On Sunday 7 April, the world’s best riders will line up for the 16th edition of the Women’s Tour of Flanders. A total of 24 teams will be on the start line to tackle the 157 km parcours shaped by a combination of rugged cobblestones and back-to-back climbs, eventually finishing back in Oudenaarde where this year’s champion will be crowned.
The Tour of Flanders is part of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, the highest tier in the sport, and as a result the strongest teams will head to the race, with many former winners to be found in the line-up of the teams. Boels Dolmans Cycling Team, Jolien D’hoore’s new team, dominated the podium last year with winner Anna van der Breggen, reigning world champion, and Amy Pieters taking first and second. Also heading to Oudenaarde is Team Sunweb, of Dutch origin and by no means unknown to the Tour of Flanders thanks to former winner Coryn Rivera.
Aside from these teams, the Tour of Flanders also welcomes new outfits which have added former race winners to their rosters over the winter, including the Dutch CCC-Liv Team, with former Tour of Flanders champion Marianne Vos. Flanders’ most prestigious race also makes its acquaintance with the all-new American Trek-Segafredo Women team, one that has no fewer than three former winners in its ranks: Lizzie Deignan, Ellen van Dijk and Elisa Longo Borghini.
The rich history of the Tour of Flanders appeals to the imagination and ensures it’s a date that no team in women’s cycling wants to miss. Taking part in the race will be the Australian Mitchelton Scott, of former winner Annemiek Van Vleuten, the German Canyon//SRAM Racing and the Danish Virtu Cycling team, which could feature the Italian Marta Bastianelli, European champion and winner of Gent-Wevelgem and The Brabantse Pijl in 2018. Three Belgian teams also have 7 April highlighted in their calendars: Lotto Soudal Ladies, Doltcini - Van Eyck Sport UCI Women Cycling and Health Mate - Ladies Team.
In recent years the Elite Women’s race has always seen a different name top the podium. We will soon know which former winners are in with a chance of becoming a joint-record holder when the teams announce their participating riders.