Out across the Flanders flatlands for Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne (WWT4) and slightly less flat Gent-Wevelgem (WWT5).
If it carries on like this TotW will no longer need to comment. Except perhaps to question the value of head-on shots in figuring out closely fought sprints. But hey. Let’s not be too picky.
TotW, however, is not shy in saying that race highlights so far this year have been decidedly rubbish. At least with a bunch sprint they can’t get much wrong, though? Decide for yourself here and here.
- Kirsten Wild: Returning from an extended track season, back to back WWT wins demonstrate she’s easily the most powerful sprinter in the peloton right now. Rider of the week.
- Lorena Wiebes (2): Second in successive WWT races is a massive step up for a rider who turned 20 less than a fortnight ago. (She can thank Jens for the reverse jinx, too.)
- Lotte Kopecky: Podium at De Panne, top ten at G-W, highest VDS points scorer without a [VDS season] win yet this year. Surely the win is coming? (TotW hopes its jinx power is not strong.)
- Lisa Brennauer: Used all her experience to help position Wild for the sprint in both races (though hampered by punctures on the run-in to Wevelgem), and was especially effective in the finale at De Panne, showing other teams how to do it.
- Letizia Paternoster: Made the podium at G-W despite a somewhat unorthodox, shall we say, leadout from her team. (Paternoster politely blamed the wind.)
- Emilia Fahlin: Having a quietly excellent season so far, with an eighth place at De Panne to add to her seventh at Binda the other week. The consistent leadership role at FDJ seems to be suiting her.
Team of the Week
WNT-Rotor. Same leader, same system, same result each time. By the time Sarah Rijkes and Claudia Koster appeared near the front of the peloton at G-W, things started to have a bit of a look of the inevitable about them.
Not Team of the Week
Oh let’s not do this...
Handwaving of the Week
... except, of course, we have to. Why can’t Boels just win a WWT race so we don’t have to hold a weekly inquest into the various ways they can screw up a chase or a lead out or launch miscellaneous attacks with incomprehensible intentions or seem uncertain about who their best rider is for any given race.
It’s certainly not the team’s fault Jolien D’hoore (and defending Driedaagse champ) was out with a broken collar bone. She was badly missed this week. But seeing Dideriksen floundering half way down the De Panne finishing straight having been launched way too early was hugely frustrating. For us and for her.
Trek seem to be having similar difficulties—TotW remains mystified by Lepistö’s attack on Sunday—but at least they got a podium out of it.
Dutchies v Italians
Dutch riders were top two in both races but two Italians (Balsamo and Bastianelli) made the top ten in De Panne, and a massive six in Wevelgem (B and B again, plus Paternoster, Cecchini, Balducci and Cavalli). Amy Pieters made it three Dutch top ten riders at G-W, Belgian Lotte Kopecky the only rider to break the Italo-Dutch hegemony.
TotW loves a good bike toss but, um, it can be just a tiny bit awkward when, um, er, how do we put this? it’s not actually the tosser’s bike. ‘At least throw the bike in my direction, eh!’ wrote Bigla’s Lizzy Banks, after Elisa Longo Borghini untangled Banks’s bike from her own then lobbed it to the other side of the road at Driedaagse. ELB later apologised, but not before various outraged calls on twitter for her to be treated like a man would be and banned from the sport forever.
bsmashers and hiddenwheel are still the top two. The pairing of Kopecky and Wiebes has shot Vlaanderen90’s Yas Queen! team up into third. All the top three teams have Kopecky, in fact. Wild teams, meanwhile, feature rather lower down the table. Top of that mini-league is Musha Pug in joint 35th, followed by Will’s Team Moo in joint 46th.
The killer combination of Kopecky and Bastianelli is keeping Vlady at the top. But watch out! The Zombie Kittens are now only, oh, 1000 points behind.
One-all this week to Frans Verbiage and, ahem, well, modesty forbids. Again. Thankfully Mr Verbiage leads overall. Next WWT race: RvV on Sunday. Look out for the predictions thread.