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World champion van Vleuten wins women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Spring Classics season kicks off in Belgium

World champion Annemiek van Vleuten (The Netherlands/Mitchelton-Scott) attacked on the famous Muur climb to win Saturday’s 1.1-rated Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in typically nasty Belgian conditions of chilly rain and wind.

The Course
Starting in Ghent’s velodrome, the field faced five cobble sectors and 10 hills on narrow roads over 122.9-km. If a move hadn’t skipped away earlier in the race, the fireworks would surely come on the last two cobbled climbs: Muur-Kapelmuur, 500-metres of 8 percent cresting with 12.5-km to go; and the Bosberg, 900-metres of 6.1 percent peaking with 9.5-km remaining.

With the men’s and women’s races starting only 12-minutes apart, organizers must have crossed their fingers that the women’s contest wouldn’t have to be neutralized like it was last year.

A couple of solo breakaway attempts came to naught and a trio that managed to dash away was reeled in. There was a crash in a reduced peloton with 72-km to go that caused van Vleuten to have to chase back on.

The Molenberg streamlined the peloton, with Boels-Dolmans driving the group. A further whittling came on the Paddestraat under Mitchelton-Scott’s impetus. With 23-km remaining, it was clear that the winner would come from the leading group of 21.

It was time for the Muur, with van Vleuten fragmenting the bunch. By the time she reached the church at the top, the Dutch rider had 15-seconds over her closest pursuers.

Five riders formed a chase to bring back the world champion before the Bosberg, but they couldn’t make any inroads. Their strategy switched to fighting for podium positions.

It was van Vleuten’s first win of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after third place in 2017.

The top Canadian was Alison Jackson, 23rd in her debut for Sunweb. Sara Poidevin of Rally was 30th.

2020 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
1) Annemiek van Vleuten (The Netherlands/Mitchelton-Scott) 3:34:55
2) Marta Bastianelli (Italy/Alé BTC Ljubljana) +0:42
3) Floortje Mackaij (The Netherlands/Sunweb) s.t.
23) Alison Jackson (Canada/Sunweb) +3:14
30) Sara Poidevin (Canada/Rally) +3:2