The ninth women’s edition of Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields went down to a reduced bunch sprint and when the dust settled world champion Elisa Balsamo won her third WorldTour race in a week, having taken Trofeo Binda last Sunday and De Panne on Thursday. Balsamo padded her lead over Lotte Kopecky at the top of the Women’s WorldTour standings. Sara Poidevin was top Canadian in 27th.
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The women had seven cobbled climbs over 159 km, with the final hill the hard Ossuaire side of the Kemmelberg, averaging 10 percent with a max of 22 percent. Kemmelberg crested 33 km before the finish in Wevelgem.
The Canadian contingent was Alison Jackson (Liv), Sara Poidevin (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) and Olivia Baril of Valcar-Travel & Service.
On the Kemmelberg-Ossuaire, Australian Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) got loose but soon was sopped up by the streamlined peloton. With the hills finished there was plenty of surges at the front to make the sprint field smaller.
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Thirty riders headed towards Wevelgem. Poidevin and Baril were still there.
More moves were nullified as the finish line drew closer, with Balsamo’s Trek-Segafredo teammates Ellen van Dijk and Shirin van Anrooij doing a lot of the pursuing. A group of 13 containing Poidevin bounced clear with 11 km remaining but once more it was all sewn up.
Grace Brown tried her luck again inside 4 km to ride. She had a useful gap but it was reduced to nothing by the red flag.
Marlen Reusser worked to lead out Lotte Kopecky. But it would be the Italian on a roll who took the day’s flowers. Legend Marianne Vos was runner-up.
Dwars door Vlaanderen is on Wednesday and the Tour of Flanders is next Sunday.
2022 Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields
1) Elisa Balsamo (Italy/Trek-Segafredo) 3:39:15
2) Marianne Vos (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) s.t.
3) Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Italy/Ceratizit-WNT) s.t.
27) Sara Poidevin (Canada/EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) s.t.
28) Olivia Baril (Canada/Valcar-Travel and Service) s.t.
79) Alison Jackson (Canada/Liv) +5:15