Events

Floortje Mackaij takes wild women’s Gent-Wevelgem

Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) launches a late solo charge out of a small lead group to win the women’s Gent-Wevelgem

After finishing second to teammate Amy Pieters on Wednesday at the Dwars door Vlaanderen, Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) launched a late solo charge out of a small lead group to win the women’s Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.

Janneke Ensing (Parkhotel Valkenburg) took second with Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda) third.

“It is an amazing feeling and coming across the line I couldn’t quite believe that I had won such a race,” said the 19-year-old Mackaij.

The race was battered by wind and rain, and the crosswinds took a heavy toll on the peloton.

“The peloton was already pretty small when we hit the Kemmelberg for the first time,” said Hosking. “It got select over the hills, but it was really the crosswinds that did the damage. I suddenly looked round and there was a group of about 10, and some of the big names weren’t there.”

Among those who hit the deck on Sunday were Mackaij’s teammates Claudia Lichtenberg, Willeke Knol and Pieters, who crashed twice — once in an early spill with the others, and again while in a small split. Lichtenberg had to abandon, and Knol was out of contention, but Pieters got back up and into the hunt.

“With 25-30km to go Amy crashed in the break and was back in the chase with us. We decided to put it in the gutter and after this Amy and I got away — she was so strong today,” said Mackaij.

“We got across to the front and from there we just kept attacking as there were some fast sprinters still there. This was great and with 3km to go I got clear and just went full gas to the line. It was amazing and I still can’t quite believe it.”

When Mackaij made that final move, Hosking said, she and Ensing couldn’t bring her back.

“I rolled through with about a kilometer to go, and she left me stuck on the front and took me for second place,” said Hosking.

“Finishing third wasn’t fantastic for us because Jolien [D’hoore] really had the legs and would have been able to take the sprint if it had stayed together, but Liv-Plantur had the numbers and played it really well.

“It wasn’t the best, but it’s nice to finish on the podium, and we’re really looking good for the Tour of Flanders next Sunday.”