Jolien D’hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) won an incident-filled 2018 edition of the women’s Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde in Belgium on Thursday.
The Belgian road race champion took the bunch sprint, but had to check with other riders after crossing the line that she had actually won, as she thought a remnant of the day’s break had got there first.
Chloe Hosking (Ale-Cipollini) placed second with Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) completing the podium positions in third.
How it happened
The 151.7km race was punctuated by numerous crashes, mechanicals and splits in the peloton caused by earlier rain and blustery conditions.
The day started under falling rain in Bruges. As the peloton rolled out, they soon had to stop at a level crossing – but once they had restarted the speed picked up.
It wasn’t long before the peloton started to break apart in the crosswinds, with led to the formation of a leading group of around 15 riders after 20km.
Inside 100km to go, the lead group’s advantage over the chasing bunch was not huge – only around a minute and a half. At this point the group consisted of 13 riders: Eva Buurman (Trek-Drops), Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-Scott), Jelena Eric (Cylance Pro Cycling), Sheyla Gutierrez (Cylance Pro Cycling), Romy Kasper (Ale Cipollini), Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), Mieke Kröger (Team Virtu), Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans), Emma Norsgaard (Cervelo-Bigla), Kasia Pawlowska (Team Vitru), Monique van de Ree (Waowdeals), Abi Van Twisk (Trek-Drops) and Moniek Tenniglo (FDJ).
Majerus was the first to get dropped out of the break after suffering from a flat tyre, and quickly put herself at the front of the chasers to work for Boels-Dolmans, who no longer had a rider in the lead group.
More crashes assisted in splitting up peloton as it wound its way through the windswept countryside before hitting the streets of De Panne to navigate the finishing circuits.
Disaster soon struck for Tenniglo in the break with 27km to go, as she was one of a number of riders to fall victim to tram tracks. Several riders in the following peloton also fell on the same stretch of tracks.
Evidently paying for her efforts in the break, Eric suffered from cramp and was forced to sit up out of the escape with 24km to go. Van Twisk, too, was dropped.
Into the final 20km, Team Sunweb and Ale-Cipollini led the pace-setting of the chasing peloton with only eight riders left in the escape group.
Kröger attacked out of the break with 10km, putting in an impressive effort to distance her former escape companions. She tucked into an aero position on her bars with only Elvin giving chase.
However, Elvin could make no headway into getting back in touch with Kröger, who passed under the kiloemtre-to-go banner with a slim advantage. Heartbreakingly, she was caught in the final few hundred metres as the peloton wound up the pace for a sprint.
Ale-Cipollini led into the finish, with Hosking opening up her effort early but D’hoore was just that bit stronger and was well ahead by the line.
As she rolled along after the finish, she asked her fellow riders “Did I win?!” She had – and the overhead footage confirmed she had done so by a convincing margin.
D’hoore moves up to fourth in the UCI WorldTour ranking behind leader Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM).
The women’s 2018 UCI WorldTour continues on Sunday, March 25, in Belgium with Ghent-Wevelgem followed by the Tour of Flanders on April 1.
Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde Women, 151.7km
1. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Mitchelton-Scott, in 3-52-23
2. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Ale-Cipollini
3. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans
4. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
5. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Wiggle-High5
6. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Valcar PBM
7. Sheyla Gutierrez (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling
8. Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling
9. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM
10. Christina Siggaard (Den) Team Virtu Cycling, all same time