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Cyclingnews' guide to the women's spring one-day races – Preview

De Muur van Geraardsbergen / Cobblestones / Fans / Public / Landscape / during the Tour of Flanders 2019
De Muur van Geraardsbergen features in the Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Getty Images)

The Classics season will open with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad between Gent and Ninova on February 29, when the best one-day specialists in the sport, including new road race world champion Annemiek van Vleuten, will be raring to get their European seasons underway.

Van Vleuten will be the number one rider to watch – and for good reason – after her audacious 105km solo attack that netted the world title in Harrogate last September. That, combined with her stated intent on making a mark on the Classics campaign, should even have her rivals eager to see what she will bring to the one-day races over the next two months.

The Classics are far from predictable, however, and there are many women in the peloton who will be vying for victory in the one-day races held across Belgium, Netherlands and Italy. There are 17 one-day races in total and nine of those are part of the Women’s WorldTour, which will automatically feature the eight new WorldTeams: Canyon-SRAM, Alé BTC Ljubljana, CCC-Liv, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Movistar Team Women, Team Sunweb, Trek-Segafredo and Mitchelton-Scott.

The Women’s WorldTour has already kicked off in Australia at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, won by Liane Lippert (Sunweb), but we won’t see that special leader’s jersey until second round at Strade Bianche in March.

First up, the peloton will race the opening weekend at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – the first of five one-day women’s races organised by Flanders Classics – and Omloop van Het Hageland in Belgium, and then many of those riders will embark on a two-month campaign of one-day races that include the cobbles in Belgium, white gravel roads in Italy and the notorious hills of the Ardennes. 

Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak (Boels Dolmans) opened last season with a victory at Omloop het Nieuwsblad and will be looking for an early season win once again. She's a former world champion and one of the best one-day riders in the peloton, but the same could be said for her teammates Anna van der Breggen and Amalie Dideriksen, so look out for them, and don’t discount European champion Amy Pieters, Jolien D’hoore and Jip van den Bos to round out a team full of Classics contenders.

Trek-Segafredo’s one-day race team will include Ellen van Dijk, former winner of Omloop van Het Hageland and Dwars door Vlaanderen. It will also feature Lotta Henttala, former winner of Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and Elisa Longo Borghini, former winner of Strade Bianche and Tour of Flanders. Former world champion Lizzie Deignan will place a focus on the Ardennes Classics.

Marta Bastianelli, who now races for Alé BTC Ljubljana, will be a key rider to watch during the Classics season, especially after she won the Tour of Flanders and Ronde van Drenthe last year. Previous to that, the Italian champion had also won Gent-Wevelgem and Brabantse Pijl in 2018, and the elite women’s road race world title in 2007.

Van Vleuten will be Mitchelton-Scott’s main contender for select Classics. After Omloop Het Nieuwsblad she will race Strade Bianche on March 7, Dwars door Vlaanderen on April 1 and the Tour of Flanders on April 5. She will then turn her attention to the Ardennes Classics: Amstel Gold Race on April 19, Flèche Wallonne on April 22 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 26. Last year.

Van Vleuten won Strade Bianche followed by a string of second places at Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, before ending her campaign with a victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Mitchelton-Scott also have a powerful Classics rider in Amanda Spratt, who is always one-to-watch during the Ardennes Classics.

Sunweb have a series of contenders in former Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Tour of Flanders winner Coryn Rivera. She will line up with other riders to watch: Lucinda Brand and Floortje Mackaij, who won Omloop van de Westhoek in 2018.

Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling had an outstanding Classics campaign last year with Kirsten Wild taking back-to-back Women’s WorldTour victories at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem. She will be focussed on the UCI Track World Championships held this weekend in Berlin, but look for her to make a mark on the Classics later this spring.

Knocking on victory's door is Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who now races for FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope. Last year, the Danish all-rounder finished third at Trofeo Alfredo-Binda and Tour of Flanders, and then again at La Course in July.

Kasia Niewiadoma will lead Canyon-SRAM into the one-day Classics. Always a contender in the one-days, she solidified her place among the champions after winning Amstel Gold Race last year.

The 2019 Women's WorldTour champion Marianne Vos will be a key rider to watch for the CCC-Liv squad. She is a five-time winner of Flèche Wallonne, four-time winner of Trofeo Alfredo-Binda, three-time winner of Ronde van Drenthe, and a winner of the Tour of Flanders. She proved last year that she is back to her highest form, and will be a contender for any of the spring one-day races.

THE RACES

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - February 29, Gent to Ninove, Belgium, 126.5km (1.1)

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is not a part of the Women’s WorldTour but it is one of the most anticipated races of the season because it historically opens the Classics calendar. The women race 126.5km from Gent to Ninove. It's a notoriously tough race held under the cold and often times rainy conditions. What makes the race even more challenging are the 10 climbs on route: Leberg (45km), Wolvenberg (57km), Molenberg (69.5km), Rekelberg (83.5km), Elvererberg (90km), Terbosse (94.5km), Eikenmolen (99.5km), Muur-Kapelmuur (109.5km) and the Bosberg (113.5km) before the final in Ninove.

Recent winners

2019: Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak
2018: Christina Sigaard
2017: Lucinda Brand

Omloop van het Hageland - March 1, Tienen to Tielt-Winge, Belgium, 131km (1.1)

Omloop van het Hageland also forms part of the opening weekend for the elite women's peloton, held the day after the kick-off Omloop Het Nieuwsbald in Belgium. The women race 131km that starts in Tienen with one larger 52km loop before six smaller 13km loops in Tielt-Winge. The route includes a total of five climbs: once over Kerkstraat and four trips up Roeselberg before the finish in Tielt-Winge.

Recent winners

2019: Marta Bastianelli
2018: Ellen van Dijk
2017: Jolien D’hoore

Le Samyn des Dames - March 3, Dour, Belgium, 94.9km (1.2)

Le Samyn des Dames is one of the shorter races at 94.9km with cobbled sections through Vert Pignon, La Roquette, Ch de Wiheries, Core de Nonettes and at Rue Belle Vue, and three climbs at Grand Place Quaregnon (26.6km), Cote de Calvaire (35.5km), and at Cote de la Roquette (53.6km).  The field completes one large loop followed three finish circuits that are 25km each with an intermediate sprint on the first two passages through the finish line in Dour.

Recent winners

2019: Jip van den Bos
2018: Janneke Ensing
2017: Sheyla Gutierrez

Chantal Blaak leads the field over the white gravel roads at Strade Bianche

Chantal Blaak leads the field over the white gravel roads at Strade Bianche (Image credit: Getty Images)

Strade Bianche - March 7, Siena, Italy, 136km (WWT)

The 2020 Strade Bianche will mark the second round of the Women's WorldTour. It will once again bring the peloton racing along the famous white gravel roads around Tuscany, with the start and finish in Siena. The women race roughly 136km that includes around 30km of gravel road sections before finishing up a notoriously steep climb to Siena’s Piazza del Campo.

Recent winners

2019: Annemiek van Vleuten
2018: Anna van der Breggen
2017: Elisa Longo Borghini

Drentse Acht van Westerveld - March 13, Dwingeloo, Netherlands, 138km (1.2)

Drentse Acht van Westerveld, more commonly known as Drentse 8, starts and finishes in Dwingeloo. There are three 38km larger loops that pass through the start-finish line in Dwingeloo before the peloton races three short 7km finishing circuits. The route has traditionally included multiple trips over the VAM-berg climb, a steep, short climb over a landfill, which has also been used in the Women’s WorldTour Bevrijdingsronde van Drenthe two days later.

Recent winners

2019: Audrey Cordon-Ragot
2018: Alexis Ryan
2017: Chloe Hosking

Bevrijdingsronde van Drenthe - March 15, Assen to Hoogeveen, Netherlands, 158km (WWT)

The Bevrijdingronde van Drenthe brings the Women's WorldTour to the Netherlands on March 15. The peloton will cover roughly 158km but the start will be in Assen this year. The route is made up of a series of loops with six cobbled sectors plus four trips up the VAM-berg. The last climb over the landfill ascent and the peloton see 50km to the finish line in Hoogeveen.

Recent winners

2019: Marta Bastianelli
2018: Amy Pieters
2017: Amalie Dideriksen

Nokere Koerse - March 18, Deinze to Nokere, Belgium, 129km (1.Pro)

Nokere Koerse organised an inaugural women’s race in 2019 won by Lorena Wiebes, who ended the season as the number one ranked rider in the world. Now in its second edition, the race is 129km and travels from the start line in Dienze south to a large around the finish city of Nokere. They will then race five laps of a shorter 14.2km loop that includes back-to-back climbs over Stokstraat and Nokereberg.

Recent winners 

2019: Lorena Wiebes

Omloop van de Westhoek - March 22, Errnegem, Belgium, 131km (1.1)

Omloop van de Westhoek has returned to the calendar after being cancelled last year due to high winds across the region. The 131km race starts and finishes in in Errnegem.

Recent winners

2019: Race cancelled
2018: Floortje Mackaij

Marianne Vos wins 2019 Trofeo Alfredo Binda

Marianne Vos wins 2019 Trofeo Alfredo Binda (Image credit: Getty Images)

Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Cittiglio - March 22, Cittiglio, Italy, 131km (WWT)

The 2020 Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio on March 22 in Italy will mark the fourth round of the Women's WorldTour. The women's field race a hilly 131.3-kilometre, one-day race that finishes on 17.8-kilometre circuits around the finishing town Cittiglio. Each lap includes a climb through Orino, but the wide-open roads to the finish line often cater to a reduced group sprint.

Recent winners

2019: Marianne Vos
2018: Kasia Niewiadoma
2017: Coryn Rivera

Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne - March 26: Brugge to De Panne, Belgium, 155km (WWT)

The Women's WorldTour returns to Belgium for the mid-week cobbled classics at the Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne on March 26. It is one of the newer women’s races on the top-tier calendar, having only celebrated its inaugural race in 2018. Organisers added their event to the Women's WorldTour that year, after being forced to reduce their men's Three Days of De Panne to just one day.

The women will race 155km that begins with a small loop in Bruges before travelling southwest for 65km toward the coast to De Panne, where they will complete two 45km circuits around Veurne, passing through and nearby Bulskamp, Houtem, Adinkere, De Panne, Koksijde and Oostduinkerke, where the coastal winds could play a role in the outcome of the final of the race.

Recent winners

2019: Kirsten Wild
2018: Jolien D’hoore

Gent-Wevelgem - March 29, Ieper to Wevelgem, Belgium 145km (WWT)

Gent-Wevelgem will start in Ieper where both men's and women's teams will be presented alongside each other. The women’s race will begin at 10 a.m., one hour ahead of the men’s 256km race, and both races finish in Wevelgem. The route is considered on of the 'flatter' of the classics but it does include climbs over the Beneberg, Kemelberg and Monteberg (twice each) enroute to the finish in Wevelgem.

Recent winners

2019: Kirsten Wild
2018: Marta Bastianelli
2017: Lotta Henttala (nee Lepistö)

Dwars door Vlaanderen - April 1, Waregem, Belgium, 106km (1.1)

Dwars door Vlaanderen will move from Tielt to Waregem for the first time in 2020. The mid-week classic is 106km and tackles a series of climbs that include Kluisberg, Knokteberg-Cote de Trieu, Kortekeer, Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg, Ladeuze, Wolvenberg, Vossenbol, Holstraat and Nokereberg before the finish back in Waregem.

Recent winners 

2019: Ellen van Dijk
2018: Ellen van Dijk
2017: Lotta Henttala (nee Lepistö)

Marta Bastianelli wins 2019 Tour of Flanders

Marta Bastianelli wins 2019 Tour of Flanders (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tour of Flanders - April 5, Oudenaarde, Belgium, 159km (WWT)

Flanders Classics has stated that The Tour of Flanders offers a course tailor-made for ‘Flandriennes’ for the women’s peloton, with start and finish in Oudenaarde. The women will race 159km that includes 10 hills and four cobbled sectors. There are some small changes to the course from last year, but the bulk of the flat cobbled sectors are, once again, located near the beginning of the race: Lippenhovestraat (33km), Paddestraat (35km), Holleweg (57km) and Haaghoek (62km). There are also 10 sharp climbs: Wolvenberg (55km), Leberg (64km), Berendries (68km), Tenbosse (76km), Muur-Kapelmuur (86km), Kanarieberg (114km), Taaienberg (118km), Kruisberg/Hotond (133km) and the final two climbs over the Oude Kwaremont (143km) and Paterberg (146km). From the last climb it’s another 13 kilometres to the finish in Oudenaarde.

Recent winners

2019: Marta Bastianelli
2018: Anna van der Breggen
2017: Coryn Rivera

Brabantse Pijl - April 15, Lennik to Overijse, Belgium,122km (1.1)

Brabantse Pijl is the fifth and final one-day race organised by Flanders Classics. The race will move from Gooik to Lennik to allow the women to finish in Overijse at the same location as the men on April 15. The peloton will race 122km and first travel to Beersel for an opening set of hills and one local lap, where there are a trio of climbs; Bruine Put, Menisberg and Lotsestraat. There are 20 climbs in total, however, that include multiple trips up Hagaard, Hertstraat, Holstheide and Schavei on the local laps in Overijse. On the last lap, the field race up Moskesstraat, a 500-metre long cobbled climb with a maximum gradient of 17 per cent. The Moskesstraat is only 11 kilometres from the finish line but the riders then have to race over Holstheide and Schavei, one last time, before the finish in Overijse.

Recent winners

2019: Sofie De Vuyst
2018: Marta Bastianelli
2017: Annette Edmondson

Amstel Gold Race - April 19, Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt, Netherlands, 126km (WWT)

Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition marks the first of three Ardennes Classics on April 19, and the only round in the Netherlands. The hilly 126km race starts in Maastricht and finishes just after the famous Cauberg climb in Berg en Terblijt. There are 14 climbs in total; Slingerberg, Adsteeg, Lang Raarberg, Bergseweg, Plettenberg, Zwartebrugweg, Eyserbosweg, Fromberg, and Keutenberg. Once on the three final local laps, the peloton race up the Geulhemmerberg (970 metres, gradient 7.9 per cent), the Bemelerberg (900 metres, gradient 7 per cent) and the Cauberg (800 metres, gradient 12 per cent) to the finish line.

Recent winners

2019: Kasia Niewiadoma
2018: Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak
2017: Anna van der Breggen

Anna van der Breggen wins 2018 Flèche Wallonne on the Mur de Huy

Anna van der Breggen wins 2018 Flèche Wallonne on the Mur de Huy (Image credit: Getty Images)

Flèche Wallonne Feminine - April 22, Huy to Mur de Huy, Belgium, 124km (WWT)

Flèche Wallonne is synonymous with names like Marianne Vos and Anna van der Breggen who have both won it on five occasions. The women's 124km race starts in Huy and then finishes on the famed Mur de Huy. This year's race will include climbs over the Côte de Warre, and twice up the three ascents; Côte d'Ereffe, a new climb Côte du Chemin des Gueuses (1.8km with an average gradient of 6.5 per cent) and the Mur de Huy.

Recent winners

2019: Anna van der Breggen
2018: Anna van der Breggen
2017: Anna van der Breggen

Liège-Bastogne-Liège - April 26, Bastogne to Liège, Belgium, 136.5km (WWT)

Liège-Bastogne-Liège will close out the Ardennes Classics and the spring one-day races. The 136.5km race starts in Bastogne and includes climbs over Côte de Wanne, Côte de la Haute-Levée and Côte de la Vecquée, before taking on the climbs in the later stages of the race; Côte de La Redoute, where Van Vleuten attacked to win last year's edition, Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons before finishing in Liège.

Recent winners

2019: Annemiek van Vleuten
2018: Anna van der Breggen
2017: Anna van der Breggen