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HARELBEKE, Belgium (VN) — Canadian road race and time trial champion Alison Jackson believes that the new-look Gent-Wevelgem course will provide a “dynamic” race this Sunday.
The women’s route has seen a few changes from last year’s parcours, not least the size of it. Some 17 kilometers have been added on since the 2021 edition, which was won by Marianne Vos, to give the riders a race of 159km in total.
While the number of climbs remains the same, the order in which the riders will do them has altered.
The 1,900-meter long Vidaigneberg has gone and the riders will instead head straight to the Baneberg. Meanwhile, the second ascent of the 1,000m Monteberg has also been taken out and replaced with second rides of the 1,200m Scherpenberg and the 300m Baneberg, which peaks out at 20 percent and is the penultimate ascent.
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The “queenmaker” is still likely to be the Kemmelberg, which will be climbed twice during the race and is the final ascent of the day. Jackson is gunning for glory with her Liv Racing Xstra squad and she knows that this climb will still be the key.
“I always love Gent-Wevelgem, and I would like to have a bit more luck at Paris-Roubaix this year,” Jackson told VeloNews of her ambitions for this spring. “We want to go into Gent-Wevelgem with a win in mind. The course is a little bit different this year, which I think is exciting and it makes it a dynamic race. It’s important to get over the Kemmelberg and then it’s about making it to the finish.”
Liv Racing Xstra will be taking a different approach to the race with its star sprinter Lotte Kopecky lining up with SD Worx following an off-season switch, while they also lost Soraya Paladin to Canyon-SRAM. Jackson believes that the team can fight among the best at the one-day race.
Jackson had a difficult start to the year after a skiing accident and a bout with COVID, but has come into good form this spring with second place to Christine Majerus at the Drentse Acht van Westerveld earlier this month.
“I tore my ACL in January, skiing, and I had COVID and all the things but to already have a podium at Drentse Acht was a bit of a surprise for how I feel my shape is. It’s a good team to be in to make some success happen,” Jackson said.
As well as doing some skiing, Jackson tried her hand at cyclocross for the first time over the winter as well. She competed in the Valley Cross event in Aldergrove last November and had hoped to ride the national championships until the organizers were forced to cancel it due to flooding.
She hopes to have another try at the discipline, to improve her bike handling as well as having a bit of fun.
“There was some flooding in the area so they ended up canceling it. I had a little taste of it,” Jackson said. “I would like to do more, I think it’s really good to do other disciplines just for bike skills, but also I think the atmosphere is really fun.”