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Gent-Wevelgem Women - Live coverage

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the 2022 Gent-Wevelgem Women.

It's 30 minutes until the riders leave Ypres for the neutral rollout, at 13.50 CEST

The women will traverse 159km until the finish in Wevelgem including 7 climbs which all come towards the latter part of the race. The riders will also race along some of the same roads we saw in the previous round of the WWT on Thursday, De Panne, including the long, straight, De Moeren, that can cause splits if the wind is strong. 

This is the 11th edition of the race for the women. Here is last year's top-10

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Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky has been second place at this race for two years in a row. Can she finally climb a step of the podium this year? Here's what she had to say about it. 

Today's race is 160km which is roughly 20km longer than recent editions and the addition of the De Moeren and the Ossuaire side of Kemmelberg on the second time up the climb are all part of Flanders Classics'  Closing the Gap initiative to create visibility, parity, and change attitudes in pro racing.

Read more about the updated parcours here

The riders are about to set off from the Menin Gate war memorial for the neutral start 

They're off!

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🏁 the official start has been given 

159km to go

A couple of changes to the startlist: British champion Pffeifer Georgi replacing teammate Juliette Labous for Team DSM and Lily Williams of Human Powered Health will not start 

Also racing is Lizzy Banks of EF Education first Tibco in her first race back since Strade Bianche last year where she suffered a concussion and then caught Covid the day before she was due to begin her season at Volta Ciclista Valenciana in February. 

She also had this encounter the other day: 

It's been active so far with Anne van Rooijen (Parkhotel Valkenburg) and Willemijn Prins (Multum Accountants) getting a small gap first but the two were brought back and now Gulnaz Khatuntseva (Roland Cogeas Edelweiß) and again Anne van Rooijen (Parkhotel Valkenburg) have gone clear and have a 30 second advantage 

The gap is now up to 50 seconds 

143km to go

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The breakaway is set in now, the gap is now up to 2'25"

The gap is now 3 minutes 

131km to go

3 and a half minutes for the break now

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The riders are on De Moeren for the first time ever in Gent-Wevelgem

The average speed for the first hour was 39km/h. The peloton are already bringing the gap down and it is now 1'40"

Jumbo Visma are on the front 

Jumbo-Visma have last year's winner, Marianne Vos, but she has been recovering from a cold that saw her sit out the last few races. If she isn't recovered just yet then they could be riding for Coryn Labecki - who has been on the podium here before.

The pace through De Moeren has caused splits as well as bringing down the break's lead to 45 seconds 

The gap has now gone back out and is 1'20"

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99km to go

The gap to the leaders is now 2 minutes 

The peloton are through De Moeren 

15 minutes until live coverage begins. Find out how to watch the race here.

There have been a few crashes. Ruby Roseman Gannon (BEX) and riders from Canyon//SRAM, FDJ, and Liv Racing involved 

They are just over half way through the race 

79km to go

53 seconds now for the break

Uno-x are on the front 

Crash for Lea Stern (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad)

Two other riders were involved in the same crash, one from Canyon//SRAM and another from Bingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport 

The gap is down to just 28 seconds now as they approach the first climb of the day, the Scherpenberg 

Khatuntseva and van Rooijen have been caught 

67.8km to go

The pace is high with Team DSM and Jumbo Visma on the front 

Small crash involving three riders but they are all back up 

Eri Yonamine of Human Powered Health is waiting for a bike change 

Canyon//SRAM and Team DSM are now sharing the pace setting 

They are on the Baneberg climb now and it's FDJ on the front 

Christine Majerus (SD Worx) is driving the pace now over the climb 

The next climb is the Monteberg 6km later

Majerus has caused a split which includes her teammate Lotte Kopecky, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM), and Anna Henderson (Jumbo Visma) 

58km to go

Kopcky continues to accelerate taking  Niewiadoma, Liane Lippert (DSM), and Henderson with her 

Marta Lach of Ceratizit WNT is trying to bridge to the four leaders 

Team UAE and EF Education First Tibco are on the front trying to pull this group back but they are not getting much help 

Lach has joined the leading four 

The group have a lead of 8 seconds 

Jumbo Visma are on the front slowing down the chase 

The break are approaching the steep Monteberg climb which reaches gradients of 10%

The group are working well together but the peloton has them in sight 

A rider from Valcar Travel & Service has also bridged to the group 

The gap is holding at around 11 seconds 

Congestion at the back at the bottom of the Kemmelberg

Mechanical problem for world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek - Segafredo) in peloton

The front group is now back to the original four riders as the others have been dropped

11 seconds is the lead 

The pace up the Kemmelberg has, predictably, caused splits  

Marlen Reusser (SD Worx), Coryn Labecki (Jumbo-Visma), and Marta Cavalli (FDJ) are chasing 

The leading quartet now have 17 seconds on the peloton with the chase group at 7 seconds 

Crash between Lorena Wiebes (DSM) and Lourdes Oyarbide (Movistar) 

The front four now have 33 seconds and the chasing three are just a handful of seconds behind them

Trek Segafredo have missed this move and are on the front of the peloton with Ellen van Dijk, Shirin van Anrooij, and Elisa Balsamo

van Dijk's efforts have brought the gap down to just 10 seconds already 

The peloton are about to make the catch 

The break has been caught 

Three climbs are left now, Scherpenberg, Baneberg, and the Ossuaire side of the Kemmelberg

SD Worx have amassed at the front with Canyon//SRAM lined up just behind 

Lorena Wiebes, who crashed earlier on, is chasing back on with a small group 

After pulling the break back before, Ellen van Dijk is back on the front yet again on the approach to the Scherpenberg

Julie de Wilde of Plantur Pura accelerates  

Chantal van den Broek Blaak (SD Worx) attacks 

40km to go

Elisa Longo Borghini and Sofia Bertizzolo follow with a Plantur Pura rider 

Floortje Mackaij (Team DSM) closes the gap 

They are on the Baneberg 

Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) is leading the peloton up the Baneberg 

Reusser is trying to force a split 

Crash for Alison Jackson (Liv Racing) 

Chantal van den Broek Blaak continues to drive the split caused by Reusser. Elisa Balsamo is also in the group 

The chase group has caught the front group who split from the peloton over the climb 

It's Reusser on the front once again 

...and is replaced by Ellen van Dijk of course!

The peloton is a considerable size now as all the groups come back together 

Now Grace Brown is putting pressure on at the front

Now it's the Kemmelberg (Ossuaire) and the final climb of the day 

Grace Brown has a small gap as they hit the cobbles of the Kemmelberg 

Brown is riding away as Lippert, Longo Borghini, Niewiadoma, Reusser, and Vos chase 

34km to go

Brown has done this before, the peloton are wise to her time trialling prowess by now but nobody could follow the Australian on the Kemmelberg 

A small group is chasing the FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope rider 

It is Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) yet again who is leading the chase 

Christine Majerus (SD Worx) attacks from the chase group with Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) following 

Majerus and Longo Borghini have made contact with Brown 

The peloton is split to pieces now 

There are three main groups on the road now 

Chantal van den Broek Blaak attacks rom the front group 

Floortje Mackaij and Shari Bossuyt (Canyon//SRAM), and Shirin van Anrooij join van den Broek Blaak

Jumbo Visma have missed out and it's Anna Henderson on the front of the chase group trying to pull this leading group back 

Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) is missing from the front of the race but the majority of the other pre race favourites are present 

The four are caught and there are a few counter attacks but nobody has broken away yet 

Another move from Floortje Mackaij and Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon//SRAM) follows but Trek Seafredo close them down 

Another injection of pace from Marlen Reusser 

Attack from Cromwell is neutralised by Chantal van den Broek Blaak 

Christine Majerus (SD Worx) attacks and is followed by Kasia Niewiadoma, Floortje Mackaij and Anna Henderson

All together and the pace slows 

24km to go

A chase group has joined the front group 

The peloton are back in Ypres 

The group has swollen in size considerably and the pace is not high as the pass under the Menin Gate again 

Ellen van Dijk comes back to the front for Trek Segafredo 

Trek Segafredo, Jumbo Visma, and FDJ are on the front 

Jumbo Visma, Trek-Segafredo, and SD Worx are working together to keep the pace high with just under 20km to go 

Attack from Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma)

Defending champion Marianne Vos is looking comfortable in the bunch behind 

Lotte Kopecky is also looking good 

Attack from Marlen Reusser now as the moves come thick and fast. Nothing is sticking thus far, however.

Emma Norsgaard (Movistar), of whom we have seen very little today, is also sitting comfortably in the front group 

Strong attack from Coryn Labecki (Jumbo Visma)

Chantal van den Broek Blaak and Marta Lach follow Labecki 

The three have a small gap and are working together but Shirin van Anrooij of Trek Segafredo pulls them back

Marlen Reusser attacks yet again and gets a small gap with a few others 

They are caught 

Attack from Elena Cecchini now of SD Worx 

Yara Kastelijn of Plantur Pura chases 

Anna Henderson chases Cecchini down

Lippert (DSM) neutralises the move but Christine Majerus counters 

Shari Bossuyt (Canyon//SRAM) now makes a move 

12km to go

Bossuyt is caught and they are all together but who will counter next? 

The riders are looking at one another as there appears to be a lull at last 

Cecchini goes again marked by Rachel Neylan (Cofidis) and Marta Cavalli 

the move from Cecchini has created a small group which has gone clear 

Counter attack by Kasia Niewiadoma from the front group 

Georgi (DSM) and Cavalli (FDJ) chase Niewiadoma down 

Ellen van Dijk is ensuring that nobody else gets away as Trek Segafredo aim to keep the race together for their sprinter, Elisa Balsamo 

Labecki, Cecchini, Lach, , Cavalli, Poidevin, Neylan, van Dijk, Niewiadoma, , Pffeifer Georgi, Marta Lach, Majerus Susanne Andersen (Uno-x) and Valerie Demey (Liv), Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE) have a slight lead 

Ellen van Dijk, who was part of the lead group, was brought back to neutralise the move and closed the gap

Yet another attack from SD Worx! This time it's Lonneke Uneken 

Liane Lippert, Tiffany Cromwell, Rachel Neylan, and Riejanne Markus follow 

Yet again it's European champion and world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk working to bring the move back 

And yet again she is successful 

Anna Henderson is setting the pace now for Jumbo Visma 

5km to go

After so many attacks in the last few km the pace has slowed now as nobody has been able to break the elastic - it looks like we could be in for a bunch kick 

Or not... attack from Lonneke Uneken of SD Worx again 

Now Grace Brown goes with Kasia Niewiadoma and Lonneke Uneken chasing 

Brown has gone clear 

Ellen van Dijk never tires! She is single-handedly chasing Brown down. Time trialist v time trialist 

Riejanne Markus of Jumbo Visma joins the chase 

1.5km to go

Brown is caught 

Christine Majerus is on the front for Lotte Kopecky wiht Marlen Reusser behind 

It's going to be a bunch sprint! 

It's Kopecky v Balsamo 

Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) wins her third race in a row! 

Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma) in second and Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ceratizit-WNT) in third 

Winner, Elisa Balsamo: 

"I am very happy, today I won my perfect race and so a dream come true I am very very happy":

"it was a very hard race and also in the last km there was a lot of attacks and my team was perfectly they closed every attack and they did a great job so we could go for a sprint."

"Ellen and also Elisa and Shirin they were so strong and I really want to say thank you to them and all the team...this is my favourite race and so it's a dream, I'm really happy. "

Looking ahead to the Tour of Flanders next weekend she said "I don't know it's a very hard race and now I have one week to rest and ai need some rest and so I will think about it

WEVELGEM BELGIUM MARCH 27 Elisa Balsamo of Italy and Team Trek Segafredo competes in the breakaway during the 11th GentWevelgem In Flanders Fields 2022 Womens Elite a 159km one day race from Ypres to Wevelgem GWEwomen UCIWWT on March 27 2022 in Wevelgem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Top-10:

1. Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) 

2. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma)

3. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ceratizit-WNT)

4. Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx) 

5. Emma Norsgaard (Team Movistar) 

6. Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ)

7. Susanne Andersen (Uno-X)

8. Tamara Dronova (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad)

9. Silvia Persico (Valcar Travel & Service) 

10. Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope)

Marianne Vos (second place): 

"Of course we always go for the highest place as possible and you want to go for the win but I think we did what we could and we rode a good race with the team but Balsamo is very fast she is in very good shape and I think I can be satisfied with second today." 

WEVELGEM, BELGIUM - MARCH 27: Elisa Balsamo of Italy and Team Trek - Segafredo celebrates at finish line as race winner ahead of Emma Norsgaard Jorgensen of Denmark and Movistar Team, Marianne Vos of Netherlands and Jumbo Visma Team, Maria Giulia Confalonieri of Italy and Ceratizit – WNT Pro Cycling Team, Lotte Kopecky of Belgium and Team SD Worx, Marta Bastianelli of Italy and UAE Team Adq and Susanne Andersen of Norway and Uno-X Women Cycling Team during the 11th Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields 2022 - Women's Elite a 159km one day race from Ypres to Wevelgem / #GWEwomen / #UCIWWT / on March 27, 2022 in Wevelgem, Belgium. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Elisa Balsamo extends her lead of the Women’s WorldTour overall classification on 1520 points ahead of Lotte Kopecky on 960 and Lorena Wiebes on 720

ICYMI the full race report can be found here.

The next round of the Women's WorldTour is a big one... the Ronde van Vlaanderen or Tour of Flanders next Sunday, 3rd April.

Join us then for more live text coverage but, for now, thanks for following and have a great Sunday! 

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