The twists and turns of this season just keep coming. Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) took the biggest win of her career – and became the first American to win Ronde Van Vlaanderen – by being part of a chase group that caught the break in the final kilometre to set up a tight bunch sprint for the line. And Belgian national champion Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step Floors) did the opposite – finding himself with a gap on the crest of the Oude Kwaremont 55km from the finish, he set out on an impossible dream that led to the reality of one of the most thrilling solo wins in the race’s history.
Riders of the Races
With a Sunweb team that laid it all out on the road for her, Coryn Rivera rewarded their efforts with the victory in a nail-biting conclusion to the women’s edition of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Rivera has been on fire these past few weeks, taking a victory in Trofeo Alfredo Binda on March 20th and a third place at Gent-Wevelgem last week. She praised her team, particularly teammate Ellen van Dijk, for putting her in the right place at the right time.
“From the moment that Hans [Timmermans] made the call to go full gas for me, Ellen [van Dijk] took charge of the pace. The sprint was absolutely thrilling, but I still feel like I am dreaming.”
Second-placed Gracie Elvin (Orica-Scott) became the first Australian woman to step on the podium of this race; Chantal Blaak (Bols-Dolman) occupied the third step.
Visit Ella Cycling Tips for more details of the women’s race.
If someone had said to you this morning that Philippe Gilbert would win today’s Ronde, you might think about his win in De Panne a few days ago and nod sagely, saying ‘Yeah, I can see that.’ If someone had said to you this morning that Philippe Gilbert would win today’s Ronde in a solo attack from the Oude Kwaremont 55km from the finish, you’d have thought about the current form of Greg Van Avermaet and the strength of Peter Sagan and said, ‘Nah, I can’t see that.’ But see it we did.
Seems that PhilGil’s move to Quick Step after years of mixed results on the BMC team has given him a renewed joy of racing. That he was able to win so decisively, so majestically, in the race that every Belgian cyclist dreams of winning means he’ll be more than ready to wring every last drop out of the Ardennes classics in a few weeks’ time. Next year? He wants to pick off the only two Monuments he hasn’t won yet.
“I want to win all five. I’ve gone close at Milan-San Remo and I’ll have to test myself at Paris-Roubaix, but my career is far from over and I want to realise this dream.”
For a full review of all the action, click here for Cycling News blow by blow account.
Crash Boonen Bang
The fairytale was not to be. Tom Boonen, looking to win a record fourth Ronde title, had us all daring to believe when he started turning the screws on the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen halfway through the race, taking teammates PhilGil and Matteo Trentin with him. He was still riding strong when PhilGil broke away on the Kwaremont and looked to be in a good position if his teammate out ahead ran out of steam at any point. It was ironic that it was at the base of the Taaienberg – the climb where Boonen most liked to attack – that he had one mechanical after another. No Boonenberg fireworks for him – if you discount his language as he was waiting for his team car to supply him with another bike. It’s now down to Roubaix.
Boonen’s attack on the Muur might not have won it for PhilGil – there was still too much work to do to say that – but it could very well be one of the reasons Peter Sagan or Greg Van Avermaet did not win. When the group split on the Muur, the world champion and the Olympic champion were both caught out and left in the chasing group … to chase and chase and chase, never quite getting in a dominant position to challenge PhilGil out in front.
This constant stress of being on the back foot might very well have caused Sagan to make a rare mistake when it comes to bike-handling, getting too close to the barriers as he ratcheted up the pace on the final ascent of the Kwaremont. The Slovakian went down hard, taking GVA and Oliver Naesen with him. GVA jumped up and went off in hot pursuit, Sagan stood looking dazed and furious as he waited for a new bike, the rainbow jersey sullied by the cobble dust. However, that GVA could go down like that and still pick up second on the podium is testament to his will to win and his unbelievable form this season.
Speaking of shit days of #unluck, spare a thought for Cannondale’s Sep Vanmarcke. This guy cannot catch a break it seems. Riding strong in the chase group, just before the Paterberg, he went down in the middle of the road, tearing up most of his kit, acting as a human cushion for Luke Rowe to fall onto and sending Maciej Bodnar into the grassy ditch. Hopefully one of these days, the cycling gods are going to stop toying with this man and he’ll have a race free of crashes and full of victory.
1 Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) 4:02:38
2 Gracie Elvin (Orica-Scott) same time
3 Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) s/t
4 Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) s/t
5 Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal Ladies) s/t
1 Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step Floors) 6:23:45
2 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 0:29
3 Niki Terpstra (Quick Step Floors) s/t
4 Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) s/t
5 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) 0:53
By the way, don’t miss the next Tweets of the Week – it’s going to be a rip-roarer!