Exciting young Italian sprinter Chiara Consonni took a mature victory at Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, the 22-year-old claiming the biggest victory of her burgeoning career.
With no lead out in the bunch sprint after a hugely aggressive final 25km, the Valcar Travel and Service rider emerged for the first time into the wind with 50 metres until the finish line.
After an attritional race, few teams had numbers in the final making for a messy finish, Team DSM’s Floortje Mackaij leadinh into the final corner with 300m to go, but when she peeled off she exposed some of the sprinters to the wind too early.
While they slipped backwards Consonni remained patient, emerging from the wheels late and powering past the field to take her first win of the year.
For some years Consonni has played second fiddle to world champion Elisa Balsamo, but since the latter moved to Trek-Segafredo the younger rider has had more opportunities, Tuesday’s result coming after a series of top-10 placings.
Like her former teammate, much of the 22 year-old’s success to date has come at the end of Valcar Travel and Service’s exemplary lead out, but this win came after she was left to fend for herself - a testament to her quality and development.
Young Belgian sprinter Julie de Wilde (Plantur-Pura) was second, with Swiss all-rounder Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) third.
British champion Pfeiffer Georgi (DSM) was just pipped into fourth place, her best result of the season so far.
How it happened
In only its fourth edition since becoming a UCI level race, Dwars Door Vlaanderen attracted some of the biggest names, with extended live coverage raising the race’s profile further.
Since its elevation to the UCI ranks it has become very much a breakaway rider’s race, and unsurprisingly it was all go from the flag, with a five women getting away inside the opening three kilometres.
After 25km, the quintet were brought back, though, leading to more attacks that never really stuck. The first time a break gained any serious traction was when Leah Kirchmann and her DSM teammate Liane Lippert created a 10-woman group.
At the summit of the Kanarieberg, the group swelled significantly, last year’s winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) getting across with other pre-race favourites Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek Segafredo) and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig obvious among many others.
The race did not settle though, Uttrup Ludwig’s FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope team mate Brodie Chapman heading up the road and into the town of Ronse, and taking a lead of 50 seconds over the top of the Knokteberg, 50km from the finish.
On the second and last visit to Mariaborrestraat a series of surges saw Juliette Labous (DSM) and Georgia Baker (BikeExchange-Jayco) set off in pursuit, and Chapman was caught just after Ladeuze, the eighth climb of the day.
This new leading trio were never allowed to build too much of an advantage, and just ahead of the cobbles at Doorn a huge injection of pace from Trek-Segafredo not only split the peloton, but closed the gap to within touching distance.
With the break neutralised 25km out, DSM were in no mood to take to allow a regrouping, launching Floortje Mackaij off the front, the Dutchwoman surprisingly joined by Chapman. As the leading pair managed to build a lead behind, a move from Van Veluten continued what Trek-Segafredo had started, briefly reducing the chasing group to around 15 women
However, by the time they leaders reached the final cobbled sector, Herelegemstraat, the lead had once again increased, Mackaij and a tiring Chapman riding into the final 12km with a lead of 25 seconds.
Behind though, Ellen van Dijk did much of the work to close the gap, others seemingly unwilling to help, and it was only when teammates Longo Borghini and Lucinda Brand made their moves that the leaders were caught.
Still DSM would not lie down, and on the final climb of the Holstraat, Liane Lippert had an ultimately fruitless go. With six kilometres to go Van Veluten came to the front, the Olympic time trial champion holding an almost impossible pace, until Van Dijk came through to do the same.
Another very late dig from Mackaij was unable to make a difference and around 20 women headed towards a bunch kick, which Consonni proved the victor of.
Result Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Waregem - Waregem (120km)
1. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service in 3-06-40
2. Julie de Wilde (Bel) Plantur Pura
3. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Canyon-SRAM
4. Pfeiffer Georgi (Gbr) DSM
5. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
6. Rachele Barbieri (Ita) Liv Xstra
7. Marie Le Net (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
8. Shari Bossuyt (Bel) Canyon-SRAM
9. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Movistar
10. Karlijn Swinkels (Ned) Jumbo-Visma all at same time
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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.
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