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Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde Women 2018

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Welcome one and all to live coverage of the innaugural women's Driedaagse de Panne. Despite the name, it's just a one-day affair. There has been plenty of action so far this afternoon as the riders enter the final 100 kilometres. 

It was an action packed start to the day and a number of crashes early on have done some damage to the peloton. Nevertheless, there is a sizable group out front. They are: Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans), Romy Kasper (Ale Cipollini), Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), Emma Jorgensen (Cervelo-Bigla), Jelena Eric (Cylance), Janelle Crooks (Mitchelton-Scott (Sara Penton (Team Virtu), Mieke Kroeger (Team Virtu), Kasia Pawlowska (Team Vitru), Monique van de Ree (Waowdeals), Eva Buurman (Trek-Drops), Abi Van Twisk (Trek-Drops). Jeanne Korevaar (Waowdeals) was in the lead group but a mechanical has seen her drop back. 

 

A crash for Sunweb's Pernille Matthiessen on the cobbles forces her to abandon. It has been a hectic day out there. 

 

The latest time check has the escapees at 1:35. It is a strong group out front, but the peloton has been cautious to ensure they don't have too much room.

 

Apologies but a couple of corrections for that lead group. Gutierrez, Elvin and Tenniglo are in there, while Penton and Crooks are not. 


The full group is: Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans), Romy Kasper (Ale Cipollini), Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), Emma Jorgensen (Cervelo-Bigla), Jelena Eric (Cylance), Sheyla Gutierrez (Cylance), Gracie Elvin (Mitchelton-Scott), Mieke Kroeger (Team Virtu), Kasia Pawlowska (Team Vitru), Monique van de Ree (Waowdeals), Eva Buurman (Trek-Drops), Abi Van Twisk (Trek-Drops) and Moniek Tenniglo (FDJ).

 

Good news for the riders is that the rain that has been falling since the start of the day has abated. It's still cold and dreary out there but at least it is dry for now. 

 

The gap did briefly come down to as little as 1:15, but the leaders have put the hammer down and extended their advantage to 1:45. This is going to be a battle of wills between the two groups. 

 

Team Sunweb is one of the team's without a rider in the front group and they are doing a lot of work at the head of the peloton. 

 

It is Ellen van Dijk doing the lion's share of the work and her efforts have caused some splits further back in the peloton. She'll be working for Coryn Rivera, who will be a big favourite if this comes down to a sprint. 

 

More teams chipping in now, including Lotto Soudal. There are some big crosswinds that have demolished the main peloton. Around 30 riders in the first peloton, which is about 20 seconds up on the second peloton. 

 

It looks like the day is done for Parkhotel's Anne de Ruitter. She wheels over to the side of the road and just lies down. 

 

It seems that most of the big teams have riders in this front split with Wiggle-High5, Movistar, FDJ, Lotto, Ale Cipollini and Canyon-SRAM all having riders present. 

 

62km remaining from 151km

Jolien D'hoore slides up towards the front of this first peloton. She looks very comfortable in these conditions. Meanwhile, it looks as if the second peloton, which contains Chloe Hosking, is about to rejoin the first. 

 

The two groups have come back together for now, but there is still plenty of potential for crosswinds to come. The gap to the leaders still holding firm at around 1:30. 

 

Alexis Ryan is racing today. She's had a great start to the year with a win at Drentse Acht van Westerveld and second places at Omloop and Ronde van Drenthe. In fact, she's not been outside the top 2 so far this season. Cyclingnews' Barry Ryan caught up with her ahead of today's race. 

 

"It was a bit of a surprise but I did work really hard this winter so the result was just proof that I did work hard so I’m really happy with it and hopefully it can continue that success.

 

"We have a really strong team this year. Everyone’s going really well and on good form. I wasn’t supposed to be doing Flanders this year but now that I’m riding so well, I think it’s on my schedule. I’m really excited to see how I can do. I definitely feel strong over all the climbs and at the end of every race I seem to have a really good kick so we’re just going to keep doing really well and hopefully winning.

 

"In the classics in general, I don’t necessarily need it to be a sprint finish to do well, I think, because I can get over the climbs. I just like really hard, tough racing and that’s what the classics are all about."

 

57km remaining from 151km

Today's course is relatively flat in comparison to come of the Classics to come. However, the weather has played a big factor in the day and the peloton can be no more than 60 riders. I imagine that will be significantly less by the time they contest the victory. 

 

It continues to be Sunweb doing the main shift on the front with Brand, Van Dijk and Mackaij. However, Virtu, Mitchelton and Boels have posted riders up towards the front too. The gap to the leaders is on its way down again. 1:13 at the moment. 

 

It continues to be Sunweb doing the main shift on the front with Brand, Van Dijk and Mackaij. However, Virtu, Mitchelton and Boels have posted riders up towards the front too. The gap to the leaders is on its way down again. 1:13 at the moment. 

 

A puncture for Majerus in the front group as Mitchelton-Scott up the pace behind. 

 

Gracie Elvin, who was runner up at Flanders last year, is out in the break at the moment, but she has pointed to Belgian champ Jolien D'hoore as the team's key rider for the Classics. 

"Jolien is our number one rider for these kinds of races, the flatter races, she’s good in the echelons and in the wind. But we’re going to have to see how it plays out as well. We’d like to be able to back her for a bunch sprint but if not, we’ve got riders who can cover those breaks as well."

 

Christine Majerus had to ride for some time with her flat tyre. She gets a quick change of wheel, but the peloton was only a minute behind and she sits up and waits for them to catch her. Just 13 riders up front now. 

A big crash in the bunch and about 10 riders down. Several have landed in a ditch. 

 

It looks like Alexis Ryan has gone down. 

 

Guilman of FDJ is another to have come off. 

 

It seems that there was a touch of wheels towards the side of the road and riders had nowhere to go. The crash has split the bunch once again.

 

Once I have any information on the condition of the fallen riders, I will update you. For now, we just hope that none of the injuries is too serious. 

 

Confirmation that Thea Thorsen has abandoned as a result of that crash. Ryan, Kitchen and Batagelj were all involved. 

 

44km remaining from 151km

Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) gets back onto the bunch after that incident. The bunch has reduced in numbers once again because of that crash. 

 

The gap had come down to just over a minute, but it's gone back out again. The leaders have 1:30 on the bunch at the moment. Every time the bunch gain, the leaders pull away. Is it possible for them to make it all the way to the finish? 

 

Having been in the breakaway for most of the day, Majerus is now helping with the team effort. Boels Dolmans no longer have a rider up front, so they desperately want this to come back together. However, they are without their former world champion Amalie Dideriksen, who is resting up ahead of Gent-Wevelgem at the weekend. 

 

Batagelj has abandoned after being involved in that earlier crash.

 

There are plenty of teams taking a pull on the front of the peloton but they're not making any ground at the moment. The small roads are benefiting the leaders at the moment as the gap is still 1:28. 

 

Good news from behind the peloton is that Lauren Kitchen and Alexis Ryan are almost back in the main group. It remains to be seen how much the crash has impacted them, however. 

 

The wind is howling again and riders are being shelled out of the group like a pack of pistachios. 1:10 the latest check for the escapees. 

 

34km remaining from 151km

There are riders all over the place right now with three distinct groups behind the original breakaway. Around 20 riders in this leading group for now, which is been led by Lisa Brennauer. 

 

Sunweb have lost Brand in the splits, but they push on nevertheless. Brand is in the second chasing group. Meanwhile, the first chasing group has cut the gap to 40 seconds, its lowest in some time. 

 

Ale Cipollini doing decent amount of work in the first chasing group and I think that I can see Chloe Hosking in there. Reports coming through that Ryan has also made it back onto the bunch. 

 

Less than 10 seconds between the two chasing groups and it looks like it might come back together, but the wind is making the catch very difficult. 

 

30km remaining from 151km

Up front, the accord is no more and one of the Virtu riders tries to escape off the front. She doesn't get very far but the effort has begun to split the group into pieces. 

 

As the riders approach the finishing laps around Koksijde, the peloton is increasing in numbers as riders get back on. The pace is not relenting though and the leaders have just 30 seconds on the peloton. 

 

Only 21 separate the two groups now as the riders cross the line for the first time. 

 

A crash for Penton, who looks like she clipped one of the tram tracks that litter the roads. 

 

And Tenniglo has done exactly the same. These tram tracks can be a nightmare. 

 

A problem for Eric. It looks likes she might be suffering with cramp.

 

Van Twisk has been dropped from the break group and is about to be caught by the peloton. The leaders' number is dropping quickly but they've managed to extend their lead to a slim 30 seconds. There are still 23 kilometres to go to the finish. 

 

Klein was another victim of the tram tracks a little earlier. From a high of 15, the lead group is just eight riders now. 

 

The gap is ballooned back to 50 seconds as the peloton strings out into one long line. Kroeger is now back with the main group. 

 

The gap is ballooned back to 50 seconds as the peloton strings out into one long line. 

While the rain stopped some time ago, there is a lot of standing water around. The riders will have to be careful not to go through it. 

Another crash for Penton as she hits the curb while riding in the bunch and falls into the grass at the side of the road. It was going so well for her earlier on. 

 

16km remaining from 151km

Once again, the gap is edging down under the efforts of the Sunweb. It's down to 31 seconds, but can they make the juncture this time? It has looked close several times before but it has not come back together just yet. 

 

The leaders cross the finish line for the penultimate time with a gap of 20 seconds now. The next time they cross they will be contesting the victory. Can they hold off this peloton?

 

This leading group is not going down without a fight today. They've increased their lead slightly to 24 seconds. 

 

A rear-wheel puncture for Duyck. She'll have a job getting back on and that's a blow for Cervelo-Bigla, she would have been a big part of the finale. 

 

It is going to be touch and go for the breakaway but they could well make it. I would have to pick Elvin as the favourite from the group. She showed at Flanders last year that she has a very good turn of speed. 

 

11km remaining from 151km

An attack from the leading group as the advantage drops to just 18 seconds. It's one of the Virtu riders again. 

 

The peloton can see the escapees up the road now. That should put the bit between their teeth but can they catch them?

 

It is Kroger that has gone on the attack. She's got her arms on the handlebars and channeling all her time trial strength. 

 

Kroger is a former German national time trial and road race champion. She has built up a gap of 15 seconds over her former companions and is 22 seconds up on the main bunch. 

 

It looked like the chase group was about to sit up and wait to be caught but Elvin has now gone on the attack. 

 

6km remaining from 151km

Kroger, however, continues to extend her lead. The Virtu rider has 18 seconds on the chasers and 29 on the peloton now. Elvin is still chasing and she is making some headway now. 

 

Elvin is almost with Kroeger now, who is some 34 seconds up on the peloton. 

 

The nature of the winding roads means that it's actually quite hard for Elvin to catch a glimpse of Kroeger up front. There's around 10 seconds between the pair at the moment. Kroger will not want Elvin to catch her. 

 

Meanwhile, the rest of the day's breakaway has been swallowed up by the peloton. We have just two riders remaining out front. 

 

It looks like Elvin might be slipping back. The peloton is hot on her tail and she's now 14 seconds behind Kroger. The gap between Kroger and the peloton is 25 seconds. This is getting very tense.

 

A crash for Marjolein Van'T Geloof. She seems ok though as she stands up and calls for a new bike. 

 

1km remaining from 151km

Elvin now looks set to get caught as the gap to Kroger drops to 17 seconds with just under 2km to go. 

 

Ellen van Dijk sitting on the front and doing a tremendous job. She brings back Elvin and next on her radar is Kroger. 

 

Flamme rouge for Kroger but the peloton looks like they will catch her in the final few hundred metres. 

 

The catch has been made

 

The sprinters start moving to the front 

 

Hosking starts her sprint very early 

 

She runs out of steam before the finish and it is Jolien D'hoore who wins

 

Did I win? she asked Majerus as she passes by

 

After a day in the breakaway, it looks like Majerus finished third. A mighty effort from her.

 

An overhead shot of the finish shows just how much D'hoore won by and why she's one of the big favourites over the next few weeks. 

 

A big celebration over at Mitchelton-Scott. D'hoore thanks her teammate Amanda Spratt for putting her in the right position for the finale. 

 

D'hoore explains to her soigneur that she didn't even think that they had caught the breakaway, adding that she didn't celebrate because she thought she'd finished seventh "or something". 

 

It was a solid effort from Hosking in the sprint but she was put on the front so early that when D'hoore set off she had no answer. 

 

Despite all the work throughout the day, Sunweb didn't manage to get a rider into the top 10. It looks like Rivera was well out of position and the twisting finale made it difficult to make up places. 

 

That, I have to add, is D'hoore's first win in Mitchelton-Scott colours. She's been on the podium twice so far this season, but this will be her first trip to the top step. The win moves her to ninth in the WorldTour standings while Niewiadoma remains the overall leader. 

 

Here is the race winner's mud-flecked bike.

 

This is how the racing finished today

1 Jolien D'Hoore (Bel) Mitchelton Scott Women
2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Ale Cipollini
3 Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam
4 Lorena Wiebes (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
5 Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Wiggle High5
6 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Valcar PBM
7 Sheyla Gutierrez (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling
8 Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team
9 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM Racing
10 Christina Malling Siggaard (Den) Team Virtu Cycling

 

A light moment on the podium as Chloe Hosking runs on late. She almost missed the whole ceremony as D'hoore had already been given her trophy. 

 

That is it from our live coverage of De Panne. You can find a report, results and gallery from the race here.

 

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