2024 Gent Wevelgem – Race Report

How the race finished

Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx Protime) was the winner in a photo finish with Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek) after an attacking race came down to a bunch sprint. Chiara Consonni picked up third for UAE Team ADQ.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

On an overcast and windy day the women set off on the longest race of the year – 171km from Gent to Wevelgem. The first attacks came quickly, and within ten kilometres of the start, a small group of six riders had clipped off the front. Julie van de Velde (AG Insurance Soudal), Katia Ragusa (Human Powered Health), Giorgia Vettorello (Roland), Lieke Nooijen (Visma-Lease a Bike), Amandine Fouquenet (Arkea B&B Hotels) and Laura Molenaar (VolkerWessels) were chased by Anniina Ahtosalo (Uno-X Mobility) and Alana Castrique (Cofidis), with the former making the junction while Castrique wasn’t able to join. Their lead grew to one minute, then two, then, by 134km to go, over six minutes.

With a tail wind through the flats in De Moeren, the breakaway sailed along at over 50 kilometres an hour. Behind them, the peloton was led by Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx Protime), who wasn’t sitting back today. As the winds turned to crosswinds the peloton shattered, splitting into three major groups, but luckily for those caught out, it came back together – with the breakaway still sitting over four minutes out in front. 

As the race approached the second phase, with the sharp climbs, inside 80km to go the breakaway riders found themselves with under a minute up their sleeves. A few kilometres later they were swept up. Punctures and a few small crashes marred the race, but most of the riders were able to return. 

Kopecky attacked on the Baneberg and instantly found a gap. Christina Schweinberger (Fenix Deceuninck) managed to bridge across, and the duo were joined by Pfeiffer Georgi (dsm firmenich Post NL), Emma Norsgaard (Movistar), Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ), Puck Pieterse (Fenix Deceuninck) and Kopecky’s teammates Marlen Reusser, Lorena Wiebes, and Christine Majerus. The elite group didn’t stay clear, but the intent was marked for the next climbs. 

Onto the Kemmelberg and Kopecky led again, this time with Pieterse and Wiebes tight on her wheel. The peloton split again, with Kopecky, Wiebes and Pieterse joined by Georgi, Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ), and Lidl-Trek’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Elisa Balsamo. FDJ-Suez took up the chase behind, holding the gap at an agonising 25 seconds. They closed the gap heading into the Baneberg, and as the leaders backed things off it came back together. No attacks came this time up the climb, with SD Worx Protime content to set a solid pace on the front. 

The next move came from Arianna Fidanza (Ceratizit WNT), Flora Perkins (Fenix Deceuninck) and Victoire Berteau (Cofidis), who were quickly caught before Letizia Borghesi (EF Education Cannondale) tried her luck. As she was reeled in at the base of the Kemmelberg Kopecky put the power down on the cobbles, with Wiebes hanging on and Georgi going with her too. With a tail wind behind them, the trio crested the summit alone. Behind them, Lidl-Trek were working to come back, with Longo Borghini and Balsamo bringing Karlijn Swinkels (UAE Team ADQ), Reusser and Pieterse with them. As they made contact, Swinkel attacked over the top, but was marked out by Reusser. Undeterred, she tried again, and once again Reusser closed the gap. 

SD Worx gambled and elected not to push on, so somewhat unexpectedly, the peloton regrouped. With around 25 km remaining, it now looked set for a sprint finish. Now Movistar and FDJ-Suez saw their opportunity to attack, with Floortje Mackaij (Movistar), Jade Wiel (FDJ Suez) and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) all trying to go clear. Norsgaard found some space, but a counter attack from Simone Boilard (Uno X Mobility) and strong pacing behind by Lidl-Trek closed things down. Mackaij continued to try, leading Lidl-Trek and SD Worx Protime to set a strong pace at the front in an attempt to deter further attacks. 

At 4km to go, Norsgaard launched again, and when she was caught Mackaij tried one final time. As van Dijk closed it for Lidl Trek Grace Brown (FDJ Suez) launched, quickly getting a gap. Brown continued to power away, leading the race under the flamme rouge. But the peloton came too fast, and after Brown was swept up in the sprint to the line Balsamo and Wiebes went toe to toe across the line, with Wiebes only being confirmed as the winner a few moments later. Chiara Consonni claimed third place.

 

Full Results

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