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Lorena Wiebes sprints to second with broken spoke at Exterioo Classic Brugge-De Panne

Dutch sprinter says that developing rivalry with Elisa Balsamo is 'good for the sport.'

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DE PANNE, Belgium (VN) — Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) may have had to settle for second at the Exterioo Classic Brugge-De Panne but she was happy to have finished it after she had to ride the final 16 kilometers with a broken spoke.

Wiebes took a rare sprint defeat at the Belgian one-day race with Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) storming to victory, but she was ultimately happy to have finished it in the lead group.

She suffered the broken spoke in the mass pileup on the final lap of the race that caught up much of the peloton and saw several land in a roadside hedge. While Wiebes was able to avoid a fall, her wheel took a hit, and the team car could not get to her.

In the end, she chose to ride on in the hope that the break would not become terminal for her wheel.

“With the really big crash, I was able to avoid it but someone crashed into my wheel and I felt directly that my wheel wasn’t straight anymore but the car was not behind the peloton anymore and there was too much going on to change bikes,” Wiebes said at the finish. “I had to go, and I was hoping to not break my wheel. I felt that my wheel was not perfect anymore, but I had no other options.”

Though Wiebes knew that there was every chance her wheel could fail her and that the broken spoke wouldn’t allow her to put the power down in the same way in the sprint, she had to go all in. Added to her woes was her teammate Charlotte Kool getting caught up in a crash in the closing kilometers.

It left Wiebes surfing the wheels as the peloton charged towards the finish line.

“In the moment, I didn’t think about how much it affected me. I was more a bit scared that I would break my wheel or crash,” she said. “In the end, I was able to sprint and that was the most important thing. You do lose some power with it, but it was either that or get a bike change and never come back to the peloton.

“I lost Charlotte with the other crash with two kilometers to go so it was not the best race for us. I came a bit too early in the wind, but it was either that or get boxed in. I’m happy with the result and hopefully next time we have a bit more luck.”

Also read: Exterioo Classic Brugge-De Panne: Elisa Balsamo storms to another major win

Despite her issues, Wiebes was still at the forefront in the finale as she went toe to toe with Balsamo in what is a developing rivalry between the two. The Dutch and the Italian have proved themselves as the fastest finishers in the pack this season with three wins apiece so far.

The last time they lined up against each other in a bunch sprint was the Ronde van Drenthe earlier this month with Wiebes taking the top honors there. With plenty more sprint opportunities to come at some of the biggest races of the year, they’re likely to face each other several times over the rest of the season.

Wiebes may have been beaten on this occasion, but she’s enjoying the friendly rivalry and thinks it’s a good advertisement for the sport.

“It’s nice to battle with Elisa,” Wiebes said. “I think it is really good for the sport if we can keep these battles in the next years. She’s shown that she deserves the world champion’s jersey so it’s really nice.”