The first race of cycling’s opening weekend was won by Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), in a second career victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Demi Vollering (SD Worx) took second in the sprint, after being part of a late two-woman breakaway with van Vleuten, and Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) rounding off the podium.
The race ran 128.4km from Ghent to Ninove, finishing with the same climbs as the men’s race. The day started with an early breakaway from Emily Newsom (EF Education Tibco-SVB) and Svjena Betz (IBCT). Newsom attacked alone after 40km, but was caught by a group of five chasers. The group of six – Newsom and Betz now joined by Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar-Travel & Service), Fien Delbaere (Multum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team), Laura Tomasi (UAE Team ADQ), and Kylie Waterreus (Lotto Soudal Ladies) – started the first cobbled section with a three minute lead, but it collapsed over the climbs, and the peloton came back together.
Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) attacked on the Leberg, 94 km in, followed by Liane Lippert (Team DSM), Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma), and Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo). With twenty-five kilometres to go, the group had a minute’s lead as they approached the final cobbled climbs. By twenty kilometres, however, it started to drop, as the peloton, led by Movistar and FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine, organised behind them. The chasing groups drew nearer, and by the time they hit the Bosberg, the lead group had swelled, including Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Demi Vollering (SD Worx).
In the decisive move, Van Vleuten hit the front on the Bosberg and started to shatter the group behind her, with Demi Vollering the only one able to cling on. There was a four-woman group behind the two leaders, but it contained Reusser and Lotte Kopecky, unwilling to work with their team-mate up front, and the leaders soon had an unbridgeable gap – a minute with five kilometres to go.
Van Vleuten, the 2020 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad champion, went on relentlessly, seeming happy to pull Vollering along. With less than two kilometres to go, however, words were exchanged: van Vleuten didn’t want to take Vollering all the way to the finish, but Vollering had no intention of changing her plan. Vollering only came to the front with less than a kilometre to go, van Vleuten tucking behind her, and then launching a long and vicious sprint as they rounded a corner. Demi Vollering pulled close, but couldn’t quite make it, and van Vleuten took the victory.