Luck, or the lack of it, often plays as much a part in sport as form and Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) found herself on the receiving end of some bad luck when she suffered a puncture at a crucial moment at the Tour of Flanders.
It has been six years since Vos claimed her Tour of Flanders title, but she was with the main group of contenders as they climbed the Oude Kwaremont. The puncture came with 16 kilometres remaining, just as the race was splitting up with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Bigla) going up the road, soon to be followed by Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and eventual winner Marta Bastianelli (Virtu).
In the end, Vos could only watch them go up the road as she waited for a wheel change. Meanwhile, the group that had gone clear would stay away to contest all three podium spots, with the chasers finishing some seven seconds back.
"When I had the flat, I was with the girls that were on the podium, only Uttrup Ludwig was in the lead so she was strong. You never know, but it's a shame. That's bike racing, it happens," Vos told Cyclingnews.
"Until then, I was feeling good. We had some bad luck with the crash of Ashleigh and then I knew I had to be in front. The girls kept me in front and I felt good and quite confident but once you have a puncture in that part of the race then it's over."
Vos would continue and eventually finished 22nd, almost two minutes down on Bastianelli and co. It was a frustrating moment for Vos, who has been on strong form this spring with a victory at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda last month. She had also taken 10th at De Panne before 13th at last weekend’s Gent-Wevelgem.
With the Ardennes coming up in just a couple of weeks, Vos could take some solace in how she felt before the puncture.
"Well, I think I can be happy about my shape and I'll try to take that as a positive point from today," she said.
It was a general day of bad luck for the CCC-Liv team with their other leader Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio taking a tumble inside the final 50 kilometres after she hit a gap in the road. Though she appeared to avoid any serious injury, she had to endure an uncomfortable landing in a bed of nettles.