Elisa Balsamo outsprints Lorena Wiebes to take the runner up spot after windy day in De Panne
How it happened
The 6th edition of the women’s Brugge-De Panne Classic was an attritional race characterized by strong winds on ‘De Moeren’. The peloton had already split and reformed several times before the decisive move went clear with 60km to go – a group of 10 riders containing defending champion Elisa Balsamo and sprint rival Lorena Wiebes. The group worked well together despite the presence of the two top sprinters until an acceleration in the exposed crosswind section split the ten riders, leaving six leaders to play for the win. Team DSM used their numerical advantage in the lead group to attack with a one-two punch allowing Pffeifer Georgi to go clear and win the race. Behind, it became clear that the group would be sprinting for second place. Elisa Balsamo positioned herself behind Wiebes before unleashing a powerful sprint to pass her ahead of the line. As the peloton came in three minutes behind, Ilaria Sanguineti sprinted to 10th to claim valuable UCI points.
In Elisa’s words
When you’re alone in a small group and you have to control two riders, it’s never an easy situation to handle. Jastrab was to first to attack and we managed to close the gap, but when Georgi went, I can’t hide that I did not have enough energy to follow. Of course I always race for the victory, but looking how the race went, I’m satisfied both for the result and the performance. I think Georgi and Jastrab from DSM played their numerical superiority in the best way and they rode strongly. I really did my best today, in a tough race, and I really enjoyed it. We expected a hard race, with wind and echelons. That’s what I like about Belgian races and that’s why I liked racing today.
We all knew that if someone was able to make an attack and immediately make a gap of 100 meters, it would have been the right move. That’s what Georgi did. I worked together with Wiebes to reduce the gap, but we knew it was hard. At 1km to go, also with Ina’s input from the team car, I only focused on the sprint for the podium. At the end, I think I can be satisfied for the result and, most of all, for how I sprinted against Wiebes. Even with a second place, there’s a something positive to highlight. It gives me confidence for the next events in this Belgian campaign; I hope and want to improve my performances. Being in the front today and managing with echelons, it’s a good signal of my form. Now I’ll focus to improve it and be more and more competitive in the coming events.
Photos of the day
All photos by Sprint Cycling Agency