2024 Tour of Flanders – Race Report

How the race finished

Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl Trek) finished off a show of strength for Lidl-Trek, taking the win ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) and teammate Shirin van Anrooij (Lidl-Trek) after the trio held off chasers all the way to the line.

Full results are available below.

How it happened

In treacherous wet conditions, the women’s peloton set in Oudenaarde to cover 163km of attritional racing. Just ten kilometres into the race, a major crash resulted in Marlen Reusser (SD Worx-Protime), Lizzie Deignan (Lidl-Trek) and Monica Greenwood (Coop-Repsol) all being unable to continue, a major loss for two of the favourite teams for the day. 

The early part of the day saw multiple escape attempts. A group of five, including Justine Ghekiere (AG Insurance Soudal), Gladys Verhulst-Wild (FDJ Suez), Josie Talbot (Cofidis), Mieke Docx (Lotto Dstny Ladies) and Elena Pirrone (Roland) were able to establish a small lead over the peloton. As the gap extended, Josie Nelson (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) and Camilla Rånes Bye (Coop Repsol) tried to bridge across. The pair couldn’t connect with the leaders, who extended their advantage out to over 3 minutes with 100km to go. 

At 88km to go Anoushka Koster attacked (Uno-X Mobility), and the increased pace on the first of the rolling hills reduced the gap to the breakaway significantly. Koster was brought back, and the riders wrestled up the Molenberg, where Docx was dropped from the breakaway. After a mechanical-induced crash, Elisa Longo-Borghini manoeuvred her way back to the front on the climb.

By 70km to go the four leaders had an advantage of only just over 1 minute. A flurry of attacks saw Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ceratizit WNT Pro Cycling), Eline Jansen (VolkerWessels Women’s Pro Cycling Team) and Christina Schweinberger (Fenix Deceuninck) try to go clear before the Valkenberg, but with the high pace and attentive peloton, it was difficult for anyone to go clear. FDJ-Suez looked to protect the lead of the break, where their rider Verhulst was nicely positioned.

From the breakaway, Ghekiere went solo on the Kapelberg, but all the breakaway riders were swept up just before the Koppenberg. Despite everyone knowing the importance of positioning into this steep cobbled climb, Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx//Protime) started well back, while Puck Pieterse (Fenix Deceuninck) and Marianne Vos (Visma | Lease a Bike) fought their way towards the front. On the climb itself Kim Le Court (AG Insurance Soudal) and Chloé Dygert (Canyon//Sram Racing) slipped into one another, causing everyone behind them to have to dismount. Vos and Pieterse held the front, taking Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx Protime), Silvia Persico and Karlijn Swinkels  (UAE Team ADQ), Letizia Paternoster (Liv ALula Jayco), Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//Sram Racing) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl Trek) clear with them. Just behind, a running Kopecky and Vollering headed up what would become the second group on the road, as they were joined by Pfeiffer Georgi (dsm firmenich PostNL), Shirin van Anrooij (Lidl Trek), Fem van Empel (Visma | Lease a Bike) and Léa Curinier (FDJ Suez).

The Boonenberg and Taaienberg came too quickly to allow for much recovery, with Kopecky again appearing to struggle on the Taaienberg. With the leaders some 30 seconds ahead of them on the road, Vollering and Kopecky did the work to close the gap. Their teammate upfront, Lorena Wiebes, looked to cause some subtle disruption in the flow of the leaders. 

Elisa Longo Borghini tried to attack off the front on the Kruisberg, as behind her the chase came within 20 seconds. Léa Curinier suffered an unfortunate mechanical, taking her out of the lead group. Vollering then split the chase group and only vAnrooij could follow. Longo Borghini launched another unsuccessful attack on the Hotond, and just as Vollering had found her way across, Niewiadoma went. Longo Borghini found the legs to go over the top once more, while Vollering found herself going backwards. Swinkels and Paternoster fought their way back on, while Pieterse, Vos and Persico appeared to be biding their time. 

Van Anrooij fought her way back from the chasing group, then pushed on over the top to go clear immediately. Swinkels was the only rider to react as the other riders stared each other down. As the group behind coalesced once again, Pieterse also attacked, getting a small gap. With three riders now up the road, SD Worx and Visma-Lease a Bike found themselves under pressure at the foot of the Oude Kwaremont. Not helping their chase efforts, Van Empel and Wiebes were all dropped on the climb, while van Anrooij powered on solo ahead of Swinkels and Pieterse. 

With relative quiet on the Paterberg, the next decisive moments came on the Oude Kruisberg/Hotond, where Niewiadoma and Longo Borghini attacked, bridging across to van Anrooij. With two riders in the leading trio, Lidl-Trek were in the driver’s seat. Niewiadoma was happy to do more than her fair share of the work, with Pieterse, Vos, Persico, Vollering and Kopecky not far behind on the road.

Despite having two of the three, Lidl-Trek decided not to try any attacks in the closing kilometres, preferring to maintain the momentum and ensure the double podium. Van Anrooij led out for Longo Borghini, who was able to finish it off for the team. Niewiadoma claimed her first podium at the Tour of Flanders, coming in second.

 

Full Results

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