Race report

Lucinda Brand sprints to 9th place at Flanders

Ronde van Vlaanderen

A change in route and the introduction of the Taaienberg would make the 2019 women’s edition of Ronde van Vlaanderen the toughest yet. The morning breakaway escaped early and with the peloton happy with the situation behind, the seven riders ahead quickly built up an advantage of over three minutes. The status quo was maintained for a while but with the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen coming at just over 70 kilometres to go, the pace was up in the peloton and the breakaway’s gap started to diminish.

Things were all back together with 45 kilometres left and with the Taaienberg looming, the speed was still high within the bunch and Team Sunweb were prominent near the front of the peloton. No one managed to attack off the front but instead the bunch was thinned by riders dropping out the back.

It would be the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg combination that properly split up the race and a group managed to get away, containing eventual race winner Bastianelli. Team Sunweb were represented in the third group with Floortje Mackaij and Lucinda Brand, attempting to chase those ahead. The race wouldn’t come back though, and the group would eventually sprint for eighth place, with Brand delivering a strong kick to come home in ninth on the day.

Team Sunweb coach Nicolas Marche was pleased with the teamwork on show: “We lost Coryn early in the race due to a crash. She was one of our leader’s for the day so it is never good to start the race like this but the rest of the girls were still there and we focused fully on working for Lucinda from then on. Unfortunately we also lost Liane, who was strong in Dwars, to a mechanical at the most important part of the day, just before the Oude Kwaremont. In the final the strongest riders went clear but Lucinda did well to dig deep and finish with a strong top ten. The girls did a good job all day and we’re happy with how we worked. We need to keep going like this and a top result will come!”

Brand added: “It is a pity that Coryn crashed out of the race early but as a team we reacted very well to that and focused again on the race ahead. The girls kept me in a good position at all times and I never had to worry about wasting energy. With the race situation and it all together I had to wait until the Oude Kwaremont but I just wasn’t strong enough there to follow. On the last climbs I had good help from Floortje and we had to hope those ahead would not work together while we chased. The race didn’t turn out in our favour but I think we can be satisfied with how the day went overall as the team worked really well together. Personally, I am happy with the 9th place and I think I did a good race: I felt strong but just not strong enough to follow the best riders today.”