Hello and welcome to live coverage of Gent-Wevelgem women.
The neitralised start for the race has been given and we have racing underway.
The wind is quite strong out there today and has been causing all sorts of havoc in the men's race. We can expect much the same to happen during the women's race.
In addition to the wind, the course has been slightly altered due to a fire near the finish. Though the finish line will remain the same, the reroute has added an extra one kilometre to the course.
Gent-Wevelgem is traditionally a sprinter's race but the wind today could really spice things up. For a look at who could be in contention for victory in Wevelgem, take a look at Kirsten Frattini's lowdown of today's contenders, here.
The start has been very aggressive so far and there are two riders off the front of the peloton. They are Marijke De Smedt (Multum Accountants Ladies) and Marieke De Groot (Doltcini-Van Eyck).
The attacking duo have been reeled back after a very short time out front. The peloton is together again.
Asked for her thoughts on today's race, favourite Marianne Vos said: "I expect a tough and windy race. Everything can happen today."
🏁 125 km to go:A complete bunch - but strong winds today. Splits can happen in every second. Be aware! 🌬️🌬️🌬️#UCIWWT #GWEWomen pic.twitter.com/qfBI3HQzH4March 28, 2021
The riders have got a little while before they hit the first climb of the day, which is the Scherpenberg. There are seven climbs in total with the Kemmelberg the last at about 36km from the finish line.
119km to go
The peloton is about to hit some crosswinds and we could see the race splitting up now. Riders will have to be attentive if they don't want to lose out.
I mentioned earlier the fire close to the finish. You can read more on what is going on and what it means for both the women's and men's races here.
The crosswinds did some damage to the peloton but it's still largely holding together for the moment. Never fear, it won't be the only opportunity for the wind to do its damage. You're never far away from a strong wind in Belgium.
The men's race is reaching its climax with just over 20km to go. If you fancy yourself a challenge and want to follow that as well as the women's race (don't leave us) then you can find that here.
The tricky windy conditions today will, of course, play into the hands an attacker. The challenge is picking the right moment to go to make the most of the weather. Two more riders are trying to jump off the front of the peloton.
110km to go
The two attackers have a slim 20-second margin on the pack.
Marieke De Groot, who was in the earlier break attempt, is one of the two in this latest move. She is joined by a rider from the Rupelcleaning-Champion Lubricants squad. Hopefully, we'll get her name soon.
With just over 100km to the finish line, the peloton is not too concerned about the two riders off the front. About 20km until the first climb of the day.
The latest attempt to get off the front of the peloton has come to nothing for the attackers. Despite the changeable conditions, the riders have been motoring along at an average of 38,6kph.
The peloton is closing in on another section of crosswinds. Will any of the teams be able to take advantage of the situation?
I wouldn't bet against SD Worx trying to turn the screws in the crosswinds. They've got several good sprinters in their line-up, including defending champion Jolien D'hoore, but they're not a team that's content with just waiting until the finish.
97km to go
The peloton has broken up and there is now a small group of 15 riders off the front.
Meanwhile, the men's race has just finished. I won't spoil the result for you if you're saving it for later. If you do want to find out what happened, then check out the results here.
No news yet as to who is in this leading group of 15. I'll bring you some names as soon as I can get a hold of them. It remains to be seen if they can make this stick after previous attacks barely got going before they were reeled back in.
89km to go
My question has been answered as that group of riders is brought back by the peloton. The first of today's seven climbs is fast approaching and it won't be long before they hit the bottom of it.
Some behind the scenes shots at the start in Ieper, while the peloton is heading to the finish. #GWEWomen pic.twitter.com/UpJXDgOO3mMarch 28, 2021
Heading into the first climb of the day, it's SD Worx and Valcar-Travel & Service driving the pace on the front of the bunch.
After the Sherpenberg, the Vidaigneberg is the second climb on today's menu. The climbs come thick and fast so there won't be much respite for the riders once they reach them in the next kilometre.
FDJ and BikeExchange have pushed some riders to the front, ready to react if someone makes a move on the first helling.
#GWEWomen #UCIWWT 7 hill but the key is the Kemmel berg the other hills are not that difficult the Kemmel is the hill were the race is made if it's made on a hill.March 28, 2021
The women are completing the climbs in quick order and they've already finished the Baneberg and are now heading towards the Monteberg, the fourth climb of the day. The peloton is all still together at this time.
73km to go
It's now Liv pusing a really hard pace on the front of the bunch. Plenty of riders have been dropped over the opening climbs.
The Monteberg has been dispatched with and it's onto the Kemmelberg for the first time. The riders will have another go at this helling before the run to the line.
The still quite large peloton is now onto the first ascent of the Kemmelberg.
The peloton has split under the pace on the Kemmelberg.
64km to go
There are 17 riders in the front group after that split on the Kemmel. Jolien D'hoore is one of those that has missed out on the split and she's chasing in the second group.
Riders that were dropped on the Kemmel have been getting back onto the leading group in dribs and drabs. The 17 rider-group is no more and there is now about 30-40 riders at the head of the race.
A couple of groups totalling about 20 riders are closing in on the front of the race. Jolien D'hoore is one of those still trying to get back on.
57km to go
The D'hoore group has made contact and it looks like the peloton has eased up. Lots of different teams represented here, including FDJ, SD Worx, Jumbo-Visma and Canyon-SRAM.
The peloton is fast approaching the plugstreets (gravel roads), of which there are three today.
DSM and Drops lead the peloton onto the first plug street. The pace is pretty tame as things stand but a couple of riders get into difficulty on the side of the road further down the peloton.
The pace is picking up now as Valcar, Trek and SD Worx all move to the front to try and push things on. The peloton has really strung out now.
It's Christine Majerus on the front for SD Worx. She's an absolute machine and has had a very good spring with a win at Omloop van de Westhoek recently.
Majerus has really put a lot of riders in the hurt locker. She's eased up the pace a bit but the peloton is still reasonably strung out.
Back onto the tarmac and there are several riders moving over to the side of the road to collect some refreshments from the waiting soigneurs. Liv now at the front of the bunch and I can see Lotte Kopecky for the first time in a while.
Kopecky put in a monster ride during the week at De Panne after missing out on a split in the cross winds. She eventually finished first but the way she came across the gap was seriously impressive.
While the peloton has shed a few riders over the plugstreets, we haven't seen any attacks since the first ascent of the Kemmelberg. The second ride up the Monteberg is next up and then we're onto the Kemmel.
It looks like the riders are wary of what is to come and nobody seems keen to try anything on this flat section between the plugstreets and the Monteberg.
Sanne Cant is sitting near the back of the peloton at the moment. This is just her second road race of 2021. She made her road debut at De Panne on Thursday.
There's been a crash in the bunch. It looks like Moniek Teniglo is the worst off and she's been given a check over by the medic.
The crash happened quite near the front of the bunch and has caused a split. It looks like Teniglo touched wheels with another rider, causing her to go down.
Hosking and Wild were also caught up in that but they seem to be ok.
42km to go
Movistar is now on the front of the peloton, working for Emma Norsgaard. BikeExchange and SD Worx are coming up to help.
Ellen van Dijk mooching her way to the front of the peloton as the pace increases. Lots of riders losing touch, including Lonneke Uneken. Sanne Cant has lost some ground, too.
Alison Jackson of Liv has gone into the ditch on the side of the road. She has to get a new bike before she carries on.
Jackson didn't stand a chance there. There was a bit of movement in the peloton and she was sideswiped by one of her teammates. She's muddy but she seems unhurt.
Jackson has teamed up with Hosking as they both try to regain touch with the peloton following their respective crashes.
The peloton continues to be thinned out as Van Dijk and Majerus ride hard on the front.
The riders are onto the Kemmelberg and Elisa Longo Borghini has attacked.
Longo Borghini has had a sublime spring and she's gunning for some more success. She's got Niewiadoma on her wheel and Vos is just behidn.
Defending champion D'hoore is looking like she's on an off day and she's struggling further down the climb.
36km to go
Back up at the front, it's Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma together with a gap on a group of five.
It's everything that Niewadoma can do to hang onto Longo Borghini. The Italian is really pushing on hard.
Marianne Vos attacks from the chasing group.
That chasing group of five has made contact with Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma.
The riders in the front froup are: Longo Borghini, Niewiadoma, Pieters, Vos, Cavalli, Kopecky and Van Dijk.
There's another two group of riders chasing on close behind them. We could still see a large group coming into the line together.
Majerus is leading the first chase group. Interesting that SD Worx are chosing to do that when they have Pieters up front.
The first chasing group has joined up with the leaders and Lizzie Deignan, who was in the chasing group, has immediately attacked.
She is brought back pretty quickly. Nobody is silly enough to let Deignan get too much of an advantage. Meanwhile, another group of riders has made contact with the leaders.
Ruth Winder is now pushing on hard in this leading group. Trek-Segafredo is riding a very aggressive race.
Anna Handerson is the next rider to attack from this leading group. She has Vos in that group so Jumbo-Visma has several options.
There doesn't appear to be any real incentive for the main group to chase down Henderson at the moment. The young British rider has about 15 seconds on those behind her.
More riders are regaining contact with this front group, which is now 23 seconds behind Henderson.
Liv racing attacks from the chasing group and Majerus is quick to react. The rider is brought back but it has really upped the pace briefly.
24km to go
Henderson has settled into a comfortable pace and the peloton behind doesn't seem overly interested in chasing her down just yet. She's only got 27 seconds and there is still quite a way to go before the finish line.
Niewiadoma doesn't look like she's happy with how the chase is going and she has decided to move to the front of the bunch and speed things up.
Henderson is a very decent time triallist, so she won't be overly worried about trying to go this alone. She won both the under-23 British time trial and road race titles in 2019.
There are crosswinds blowing across the peloton and Trek-Segafredo has taken advantage of it. They've blown the front group apart and chased down Henderson, who is now clinging on for dear life.
Longo Borghini now rides off the front of this leading group with a Liv rider on her wheel. Majerus is now chasing behind.
The Longo Borghini group is making some good progress now. Majerus is doing her best to try and drag it back but they're losing ground at the moment.
The Liv rider is Paladin, who finished fifth at Trofeo Binda.
16km to go
The riders that missed out after that initial push by Trek a few kilometres ago are now trynig to bridge up to the first chasing group. Brennauer looks like she might be able to make the jump.
Meanwhile, Henderson and Majerus have lost touch with the first chasing group or Van Dijk, Deignan and co.
After looking like she might be dropped, Majerus has caught and passed the first chasing group. Deignan goes with her as the others are brought back by the second chasing group. Longo Borghini and Paladin have 23 seconds on the rest of the pack.
13km to go
Majerus and Deignan have been caught and we have a first chasing group of about 20 something riders.
Longo Borghini and Paladin are working well together at the moment. Meanwhile, Henderson has been dropped from the chasing group.
Much like at Trofeo Binda, Longo Borghini may have to pick a point to attack. She is not known as a sprinter and does better when she goes solo.
The two leaders are slowly edging out their avantage over the chasers. Valcar and BikeExchange are leading the chase at the moment but Deignan is sitting close to the front ready to kill any attack that goes.
Niewiadoma is now back on the front of the chase with Cromwell. I can't see, but they must have at least one of the Barnes sisters in this chasing group if they're doing this much work.
6km to go
SD Worx is now helping out with the chase and the gap is coming down. Majerus is the one driving things on once again. I'd like to see some stats on how long she's been on the front in this race. It would be quite a large proportion.
Perhaps sensing the peloton behind, Longo Borghini gets out of the saddle to up the pace. Trek don't want this to come back together. The gap is 24 seconds at the moment.
The chase has slowed slightly as Brown now takes things up for BikeExchange. She's another rider who has had a great spring.
4km to go
Brown's work is reaping rewards and the gap is down to 15 seconds for the leaders.
Longo Borghini looks like the fresher of the two leaders as Paladin grimmaces in her wheel. The gap is now down to 10 seconds.
Will one of the leaders attack soon?
2km to go
The chasers are looming in the background with Canyon-SRAM on the front of it. The gap is now just eight seconds.
Longo Borghini puts in a little dig but she can't make any ground. It looks like this pair is going to get caught.
Attacks now coming from the chasing group. There are several teams who don't want this to go to a sprint.
We're into the final kilometre now and Longo Borghini is still pushing on with Paladin in her wheel. Paladin has not done a turn in a very long time.
The front camera shot is making the gap look shorter than it is. Longo Borghini is not ready to give it up.
Paladin is still sitting in Longo Borghini's wheel.
A bit of confusion with the distance to go due to the rerouting. There's still two kilometres remaining until the line.
Paladin finally takes a turn. The leading pair still has a small gap as we now go under the flamme rouge.
BikeExchange leading the chasers and they've almost caught the leaders.
Longo Borghini sprints but she's quickly caught
Vos was caught behind when Trek caused that split inside the last 20km but she worked hard to get herself into contention and put in a perfect sprint to take the win.
Lisa Brennauer claimed second and Kopecky slotted in for third.
Nobody could touch Marianne Vos, though. She had a clear bike's length over the rest.
A quick correction, it was Kopecky in second and Brennauer in third. The Belgian champion just edged out the German rider.
If you want to go back over what happened today, then check out our report from today's race, along with full results and images when they come in.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women Team|
|2||Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing|
|3||Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team|
|4||Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service|
|5||Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Ale’ BTC Ljubljana|
|6||Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope|
|7||Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|8||Sarah Roy (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|9||Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team Women|
|10||Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
Elisa Longo Borghini was fairly pragmatic after getting caught in the final metres of today's race. This is what she had to say:
"I did what I could and at the time they told me to go. Maybe it was a little bit unlucky because there was a deviation because of a fire and the race was maybe a kilometre longer. It’s cycling and it happens. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The race is not finished until the end.
"We were in quite a good place in the Kemmelberg and we had the numbers but not really a sprinter so we decided to put everyone in the gutter. All of a sudden, I found myself at the front so I had a go. Paladin joined me and we worked pretty well together until the end when Soraya wasn’t really cooperating, which was pretty understandable.
"I’m a bit disappointed but you can do nothing. You just do your best and sometimes it is a victory and sometimes you get caught with 300 metres to go."
And here is what today's winner Marianne Vos had to say about her brilliant victory.
"It was a tough and nervous race with continuous fighting. In the final there were two leaders with a nice lead, but when your teammates work that hard, you want to finish it.
“The roads here are not in favor of escapees, but we know that Longo Borghini is incredibly strong and so is Paladin. That is why that gap was not closed just like that”.
“I knew [the sprint] was not going to be easy, but the team had confidence in me and I knew I had a chance. I tried to stay as calm as possible and switch on at the right time.”
Great podium for the 1️⃣0️⃣th edition of @GentWevelgem for women! Strong sprint of the winner @marianne_vos! 💪🏼 #GWE21 pic.twitter.com/s221IymDUUMarch 28, 2021
Marianne Vos' victory today has put her to the top of the WorldTour standings and Elisa Longo Borghini drops from first to second - though she is still well ahead in the world standings. Meanwhile, Lotte Kopecky has jumped up eight places to sit in third in the WorldTour ranking.
Soraya Paladin was the other rider caught at the last today. This is what she had to say after the finish:
“It was a very tough race today, partly because of the wind. Just before the first passage of the Kemmelberg I had a technical problem and had to change bikes. As a result, I ended up in a hole and had to dig deep to get back into the peloton.
"After that I tried to save energy and catch my breath. As we got to the final of the race, the scenario looked pretty good for us as a team. We rode nicely from the front, tactically it was right. Unfortunately, we lost Sofia Bertizzolo after an unfortunate fall.
“The [Longo Borghini] attack really had to come off my toes after all the efforts. I tried to do my turns in front as best I could. But the further we got, the more I felt the energy fade away."
“On the long, straight roads we stayed in sight of the peloton a lot, so it was difficult to stay away. In the final kilometers I felt that we would be taken back again. Of course I knew that Lotte Kopecky was still in the chasing peloton. She was well assisted there by Jeanne Korevaar. Lotte eventually sprinted to second place. Vos was just a bit too big today. ”
That is it from live coverage of Gent-Wevelgem women today. The complete results from today's race are now available alongside a great gallery covering all the action. Take a look at it here.
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