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L'arri

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Omloopen Het Nieuwsblad en van het Hageland (UCI 1:1)
« on: February 22, 2018, 14:43 »
Well now, this weekend is also the traditional Belgian opener for the women, with UCI 1.1 races Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Spar Omloop van het Hageland.

While the former takes place in the familiar "Flemish Ardennes" west of Brussels, the latter region will be less well known to foreign observers as the hotbed of the Belgian development scene that it is.

Saturday: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Like the men's edition later in the day, Saturday's OHN will reacquaint the peloton with the former Ronde finale and riders will have to do half the parcours before reaching the first of eight categorised bergen.



Given the earlier start, this will be a particularly cold and windy morning and, while nobody will want to get shelled out too early, the race will shatter almost as soon as it hits the cobbles.

Last season's outstanding winner Lucinda Brand #sun returns to defend her title. The Dutchwoman will aim to hit the ground running after a very solid winter of CX and brings along experienced hands including 2017 Ronde winner Coryn Rivera, hardy perennial Ellen Van Dijk and the dependable fastwoman Floortje Mackaij.

World Champion Chantal Blaak is down for #boels and, despite being still only 28 years of age, the Dutchwoman will be among a select few who have been around long enough to have tackled the Muur-Bosberg challenge. Although she has usually served the interests of others, Blaak has always finished highly in the cobbled races and this year she'll have the novelty of a team built around her.

In 2018, #canyon needs to have a better season after delivering a mere seven victories last year and Tiffany Cromwell won in similarly freezing conditions in 2013. Key vedettes Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and new signing Katarzyna Niewiadoma stay home ahead of bigger objectives but Elena Cecchini and Trixi Worrack provide able support.

Jolien D'Hoore may have one eye on Sunday's Hageland grind around the Hageland, a race that suits her better, so Annemiek Van Vleuten may take over leadership with an all-Aussie back four including Gracie Elvin and Sarah Roy.

Other potential favourites to do a good ride could be Janneke Ensing and Chloe Hosking of #cipollini, Spanish flyer Sheyla Gutierrez of #cpc and that versatile all-terrain vehicle Elisa Longo Borgini of #wiggle. Look out too for Lorena Wiebes, a hugely talented 18-year old making her senior début for #parkhotel.

Sunday: Spar Omloop van het Hageland

Spare a thought for the riders who burned up their matches on the road to Meerbeke only to have to do it all again the next day. Such will be the case for many in Sunday's peloton, while not a few will have deliberately kept their powder dry for this race.

The Omloop van het Hageland plays out on a broad 52km circuit of the region followed by six local laps of 13km around the host town of Tielt-Winge, sometime home of Fernando Gaviria.

The parcours follows many of the dreadful concrete-surfaced steenwegen for which the region is known to cyclists, and passes by the white wine producing vineyards for which the region is known to everyone else. The 132km race is punctuated by numerous short, steep hills and the bergprijs competition is always popular among riders looking for an excuse to stay warm.





The final laps around Tielt-Winge tend to give the finale the character of a supercharged criterium and those sprinters who can beat the climbs will seize the opportunity to steal an early result. Usual suspects include D'Hoore, Hosking, Gutierrez and Giorgia Bronzini but, if team tactics decide to go long, Blaak, Van Dijk, Leah Kirchmann and Audrey Cordon could be good picks.
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  • « Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 19:50 by L'arri »
    Cycling is a Europe thing only and I only watch from Omloop on cause I am cool and sh*t
    RIP Craig1985 / Craig Walsh
    RIP KeithJamesMc / Keith McMahon / Larry Sarni

    Archieboy

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    a Danish double alongside the mens result

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  • « Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 12:02 by LukasCPH »

    L'arri

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    Visiting some new acquaintances, I was at yesterday's race and I must say that the organisation was very impressive indeed: CT Tilt was really on it.



    I somehow failed to capture Ellen Van Dijk's storming solo win but FWIW I did get the sprint for second:



    The riders were quite accessible even without an accreditation so I was able to say bonne chance to Chloe Hosking and Leah Kirchmann and bien joué to Dani Rowe who was a lot shorter than I had thought. Perhaps the new kit this year is visually shrinking.

    As always with these races, the field consists of the very élite of the sport and a lot of, if not exactly entry-level, then considerably less experienced youngsters. And it's probably very hard on them, getting spanked like that, because while it's surely an honour to race with the World Champion, the enormous gap in resources tends to be demonstrated in a physically brutal manner.



    The race broke into two bunches very early on under pressure applied by #boels. There is real depth in that squad, with high quality riders like Karol-Ann Canuel - who would probably win a fistful back in North America - performing dom duties here. Not to even have a top 10 finish there was really surprising and a reflection not so much of a lack of power but rather a lack of sprinters.

    Carmen Small was in the car for Virtu, a team that looks incredibly professional and must have been on a high after Siggaard's victory at Nieuwsblad the day before. She still suffers from headaches even today. Siggaard finished eighth, I think, but that is a lovely kit and the Storck bikes look stealthy.
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