Van Vleuten sprints to second victory in opening classic
With a powerful and long sprint, the Dutch rider Van Vleuten took her second victory in the opening classic. She made it to the line ahead of her compatriot Vollering. Wiebes was the best in the sprint for third place.
Under a bright and sunny sky, the women start in Ghent at 1:25 pm. They have a 130 km tour ahead of them with finish in Ninove, after the men’s race. A little less than an hour after the start in Ghent, the American Newsom (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) has a 37 second lead on the peloton. In the background, five riders join forces: Betz (IBCT), Waterreus (Lotto Soudal Ladies), Delbaere (Multum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team), Carbonari (Valcar-Travel Service) and Tomasi (UAE Team ADQ).
Just before the Huisepontweg, the first cobbled section of the day, Newsom gets the company of the chasers. Their lead on the peloton at that point is 4 minutes. With about 50km to go, the kilometres start get heavier. While Delbaere has to drop out at the front, Carbonari has to deal with a flat tyre.
Just after the passage on the Jagerij the story of the leading group is over and the race can start again. Then we have to wait until the Leberg for a new attack. With 35km to go, we get a new breakaway of 4: Marlen Reusser (Team SD Worx), Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), Liane Lippert (Team DSM) and Anna Henderson (Team Jumbo-Visma). After the Berendries, the quartet defended a lead of about half a minute.
(continue reading below the picture)
On the Muur van Geraardsbergen Henderson has to let go of the lead. She is joined in the background by Van Vleuten (Movistar Team Women) and Vollering (Team SD Worx), who join the leading trio not much later: 6 leaders with 14 km to go. Belgian champion Kopecky (Team SD Worx), Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing) also join the riders at the foot of the Bosberg.
On the last climb of the day, Van Vleuten accelerated and Vollering joined her on the wheel. Without being taken over by Vollering, who wants to put Kopecky in a chair in the chase, Van Vleuten leads for kilometres towards Ninove. Without looking back, she lets the time gap increase to over a minute.
A sprint decides on the conclusion of the race. Van Vleuten forces Vollering into the lead in the final kilometre and then begins a sprint to the finish. In the end it was Van Vleuten who won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the second time and became joint record holder. Vollering has to settle for second place and Wiebes wins the sprint for the final podium spot.