Lorena Wiebes imperious in Belgium Tour stage one sprint

Second placed Jolien D’hoore takes the overall lead with two Classics-style stages to go

Lorena Wiebes wins stage one of the Lotto Belgium Tour
(Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Lorena Wiebes won a long sprint at the Lotto Belgium Tour after windy, flat stage first road stage on Wednesday.

The former Dutch champion benefitted from the excellent work of her DSM team who kept her in position throughout the 102.2km race. Dropped off around 150m from the line, she was the clear winner, beating Jolien D’hoore, though it is the Belgian who takes the general classification lead after by way of a better prologue finish.

After returning from a late mechanical problem, Movistar’s Barbara Guarischi finished third.

The final was chaotic, with a number of teams battling for position in the lead on to a section of crosswinds around six kilometres from the line. However, when the peloton emerged DSM were in control, though D’hoore’s Belgian national team were also well placed.

Monster pulls first from team captain Julia Soek then British rider Pfeiffer Georgi allowed Wiebes an armchair ride to the line.

After finishing sixth on Tuesday’s prologue Georgi may get another chance to shine on the remaining two stages. Stage two tackles five laps around Galmaarden including ascents of the Congoberg and Berstraat, both of which have steep ramps into double figures.

How it happened 

After Tuesday’s opening day prologue, held on the Circuit de Chimay motor racing circuit in the far south east of Belgium the race moved to Blankenberge on the North Sea coast.

In contrast to the south, in this part of the country motorway flyovers sometimes fail to reach more than 10m above sea level, and the 102.2km race to Brugge was completely flat. However, the rain which had drenched the prologue had been replaced by a strong southerly wind ensuring the bunch were set for some nervous moments.

The race opened with a 24.8km leg south leading onto three local laps of 25.8km all on the open land immediately to the north of the city of Brugge itself.

After winning the prologue, former world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk had started the day with a two second lead on team-mate and Brit, Elynor Bäckstedt and it was their Trek-Segafredo team who took the lead on the opening leg south.

Before crossing the finish line for the first time to begin three 25.8km local laps the wind took its toll, DSM helping Trek-Segafredo put the race in the gutter and splitting the peloton into three. Though most of the favourites made the front group of around 35, one noticeable absentee was British champion Alice Barnes, whose Canyon-SRAM team led the chasing group, bringing the race back together.

After a period of calm, a flurry of attacks from some of the lesser teams came just as the race crossed the line for the second time, but Canyon-SRAM were in no mood to let anything go and race remained together entering the final 50km.

As the kilometres ticked past the intensity edged higher and higher, Dutch U23 than NXTG joining BikeExchange, DSM and even overall leader Van Dijk at the front, keeping the pace high and eventually splitting the race ahead of the final lap.

With 22km remaining Kelly Van Den Steen (Bingoal-Chevalmeire) was allowed off the front, though the Belgian rider was allowed only enough room to dangle off the front, as behind the chasers once again closed the gap to the peloton.

As the peloton re-formed, with Van Den Steen still just up the road, a small crash took down took down four riders, most notably 2016 world champion Amalie Dideriksen, 

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With 14km to go Manon Bakker bridged to the leader but sat up the moment she got there, only for Van Den Steen’s team mate Natalie van Gogh to counter. Like her colleague though, she was allowed no space, only gaining a lead of 20 seconds.

As the race approached the crosswind section, just over six kilometres from the line, the Dutchwoman was caught, compatriot and race leader Van Dijk coming to the front positioning herself for the final.

Sure enough the race split again, but the best sprinters were still in the front group  and the sprint was inevitable.

Lotto Belgium Tour, stage one Blankenberge - Brugge (102.2km)

1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Team DSM
2. Jolien D'Hoore (Bel) Belgium
3. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Movistar 

General classification after stage one 

1. Jolien D'Hoore (Bel) Belgium

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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.