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Tour of Flanders Women 2021 - Live coverage

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Good afternoon and welcome to live text coverage of the women's Tour of Flanders. While the men's race has been underway for a few hours already, the women are due to start at 14:00 CET.

Today marks the 18th women's Ronde van Vlaanderen. The previous 12 editions have seen 12 different winners. Of those, 9 are at the race today, 8 riders and one DS in the form of Ina-Yoko Teutenberg of Trek-Segafredo. For more on the history of the women's Tour of Flanders check out our run down of all of the previous winners, from 2004-2020. 

Today the peloton will cover 152.4km plus 9km of neutral. Hold onto your Easter eggs because over the course of the race there are 13 brutal climbs, and five cobbled sectors.

The climbs are:

Kattenberg - 57km

Edelare - 53km

Boigneberg - 67km

Molenberg 77km

Marlboroughstraat 81km

Berendries 85km to go

Valkenberg 90km

Berg Ten Houte - 103km

Kanarieberg 108km

Taaienberg 113km

Kruisberg/Hotond 126km

Oude Kwaremont - 136km

Paterberg -139km

And the cobbled sectors:

Lippenhovestraat 40km

Paddestraat - 42km

Holleweg - 58km

Karel Martelstraat 68km

Jagerij 71km

European champion Annemiek van Vleuten was back in the peloton on Wednesday following a block of altitude training after Strade Bianche. She came back with a bang, winning Dwars door Vlaanderen from a two-up sprint with Kasia Niewiadoma. Can she repeat her 2011 feat and win today? This is what she had to say after Wednesday's race

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Just over 10 minutes to go! 

The weather in Oudenaarde is partly cloudy with a very low chance of rain and an 8km/h northwesterly wind. So if anyone did a rain dance last night - it didn't work.

So, who are the favourites? Given the variety of winners over the past 12 years it's tricky to narrow it down. Defending champion Chantal van den Broek-Blaak is surely up there, as is her SD Worx team mate Anna van der Breggen who is back for her first race since Strade Bianche. Of course, the aforementioned Annemiek van Vleuten is a favourite and Elisa Longo Borghini has shown herself to be on fine form lately. Plus, you can never rule out Women's World Tour classification leader Marianne Vos. Have a look at our 10 riders to watch to find out more.

If they're fuelled by this then my money's on Jumbo Visma.

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Defending champion Chantal van den Broek-Blaak was targeting the now-postponed inaugural women's Paris Roubaix. Will she be able to channel her disappointment into an unprecedented second consecutive win?

And they're off! The riders will traverse the 9km neutral section first before the official start with 152.4km to go.

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So, the 8 former winners mentioned earlier who are in the peloton today are:

Annemiek van Vleuten - 2011

Marianne Vos - 2013

Ellen van Dijk - 2014

Elisa Longo Borghini - 2015

Lizzie Deignan - 2016

Anna van der Breggen - 2018

Marta Bastianelli - 2019

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak 2020

The race is officially on

152km to go

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Also in the peloton today is Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky who is feeling confident about her form after coming second to Marianne Vos at the last Women's World Tour race, Gent-Wevelgem last week. 

Today's race is the fifth round of the 2021 Women's World Tour. To recap the previous rounds we had:

Strade Bianche won by Chantal van den Broek-Blaak

Trofeo Alfredo Binda Comune di Cittiglio won by Elisa Longo Borghini

Oxyclean Classic Brugge de Panne won by Grace Brown

Gent Wevelgem in Flanders Fields won by Marianne Vos

Here is today's course, starting and finishing in Oudenaarde, as you'll see, the climbs come thick and fast towards the end of the race!

Route for the 2021 Tour of Flanders Women

(Image credit: Flanders Classics)

Fien Van Eynde (Doltcini - Van Eyck Sport) and Mieke Kröger (Team Coop - Hitec Products) have a 15 second gap with Marijke De Smedt of Multum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team countering.

142km to go

Here are the two leaders and lone chaser

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De Smedt has been caught by the peloton so it is Kröger and Van Eynde at the front with a 30 second lead.

Nice bit of alliteration from Liv Racing, maybe they're hinting at a hidden talent of Kopecky's, will she play us a guitar solo if she wins today...?

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Marianne Vos is feeling confident about her chances today, she still gets nervous ahead of big races, though.

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The two leaders are caught 

121km to go

Throwback...Sunday? 

10 years ago, Annemiek van Vleuten took the win in this race with none other than Marianne Vos in third, check out this footage of the finish.

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It's about to get bumpy: the peloton are approaching the first set of cobbles, Lippenhovestraat (1.3km) followed immediately by the Paddestraat (1.5km)

112km to go

It's a fast one so far: the peloton have covered 40km in the first hour of racing! Will the pace stay high or will we see more moves get away?

All together 

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First block of cobbles out of the way and they're all together.

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With Ruth Winder not starting today Trek-Segafredo have five riders in the race. Here's what French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot had to say before the start:

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Speaking of Cordon-Ragot, it turns out that Thibaut Pinot isn't the only French pro with a penchant for goats

Femke Markus of Parkhotel Valkenburg has attacked, she has a 20 second lead

105km to go

In around 10km the riders will reach the first of 13 climbs, the Kattenber: 800m long with a maximum gradient of 11% 

Would you believe it...

Here are a few images from earlier on in the race

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OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Marijke De Smedt of Belgium and Team Multum Accountants Lsk Ladies CT Kelly Van Den Steen of Belgium and Team Bingoal Casino Chevalmeire during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde Breakaway RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Marijke De Smedt of Belgium and Team Multum Accountants Lsk Ladies CT Kelly Van Den Steen of Belgium and Team Bingoal Casino Chevalmeire during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde Breakaway RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
Image 3 of 3

OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Mieke Koger of Germany and Team Coop Hitec Products Fien Van Eynde of Belgium and Doltcini Van Eyck Proximus Continental Team during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde Attack Breakaway RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Markus has been joined by Rozanne Slik of Bingoal Casino - Chevalmeire, Emilie Moberg of Drops-Le Col s/b TEMPUR, Inga Čečuliene of Aromitalia Vaiano and Amber Aernouts of Doltcini-Van Eyck. They have a 50 second lead!

100km to go

The peloton haven't given the five leaders much room, their gap is reduced to just 17 seconds as they head towards the second climb of the day, Edelare, 1.5km long with a maximum of 7%

90km to go

The peloton on the Holleweg

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The peloton are all together

85km to go

A rider I haven't mentioned yet today is Cecille Uttrup Ludwig, who told CyclingNews earlier this week: 'I'll risk everything because either you take a risk and win big, or lose big'. What will we see from her today? 

Still all together as they go over the Karel Martelstraat followed by the Jagerij. It won't be long before they reach the Molenburg and things are sure to start kicking off.

80km to go

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As the Molenburg approaches will we see any moves go?

76km to go

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All together still over the top of the Molenburg, next up: Marlboroughstraat.

71km to go

Still together, onwards to climb #6 - Berendries 

65km to go

Attack from Jelena Eric of Movistar 

Eric is brought back. Hannah Barnes of Canyon//SRAM is on the front of the peloton along with Christine Majerus of SD Worx and Marlen Reusser of Ale BTC CIty Ljubjlana.  

At long last, live TV coverage is about to start, click here to find out how to watch the race where you are.

All together still as the peloton go up and over the Valkenburg. It looks like riders are keeping their powder dry for the Kanarieburg where attacks are often launched.

62km to go

Meanwhile, alert the authorities 🚨

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More images coming through with Canyon//SRAM looking active and the figure of Christine Majerus perennially on the front of the bunch

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OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Jolien Dhoore of Belgium and Team SD Worx during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Lisa Klein of Germany and Team Canyon SRAM Racing during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde Cobblestones RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
Image 3 of 4

OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Hannah Barnes of United Kingdom and Team Canyon SRAM Racing Christine Majerus of Luxembourg and Team SD Worx Lisa Klein of Germany and Team Canyon SRAM Racing during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde Cobblestones RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Alice Barnes of United Kingdom and Team Canyon SRAM Racing Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland and Team Canyon SRAM Racing Tiffany Cromwell of Australia and Team Canyon SRAM Racing during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

SD Worx are controlling the front with Jumbo Visma close behind.

55km to go

Movistar take over, the pace is high and the bunch is all together as they head towards the 8th climb of the day, Berg Ten Houte.

Elisa Longo Boghini moves up, has she managed to recover from last week's efforts?

52km to go

Alison Jackson of Liv Racing takes up the front as the peloton start the Berg-ten-Houte 

Mechanical for Arlenis Sierra of A.R Monex 

Reminder that Jackson has the watts AND the moves

The bunch are lined out over the top of the Begr-ten-Houte and small splits have formed

49km to go

Sarah Roy of BikeExchange and some from Canyon//SRAM are caught out

Attack from Leah Thomas of Movistar

Thomas is quickly neutralised by Lisa Klein

The peloton have a headwind on the approach to the Kanarieberg 

48km to go

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado of Plantur Pura was caught out in the splits over the last climb

Jolien d'Hoore of SD Worx lays it down at the front in the run-in to the Kanarieburg

46km to go

It's Alison Jackson on the front again 

Attack by Annemiek van Vleuten! It's early doors but this is AVV we're talking about...

Marianne Vos and Kasia Niewiadoma shut her down, Marlen Reusser and Elisa Longo Borghini are close behind 

Van Vleuten goes again with Cecille Uttrup Ludwig on her wheel, it looks like she's just trying to make the race hard rather than get away

45km to go

World champion Anna van der Breggen is sitting third wheel looking ominously comfortable

Soraya Paladin puts in an attack with Amy Pieters on her wheel but Annemiek van Vleuten shuts it straight down

43km to go

The race has split into small groups with a group of around 20 riders at the front comprised of most of the favourites.

The Big Gun Domestiques are out in force, Ellen van Dijk, Anna Henderson and Amy Pieters are controlling the front of this reduced bunch. The group containing Sarah Roy have joined the front group.

🚨Attack by Audrey Cordon-Ragot of Trek-Segafredo 🚨

ICYMI

Cordon-Ragot has a decent gap already as a third group containing Alice Barnes looks likely to rejoin the front soon.

40km to go

Cordon-Ragot is on climb #10 of the day and the peloton are hot on her wheels

Anna van der Breggen is at the back of the bunch on the Taaienberg 

17 seconds for Cordon-Ragot as Sarah Roy starts is distanced

Cordon-Ragot's gap is down to 12 seconds 

39km to go

The time gap to the third group (second bunch) on the road is 1'13"

Cecille Uttrup Ludwig and Emma Norsgaard are still in the front group, will we see a Danish double after Kasper Asgreen won the men's race?

37km to go

The chase eases up and Cordon-Ragot's gap goes back out to 22"

35km to go

Flootje Mackaij of DSM attacks 

Mackaij is brought back but the peloton almost have Cordon-Ragot in sight 

34km to go

37" for Cordon-Ragot

33m to go

Attack from Soraya Paladin of Liv racing with Anna Henderson of Jumbo-Visma straight on her wheel to shut it down closely followed by Chantal van den Broek-Blaak.

The group behind contains all of the favourites with many of the top teams well-represented, Cordon-Ragot has teammates in there too in the form of Ellen van Dijk, Elisa Longo Borghini and Lizzie Deignan but the rest will want to start to pull this back soon.

30km to go

44" for Cordon-Ragot and 3.5km to the next climb, the Kruisberg.

Anna van der BReggen moves to the front and Cordon-Ragot's gap drops to 30"

29km to go

Brodie Chapman of FDJ Nouvelle Acquitane Futuroscope and Sarah Roy are distanced as Soraya Paladin puts in another move off the front

19" for Cordon-Ragot as Palladin forges a small gap

No goats for Paladin but she has recently acquired this lil guy

🚨attack from Cecille Uttrup Ludwig 🚨

26km to go

Uttrup Ludwig is brought back, the group now have both Paladin and Cordon-Ragot in their sights

Palladin has almost made it up to Cordon-Ragot the gap is 10 seconds 

24km to go

The peloton are approaching Kwaremont and with 16.7km to go will hit the Oude Kwaremont. Paladin is caught.

20km to go

20 seconds for Cordon-Ragot as they approach the Oude Kwaremont, which is closely followed by the Patterberg. At the top of which there are 13km to the line.

19km to go

Cordon-Ragot is caught as they hit the Oude Kwaremont 

Problem for Lotte Kopecky 🚨 Alison Jackson drops back to help bring her back

Anna van der Breggen takes to the front and the group splits 

All aboard the van der Breggen train, who can follow? At the moment it's Grace Brown, Cecille Uttrup Ludwig, Annemiek van Vleuten, Elisa Longo-Borghini, Marta Cavalla and Lisa Brennauer, Demi Vollering. Vos and Niewiadoma distanced. 

17km to go

It's only Grace Brown AGAIN chipping off the front, have the peloton learned nothing? 

Annemiek van Vleuten rides up and over the top of Grace Brown who sticks to her wheel.

Crash for Yara Kastelijn of Plantur Pura 

15km to go

Brown and van Vleuten are brought back 

Onto the Paterberg and Van Vleuten takes up the front with Anna van der Breggen and Lisa Brenauer close behind.  

Van Vleuten gets a gap over the top of the climb

13km to go

Can Van Vleuten take this with 13km to go? We've seen moves like this from her plenty of times before. 5" is her lead

12" for van Vleuten and the group behind are looking at one another 

12km to go

The chasers have van Vleuten in their sight. Demi Vollering is pulling on the front for teammate Anna van der Breggen. 

9.7km to go

14" for van Vleuten - can she take this all the way to the line? 

8.4km to go

The group behind are looking somewhat more organised but they're going to have to really cooperate if they want to bring the former world time trial champion back.

6.9km to go

11 seconds for van Vleuten and the group behind are still not working together.

3.1km to go

19" Van Vleuten's gap is gong up as they go under the 2km to go banner

Van Vleuten goes under the Flamme Rouge and it looks like she's on the way to her second win at this race, 10 years since her first.

Brennauer takes second with Grace Brown in third.

Top 10:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar)
2. Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit WNT) 

3. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) 

4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo)

5. Demi Vollering (SD Worx)

6. Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) 

7. Cecille Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope)

8. Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx)

9. Marlen Reusser (Ale BTC Ljubjlana) 

10. Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope)

Anneiek van Vleuten winds the 2021 Women's Tour of Flanders. View the race report here

OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Arrival Annemiek Van Vleuten of Netherlands and Movistar Team Women Celebration during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde Landscape RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The moment the race was won 

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The run-in to the finish. Notably, Anna van der Breggen does not sprint.

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Let's hear from the winner, Annemiek van Vleuten:

“I had been hoping for this for ten years after my 2011 victory, and now it all fell into place. I am very proud, especially for my new team Movistar, the girls worked very hard for me, I was the number-one leader and could finish it off like this … I think we are going to celebrate big tonight”, said a happy Van Vleuten after the race.

“I tried to attack on the Kanarieberg, but there was a headwind, so I stopped again. But it prompted a reaction from the others, making it a good race, and that was to my advantage”, she continued. “I knew that there was nothing after the Paterberg, and I wanted to get to the top first. I had some doubts on the Kwaremont if I should counterattack after Anna’s move [van der Breggen, red.], but I thought, wait, wait, it is not on our team to take the initiative. SD Worx was in the group with several riders, and I could profit from that.”

Reliving the final 13 kilometres, Van Vleuten said: “I was so knackered. I really went all out. Eight seconds at the top was not much, I knew I needed more, to get out of sight, because of the long finishing straight.”

Impressive from the Movistar rider to take her second win in five days. 

Annemiek van Vleuten can add Ronde van Vlaanderen, 2011 and 2021 to her palmares.

Grace Brown of Team BikeExchange was third today, here's what she had to say about her race:

“We had a good race, our plan today was for me to attack after the Kwaremont and I had a really good lead-in from my team from Sarah Roy and Amanda Spratt into the base and then I followed Anna van der Breggen the whole way up, second wheel. When we got onto the main road after the Kwaremont I did an attack and got a gap but unfortunately the girls closed it down pretty soon. So then I was just racing that bunch and Annemiek got off the front on the Paterberg which was a small gap and it felt like we should be able to bring it back but unfortunately it just wasn’t coordinated enough in the chase to do that.” 

On her result she said, “you can’t be disappointed with a podium at Flanders, of course I came here wanting to win it but I’m really happy with third and I can have bigger goals for next year I think.” 

OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 04 Arrival Grace Brown of Australia and Team BikeExchange during the 18th Ronde van Vlaanderen Tour of Flanders 2021 Womens Elite a 1524km race frim Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde RVV21 rondevanvlaanderen tourofflanders UCIWWT on April 04 2021 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Post-race emotions from Lisa Brennauer who took second:

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The final podium of the women's Ronde van Vlaanderen 2021

🥇 Annemiek van Vleuten - Movistar

🥈 Lisa Brennauer - Ceratizit-WNT

🥉 Grace Brown - TeamBikeExchange 

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That's it for our live coverage of the 2021 women's Tour of Flanders. Join us next time for the sixth round of the WWT, the Amstel Gold Race, on the 18th April. 

Until then, have a great Sunday!

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