For the second year in a row, Ellen van Dijk rode into Waregem, Belgium alone and victorious at the end of Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen.
The 32-year-old Trek-Segafredo rider attacked out of a breakaway of 11 to win alone. Marta Bastianelli (Virtu) was second in the bunch behind, and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) finished third in the 106km race.
“I think it’s my favorite race from now on!” said van Dijk. “Although it’s a bit of a short race and normally I like it a bit longer. The other riders want to ride it full gas as it’s the warmup for Flanders so they wanted to go, so I was really happy we went with a group today. I knew we were not the fastest out of the group, so we had to attack.”
A few attacks came and went early in the race. None were successful until the group of 11 escaped on the Knokteberg climb, 48 kilometers from the finish.
The winning group worked well together, especially because both Brand and van Dijk had teammates in the break — Liane Lippert and Olympic medalist Elisa Longo Borghini, respectively.
Confident that her Italian teammate would mark the breakaway, van Dijk attacked with 16 kilometers to go.
“I said, ‘Okay let’s just give it a try,’ and I think I directly got a bit of a gap, but it was still 16km to go,” van Dijk said.
“But I like it that way; it’s the way I like to race and need to win races. So I just put my head down and went for the finish. I knew that Elisa [Longo Borghini] was really supporting me from the back and Ina [Teutenberg, director] from the car, and that was really motivating. I knew I just had to give it all until the finish. It was a long way, and I am really happy it was enough.”
After her move, van Dijk clung to a lead of about 25 seconds into the last 10 kilometers. By the final four kilometers, she had extended her advantage to about 40 seconds.
“I knew there were a lot of fast women in the group, so I had to attack. I noticed everybody was suffering and that was the perfect time to go. Obviously, I was suffering too but apparently, I could go a little deeper still,” van Dijk added.
Van Dijk’s victory was a big boost for her Trek-Segafredo women’s team, which is in its first season. Dwars door Vlaanderen is its first major classics win, and it comes just days before Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, which van Dijk won in 2014. Trek-Segafredo has yet to confirm its full women’s team for De Ronde.