Former world champion Marta Bastianelli won Sunday’s Ghent-Wevelgem women’s race, out-sprinting Belgian champion Jolien D’hoore (Mitchelton-Scott), with young German rider Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM) third.
The sprint came at the end of a wonderfully aggressive final 10 kilometres, Team Sunweb instigating a series of stinging attacks from the final selection of 33 riders. Last year’s winner, sprinter Coryn Rivera was one of the first to go, apparently sacrificing her chances for that of Ellen van Dijk.
However, other teams seemed wise to the tactic, Boels-Dolmans following suit, pre-empting the former world time trial champion’s move, and she was unable to make a difference when eventually her turn came.
Bastianelli’s win came as a surprise, with her Australian team-mate Chloe Hosking expected to be Alé-Cipollini’s first choice sprinter. However, after coming very close in a number of earlier races, it was Hosking who led out the 30-year-old Italian to her first one day Women’s WorldTour victory.
How it happened
Despite an aggressive opening hour, with an average speed exceeding 41kph, it was only after 39 of the 143km that an attack managed to gain any sort of advantage. Former cyclo-cross world champion Thalita de Jong (Experza-Footlogix) escaping on the flat early section before the day’s climbs.
Despite gaining a lead of over 40 seconds, by the time the peloton reached the first of the six climbs, the Dutchwoman had been caught.
The Baneberg, Kemmelberg and Monteberg were each raced twice, the first of those coming after 52km and the final climb at 108km. It was on the first of these, under pressure from Boels-Dolmans leading the peloton, that the first splits opened up.
From here a pattern developed, the peloton splitting on each of the climbs, but not persisting with enough pressure to make a meaningful selection, despite them coming in quick succession.
It was the same for the plugstreets, the farm tracks used for the first time this year in the women’s race after their introduction to the men’s event last year. After the final plugstreet the bunch was split in three - a minute between front and rear - but once again the race came back together.
Only on the road back to the start town of Ypres did the action truly begin, with Dutch rider Rozane Slik in her first year with FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope, leading the race through the city’s historic Menin Gate with 20 seconds lead.
However, as the race turned towards the final 25km to Wevelgem she was caught when the top teams upped the pace.
Using what little crosswind was available, the bunch split conclusively, final selection made setting the stage for the final sprint.
Her second place means D’hoore will start the next WorldTour race, the much coveted Tour of Flanders, not in her Belgian champion’s jersey, but wearing that of the Women’s WorldTour leader.
Ghent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields 2018 (142.6km)
1. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Alé-Cippolini 3-38-47
2. Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Lisa Klein (Ger) Canyon-SRAM
4. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana Women
5. Amy Pieters (Ned) Boels-Dolmans
6. Hannah Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM
7. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla
8. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Fra) Wiggle-High5
9. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Team Virtu
10. Letizia Paternosta (Ita) Astana Women all at same time
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