Annemiek van Vleuten won for the first time in Movistar colours after a 36km two-woman breakaway at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday.
The European champion opened her sprint with 300m to go, out-sprinting Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) who finished second.
Niewiadoma’s Canyon-SRAM team-mate, Alexis Ryan won the sprint for the podium, finishing third, with the chasing group around 20 seconds down.
In what was a fantastically attacking race, which produced a very tense final, the duo attacked on the Knokteberg, catching a group of six women, dropping them before the top, before working tirelessly into the finish straight.
The race was notable for the performance of Trek-Segafredo who took a super strong squad of six women to the start in Waregem. They dominated the early kilometres, using their strength to split the race on each of the climbs and cobbled sectors, however, they missed the race-winning move.
Though they had four women in the chasing group of around 20, they needed help from BikeExchange to bring the leaders’ advantage within 15 seconds. However, when their Australian champion Sarah Roy punctured impetus went out of the pursuit.
Despite repeated and persistent attempts from a number of riders over the ensuing 25km, the gap fluctuated between 15 and 30 seconds, and even when other teams helped with a concerted pursuit, the leaders resisted.
How it happened
Only the fourth edition of the race since it became a UCI event in 2017, this year’s Dwars door Vlaanderen is the longest in its short history. Starting and finishing in Waregem, the 122.2km race took in 10 climbs – four of them cobbled – the Kluisberg being the first coming after 47km.
There was an aggressive start to the day, the bubblegum pink jerseys of Valcar Travel and Service particularly active, and the pace was up and down as the bunch reacted, never allowing anything to get away.
The Kluisberg saw some dropped, though many of those were able to get back on on the descent and the subsequent flat.
With Ellen van Dijk the winner of the two most recent editions, Trek-Segafredo arrived in Waregem with their ‘A’ squad, and it was here they made their presence felt, lifting the pace on the approach to climb two, Kortekeer, the first of a relentless series of climbs and cobbles.
With help from BikeExchange and AR Monex the peloton split on the climb, but it was the superstars of Trek-Segafredo who smashed the race over the top and ahead of the cobbled Maria Borrestraat.
Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini took to the front here and by the time she handed over to Lizzie Deignan for the Taaienberg a group of only around 30 women led the race. However, ahead of the cobbled Berg-ten-Houte the pace eased slightly allowing the group to double in size.
Halfway up Trek-Segafredo kicked off again, this time with their US champion Ruth Winder attacking and taking Liane Lippert (DSM) with her, and while this came back, the increase in speed in a narrow, difficult moment once again saw riders dropped.
It was all action now though, with Alison Jackson (DSM) attacking with Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) on her wheel, and when they were caught the British champion went again. But with one of Van Vleuten’s team-mates on her wheel Barnes was left stranded on the front, and the move was caught at the bottom of Kruisberg.
Here Dutch champion Anouska Koster attacked, and for a while it seemed as though she would be allowed her head, but once again Trek-Segafredo pulled her back, only for six more women to get away over the Hotond.
Alison Jackson (Liv Racing), Leah Thomas (Movistar), Thalita de Jong (Bingoal Casino-Chevalmire), Julie van der Velde, Noemi Rüegg (Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime) and Trek-Segafredo’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot built a lead approaching 30 seconds. However, with 36km to van Vleuten (Movistar) and Niewiadoma brought them back, immediately building their race winning move.
Dwars Door Vlaanderen Women Elite, Waregen – Waregem (122.2km)
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar, in 3-04-04
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM at same time
3. Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM at 19 sec
4. Vittoria Guazzini (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
5. Alison Jackson (Can) Liv Racing
6. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange
7. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) DSM
8. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) Alé-BTC Ljubljana
9. Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
10. Stine Borgli (Nor) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, all at same time