Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore was just millimetres from victory in today’s Gent-Wevelgem, the fourth race in the 2017 UCI Women’s WorldTour. The former Belgian Champion launched her sprint on the left side of the road, but was forced to hesitate as she veered slightly towards the barriers. The close contest was won by Finnish Champion Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla), with American Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) third.
“It was too close actually. Unfortunately,” a disappointed D’hoore said afterwards.
The 145km race was blown apart after the midway point, as it completed two laps of the hilly circuit based on the tough climbs of the Kemmelberg and Monteberg. Despite several breakaway attempts, however - featuring Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s WorldTour leader Elisa Longo Borghini, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Giorgia Bronzini - it was a large group of riders that approached the finish in Wevelgem.
“We really had a strong team in the final,” D’hoore explained. “We have four girls in a group of 25, so we definitely had the numbers. We played it very well, and everyone of the team was super strong. Everyone played her role and I’m super thankful that I had such super teammates, and that made me a bit relaxed in the final. I could just sit on and prepare myself for the sprint, and save myself a little bit.”
D’hoore found herself on the left side of the road in the final kilometres, however, which meant that she was close to the barriers when she launched her sprint.
“The last 3km I was behind Sunweb - they had a full lead out - and I was just boxed in on the left side,” she said. “I was flirting with the barriers and the road furniture on the left side, it was really hectic! But then I found a gap on the left side, and I just went, but then the barriers were so close - and the banners as well - and I just hesitated for a moment, otherwise I would have crashed I guess.
“If you just hesitate for a split second then you’re lost. Maybe that cost me the victory, but I’m happy with my shape and how the team performed.”
Second place for D’hoore is a personal best for the former Belgian Champion, in what is a very local race for the Ghent native, and a best ever for a Belgian in the six editions of the race to date. For a rider as accustomed to winning as D’hoore the result is an obvious disappointment, but the two-time National Champion is looking forward to taking her current good form on to even bigger challenges.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” she smiled. “It was so close, and I would have loved to win a WorldTour race in Belgium, as a Belgian. Also a lot of fans came out, and a lot of friends and my family, so it would have been nice. But yeah…
“Everything is there, and now it’s just one week for Flanders. Hopefully the crowd will cheer me on and give me that extra push!”
Although she finished outside the points, Wiggle high5 Pro Cycling’s Strade Bianche winner Elisa Longo Borghini remains in the lead of the 2017 Women’s WorldTour, and will wear the cyclamen jersey once more in next Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
1. Lotta Lepistö (Cervélo-Bigla)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
3. Coryn Rivera (Sunweb)
photo Getty Images
photo Anton Vos