Elisa Balsamo of Trek-Segafredo capped off a week of victories with a sprint win in Gent-Wevelgem, in a furious bunch sprint just ahead of defending winner Marianne Vos of Jumbo-Visma. The World Champion has taken her rainbow campaign to new heights this week, with victories in the monumental Trofeo Binda back in her native Italy, then a sprint win in the Brugge-De Panne classic Wednesday. Only Lorena Wiebes of DSM has been able to stop her, in the Ronde van Drenthe, but Wiebes missed today’s sprint after a crash in the final hour that left her chasing the peloton in vain.
Balsamo still had plenty of company in the home stretch, and even that was only made possible by her team and in particular Ellen van Dijk, as break after break went away by a few seconds only to be hauled back in. In one notable case, van Dijk swung herself off the breakaway and dropped back to the closing pack, some 8 seconds behind, to haul Balsamo and the rest back into contact. Only Trek and Jumbo, setting up Vos, had the legs left to stop the final dangerous moves heading into town, including a solo jump by Grace Brown that looked like it had a chance in the final 3km, only to be reeled in.
In the closing sprint, SD Worx had Lotte Kopecky lined up for the win, but the Belgian Champion could not muster the speed to stop Balsamo from coming up the left barriers. Vos came around the right side for second place, giving Jumbo a sweep of the runners-up on the day after Christophe Laporte lost to Biniam Girmay in the men’s event. Maria Giulia Confalonieri even got by Kopecky for the last podium place. Results:
Ieper - Wevelgem 159 km
The women’s G-W is stepping up in difficulty (as we will see RvV do next week as well). They’ve added a passage through De Moeren and they will now also tackle the steep side of the Kemmelberg on the final passage. The first may not matter much today with little wind but the Kemmelberg change should really make things harder for the purer sprinters to make it to Wevelgem in the front group.
Expected finish: 17:55 - 18:25 CEST
Wevel Gem of the Day: Lotte Kopecky
This could be a day she and SD Worx genuinely have an edge over Balsamo and Wiebes. Even if betting against those two seems hard these days.