Gent Wevelgem has to be up there in my most hated races of all time. Ive only raced it once and it went so badly I never put my hand up to do it again. Its renowned for its cross winds, echelons and riders ending up all over the road. Coming from the UK and not having much exposure in cross winds meant I really suffered when (generally the dutch) decided to put the race in the gutter and cause some serious carnage in the peloton. This race requires fighting spirit to guarantee being in the front splits when the action happens. Its also one where team work is vital usually becoming aggressive in the final with non pure sprinters looking for a smaller group into the final by attacking. The route amounts to 143 kilometres and takes six short and sharp Flemish hills, such as the Kemmelberg.
Typically the riders who win this race are great at positioning, riding in cross winds and can sprint with the race finishing on a fast flat section of road. For me the critical part of this race is being well positioned at all times. The race can not only split on the climbs but also on the long fast straights when the wind comes into play.
Marta Bastianelli is back this year to try and defend her victory from 2018, she said; ‘ Gent has always been a good race for me, winning last year was a dream! Last year I had a team that helped me a lot and I think it is fundamental this year too! So I will be present at the race to defend last year’s victory even if, as you know, repeat business is always difficult! But I hope that all goes well and that we can have fun’
Since the introduction to the race in 2012 no rider as been successful in repeating the victory. I would predict if anyone can it would be Marta after a fantastic start to the season. This race attracts the very best classics riders being the ‘flatter’ classic it will generally finish in a smaller group bunch sprint. Im excited to see how it shapes up this year, but what I can guarantee is that it’s a race of excitement with action happening throughout the race. This is one I’m happy to be watching from the side lines. Good luck ladies!!