An exciting third round in the UCI Women’s Road World Cup took place over the weekend, in a race that saw crashes, cobbles, and threatening clouds.
The 139.6km Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanders) race started at Ourdinaarde at 11am on Sunday morning, with raindrops falling and clouds overhead. However, apart from a few drops here and there the race remained mostly dry.
Crashes were the main feature of the first hour of racing, with Amanda Spratt (Orica-AIS) and Rikke Lønne (Team Rytger) stretchered to hospital, with others forced to abandon the race.
The peloton rode close until the final 26km of the race, when Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) launched an attack on the classic Kruisberg climb, gaining a lead of 12 seconds.
“It was our team tactics played out to perfection. I would go first and we would have Lizzie (Armitstead) behind me. It was from the book.”
Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans)
A counterattack from Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) and Tiffany Cromwell (Specialized-Lululemon) was caught on the Oude Kwaremont, and Van Dijk grew her lead to 38 seconds before the final climb before starting an individual time trial of 13km.
“It hurt but when with a few kilometres to go I had a tailwind I knew I could win. And if you know your teammate is behind you, you can go just a little bit faster.”
Van Dijk was extremely happy with her victory, which saw her come in 0.01 minutes ahead of team-mate Lizzie Armitstead and Johansson.
“Those last kilometres were really hard. I still can’t believe I did it. I wanted to win three races in my career: the world title, the Tour of Flanders and the Olympics. Now only one remains.”
Lizzie Armitstead came in second behind Van Dijk, making this her third time on the podium this series.
“Ellen worked hard for me in the previous races. That’s the beauty of this sport. We are a team I was really emotional when she won.”
Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
1. Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS)
There was no change for the spring and young rider jerseys, with both Iris Slappendel and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot respectively keeping hold of theirs. Anna van der Breggen took the mountain jersey. Good news for Rabo-Liv as all three riders are members.
Armitstead keeps the overall series lead going into the next race with 320 points.
Watch the UCI World Cup Ronde van Vlaanders round up clip to catch the highlights from the action.