Duo in day long breakaway to De Panne
The 4th race of the UCI Women's World Tour did not disappoint in terms of parcours, weather and all round excitement. The new Driedaagse Bruges-De Panne race was new to the WWT and it added another opportunity for the sprinters to get their chance during the season. Racing in Belgium or Holland, it is always inevitable that the riders will encounter small chaotic roads and bad weather.
For Trek-Drops, this race would be a real test to see which classic's riders had the legs leading in to Flander's week. The race plan was to be aggressive from the start. DS Loren Rowney is based out of Bruges, and had a good idea what the day held for the riders. Having a rider up the road would be an ideal situation for the team line up.
The race started out as predicted, cold and wet with some wind. The one and only cobbled section came only 11km in to the race. The team knew that this would most likely be a decisive point in the race, as when the roads are wet, and the bunch is nervous, there will inevitably be crashes. Sure enough, crashes in the first 10km determined the next 140km of the race.
It would be during the only cobbled section of the day, that a break of 15 riders would escape off the front of the peloton. The 153km long race meant that for the most part, the peloton was happy with the break. Trek-Drops had two riders present with Abi van Twisk and Eva Buurman. Gracie Elvin, Mieke Kröger, Romy Kasper and Christine Majerus were some of the other riders present. The strong breakaway group worked consistently throughout the race, however, with the notable lack of presence from Team Sunweb and Ale-Cipollini, there was a hard chase inevitably coming from the field later in the race.
#Driedaagse♀️ Majerus is back in the peloton now. 13 riders in front of the race.@RomyKasper | Lisa Klein | @Norsgaard | @JekaaEric | @Sheyarcoiris | @MoniekTenniglo | @GracieElvin | @1SaraPenton | @Moniquevdr | @Mieke_Kroeger | @EvaBuurman | @PawlowsKasia | @Abi_VT pic.twitter.com/RN4eet7CrH— Brain on Wheels 🚲 (@BrainOnWheels) March 22, 2018
With about 50km to go, the chase had really began, with Ale-Cipollini and Team Sunweb leading the front of the peloton. The break reached a maximum of 1 minute and 47 seconds, but was never let much more than this. Upon reaching the finishing circuits around De Panne, the attacking began in the front group. During a passage through the finish town De Panne, Sara Penton and Moniek Tenniglo crashed after riding over tramlines which were situated on the course. This split the group. Unfortunately, Abi van Twisk was directly behind Tenniglo but was fortunate enough to stay upright, this delayed Abi to a point where she could not get back to the front group.
Within the last 15km, Mieke Kröger launched a decisive attack. This nulified the breakway, and the riders from the break were reabsorbed into the bunch. Gracie Elvin attempted to bridge the gap, however was brought back to the chasing peloton. With 4km to go, Kröger had a gap of around 30 seconds with the big sprint teams doing all they could to reel her in.
With 2km to go, Kröger was caught. We had 3 riders in the diminished peloton, with all the cards on the table for young sprinter Lucy Shaw. Lucy had proven herself in past races as a solid sprinter in the making, and this was a chance to stretch her legs and have a real go. It would be the Mitchelton-Scott lead out train that would get the jump, and set Jolien D'Hoore up for the win ahead of Chloe Hosking and Christine Majerus.
Loren Rowney spoke after the race
“I was so impressed with the girls today. Every race we race, we make a small step forward. Today was a big step. We had two riders in the front, a solid group, and then to have Lucy put her hand up in the finish, was so good to see! I can't wait for the coming months, and what the team achieves.”
Lucy Shaw commented
"That was a pretty epic race today! Having Abi and Eva in the front gave us all lots of confidence and definitely helped keep me motivated when it got tough in the cross winds! Going into the finish it all came back together and it was pretty fast and hectic, Abby-Mae did a great job and did a killer turn with 1km bringing me up towards the front, but we got a bit swamped by the big teams into the final bend. Although I didn't manage to fully open up, it was good to be up there and I think we can all take confidence going into the next few races."