03 Abr Ronde van Vlaanderen Race Review (1.WWT)
Current world champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) won today in Oudenaarde, East Flanders continuing Boels Dolmans outstanding winning streak. It was her first victory in her third participation at Ronde van Vlaanderen. The reigning road world, Commonwealth and national champion got away with Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) just after the Oude Kwaremont and the duo managed to stay away from the eight-rider chasing group. Despite the chasing efforts of four riders at the chasing group, Emma and Lizzie had respectively one and three teammates at the group that obviously did not collaborate on the chase, the two riders were able to maintain their gap until the finish line. In a very close sprint the British rider defeated the Swedish.
Another strong performance in Oudenaarde from Dutch team Boels Dolmans, who has won five out of five rounds of the inaugural UCI WWT series. Armitstead won both the inaugural event of the UCI WWT at Strade Bianche, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and today’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, while the Dutch rider Chantal Blaak won Ronde van Drenthe and Gent-Wevelgem. Outstanding streak for the Dutch team who has finished on the podium at all of their 2016 season UCI ranked races with the only exception of Omloop van het Hageland Tielt-Winge.
The first breakaway of the day was the one formed in early stages of the classic by Clara Koppenburg (Cervélo Bigla) and Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB), who only managed to have a few seconds advantage over their few-kilometres breakaway. As they were caught their attempt was followed by Lauren Hall (TIBCO-SVB), time trial world champion Linda Villumsen (UnitedHealthcare), Dalia Muccioli (Alé Cipollini) and Druyts (Topsport Vlaanderen). They never had more than a quarter of a minute advantage and were caught before the Wolvenberg, first climb of the day. After the first climbs several riders were into trouble (crashed, punctures or simply being dropped) and several groups were dropped on the back of the peloton.
It was after the Paddestraat, when two riders broke away, Thalita de Jong (Rabobank Liv) and Iris Slappendel (UnitedHealthcare). De Jong had a maximum advantage of forty seconds over the chasing peloton and twenty-five over Slappendel. Shortly after Kaperij climb she was caught by a peloton leaded by Orica-AIS rider Loren Rowney, who despite being dropped due to a puncture just before the Molenberg was able to get back to the front group and give a hand helping their teammates to take leading positions and finish the chasing efforts over Thalita de Jong.
The race headed then to its seventh climb, a critical point, the Kanarieberg climb. The peloton split into several pieces at this point and with about 25 kilometres to go there was a leading reduced group of 25 riders approx. Every climb was reducing the number of riders on the front and after the Kruisberg and Oude Kwaremont there were less than fifteen riders on front group.
Just after Oude Kwaremont it was Boels-Dolmans Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk who tried to surprise and attacked. However her wheel was quickly taken and it was then at mark 16.3km when Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) delivered an outstanding counterattack that was only responded by Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans), who despite being on the other side of the road quickly reacted and jumped to Emma’s wheel. Another great move by the tactically gifted Swedish rider came as the decisive attack of this edition of Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Both riders knew it was a great opportunity and collaborated well. They never had more than twenty seconds but it was enough for a such legend riders as Emma and Lizzie are. The eight riders (firstly they were nine) who formed the chasing group were: Chantal Blaak, Megan Guarnier and Ellen van Dijk (Boels Dolmans), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5), Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica – AIS), Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabobank-Liv) and Claudia Lichtenberg (Lotto Soudal). The last four were the ones who shared the leading efforts at the chasing group, as Emma and Lizzie had respectively one and three teammates at the group that obviously did not collaborate on the chase,
In a very close sprint Emma was defeated by Lizzie. The leading group sprint was launched by German Lotto Soudal rider Claudia Lichtenberg (formerly Häusler) who has alternate great and second-rate performances at the UCI WWT. However, she was outsprinted by all her group partners except Kasia and finished ninth. The sprint was won by Chantal Blaak, who switched positions with Lizzie on the Women’s World Tour Ranking.
Boels–Dolmans has now won all five UCI WWT events so far this season, with Armitstead and Blaak sharing all the victories between themselves. However, the rest of Boels–Dolmans riders are also performing greatly. It is definitely the idea of momentum, of winning continuation what is being an important factor at the Dutch team. Her confidence has been boosted, with all their recent great performances, to a higher level so that they are truly believing in themselves and they are riding and acting as the great champions they potentially could be. As Armitstead and Blaak shine, they are unconsciously giving their teammates the momentum needed to do the same. Their teammates got to feel liberated and they are continuously outnumbering other teams on the front groups. This is something we have already seen in the past with other teams, such as Rabobank Liv. The importance of winning dynamics and momentum enhancing performance in sports.
At this nervous edition of Ronde van Vlaanderen, where many crashes and punctures occurred, Sheyla Guitérrez (Cylance) was our top national finisher. Debuting team Lointek achieved to finished the race with two Spanish riders Alicia González and Alba Teruel who came in 94th and 105th respectively.
Next UCI WWT race will be on Wednesday 20th April 2016, as the Women’s WorldTour La Flèche Wallonne Feminine will be held in Belgium. The UCI WWT rankings remains as follows:
UCI Women’s WorldTour Individual Ranking
|1||Elizabeth Armitstead||Boels Dolmans||368|
|2||Chantal Blaak||Boels Dolmans||343|
|3||Emma Johansson||Wiggle High5||285|
|4||Megan Guarnier||Boels Dolmans||240|
|5||Annemiek van Vleuten||Orica-AIS||195|
|6||Anna van der Breggen||Rabobank Liv||180|
|7||Katarzyna Niewiadoma||Rabobank Liv||165|
|8||Elisa Longo Borghini||Wiggle High5||142|
|11||Lisa Brennauer||Canyon SRAM||112|
|12||Leah Kirchmann||Liv Plantur||106|
|13||Lucinda Brand||Rabobank Liv||101|
|14||Lauren Kitchen||Hitec Products||95|
|15||Trixi Worrack||Canyon SRAM||85|
UCI Women’s WorldTour Youth Ranking
|1||Katarzyna Niewiadoma||Rabobank Liv||18|
|2||Floortje Mackaij||Liv Plantur||12|
|3||Lotte Kopecky||Lotto Soudal||6|
Women’s WorldTour Team Ranking
Highlights Trofeo Alfredo Binda UCI WWT