By Laura Weislo
The women's World Cup heads to Belgium for round two for the Ronde van Vlaanderen Vrouwen, the women's Tour of Flanders, but will depart with just one of the previous champions, 2007 winner Nicole Cooke.
German Judith Arndt, who last year emerged victorious, will not race this year's event due to a broken collarbone she sustained in training. The race will also be without two-time champion Mirjam Melchers Van Poppel who called in sick for the opening World Cup round in Italy and has not recovered sufficiently to race in Belgium.
The only past champion who will toe the line on Sunday is Cooke, the reigning World and Olympic champion. She was sorely disappointed with the way the Trofeo Alfredo Binda went – she did not finish the cold, rainy race last weekend. With sun in the forecast, Cooke may have a better chance at a second win in Meerbeke. Her last victory here came in 2007 when she out-sprinted Zoulfia Zabirova.
"It was a special victory for me because it's such a well respected race over a tough parcours which has seen so many great moments over many years watched by passionate and knowledgeable fans," Cooke recalled.
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