Flanders!!! This is possibly THE classic of the year. The men could argue for them Paris Roubaix is the ultimate but for the women without this monumental race in the calendar Flanders is the one every classic specialist is dying to have on their palmares.
Having ridden this race a few times in my cycling career I know it not only takes top form to win but so many collective factors and additionally a little bit of luck on your side! It requires the ability to race over cobbles, climbs & position yourself in the most efficient place to avoid crashes, be able to react to moves & ultimately set yourself up for the finale.
This is the 16th edition of the womens race, is a total of 157 kilometres, takes in ten hills and four cobbled sectors. The cobbled combo Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg is the climax of a finale with a series of sharp climbs in rapid succession, while the last 13 kilometres are flat. This means the final is always so exciting with the specialist climbing classic riders wanting to get rid of the sprinters before the climbs are over. With the finish straight being long and flat the timing of the sprint finish is always crucial! However Anna Van Der Breggen didn’t have to worry about when to launch her sprint last year winning the race in every riders dream scenario- SOLO!!
Like Gent Wevelgem the critical part of this race is being well positioned at all times. However my prediction for this race unlike Gent Wevelgem is that the cobbles and climbs will split the peloton into pieces. With the race season now well into the swing of things I can now see the riders who have started the season in top form, with the classics being the key focus for the start of the season. My predictions for Flanders are:
- Marianne Vos – CCC – LIV
- Lisa Brennauer – WNT- ROTOR Pro Cycling
- Kasia Niewiadoma – Canyon // SRAM
Good luck everyone, Dani Rowe