Monday 4th April
You might imagine that after almost 140km of bergs and cobbles that most riders would take at least one day off, but no; most of the women who took to the line in Oudenaarde today will be at Dottignies tomorrow for the 10th running of the GP de Dottignies. Dottignies is right in the heart of historic cycling country, just a few km from Kortrijk, the Vlaamse Ardennen, and Roubaix, so the race includes everything you’d expect, and that means narrow roads/cow tracks, cobbles and bergs. They set off at 14:00 on a long, 74km circuit that heads out into the Ardennes to climb five bergs, the Cote du Haut-Rejet, the Cote du Bois d’Allemant, the Cote de Mourcourt, the Col de la Croix Jubaru and the Cote du Carne, plus a token km or so of cobbles, then do four laps of a smaller 13km circuit for a total distance of 128km.
This tends to go to the sprinters, possibly because anyone who specialises in suicidal breakaways will have done their best to escape yesterday. You want convincing of that? The past four winners are Kirsten Wild, Sarah Duester, Marianne Vos and Giorgia Bronzini. The race website is a great site to start for info, even if lots of it is infuriatingly fuzzy photographs from, what is clearly a great race handbook. The best maps are at the bottom of this page, but the course description you scroll past to get there is clearer here. There’s a start list which is as likely as ever to be accurate, and suggests that there will be around 200 women racing.
You might find more useful information in our preview from last year (scroll down to the comments – the preview itself will make no sense to anyone who wasn’t there) , and you won’t find a better race report than that from our on the spot team which far outnumbered what any other web-site sent.