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Tour of Flanders 2018: Van der Breggen wins again after another solo masterclass

Martin James
1 Apr 2018

Anna Van der Breggen follows up her Strade Bianche success with a win at Flanders after an incident-packed race

Anna Van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) won the 2018 women’s Tour of Flanders with a perfectly timed solo break that none of her rivals could counter.

Van der Breggen attacking a reduced peloton just over the top of the Kruisberg with 27km to go in a similar move to how she won Strade Bianchi last month, and never looked in danger of being caught.

Teammate Amy Pieters led what was left of the chasers across the line for a Boels-Dolmans 1-2, with Annamiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) completing a clean sweep of the podium for the Dutch.

The cold and wet conditions that have dominated for the past week were again present as the field set out from Oudenaarde on a 151km course that included five cobbled sectors and 11 hills before the finish back in Oudenaarde.

The conditions would improve as the day went on, and given the conditions – and the fact that all the tough climbs were concentrated in the second half of the race – the early going was cautious.

A break of some eight riders went clear after around 25km but were never allowed out of the peloton’s sights and were swept up on the Paddestraat cobbled section with less than 40km gone.

The pace was such that several other riders tried and failed to go clear, before Natalie Van Gogh (Parkhotel Valkenburg) finally got a move to stick with a powerful surge off the front.

But having gained nearly a minute’s advantage again the high pace at the front of the peloton started to tell, and she was quickly swallowed up again.

However, the race was thrown into chaos just before the feared Kapelmuur in Geraardsbergen when a mass pileup saw many riders hit the floor, and many more delayed.

By the time they reached the top of the Kapelmuur the race had completely fragmented but soon a peloton of around 35 riders had reformed. With the ‘Hellingen’ coming thick and fast in the latter third of the race it was inevitable that the favourites would be increasingly visible at the front of proceedings, and so it proved.

At the summit of the Kruisberg with 28km to go, a select group of 12 were leading, including all the main favourites.

It was then that Van der Breggen made her move. By the time she got to the Oude Kwaremont she already had a minute’s advantage, with a quartet of riders on the chase including Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla).

But the gap was only going one way, and by the finish line Van der Breggen had plenty of time to soak up the applause as she coasted over the line with both hands in the air.

Image: Eurosport