Belgium, One-day Road Race, 113.76km
Using the popular "circuits" format with four laps around a 28.44km course, the race featured three climbs in the first half of each lap. The first of these, Ronceval, began shortly after the start and reached a peak of 48m 3.33km into the race - it's the longest climb on the parcours and as a result isn't especially steep, though the maximum 5.3% gradient will undoubtedly have felt increasingly difficult each time the riders climbed it. GPM points were on offer for the first riders to the top on Laps 2 and 4. The second climb, Kooigembosberg, also reached 48m (peak 9.17km); however, the ascent is far shorter at 1.2km and the gradient, therefore, steeper with a maximum of around 12.2% through the woods just after the junction with Grote Dalestraat. GPM points were awarded on Lap 1. The third climb, Sint-Denijsberg, is lower with a peak of 37m 12.05km into the parcours; the steepest point is 7.7% and located by the Sint-Denijs church. GPM points were awarded on Lap 3.
In addition to the climbs, there were two cobbled sections. The first is 300m in length and located 7.31km into the race on Kooigemstraat immediately after the right-hand turn from Koninklijkestraat; partially covered in tarmac, they didn't look to be particularly challenging but must have hurt bodies made tender by yesterday's rough stuff. The second stretch was longer at 700m and located on Jacquetbosstraat 23.47km from the start; they began at the left-hand turn onto the road and run along the sides of a central tarmac strip, starting rough but becoming smoother to the end of the section.
With the climbs not being especially challenging and completely flat final 3km ending with a straight section of 300m to the finish line after the left-hand turn onto the Rue du Sous-Lieutenant Catoire at Dottignies, this was a race that looked on paper to be suited to the sprinters and most likely to end with a bunch sprint - but it didn't. A group numbering thirteen riders (five of them from Rabobank) got away from the pack soon after the first lap started, but never managed to increase its advantage to much more than a minute. However, a combination of the group's strength and lack of concerted efforts to bring them back once the peloton split apart into several small groupsin strong crosswinds meant that a minute was plenty long enough.
|Vera Koedooder, who took the time to|
say thanks for this report!
Finally, Koedooder launched her own attack. Slappendel tried to catch her, but Koedooder simply accelerated; Slappendel's response - more acceleration - caused the pair to get faster and faster, but finally it was Koedooder who proved to have the greater reserves, staying 6" ahead of her persuer and 48" ahead of the next rider at the line to take a well-fought and deserved second victory of the season.
Meanwhile, back down the road, what was left of the lead group ensured that fans who'd been hoping for a bunch sprint were not disappointed; van Paassen got her position on the podium after a thrilling high-speed battle with the five others.
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1 Vera KOEDOODER (Sengers) 2h57'23"
2 Iris SLAPPENDEL (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +6"
3 Sanne VAN PAASSEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) +48"
4 Laura TROTT (Wiggle-Honda) ST
5 Katarzyna PAWLOWSKA (GSD-Gestion) ST
6 Alena AMIALIUSIK (BePink) ST
7 Roxane KNETEMANN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
8 Esther FENNEL (Koga) ST
9 Emilia FAHLIN (Hitec Products-UCK) +1'33"
10 Alexandra BURCHENKOVA (RusVelo) ST
Full results here