What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lotto Soudal Ladies: Preview Tour of Flanders

On Easter Sunday, 5th April, it’s the twelfth edition of the Tour of Flanders for women. At about eleven o’clock the riders will start in Oudenaarde, where the winner will triumph in the afternoon after a ride of 144.9 kilometres. The Tour of Flanders is the third round of the World Cup 2015.

It’s only after fifty kilometres the first of ten hills lies on the course, that’s the Wolvenberg. Then the riders head to Mater for three cobblestone sections: Ruiterstraat (800 m), Kerkgate (2650 m) and Holleweg (350 m). After the Molenberg the peloton races over the cobbles of the Paddestraat (2300 m). From there on the women still have more than 75 kilometres to cover. Also the Haaghoek (2000 m) is part of the route. After these cobblestones eight hills are left, for example the Berendries and Valkenberg. The Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg are the last two hills of the day. When the riders have covered those they are at thirteen kilometres from the finish line.

Yesterday Elena Cecchini and Susanna Zorzi did a recon of the last one hundred kilometres of the course, riding over all the hills and cobbles. Last year Elena finished as seventeenth at 1’21” of winner Ellen van Dijk.

Elena Cecchini: “We did a reconnaissance of the last one hundred kilometres of the course, that was very useful, also to get the right feeling on the cobbles. The Tour of Flanders really is a long race for us women. That distance and wind are scary to everyone. With the team we want to be ready when the race explodes. We prefer to be in front with three to four girls at the moment of truth, that way we can respond to different attacks.”

Keep calm in first phase
“The first sixty kilometres we have to keep calm, stay out of the wind and save energy. At first a selection will be made at the back of the bunch, where riders will get dropped on the hills. In the Tour of Flanders you need to be lucky and don’t have any punctures or mechanical problems. So to win you don’t only have to be the strongest. Last year I was part of a second chase group at about fifteen seconds of the group in front of us. Ellen van Dijk was solo in front.”

“The winner is likely to be in one of these three teams: Boels Dolmans with riders like Lizzie Armitstead, Chantal Blaak and Ellen van Dijk, Rabo with Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Anna van der Breggen and Wiggle Honda with Jolien D’hoore, Chloe Hosking and Elisa Longo Borghini. When you’re in a breakaway with riders of this team, it’s an advantage that they won’t chase.”

Dany Schoonbaert, head sports department Lotto Soudal Ladies: “It’s definitely possible for Elena Cecchini to finish in the top ten on Sunday. In the Trofeo Binda she proved to be strong. Susanna Zorzi could finish high as well. She’s not fast at the finish, so she’ll have to anticipate. For Anouk Rijff it’s her first year in the elite category, her role will be to keep the leaders out of the wind and don’t let them lose too much energy in the beginning of the race. Carlee Taylor can play a role deep in the final and close gaps if necessary.”

“The Tour of Flanders is a really hard race with all those hills and cobblestones and the long distance. You have to be lucky as well, because a lot can go wrong. The wind will play a crucial role again. After the first fifty kilometres the selection can start. The peloton will be a lot smaller after the Paddestraat, I expect a group of about forty-five riders will be left. If we still have four girls in that group we can be satisfied.”

Selection Lotto Soudal Ladies: Elena Cecchini, Lieselot Decroix, Anouk Rijff, Carlee Taylor, Anisha Vekemans and Susanna Zorzi.

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