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Dwars door Vlaanderen Women: Chiara Consonni victorious in reduced bunch sprint

The Italian racing for Valcar-Travel & Service claimed her first win of 2022.

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Chiara Consonni (Valcar-Travel & Service) sprinted to victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen.

The young Italian claimed her first victory of the season from a reduced bunch sprint.

“I knew that I did my best and I’m good in the sprint, so I’m very happy,” she said.

Despite multiple attacks throughout the day, especially from Team DSM and Trek-Segafredo riders, no one was able to force a race-winning breakaway, leaving a large group to contest the sprint for victory at the finish.

Trek-Segafredo’s Ellen van Dijk was especially active in the finale, putting in multiple accelerations in the last 15km in the hope of splitting the race up and going clear.

But each time she was marked by other riders, with defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten seemingly riding to control things for her sprint-specialist Movistar teammate Arlenis Sierra rather than go for victory herself.

“On the finish, on the last climb,” was Consonni’s response when asked when she believed the race was going to be decided by a sprint finish. “Trek were so strong on the last cobbles that I stayed back. But I tried to enter, and I entered the first group.

“Since the last kilometer, there were lots of attacks, with Van Dijk, Canyon-SRAM, and all the teams, because they didn’t want to arrive in a sprint.

“In the end, I tried to do my sprint, and I did a good sprint.”

Consonni timed her sprint to perfection, staying patient and waiting until late after Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) had been forced to start her sprint early.

It was a tight finish, with several riders spread across the road, but Consonni had clear daylight between herself and the rest.

The day’s first breakaway consisted of Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar-Travel & Service), Eline van Rooijen (AG Insurance-NXTG Team), Zsofia Szabo (Andy Schleck-CP NVST-Immo Losch), Nina Kessler (BikeExchangeJayco) and Katia Ragusa (Liv Racing Xstra).

But they weren’t given much time in the spotlight, as the peloton brought them back with 95km to ride, just before the first of the race’s ten climbs.

The second of these climbs, the Hotondberg, saw the next attacks from Victorie Guilman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Svenja Betz (IBCT), but they too were given little leeway by a peloton anticipating the first cobbled sector of the day 81km from the finish, on which the race again came back together.

A more dangerous move was established just prior to the tough Berg Ten Houte climb 72km from the finish, with most of the big teams represented: Leah Kirchmann, Liane Lippert (both DSM), Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo), Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar-Travel & Service), Mie Bjorndal (Uno-X), Shari Bossuyt (Canyon-SRAM), Jelena Eric (Movistar), Georgia Baker (BikeExchange-Jayco), Julie de Wilde (Plantur-Pura) and Maaike Boogaard (UAE Team ADQ).

But the group swelled to an unmanageable number when several other riders, including race favourites Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Annemiek van Vleuten, bridged up to them on the Kanarieberg, and they all sat up to allow the rest of the peloton to catch them.

The next rider to go clear was Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), and with no other rider accompanying her, the peloton was happy to ease up and let her gain a gap of over a minute.

Borghini, Ludwig, Lippert and Van Vleuten were briefly off the front of the peloton, followed by other counter-attacks, but it wasn’t until the Mariaborrestraat cobbled sector 41km from the finish that a move successfully went clear, featuring Georgia Baker (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Juliette Labous (Team DSM).

That pair joined Chapman 36km from the finish but was given a scant chance of making it to the finish as the likes of Borghini and Ellen van Dijk (Trek–Segafredo) upped the pace in the peloton, and the catch was made 10km later.

Chapman hadn’t given up, however, and countered an attack from Floortje Mackaij (Team DSM) to form a new leading duo.

They stayed out until a cobbled section 10km from the finish, where the Trek-Segafredo pair of Van Dijk and Borghini put the peloton under serious pressure with an acceleration.

There were more attempts from riders to go clear as the finish approached from the likes of Lippert, Chabbey, Mackaij, and especially Van Dijk, who refused to give up until after her last move just before the 1km to go mark.

None succeeded, and this meant the 30 or so riders who were left in contention were left to fight it out in a bunch finish.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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