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Gent-Wevelgem Women 2020 – Preview

Kirsten Wild wins 2019 Gent-Wevelgem
Kirsten Wild wins the 2019 Gent-Wevelgem (Image credit: Getty Images)

Kirsten Wild (Ceratizit-WNT) had a spectacular run at the spring Classics last year, with back-to-back Women's WorldTour victories at the Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem

Update: Defending champion Kirsten Wild will not compete in Sunday's Women's WorldTour race Gent-Wevelgem after testing positive for COVID-19, her Ceratizit-WNT team announced late Saturday.

The truncated, revised season sees the events rescheduled to take place in October, with Gent-Wevelgem positioned first of the cobbled Classics, where Wild is tentatively scheduled to defend her title on Sunday.

The race is expected to once again attract the best Classics riders and sprinters because of its 'flatter' 145.4km parcours held between the Menin Gate in Ypres and Wevelgem.

The race is expected to be similar to last year's, with several main climbs beginning with the Scherpenberg (61km), Vidaignberg (65km), Beneberg (67km), and Monteberg (74km). The riders will then tackle the Monteberg for a second time at 104km, and lastly the Kemelberg (400m with an average gradient of 14 per cent) at 106km, en route to the finish in Wevelgem.

The start of Gent-Wevelgem has been moved from Ypres' Grote Markt to the Menin Gate, and the race will not be accessible to spectators on climbs or on cobbled sectors as organisers take steps to minimise COVID-19 risks.

The contenders

Wild has won Gent-Wevelgem twice, first in 2013, and then again last year, when she secured the win ahead of Lorena Wiebes (then Parkhotel Valkenburg) in second place, while Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo) was third.

Wild was looking for a record third victory, but was forced to pull out of the race due to a COVID-19 positive test.

2018 winner Marta Bastianelli will also not line up after Alé BTC Ljubljana announced on Saturday that they will not participate at Gent-Wevelgem after they were notified of a positive test for COVID-19 within the team. The Women's WorldTour team has entered quarantine in accordance with Belgian health authorities.

Lizzie Deignan is currently leading the Women's WorldTour after a series of victories at the GP de Plouay, La Course and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. She has been sharing leadership duties with Elisa Longo Borghini, who will also be on the start line. Deignan said she is ready to start the cobbled Classics, with her main goal being the Tour of Flanders next week.

"I think the whole team is really excited about the cobbled Classics," Deignan said. "We have a strong team and we've already shown that at many races this season. Particularly at the cobbled Classics, I think you need to have numbers in the final to have the best chance of winning, and I think we'll have quite a few cards to play, which will be exciting," Deignan said. 

"Personally, I'm very motivated to try to win again, as the Classics are my favourite races. The Tour of Flanders has always been my favourite, so I'm particularly motivated about that and really looking forward to it."

Boels Dolmans will not be fielding their newly crowned double world champion, Anna van der Breggen, but will instead rely on Amy Pieters and their Belgian sprinter Jolien D’hoore.

Gent-Wevelgem might not be Annemiek van Vleuten's strong suit, but Mitchelton-Scott will be able to rely on recent Brabantse Pijl winner Grace Brown.

CCC-Liv have not yet announced their roster after being pulling out of Brabantse Pijl due to a positive COVID-19 test within the team. The preliminary roster includes Valerie Demey, who has a good shot at a podium if it comes down to a sprint.

Canyon-SRAM field two strong sprinters in Hannah Barnes and Alexis Ryan for a fast duo to beat, while Sunweb also have a series of fast finishers with Coryn Rivera, Alison Jackson and mid-season transfer Lorena Wiebes.

Other stand-out riders are TIBCO-SVB's Shannon Malseed (TIBCO-SVB), Arlenis Sierra (Astana), Chloe Hosking (Rally Cycling) and recent Giro Rosa stage winner Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal).

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