Previews with Anouk Rijff and Elena Cecchini​

Sunday the Lotto Soudal Ladies have a double schedule. Five girls start in the Trofeo Binda, the second World Cup race of the season. And eight riders participate in Ghent-Wevelgem.

The women’s race of Ghent-Wevelgem doesn’t start near Ghent, but in Ieper. At 12.30h the peloton leaves for a 115 kilometres long ride. First of all the riders take a loop of 13 kilometres and they go through Ieper again, after that they head to a hilly section. After 35 kilometres in the race the riders arrive at the Kemmelberg and the Monteberg. This section is followed by a flat 30 kilometres section and the Baneberg. Finally the Kemmelberg and the Monteberg have to be covered a second time. When the riders leave these climbs behind them there are still 34 kilometres to go until the finish line. Via Ieper the peloton goes towards the finish in Wevelgem.

Anouk Rijff is one of the Lotto Soudal Ladies that start in Ghent-Wevelgem. Omloop het Nieuwsblad was the first race of this 19-year-old Dutch girl in her new team colours. Halfway the race she had an unfortunate crash in the descent of the Paterberg and she broke her left collarbone. That same day she got surgery. Rijff, who rides her first year in the elite category, made her comeback last weekend in the Cholet Pays de Loire. She finished as 24th. Wednesday she started in the GP Stad Waregem, she became fourteenth.

Anouk Rijff: “Anisha Vekemans, Chantal Hoffmann and I rode an offensive race in Waregem, last Wednesday. But we couldn’t stay in front. Two laps before the end Floortje Mackaij attacked and she was accompanied by Amy Pieters. In the final lap I tried to keep Anisha in the front and I wanted to be the lead out for her, to strive for the third place. But the end of the race was dangerous and this resulted in a crash in the final turn. From that moment on everyone was alone, there was disorganisation and I couldn’t help Anisha anymore.

Smooth comeback after collarbone fracture
“After that crash in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad I immediately knew that my collarbone was broken. On that moment my thoughts were rushing. Until then everything went well, I also had a good training camp. My comeback after this fracture went smoothly. Last year I broke my collarbone at the exact same spot. That happened in April, not even a year ago. At the beginning of my comeback last season I struggled and my first races weren’t that great. At the moment I don’t have the momentum, that’s why I rode rather offensively in Waregem. But my disadvantage is not that big. After one week I was already able to train. My recovery went well.”

“Sunday I will start in Ghent-Wevelgem. I hope to help the team as good as possible, that will be my prior goal. Susanna Zorzi wants to get a good result in this race. It will be very important to be in the front at the Kemmelberg. There will be a decimation at the top of the Kemmel. And the last part of that climb is really hard. The cobblestones make this climb even harder. Espacially the second time this will have its impact.”

“This is my first year as a pro. I don’t want to talk about getting certain results in several races. First of all, I hope to learn a lot this season, also from the other riders in the team. This is a big step. The races are longer than in the junior category. The priority is to learn and to help the team. A good result is always nice but it’s not my main goal. I’m very fond of this team.”

Elena Cecchini aims for top ten in Trofeo Binda
The Trofeo Binda will be the first race of Elena Cecchini after she crashed two weeks ago in the Novilon Eurocup. The Italian champion incurred a hematoma on her left elbow. The Trofeo Binda is 123.7 kilometres long. The riders start in Laveno Mombello, the finish line is drawn in Cittiglio. That’s in the north of Italy in the province of Varese, in the Lombardia region. After 17.6 kilometres the peloton starts a first loop of 37.7 kilometres, next there are four smaller laps of 17.1 kilometres with one hill.

Elena Cecchini: “My elbow is getting better day by day. I had no fractures, only a big hematoma and that takes some time to heal. It still hurts when there is a hole in the road, but that’s not going to be a problem on Sunday. Unfortunately I had to skip the race in Cholet, it was impossible to ride there. And I didn’t want to jeopardize Trofeo Binda as this race is really important to me, it’s a World Cup in my home country.”

“I really love this race. It’s the third time I will take the start. The weather forecast says it will be sunny. Trofeo Binda is a hard race. The first climb in the race is not too tough, but riders always get dropped there. In the four local laps there is a two-kilometres long climb. The best riders will get in front there.”

“I expect a group of maximal ten riders to go to the finish line together. Last year I finished on the tenth place, I arrived in a second group at almost fifty seconds. It’s my goal to get a top ten place on Sunday again. I have to make sure I’m in front when the race explodes. The strongest teams may want to set up an early breakaway. It will be important to pay attention from start to finish.”

Selection Ghent-Wevelgem:
Isabelle Beckers, Amy Cure, Lieselot Decroix, Chantal Hoffmann, Anouk Rijff, Marion Rousse, Jesse Vandenbulcke and Susanna Zorzi.

Selection Trofeo Binda:
Elena Cecchini, Molly Meyvisch, Sarah Rijkes, Carlee Taylor and Anisha Vekemans.

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