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Road Racing

Who will win Gent-Wevelgem men’s and women’s races? Here are our picks.

Wout van Aert out of a small group? Lorena Wiebes dominating a bunch sprint? Or can Biniam Girmay and Elisa Balsamo repeat?

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Any aspiring winner of Gent-Wevelgem men’s or women’s race needs to bring a stacked skillset to the startline.

Strong legs for bergs. Echelon aces for any crosswinds. And a fast finish to foil a final group that could be anywhere between four and thirty-four riders big.

Preview: The contenders, climbs, crosswinds, and game of sprinters vs specialists – here’s all you need to know about Gent-Wevelgem

Riders like Wout van Aert, Marianne Vos, and Mads Pedersen have taken the “W” in Wevelgem before. But who are our editors’ picks for two potentially rain-soaked races Sunday?

VeloNews‘ editors Andy Hood, Sadhbh O’Shea, Jim Cotton, and Outside’s Fred Dreier lay their bets:

Women’s race: The Wiebes vs Balsamo battle royale?

Balsamo, Wiebes … or someone else? (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Sadhbh: Lorena Wiebes is on fantastic form but I’m going to go with the defending champion Elisa Balsamo.

She had some top form earlier in the season, but has suffered from some bad luck in recent weeks. Gent-Wevelgem is a great race for her as it’s tough without the climbs being too hard.

Fred: The women’s race usually comes down to a group kick from a diminished bunch. In this scenario, it’s hard to pick against Lorena Wiebes. She’s my go-to for the victory this year.

Hoody: I think Lorena Wiebes will be flying by this weekend, but Elisa Balsamo is so impressive so far in the early part of this season that it’s hard to look past her. Lotte Kopecky brings the diesel if the race gets hard. With cool temperatures, wind, and possibly rain in the forecast, this one’s for a tough-bred local.

I don’t see anyone staying clear, so it’s Balsamo for the title defenses in a reduced bunch.

Jim: Just to choose someone a little different, I say Marta Bastianelli. She doesn’t scoop the headlines, but she’s always in the frame. Victory at Le Samyn and three more podium finishes already this year shows the Italian veteran isn’t slowing down in her 35th year.

Bastianelli knows how to win in Wevelgem after she topped the podium in 2018, and her UAE-ADQ crew will want to send her into retirement this autumn with all the wins in her reach.

Men’s race: WvA vs the world?

Philipsen topped the podium in De Panne – next up Gent-Wevelgem? (Photo by ERIC LALMAND/Belga/AFP via Getty Images)

Fred: I’m going to say Wout van Aert wins via a long breakaway launched in the crosswinds just after the final climb of the Kemmelberg.

Jumbo-Visma has the strongest classics team this year, and if the team can have three or four riders make the front group, then Wout is the man to launch the coup de grace attack.

Jim: It seems perilous to not choose Wout van Aert after his E3 exploits, but I’m going to put my chips on Jasper Philipsen.

The Alpecin Deceuninck speedster was able to fend off the foul weather and master the tricky dynamic of small-group racing at Brugge-De Panne, and his team is on a tear after Mathieu van der Poel conquered San Remo. Philipsen can win out of a big bunch and clearly has the nous to outfox something smaller.

For a totally off-piste possibility – Filippo Ganna bursts out of a big bunch in the final kilometer and goes into track pursuit mode for solo victory.

Sadhbh: Gent-Wevelgem is hard to predict as it is such an open race, but I’m going to go with Mads Pedersen.

The Dane has been on really good form so far this season and he can deal with tough terrain like this. If it comes down to a small group, Pedersen will be tough to beat.

Hoody: I really dig the longer, monument-like distance organizers have imposed on Gent-Wevelgem since it moved to a marquee spot on the calendar on Sunday. Long gone is the midweek jaunt that ended in a bunch sprint. The route delivers a tasty mix of cobbles, narrow roads, and even some plugstreets.

Who wins? It will be out of a reduced bunch kick. Mads Pedersen is showing some early season brilliance, and I’ll take Tim Merlier to cover the spread.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.