Sunday's Gent-Wevelgem proved to be an historic occasion for Lotto Lepisto and Cervelo Bigla with a debut WorldTour victory. The win was also Lepisto's second of the week after opening her 2017 account at Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday.
Lepisto won a stage of the Aviva Womens Tour's last year but her Gent-Wevelgem success is her first in a WorldTour one-day race. Having also finished second in La Course and Crescent Women World Cup Vargarda last year, the 27-year-old is hitting her stride on the Belgian cobbles and building on her bronze medal from last year's Worlds
"This race was my goal," said Lepistö, 20th last year. "I was focussed on winning it. It’s a race that suits me and last year I was close but made a mistake and I told myself that won't happen again. So today I made sure I was in the front. Flanders is flanders and anything can happen but this was my goal and we agreed to target today and I got it. I am really satisfied. Three weeks ago I told Christina [Pertchold] I want to win this race, she texted me yesterday and said keep your promise.
"I was just pushing as hard as I could. it hurt my lungs, my legs,also my head, everywhere. I was tired," she added of the final 100 metres.
Lepisto is into her fourth season with the Bigla set up and explained her victory was built by the team and dedicated to her teammates.
"Lisa [Klein] is my tandem, she is always with me. Ashleigh [Moolman-Pasio] coming back from injury and being in all the attacks and keeping me calm," she said. "She always has the right things to say, telling me to relax, it’s not my turn to go into a group. Thomas in the car had a really good tactic and believed in us. This is another team victory."
Lepisto's win ensured after four Women's WorldTour races in 2017, there have been four different winners. While there have been different winners so far, Elisa Longo Borghini remains the overall leader with Cervelo-Bigla's Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig still leading the young rider classification.
It’s amazing. The success is overwhelming for me and the staff. We’re very happy that the riders we’ve developed over the years are winning and our talent scouting is working," team manager Thomas Campana added.
The next round of the Women's WorldTour is the Tour of Flanders (April 2).