01 Abr 15 riders to watch at Ronde van Vlaanderen (1.WWT)
Elisa Longo Borghini
Italian rider Elisa Longo Borghini peaked her great start to the season winning Strade Bianche in front of the home crowds in Siena. Despite crashing in the fifth gravel sector, Elisa managed with the help of her teammates to get back to the front of the race and finally win her first UCI WWT event ever. After such a great start to the UCI WWT season Elisa Longo Borghini forwarded momentum defending her UCI WWT leader jersey at the following three rounds. At Ronde van Vlaanderen Longo Borghini is one our top contenders to follow, as she will try to reedit her 2015 victory, when she soloed to victory in Oudenaarde after a brave attack just beyond the Kanarieberg with around 35 kilometres to the finish line.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Annemiek showed some strong early season form winning Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and finishing third during the European season inaugural weekend in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Dutch rider van Vleuten forwarded momentum scoring some top results during the following weeks at the UCI WWT races (finishing fifth at both Strade Bianche and Ronde van Drenthe and sixth at Trofeo Alfredo Binda), proving once again her amazing persistence and fighting spirit. Winner of the 2011 Ronde van Vlaanderen and overall winner of UCI Women Road World Cup that same year, Annemiek van Vleuten is one of favourites in Flanders where she will try to claim her first UCI WWT victory ever with the help of her Orica-Scott teammates.
Once again, as Marianne Vos misses Ronde van Vlaanderen, the 22-year-old Polish rider Kasia Niewiadoma will assume 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 rider. Niewadoma is our favourite to claim her first UCI WWT win at Ronde van Vlaanderen, a victory that will peak her great classics season and that will remind us not to merely quote her as a climber.
Italian road race national champion Elena Cecchini forms part (along with Hannah Barnes, Trixi Worrack, Tiffany Cromwell, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Lisa Brennauer) of the strong Canyon-SRAM roster in Flanders. 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 weeks, finishing second in Ronde van Drenthe, fifth Trofeo Alfredo Binda and ninth at Gent-Wevelgem, Elena Cecchini, who sits in second place at UCI WWT individual ranking, seeks her first UCI WWT victory and the first one for her team Canyon-SRAM as well.
After a remarkable 2016 classics season where Blaak showed herself as one of the riders on best contenders for the spring classics and the joy moment Boels-Dolmans 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 mainly due to badly-timed crashes and illnesses. Dutch rider Chantal Blaak is one of our top riders to watch at Ronde van Vlaanderen, where she will to improve her third place from the previous edition.
Ellen van Dijk
After three in Boels-Dolmans Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk switched teams this season joining Team Sunweb. Despite van Dijk hasn’t claim any victory yet for her new team, she has had a very strong start to the season, playing a crucial role at Team Sunweb top performances either attacking or working on behalf of her teammates setting a high pace to put all the quick finishers into difficulty. Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk is one of the favourites to watch in Flanders as she will certainly try to repeat her 2014 edition feat.
At Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields Belgian rider Jolien D’hoore narrowly missed her second UCI WWT victory (after winning La Madrid Challenge in 2016) in front of the home crowds. “The Belgian Bullet” was out-sprinted by Finish rider Lotta Lepistö in a very close photo-finish. Jolien seeks again to perform well in home soil after proving some strong classics season form, scoring some top results (including her victory at Spar – Omloop van het Hageland) and setting high expectations for the coming weeks. Thus, “the Belgian Bullet” is one of our riders to follow in Flanders.
After proving last week she is on fire, Finish Cervélo Bigla rider is one of our top riders to follow this Sunday in Flanders. 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 aimed 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 was on track for her 2017 goal after finishing fourth at Spar – Omloop van het Hageland, fifth at Drentse Acht van Westerveld before winning last week both Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem, claiming her first UCI WWT win ever and setting high expectations for the coming races.
Anna van der Bregen
Current Olympic road race champion Anna van der Breggen is one of our contenders to follow in Ronde van Vlaanderen. After switching teams this season joining Boels-Dolmans, Anna van der Breggen has had a slow start to the season, missing Strade Bianche due to illness and scoring very modest results at the following three UCI WWT rounds. In Flanders van der Bregen will be looking for a season kick-start to meet expectations after becoming one of the best international riders during the past two seasons (winning 2015 UCI Ranking, 2015 Giro Rosa, three medals in Richmond RWC, Olympic road race champion and bronze ITT medalist, European road champion and ITT runner-up among other great results).
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 at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and 16th at Gent-Wevelgem). Kopecky will try to perform well in front of the home crowds at the fifth UCI WWT round.
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 Ronde van Vlaanderen “the Hippy Lyon” seeks to deliver another historic performance in the UCI WWT series, after scoring a historic tenth position at last week Gent Wevelgem, her best UCI WWT result so far. Spanish rider Sheyla Gutiérrez heads to Ronde van Vlaanderen on a great form and mood, ready to roar in Flanders, where the lions are meant to shine.
Danish rider Marie Vilmann is possibly one of the biggest surprises on this list. Her good form has been somehow overshadowed by her Cervélo-Bigla teammates Lotta Lepistö and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who have delivered some great performances and scored some top results and victories during these past weeks. Vilmann, who can benefit of being less controlled than other top contenders, one of our riders to follow in Flanders, where we hope to see the most blatant and powerful version of the Danish rider.
Despite her slower start to the season, Australian rider Tiffany Cromwell has already delivered some good performances, scoring some good results such as finishing third and sixth at Le Samyn des Dames and Pajot Hills respectively. In Flanders Cromwell will try to improve her 2014 top-10 position. Along with her Canyon SRAM teammates she forms part of very strong and versatile roster with several winning chances and tactics to play at one of the most awaited races of the international calendar.
The 21-year-old British rider is one of the revelations of the season. After hitting some good early season during Santos Women’s Tour, where Barnes finished ninth overall, British Drops rider has been able to continue on a good form during the European classics season, scoring some top results such as finishing eight and seventh at Ronde van Drenthe and Gent-Wevelgem, setting high expectations for the coming races. Alice Barnes is one of our riders to follow in her first participation at Ronde van Vlaanderen.
US rider Coryn Rivera, who forms part of one the strongest rosters in Flanders, is one of our top riders to watch in Ronde van Vlaanderen. 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, two weeks ago she claimed a major victory at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, where nobody could match her to top-end speed.