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Marta Bastianelli wins Women's Gent-Wevelgem from reduced bunch sprint

Jack Elton-Walters
25 Mar 2018

The Italian benefited from a strong lead-out which led to victory at the Women's Gent-Wevelgem

Marta Bastianelli wins Women's Gent-Wevelgem after a strong lead out from teammate Chloe Hosking. Jolien D'Hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) had looked to be in a winning position, and was leading the sprint, but too long in the wind saw her fade. 

D'Hoore clung on for second and Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM) crossed the line in third to complete the podium.

Much of the work in the lead group had been done by Team Sunweb, but they couldn't mane any of their attacks stick and came away empty handed.

This is the fifth race of the 2018 Women's WorldTour, and gives the fifth different winner.

Lead image: Canyon-SRAM

Gent-Wevelgem: How the cobbled race happened

The Women's Gent-Wevelgem, which actually started in Ieper, was run over a course of 142.6 km and took in six key climbs: twice each up the Baneberg, Kemmelberg and Monteberg.

Over the opening kilometres many riders were trying their luck but whatever gap the small groups managed to get, the peloton would soon react to bring things back together.

With 100km to go between the riders and the finish line, Thalita de Jong was away on her own with an advantage of 29 seconds, and at its maximum went out to 40 seconds before it started to come down again.

The Dutchwoman was back in the peloton around 5km later.

The climb of the Baneberg split the peloton as the pressure was applied by stronger riders at the nose of the bunch. The next ascent, the Kemmelberg, also saw small splits in the bunch and riders were lined out up the climb and down the descent.

The famous Plugstreets - the gravel sectors that run along near the war memorials of this region - had a bigger impact on the peloton than the cobbled climbs had before.

By the end of the third gravel road there was a gap of 28 seconds between the leading peloton and the chasing one behind, but work in the chase saw the gap closed with relative ease.

Some riders tried to get away over the Baneberg on the second ascent but couldn't shake the chase.

It was the later climbs that took their toll on some riders, and as the peloton went up over the Kemmelberg with 39km left to the end the gaps were far more noticeable as the peloton split up.

After some pace making by larger teams like Boels-Dolmans, Team Sunweb and Mitchelton-Scott, there was a lull in proceedings as the paced eased as riders took the opportunity to eat and drink.

As the riders came to 27km from the end, Rozanne Slik (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope) went solo and soon had 27 seconds over the lead bunch, which contained most of the main contenders for this UCI Women's WorldTour race.

Slik's lead hovered just above 20 seconds and it appeared to be more of a softening up exercise for a team, rather than a long range effort for her own glory.

The peloton was forced into echelons as the pressure was applied by Team Sunweb. The wind saw Slik caught and the pace in the front group increased.

That front group consisted of 36 riders and their advantage over those behind the split looked to be only increasing as the kilometres were ticked off.

Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) was active on the front of the bunch, effectively ruling herself out of the final sprint. The World Champion, who could win in her own right, seemed happy to play a support role on a team full of winners.

With 14km to go the gap between groups one and two was out to 40 seconds so it was clear that the winner would come from the front group.

Team Sunweb played to its strength and used the advantage of numbers with repeated attacks from the lead peloton, forcing their rivals to cover the moves.

One of those to attack was Coryn Rivera, a sprinter who could win this race, with an all of nothing attack and was dropped as soon as she was brought back, leaving her to ride the final 6km alone or as part of the second group.

Blaak launched with 4.5km to go but the others were alive to the danger. Next to go was Blaak's teammate Christine Majerus, before she was chased down and Blaak went again.

Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) used a cycle lane to launch but could not get a gap and the reduced peloton was headed for a sprint.

Result: Gent-Wevelgem (142.6km)

1. Marta Bastianelli (ITA) Ale-Cippolini in 3:38:47
2. Jolien D’hoore (BEL) Mitchelton-Scott, at same time
3. Lisa Klein (GER) Canyon-SRAM, st
4. Arlenis Sierra (CUB) Astana Women, st
5. Amy Pieters (NED) Boels-Dolmans, st
6. Hannah Barnes (GBR) Canyon-SRAM, st
7. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervélo-Bigla, st
8. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (FRA) Wiggle-High5, st
9. Barbara Guarischi (ITA) Team Virtu, st
10. Letizia Paternosta (ITA) Astana Women, st

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