The women’s race was a true elimination race. The cobbles of the Haaghoek, the climb of the Leberg, the Berendries and the Molenberg… nobody was able to escape. But the Valkenberg was a game changer. Nine women got away: Mackaij, Canuel, Majerus, Spratt, Hosking, Cecchini, Rowe, Longo- Borghini and Batageljc. They got a 50 second lead by the time they reached the bottom of Tenbosse. Was this the final escape?
But the peloton did not let go and with 25 kilometers to go, the lead decreased to only 30 seconds. Approaching the Muur van Geraardsbergen, the women in front started doubting and lost speed which was beneficial for the upcoming peloton. In Geraardsbergen the front group got caught and at the Muur all hell could break loose.
Nobody could get away, but in the back cyclists were dropping like flies. A decimated peloton reached the top of the iconic climb. Heading towards the Bosberg, everything was still possible. About 30 women still got a shot at winning the race at that point. It promised to be a thrilling finale.
More and more it became clear that a group sprint would decide the winner of the day. After the Bosberg nothing had changed and a big group stormed the finish line in Meerbeke. Finally, Malling Siggaard was the fastest. She sprinted ahead of Alexis Ryan in second, and Maria Confalonieri completed the top 3. Jolien D’hoore finished eighth and was first Belgian of the day.
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