The 2021 Brabantse Pijl Dames will welcome a world-class field that includes European Champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) and Coryn Rivera (Team DSM). Flanders Classics have tipped the mid-week classic as a dress rehearsal for the 2021 UCI Road World Championships set to be held in Flanders in September.
It’s almost a surprise to see Van Vleuten leading Movistar’s roster at the 1.1-level Classic in light of the upcoming Ardennes Classics - Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastonge-Liège.
However, Van Vleuten proved earlier this month that racing, and winning, the mid-week Dwars door Vlaanderen set her in good standing for a second consecutive win at the more prestigious Tour of Flanders. She will have support from Movistar teammates Leah Thomas, Katrine Aalerud, Jelena Erić, and Gloria Rodriguez.
Also confirmed to race is SD Worx's Van den Broek-Blaak with a team mixed with youth and experience that includes Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Demi Vollering, Nikola Noskova, Anna Shackley and Niamh Fisher-Black.
Defending champion Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) has opted not to race at Brabantse Pijl Dames, and will instead rest ahead of the Adrennes Classics. Her team will be led by Lucy Kennedy and Ane Santesteban.
“I've just come off a really productive altitude block, so am looking forward to putting that work to use in this racing block," Kennedy said. "Without Grace there to defend her title, we'll certainly be trying to keep it within the team. We're going in with a pretty open mindset and will be supporting each other to race aggressively and take opportunities."
The women’s field will race along a 127km route between Lennik and Overijse that includes a circuit around Alsemberg followed by a final circuit around Overijse. The race will feature a total of 22 climbs, but the final circuit could decide the champion with climbs over Hagaard (500m, 8 per cent), Hertstraat (300m, 8.4 per cent), Moskesstraat (800m, 6 per cent), Holtsheide (700m, 6 per cent) and S-Bocht Overijse, but not the traditional final climb, the Schavei, because of road works.
Canyon-SRAM’s Mikayla Harvey will be at the start line after taking three weeks off after Trofeo Alfredo Binda in March. Harvey said she aims to race aggressively along the challenging course.
"The Brabantse Pijl course looks very challenging and though I didn't race it, I saw the bunch was very split last year. I like a hard course, so I am looking forward to racing and blowing out a few cobwebs! I don't have any pressure on myself for the race," Harvey said.
"My main goal is to go out and race my heart out. I want to race smart but aggressive and enjoy racing with some new teammates and make my team proud! The finishing circuit is key to Wednesday's race, positioning will be critical on the cobbled sections as well as the bergs leading into the finish."
Coryn Rivera (Team DSM) will start her season at Brabantse Pijl Dames alongside a team that also includes potential winner in Leah Kirchmann. Last year, the team finished with two riders on the podium, Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij, however, neither will take the start line in Lennik. Also not starting is Scheldeprijs winner Lorena Wiebes.
“After our double podium finish last year, we return to Brabantse Pijl aiming for another good team display. We want to ride well as a group and enter the finale of the race with a block of riders," said Bennie Lambregts, Team DSM director.
"We'll try and focus on the attacks over the tough hills, while Coryn provides us with a great option for a reduced sprint. We need to work well as a group to make sure we reach the finale having spent the least amount of energy possible.
"With some good teamwork throughout the day and morale high after the Women's program's win last week at Scheldeprijs, we believe we can achieve a good result at the race.”
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