the six-rider chasing group at the final Orino climb, the defending champion came back to the group and hastily launched an attack that was intended to set up her teammate Megan Guarnier for victory. Nobody reacted to Armitstead’s powerful move that firstly lead her to catch Neff and finally to claim victory. If if she is dropped at any point she is one of the riders to have under control.
Lizzie wins at OHN last Saturday. @boelsdolmans

 Chantal Blaak

Along with her teammate Lizzie and Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur), the Dutch rider has shown herself as one of the riders on best form in this spring classics season start. After finishing second at OHN and winning Le Samyn, Blaaki missed Strade Bianche, went back on winning track at the Ronde van Drenthe, while last week she finished twelfth at Trofeo Alfredo Binda. If the Dutch rider is on the leading group after the final Monteberg she would be one of riders to have within your eye range.

 Lucinda Brand
The current Dutch national champion, who finished in thirteenth place at Ronde van Drenthe will be leading RaboLiv team. After a successful Belgium racing weekend, where she finished in 6th and 5th places at OHN and OvhH respectively, and an average result at Strade Bianche, Lucinda will be facing again a race course that suits her cycling characteristics, a great opportunity to prove her current good form.

 Jolien D’hoore

After participating at 2016 London Track World Championships, where she finished sixth at the omnium event just after her teammate Annette Edmondson, Jolien D’hoore got back to the road at Dutch race Ronde van Drenthe. Belgian rider could not repeat the 2015 feat where she finished off a perfect lead-out manoeuvre by Wiggle-Honda (winning her first UCI World Cup race the day she turned 25). Jolien started her road season with a disappointing 70th place. However, as she expressed at a post race interview with her team, she has never had good legs during her first race of the season. At the national ranked race Dwars door Vlanderen D’hoore finished second after her teammate Pieters. Thus, the “Belgian Bullet” has already recover her “good legs” and is ready to fire again at Gent-Wevelgem.


 Amy Pieters

Dutch professional cyclist switched teams this season joining Wiggle High5. Despite being such a talented rider her first victory on a Wiggle High5 jersey came this week at the national ranked race Dwars door Vlanderen, where her teammate Jolien D’hoore finished second. At the previous edition of Gent-Wevelgem she proved her good legs and despite crashing while on the breakaway she was able to come back along with her former teammate Mackaij and other riders and set up a final move for Mackaij’s final victory. She will be one of the top riders to control if she makes it into a breakaway.


 Annemiek van Vleuten
One of the most experienced riders in the peloton, overall winner of the 2011 UCI Women Road World Cup, the Dutch rider will be the reference of her team Orica-AIS. Annemiek has shown herself in good form at the three rounds of the UCI WWT finishing seventh at Strade Bianche, ninth at the Ronde van Drenthe and eighth at Trofeo Alfredo Binda as well as performing great at a few races in Belgium. Annemiek will likely play aggressively, showing her fighting spirit at the 30km hilly section while Orica-AIS will have a second choice in case of big group sprint with sprinters such as Loren Rowney, Sarah Roy or Lizzie Williams.
Annemiek van Vleuten training nearby her home. ‏@AvVleuten

 Shelley Olds

American Shelley Olds (Cylance) finished in fifth and fourth place at the first weekend Belgium classics corroborating her good form in this early season, where she just have missed the top of the podium. After a remarkable result at Strade Bianche, taking into account the Italian race is far from suiting her riding style, where she finished on the first chasing group. The 35-year-old rider, who finished sixth at Ronde van Drenthe race, is one of the favourites to the victory in the case that race ends on a final bunch sprint.
@ Pat Malach
@ Pat Malach

 Elena Cecchini

Italian rider started her European Road season with an average result at Ronde van Drenthe after participating at 2016 London Track World Championships, where she finished eleventh at the women’s points race. The Italian national road champion finished in fourteenth place at last week Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She will be one of the top riders to watch if the race ends with bunch sprint. Elena as well as her teammates will try to bring a victory for Trixi Worrack, who is recovering in hospital after undergoing surgery as a result of a crash occurred at Trofeo Alfredo Binda
©Tino Pohlmann
©Tino Pohlmann
 Marta Bastianelli 
Once world champion at Stuttgart in 2007, Marta broke the news a few weeks ago with her impressive victory at the bunch sprint of Omloop van het Hageland after being a few years away from cycling, first serving a two-year doping ban and later on in 2014 due to a maternity leave. The 28-year-old Italian, who has recently shown herself as a powerful sprinter, she will be one of the riders to consider for the final victory if that ends up on bunch sprint.
Marta Bastianelli crowned world champion in 2007 @Danilo Viganò :ciclismo.biciticino.ch
Marta Bastianelli crowned world champion in 2007 @Danilo Viganò :ciclismo.biciticino.ch

 Lauren Kitchen

In 2016 Australian rider has shown her result consistency finishing at the top ten at several races. After finishing 9th in the first UCI WWT Strade Bianche, she finished 8th at the second WWT round at Ronde van Drenthe. Lauren was able to keep up the good streak by finishing to a 9th place at WWT Trofeo Alfredo Binda. If the race ends on a bunch sprint it will be very likely to she Lauren keeping her momentum claiming a top finishing place.


 Coryn Rivera

American rider Coryn Rivera finished eleventh at past week UCI WWT Trofeo Alfredo Binda. American sprinter seems to be on a good form and she ought to be one of riders to take into account if a group does not manage to break away during the 30 km hilly sector and the race finally ends with a bunch sprint.

 Kimberley Wells

In 2016 she has won the final criterium-stage at Santos Women’s Tour (where she out-sprinted Nettie Edmondson) and the GP des Fleurs Dottignies, in her second race of her European spring season with Australian Development Team. She will be helped by Lauretta Hanson, who started strongly her 2016 season winning sprint and young classifications at Santos Women’s Tour and finished second at the young classification and third at the third stage of Ladies Tour of Qatar, Australian U23 Road race champion Jenelle Crooks and Oceanian Road race champion Shannon Malseed.


 Emma Johansson

Emma is again one of the riders to watch at Gent-Wevelgem. The current leader of the Lotto Cycling Cup is on a good form, the Swedish rider just finished second behind Chantal Blaak on Le Samyn des Dammes and third at Strade Bianche behind Lizzie and Kasia. Perhaps she is not in her best form ever but she is such a tactically gifted rider that you need to have under control, otherwise as soon as action starts she may surprise you being part of any of the decisive moves. Emma finished fourth at Trofeo Alfredo Binda jumping to the third place on the UCI WWT individual ranking.


Written by:
Diego Martín

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