Kirsten Wild (Argos-Shimano) added to her impressive win tally for the year at Dwars door Vlaanderen, ensuring she'll be a rider to watch come Sunday's Gent - Wevelgem.
Wild prevailed in the bunch sprint finish, crossing the finish line ahead of Jolien D'Hoore (Lotto-Belisol) and Monique van de Ree (Zannata Ladies Team). The 30-year-old was particularly pleased to have finished ahead of the pair given she'd made note before the 77km race that "they were the two fast girls," as she explained to Cyclingnews before riding back to the team hotel while her male counterparts thawed out on the bus in Waregem.
Argos-Shimano had been aggressive from the outset and if there was an attack, Wild's teammates marked any moves. "I think in this field we had to take the lead and we did," she explained.
While the race essentially went to plan, Wild sufferered a puncture with a lap and half remaining, but the brief moment of misfortune was handled with Elke Gebhardt giving her teammate a wheel and the Argos team resuming with finesse, setting up the sprint train to perfection.
"It's amazing to win a classic race like Dwars door Vlaanderen," Wild said. "It's always good to win, but to win like this after great teamwork is especially rewarding. We controlled the whole race and everyone was very motivated. There was not a single break without one of us in it. In the final 3km we started with the lead-out. It was so fast that no one could get between us. We were the first three riders through the final corner, and after that it was up to me to finish the job."
Already this season, Wild won three stages on the way to finishing on top of the overall at the Ladies Tour of Qatar and then at the opening World Cup event of the year, Ronde Van Drenthe, finished in fifth. For the Dutchwoman, her results so far have all been a build-up to the three races that make up Flemish Cycling Week with Gent-Wevelgem and then the Tour of Flanders to come.
"I like all the spring classics and I'm looking forward to it," she told Cyclingnews. It's the racing that I'm good at and this is my focus."
The Ronde has been a happy hunting ground for Wild in recent years, finishing third in 2008, second in 2009, third in 2010 and fourth in 2012. Despite her form, Wild admitted that progressing to the top step of the podium would be no easy task.
"The races are also complicated to handle, but we'll see," she said. "The conditions, the riders, the tactics..."
Wild noted that the World Cup podium from earlier this month would once again be the riders to watch for the remainder of the week.
"Marianne Vos, Ellen Van Dijk, Emma Johannson. It's always the same names."