SD Worx back to winning ways at Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields
First solo victor since 2016
Swiss rider Marlen Reusser soloed to a fine victory in Sunday’s wet, cold, crash-ridden Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields. With her triumph, SD Worx got back to its winning ways, having taken three consecutive WorldTour races from February 25 to March 11. It was the first Gent-Wevelgem win for a Swiss rider and the first solo win since Reusser’s Dutch teammate Chantal van den Broek-Blaak in 2016. The top Canadian was Maggie Coles-Lyster in 13th.
Most of this season’s one-day race winners were on the start line. Reigning champ Elisa Balsamo joined Lotte Kopecky (Omloop Het Nieuwsblad), Lorena Wiebes (Miron Ronde van Drenth), Shirin van Anrooij (Trofeo Alfredo Binda) and Pfieffer Georgi (Bruge De Panne). The Canadian contigent was EF Eduction-TIBCO-SVB’s Alison Jackson and Sara Poidevin, Zaaf’s Coles-Lyster and Cofidis’ Gabrielle Pilote Fortin.
The 162.5 km of the women’s race held a single section of “plugstreet” in its first third and hit seven climbs from kilometres 98 to 128. The Scherpenberg, Baneberg and Kemmelberg would be climbed twice, with Kemmelberg’s ascents both from the Belvedere side and steeper Ossuaire side.
Like the men’s race, the women’s edition suffered from cold, wet conditions that caused several crashes. No breakaway was able to get away before the first set of hills. The first Scherpenberg to Baneberg section saw Jackson, Pilote Fortin and Georgi among those who crashed.
The first ascent of Kemmelberg created a group containing Lucinda Brand, but it all came back together. The decisive attack came on the second time up the Baneberg, where Reusser took her leave of the others. Soloing off the front, she descended Kemmelberg 2 with over a minute’s lead. Could she hold on for 34 km?
The crosswinds buffeted the closest chase group containing Georgi and van Anrooij. In the peloton just behind, Wiebes and Balsamo were caught up in a crash.
With 4.3 km to go, Reusser took a wrong turn, but she had a 2:00 buffer at that point.
The podium race became the real drama. Multiple attacks came in the final 1.5 km but no one could bust loose. With 500 meters remaining, the peloton made it over to the smaller chase and from this mob Megan Jastrab and Maike van der Duin earned the second and third spots.
1) Marle Reusser (Switzerland/SD Worx) 4:16:42
2) Megan Jastrab (USA/DSM) +2:42
3) Maike van der Duin (The Netherlands/Canyon-SRAM) s.t.
13) Maggie Coles-Lyster (Canada/Zaaf) s.t.
46) Sara Poidevin (Canada/EF Eduction-TIBCO-SVB) +2:48
66) Alison Jackson (Canada/EF Eduction-TIBCO-SVB) +4:40