Lorena Wiebes peerless in taking the win at Danilith Nokere Koerse

The Team DSM rider backs up her win at Ronde van Drenthe to secure her third successive victory

Lorena Wiebes Danilith Nokere Koerse win
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lorena Wiebes mastered the finishing climb to win Danilith Nokere Koerse for the second time in her career on Wednesday.

Having lost all but one of her team mates to crashes, the Dutch rider was peerless in the final, freelancing and taking the inside line before being the first to open her sprint. Powering over the cobbles in the saddle, she crossed the line around 15 metres ahead of the rest of the field. 

Wiebes rode the final two kilometres on the wheel of Lotte Kopecky, but held her nerve and position when the Belgian champion moved across to the middle of the road. Kopecky finished second and was once again the beneficiary of excellent team work, SDWorx leading the race in the final five kilometres before Lonneke Uneken dropped her off in the final. 

However, she was unable to match the raw pace of Wiebes, who won the race’s first edition in 2019. Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) finished third.

It’s been a stunning start to the year for Wiebes. After winning the sprint for third at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, she has since won GP Oetingen and last weekend’s WorldTour opener, Ronde van Drenthe.

However, with so may of her team mates unable to finish in Nokere on Wednesday, there could be some worry about support for the 22 year-old as the northern classics begin to come thick and fast.

HOW IT HAPPENED

In only its third edition, the women’s version of the venerable Nokere Koerse, the men’s version of which has been around since the 1940s, is developing fast. This year not only do they have live TV for what has quickly been promoted to the second tier ProSeries, they also have equal prize moment for both races, making a clear statement about equality for the women’s sport.

This ambition and a great route combined to create a strong field of riders lining up in Deinze for the 125.9km ride to Nokere. The route included nine Flemish bergs and the cobbled Nokereberg featured three times, with the finish line coming at the top of the last ascent following two local laps. 

It was a busy, aggressive start to the race, with Trek-Segafredo and Jumbo-Visma carrying on where they left off at Saturday’s Ronde van Drenthe by riding particularly active. However, it was Human Powered Health who managed to get a rider up the road, Olympic Team Pursuit champion Mieke Kröger escaping after around 20km.

A consummate time trialist, the German was never allowed too much space, only taking around 35 seconds over the Tiegemberg some 43km in, that lead never growing, and she was caught as she reached the top of the Nokereberg for the first time.

Crashes marred this part of the race, former British champion Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) forced to abandon. Others to crash were Barnes’s successor in the British jersey, Pfeiffer Georgi and Wiebes herself taking a tumble.

Just inside 40km to go, on the cobbled Lange Ast, a series of attacks lifted the pace as UAE Team ADQ, BikeExchange Jayco and Le Col-Wahoo all mounted charges. However SDWorx were a constant presence with Lotte Kopecky and Christine Majerus, both with wins under their belt already this year, constantly lurking near the front.

But, rather than attacks whittling the peloton, crashes defined the first lap. This not only split the peloton, but caused pre-race favourites like Commonwealth champion Chloe Hosking and her British Trek-Segafredo team mate Elynor Bäckstedt to abandon.

The final 27km lap began relatively passively, but just inside the final 20km a four woman lead out from Parkhotel-Valkenburg saw both Femke Markus and Mischa Bredewold get away. The two Dutch riders are both young and extremely strong, Bredewold especially a star of the future, and riding a two-up team time trial were allowed to build a gap approaching 30 seconds.

However, recognising the threat, the peloton organised itself to hold them at arm’s length before, on the cobbles of Lange Ast, their gap was all but closed. SDWorx’s Lonneke Uneken did much of the pursuit work and the two leaders were caught with 9km remaining.

A lull in the action ensued, the peloton apparently settling for a bunch kick, before, with 5km remaining, Luxembourg champion Majerus came to the front of the race. She stretched the peloton on the winding roads, while Kopecky was escorted to the head of the race by Uneken. However, throughout this, Wiebes played an excellent tactical card by holding the Belgian’s wheel into the final 300m and subsequently crossing the line first.

RESULT

DANILITH NOKERE KOERSE WOMEN ELITE: DEINZE - NOKERE (125.9KM)

1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Team DSM, in 3-14-47
2. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx, in same time
3. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
4. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
5. Marjolein van’t Geloof (Ned) Le Col-Wahoo
6. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Movistar
7. Noemi Rüegg (Sui) Jumbo Visma 
8. Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
9. Letizia Borghesi (Ita) EF Education-Tibco-SVB
10. Shari Bossuyt (Bel) Canyon-SRAM

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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.