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OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — The team may not have won the race, but the FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope squad was one of the star performers at the Tour of Flanders.
The French squad placed three riders inside the top 10 on Sunday and helped to animate the final alongside SD Worx and Movistar.
Brodie Chapman was one of the chief animators in Flanders, going clear with SD Worx’s Marlen Reusser over the Oude Kwaremont. The 30-year-old Australian, who only turned pro in 2018, felt like the moment was a shot for the victory but she and Reusser were reeled in by Chantal van den Broek-Blaak on the Paterberg.
“When I was with Marlen I knew, I was like yeah maybe we can play for the win here,” Chapman said after the finish in Oudenaarde. “But yeah, when it came back on the Paterberg with Annemiek van Vleuten and Lotte Kopecky I was like ‘ah no,’ but at that point was just trying to stay in the group and hold on for as long as I could.”
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“I didn’t really have much info about where my teammates were behind, but when they came back, we tried to just play the numbers. It was a new race this year, Koppenberg was new, the scenario was kind of new. We certainly learned a lot and had fun,” she said.
After being reeled in over the Paterberg, Chapman was dropped in the run-in toward the finish but held on to sprint for ninth place. Despite missing out on the shot at victory, she was still enjoyed her days out on the cobbles and getting to race the Koppenberg for the first time.
“It was awesome, I loved the Koppenberg. I actually rode it three or four years ago and was like I hope this in a women’s race one day, it’s so cool,” she said. “For me the Koppenberg was fine, it was more the run-in, I was terrified, it was so crazy. But yeah, luckily it wasn’t wet today otherwise it might have been a bit more hectic.
“The crowds were so good it was like being at a festival. But I think I worked harder than at a festival today… We want to win but I’m stoked. I just had the time of my life racing, in front of the Belgian fans, can’t complain,” Chapman added.
Former podium finisher Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig was part of a group that caught a solo Chapman close to the finish and she was the first member of the FDJ team to cross the line, taking sixth place. New signing Grace Brown, who has also enjoyed a good classics campaign, finished seventh to make it three in the top-10.
Uttrup Ludwig was in her element among the Belgian fans, even if the day didn’t work out as the team had planned.
“I expected it to be super aggressive in the final. It was such a hard race, but we were a bit behind and had to chase, so not the ideal situation, but it was just such a hard day. But it was so much fun to have the spectators. Even though I was suffering like a pig, the spectators were just amazing,” she said.
“Brodie was up the road but then, in our group, we had Emma Norsgaard so we were like ‘oh we don’t want to bring her back,’ so then we attacked and tried to bridge to Brodie, and then from that point on there was a minute to the front group and we did what we could.”