24 Mar 15 riders to watch at Gent-Wevelgem (1.WWT)
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.
Dutch rider Chantal Blaak is the defending champion of Gent-Wevelgem, where she will try to claim her first victory of the season (the second for Boels-Dolmans after Dideriksen’s at Ronde van Drenthe). After a remarkable 2016 classics season where Blaak shown herself as one of the riders on best contenders for the spring classics and the joy moment they lived last season where everything seemed to work out, the Dutch rider as well as her team Boels Dolmans have had a slower start to the season. After finishing fourth at Trofeo Alfredo Binda last weekend we hope to see the most blatant version of the Dutch rider in Flanders.
At Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields Belgian rider Jolien D’hoore will try to claim her second UCI WWT victory (after winning La Madrid Challenge in 2016) in front of the home crowds. “The Belgian Bullet” heads home after proving some strong classics season form, scoring some top results such as finishing seventh at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, winning Spar – Omloop van het Hageland or finishing sixth at Ronde van Drenthe two weeks ago, looking to perform well in home soil.
2016 was the breakthrough season for the 27-year old Finish rider claiming six victories as well as getting on several podiums at UCI WWT one-day races. Her two bronze medals in Doha World Championships were the icing on the cake to an incredible year and her career season so far. For 2017 Lepistö aims to move a step forward from previous season leading Cervélo-Bigla not only on the sprints but also at the one-day classic races. Lepistö proved she is on track for her 2017 goal after finishing fourth at Spar – Omloop van het Hageland, fifth at Drentse Acht van Westerveld as well as claiming her first victory of the season last Wednesday at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. Finish Cervélo Bigla rider is one of our top riders to follow this weekend in Flanders.
Despite the fact that Belgian rider Lotte Kopecky has focused during winter on track cycling (claiming gold madison and bronce omnium medals at European Championships as well as claiming a silver and a gold -in Cali- medal at the omnium competition of the Track World Cup), she has hit some strong early road season form, scoring some top classics results (11th at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, fifth at Spar – Omloop van het Hageland, second at Drentse Acht van Westerveld and sixth on Wednesday at Dwars Door Vlaanderen). At Gent-Wevelgem she will try to claim her first victory of the season and the first victory ever in the UCI WWT series for Lotto Soudal.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Annemiek has shown some great early season form winning Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, finishing third at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, fifth at both Strade Bianche and Ronde van Drenthe and sixth last week at Trofeo Alfredo Binda. Overall winner of the 2011 UCI Women Road World Cup Annemiek van Vleuten currently sits in third position at the UCI WWT standings. Despite she doesn’t have the best top-end speed, her versatility, consistency and fighting spirit make Annemiek one of the most dangerous riders to have under control at the fourth UCI WWT round. Moreover her Orica-Scott teammates offer also solid chances in case of a bunch or a reduced group sprint finale.
Current World Champion Amalie Dideriksen is one of our riders to watch at Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields. The 20-yearl-old Danish rider claimed two weeks ago her first ever UCI WWT victory and the first victory of the season for Boels-Dolmans. At Ronde van Drenthe Dideriksen out-sprinted her breakaway partners fading away any rainbow jersey curse conversation. Amalie has also delivered some good performances on the track earlier this season, mainly at some omnium Six Day competitions, finished third at the Six Day Final held in Mallorca. World Champion Amalie Dideriksen is one of our top riders to watch in Flanders where she will try to hold the group during the main difficulties to use her top-end speed in case of a bunch sprint finale.
Thalita de Jong
A terribly-timed injury prevented Dutch rider Thalita de Jong from defending her CX World Champion tittle. After crashing during the final round of the World Cup in Hoogerheide, resulting quadriceps tear, saw her World CX title defense hopes vanished away. After recovering both physically and mentally from that tremendous setback, de Jong made her road season debut two weeks ago at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, earning some good results, finishing on the top-10 in two stages. On Wednesday Thalita finishied fifth at Dwaars door Vlaanderen proving she has already hit some good road form and already on track to face her new leader role in the top-ranked race with her new Belgian team Lares Waowdeals.
After becoming one of the most dominant sprinters of the international peloton winning several top-ranked races, including UCI WWT Chongming Island and La Course, Australian rider Chloe Hosking broke the news last September announcing that after two successful seasons with Wiggle High5 (previously Wiggle-Honda) she would switch teams for 2017 joining Italian-registered Alé Cipollini Galassia, in pursuit of a more comprehensive approach to balance her personal life, tertiary education and her professional racing career. In 2017 Hosking has already repaid her Alé Cipollini team winning one stage and the points jersey at Santos Women’s Tour, finishing second at Spar – Omloop van het Hageland and claiming her second victory of the season two weeks ago at Drentse Acht van Westerveld. At Gent-Wevelgem Chloe will try to improve the tenth position scored at Ronde van Drenthe, her best UCI WWT result of the 2017 season.
Italian road race national champion Elena Cecchini forms part (along with Hannah Barnes, Trixi Worrack, Barbara Guarischi and Lisa Brennauer) of the strong Canyon-SRAM five-rider roster for Gent-Wevelgem. Italian rider Elena Cecchini showed some good form and great consistency during the first weeks of the European season setting high expectations for the coming races. After scoring some impressive results during the past two weeks, finishing second in Ronde van Drenthe and fifth in Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Cecchini is ready to fight for her first UCI WWT victory and the first one as well for her team Canyon-SRAM. Thus, Elena Cecchini, who sits in second place at UCI WWT individual ranking, is one of our top riders to follow in Flanders.
With Marianne Vos absence at Gent-Wevelgem the 22-year-old Polish rider Kasia Niewiadoma while share with Australian Lauren Kitchen leading duties for Dutch team WM3 Energie. During this season Polish national champion (both road race and time trial) has kept her racing days to a minimum, counting them for great performances and good results proving she is on track to a face season that will likely be a turning point in her career, as her new role at WM3 Energie (after Rabobank-Liv farewell) will demand more results and responsibilities from the lightweight Polish climber. Niewadoma is aware she can not match the top-end speed of other contender. Thus, we expect to she her impressive fighting spirit, racing as blatantly as she has done at the latter classics.
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.
German rider Lisa Brennauer is of the riders to follow at Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields. Brennauer has had a slow start to the season but she has finally finished on the podium at Dwaars door Vlaanderen. At the Flanders classic Brennauer will try to improve her 2016 runner-up position, when she won the sprint of the chasing group. Along with her Canyon SRAM teammates she forms part of very strong and versatile roster with several winning chances for the Belgian race.
Cuban rider Arlenis Sierra is one of the revelations of the 2017 season. In her first full European season with Astana Women’s Team Sierra has already claimed a stage victory at Setmana Ciclista Valencia, where she also finished second overall. After her superb performance last weekend, finishing second in Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Sierra has set high expectations for the coming races. Thus, Arlenis Sierra is our riders to follow during her Belgian classics debut.
In her first full European season American rider Coryn Rivera has already become one of the revelations of the season following her teammate Leah Kirchmann 2016 feat. After earning some modest results during the first weeks of the European season, but delivering very good performances, being frequently on the breakaways and trying to put other quick finishers into difficulty, last week she claimed a major victory at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, where nobody could match her to top-end speed. Coryn Rivera, who forms part of one the strongest rosters in Flanders, is one of our top riders to watch in Gent-Wevelgem.