What's Cool In Road Cycling

Cecchini and Zorzi ready for the Tour of Flanders after their 9th place of last weekend

Two nice ninth places for the Lotto Soudal Ladies last Sunday. Italian champion Elena Cecchini conquered that place at Trofeo Binda, her fellow countrywoman Susanna Zorzi had set the same result earlier that afternoon at Ghent-Wevelgem. Both are satisfied with their performance and are looking forward to the Tour of Flanders, Thursday they’ll recon the course.

There was a strong wind and lots of rain during Ghent-Wevelgem. Echelons were created and a front group of twenty was formed. The Lotto Soudal Ladies were represented by Susanna Zorzi. After the second ascent of the Monteberg Zorzi got away with five others. Because of a crash Amy Pieters lost contact and Zorzi was left in the company of Ensing, Hosking, Knetemann and Slappendel. Pieters could come back together with D’hoore, Mackaij and van Gogh. About three kilometres from the end Floortje Mackaij attacked and that was successful. Janneke Ensing and Chloe Hosking tried to join her, but had to be satisfied with the second and third place respectively. Susanna Zorzi tried to avoid the sprint for the fourth place, but didn’t make it. Eventually she was ninth.

Susanna Zorzi: “I’m really happy with this ninth place. The team believed in me and I didn’t want to let them down. The wind and rain made it a hard race from the start on. It was important to ride in the front of the peloton from the beginning. You immediately used a lot of energy. By racing attentively I got in the decisive breakaway. There were lots of attacks in the final. I did one attempt. Eventually Mackaij took off.”

Terrible weather
“The last three kilometres I attacked to secure myself of the fourth place, but in the final kilometre the other girls caught me. I tried to sprint, but that’s not one of my strong points. I’m satisfied with the ninth place. The weather was terrible on Sunday. I don’t like rain or wind, but I can set strong results in this type of weather. My head doesn’t like it, but my body does.”

“Until Wednesday evening I’ll stay in Italy, I can train here in nice weather. Then I’ll head back to Belgium to recon the course of the Tour of Flanders on Thursday. I feel great, so I want to set another good result. I’m really motivated for Sunday. Elena, who was ninth in Binda, and I can support each other. I expect it will be war again on Sunday.”

It was the moment of truth at Trofeo Binda on the climb in the third of four local laps. Six riders could create a gap: Alena Amialiusik, Lizzie Armitstead, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Elisa Longo Borghini, Jolanda Neff and Anna van der Breggen. The winner would come from this group. Lizzie Armistead won. World champion Ferrand-Prévot got second, van der Breggen third. One and a half minutes later a group of about thirty riders arrived at the finish to sprint for the seventh place. Elena Cecchini was third in that sprint, finishing ninth. Carlee Taylor was part of the same group, she was 34th in the ranking.

Elena Cecchini: “In the race Dany Schoonbaert told us that Susy had taken the ninth place in Ghent-Wevelgem. He urged us to do even better. When the race exploded on the climb in the third lap I couldn’t follow the best although I rode in seventh position, just behind the six that got away. It’s a pity, but it shows that I can still improve. The ninth place is a good result, because in the group sprint for the seventh place I finished just behind Annemiek van Vleuten and Ellen van Dijk.”

“Carlee Taylor supported me at Trofeo Binda, she was really strong. Hopefully we can both continue this way. Now the Tour of Flanders is coming up. I expect a lot of attacks on Sunday. The Oude Kwaremont will cause a big selection. The reconnaissance on Thursday is really important to do well in the actual race. In the Tour of Flanders it’s especially important to know the route.”

“It’s a race full of crucial points, you have to be attentive all the time. A good position on the hills is the key to a good result. The experience of Lieselot Decroix will be a big help. She knows all the roads and every corner. This is a very important race for the team and I will do my utmost best. Hopefully there’s not so much wind as in Ghent-Wevelgem. Some sunshine would even be better, the race is already hard enough without rain (laughs).”

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