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5th Women's Ronde van Vlaanderen - CDM
Belgium, April 6, 2008
Arndt takes the Flanders High Road
By Ben Atkins and Brecht Decaluwé in Meerbeke
German former world champion Judith Arndt (Team High Road) has won the fifth Ronde Van Vlaanderen in a two-up sprint from American Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team). The pair arrived at the finishing line together, but the former world time trial champion was no match for the German veteran, and Arndt crossed the line two bike lengths clear. In a race dominated by the High Road and Cervelo Lifeforce teams, it was no surprise that a rider from each team would end up contesting the final victory.
The sprint for third was taken by Omloop Het Wolk winner Kristen Wild (AA Drink Cycling Team) from Arndt's team-mate Oenone Wood and newly crowned world points race champion Marianne Vos (DSB Bank). They led home a group of fourteen riders that included defending champion Nicole Cooke (Halfords Bikehut) and world champion Marta Bastianelli (Italian National Team) twenty-one seconds behind the leading pair.
Arndt's first thought was to credit her team for a job well done. "It was some great team-work," she told Cyclingnews straight after the finish. "We were always in the breakaway: with Chantal [Beltmann] and Luise [Keller], and it was just a perfect race."
Asked about her confidence of beating Armstrong as they arrived on the finishing straight together, she revealed that she had not been too confident about being able to out-sprint the American. "I was not sure, but usually I'm not so bad in sprinting.
"When you win, you can party," she continued. "I don't know how we'll celebrate. We'll do it with the whole team."
Fourth place finisher, Arndt's team-mate Oenone Wood reflected Arndt's sentiments. "It was great;" she told Cyclingnews as she caught her breath. "We've done this race so many times as a team and had bad luck. I think in this race you have to have everything fall into place and you can't afford any mistakes. I think we rode really well as a team today. Chantal [Beltman] was in that break early on, then Luise [Keller] got across to her, and that allowed the rest of us to really look after ourselves and stay in good positions."
Emphasising the fact that High Road are celebrating this as very much a team victory, team representative Petra Rossner spoke to Cyclingnews after the race. She specifically praised the work of Australian Kate Bates who worked tirelessly for team captain Arndt, protecting her on the numerous cobbled sections and climbs.
On finishing third, Kirsten Wild was disappointed not to get the victory, but satisfied overall to have made the podium. "I'm happy enough with this result," she said. "We had a team-mate [Emma Johansson] in the front group [early on], but I wouldn't have minded if everything had come together."
Wild's team-mate Emma Johannson was in the leading group that formed on the Molenberg after just 33km, but only managed to finish ninth in the group behind Arndt and Armsrtong. "Of course I'm disappointed." she said. "The whole day away; I felt good in there as well. People were starting to come back and were attacking, but you can't react to everything. I really did have a chance for a top-three, because on the Bosberg we were only with the four of us. But that's what happens.
"We were going too slow, they were going too fast." she continued "On the Muur I was really suffering. On the Muur she [Chantal Beltman] was so much stronger, but we chased back to Chantal. So, Just before the Bosberg we caught back up with them. During the climb we just sat on her wheel. I didn't realize they were so close behind."
Surprised that the forecast rain – some of which fell on the men's race – stayed away, Johannson explained, "It was ok. It was dry. It wasn't bad. It wasn't cold. I was really warm - we were lucky there. When we did the Valkenberg I noticed that it was really dark above Oudenaarde, but we then turned around and didn't get it. It was good."
Also part of the early break, Giorgia Bronzini (Italian National Team) was unlucky with mechanicals and finally finished in 78th place, 2:43 behind Arndt. Nevertheless, she remained upbeat about her race. "Bene, bene," she told Cyclingnews, "it went really well, but unfortunately I punctured on the hardest climb."
Last year's winner Nicole Cooke (Halfords Bikehut) finished in the leading group for her second World Cup race in succession, and despite showing some form with a late attack, finished last in the sprint for the line.
"I just looked to see what was going on," she said after the race. "Armstrong and Arndt got away. I followed some moves; then with about a kilometre and a half to go, I followed Brandli. There was a bit of a gap because she swung off, so I put my head down and went. I got about 100m, 150m, not much choice: I could only commit, otherwise if I got caught by the bunch I'd get beaten in the sprint anyway, so I went like crazy, but got passed with 150m to go."
Cooke was also quick to praise the tactics employed by the teams of the two leading riders – something she herself had the luxury of in last year's race. "Cervelo and High Road both rode very well with their strong riders," she continued, "putting them in the front group and then having chasers come across, so both riders had three in the front group and they used that to their advantage"
British rider Emma Pooley (Specialized Designs for Women) was defending her lead in the World Cup that she gained by virtue of her victory in last month's Trofeo Alfredo Binda. Asked if her first experience of the Ronde had been good, she told Cyclingnews."Hard, not good, hard."
Unfortunately, Pooley did not find that the World Cup jersey gave her any extra boost to her performance, quite the opposite in fact. "It really didn't make any difference," she said, "it was just horrible. It was just even more embarrassing, frankly, wearing this jersey."
How it unfolded
188 women from 32 teams took the start of the fifth Ronde Van Vlaanderen for women, in Oudenaarde just before midday. Despite predictions of bad weather – even heavy snow – they set off under almost unbroken sunshine, in fact the many showers that fell on the men's race stayed away from the women and they enjoyed dry roads for the entire race. Temperatures were well down on last year's unseasonable heat however, and many riders began the race with leg or knee warmers.
The first serious attack of the day came just before the Molenberg – the first climb of the day – where seven riders broke clear of the peloton. The break, consisting of Chantal Beltman and Luise Keller (both Team High Road), Marianne Vos (DSB Bank), Noemi Cantele (Team Bigla), Sarah Düster (Cervelo Lifeforce), Emma Johansson (AA Drink) and Giorgia Bronzini (Italian National Team). They quickly gained twenty seconds on the peloton.
A group of around fifteen riders detached from the front of the peloton, containing the entire rest of the High Road team. Bronzini suffered a puncture at this point, and she and Keller were dropped. Despite working together, they failed to regain the front group. By the mid point of the race, the gap reached a maximum of one minute and ten seconds.
On the climb of the Muur-Kapelmuur, the front five were caught by the chasing group which included defending champion Nicole Cooke (Halfords Bikehut) and also Kristin Armstrong and Christiane Soeder (both Cervelo Lifeforce), Judith Arndt and Oenone Wood (both High Road), Canele's Bigla team-mate Nicole Brandli, Suzanne De Goede (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung) and world champion Marta Bastianelli (Italian National Team).
The leading riders stayed together for the next few kilometres, and after the Bosberg, there were sixteen riders in the lead with the remainder of the peloton now out of contention.
On the fast rolling roads between the Bosberg and the finish, Armstrong put in a powerful attack that only Arndt managed to follow and the pair quickly pulled away with no one in the rest of the group attempting to chase.
Armstrong and Arndt rounded the final corner with 500 metres to go with a lead of around twenty seconds on the rest and the German easily out sprinted the American to take her first victory in this race.
A late attack from Cooke was neutralised by the chasing pack and Kirsten Wild led them home, out sprinting Arndt's team-mate Wood, and former world champion Vos took fifth. De Goede finshed in sixth place and takes the lead in the World Cup standings.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by AFP Photo
Images by CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net
Images by Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com
1 Judith Arndt (Ger) Team High Road Women 3.01.00 (37.79 km/h) 2 Kristin Armstrong (USA) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 3 Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA-Drink Cycling Team 0.21 4 Oenone Wood (Aus) Team High Road Women 5 Marianne Vos (Ned) Team DSB Bank 6 Suzanne De Goede (Ned) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung 7 Julia Martisova (Rus) Gauss RDZ Ormu 8 Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Team Ista 9 Emma Johansson (Swe) AA-Drink Cycling Team 10 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 11 Noemi Cantele (Ita) Bigla Cycling Team 12 Nicole Brändli (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team 13 Regina Bruins (Ned) Netherlands 14 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 15 Chantal Beltman (Ned) Team High Road Women 16 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Team Halfords Bikehut 17 Monica Holler (Swe) Bigla Cycling Team 0.44 18 Angela Brodtka (Ger) Team DSB Bank 19 Grete Treier (Est) Gauss RDZ Ormu 20 Martine Bras (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland 21 Anita Valen De Vries (Nor) Team Flexpoint 22 Lorian Graham (Aus) Vrienden Van Het Platteland 23 Irene Van Den Broek (Ned) AA-Drink Cycling Team 24 Monia Baccaille (Ita) Fenixs 25 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Lithuania 26 Liesbeth De Vocht (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland 27 Alona Andruk (Ukr) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 28 Elodie Touffet (Fra) Gauss RDZ Ormu 29 Jennifer Hohl (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team 30 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 31 Emma Rickards (Aus) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 32 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 33 Lieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 34 Daiva Tuslaite (Ltu) S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox 35 Vicki Whitelaw (Aus) Australia 36 Loes Sels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team 37 Carissa Wilkes (NZl) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz 38 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Menikini - Selle Italia 39 Sofie Goor (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 40 Monika Schachl (Aut) Team Uniqa 41 Kori Kelley Seehafer (USA) Menikini - Selle Italia 42 Emma Pooley (GBr) Team Specialized Designs For Women 43 Andrea Graus (Aut) Bigla Cycling Team 44 Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Menikini - Selle Italia 45 Zulfiya Zabirova (Kaz) Bigla Cycling Team 46 Amber Neben (USA) Team Flexpoint 47 Luise Keller (Ger) Team High Road Women 48 Rasa Leleivyte (Ltu) S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox 1.50 49 Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team 50 Sara Mustonen (Swe) Team Cmax Dila 51 Sophie Creux (Fra) France 52 Catherine Hare (GBr) Team Halfords Bikehut 53 Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra) France 54 Sara Carrigan (Aus) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 55 Catherine Delfosse (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 56 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 57 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung 58 Romy Kasper (Ger) Germany 59 Saskia Elemans (Ned) Team Flexpoint 60 Lauren Franges (USA) United States Of America 61 Alison Powers (USA) United States Of America 62 Jessica Allen (GBr) Team Halfords Bikehut 2.42 63 Sjoukje Dufoer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team 64 Nathalie Lamborelle (Lux) Team Uniqa 65 Adrie Visser (Ned) Team DSB Bank 66 Carmen Mcnellis (USA) United States Of America 67 Jocelyn Loane (Aus) Australia 68 Rasa Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 69 Andrea Bosman (Ned) Team DSB Bank 70 Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Ned) Team Flexpoint 71 Verónica Leal Balderas (Mex) Gauss RDZ Ormu 72 Laure Werner (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team 73 Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Den) Team Cmax Dila 74 Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Menikini - Selle Italia 75 Karen Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team 76 Hannah Verhaeghe (Bel) Belgium 77 Linda Villumsen Serup (Den) Team High Road Women 78 Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Team Ista 79 Francesca Tognali (Ita) Team Ista 80 Arenda Grimberg (Ned) Netherlands 81 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint 82 An Van Rie (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland 4.50 83 Daniela Pintarelli (Aut) Team Uniqa 84 Kathleen Sterckx (Bel) Belgium 85 Corine Hierckens (Bel) Vienne Futuroscope 86 Tina Liebig (Ger) Team DSB Bank 6.38 87 Helen Wyman (GBr) Swift Racing 7.20 88 Rosane Kirch (Bra) S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox 89 Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland 90 Vera Koedooder (Ned) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 91 Sanne Van Paassen (Ned) Netherlands 92 Karin Thürig (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 93 Marta Vila Josana Andreu (Spa) Team Cmax Dila 94 Sharon Van Essen (Ned) Team DSB Bank 95 Iosune Murillo Elkano (Spa) Bizkaia - Durango 96 Alessandra D'ettorre (Ita) Team Ista 97 Amanda Spratt (Aus) Australia 98 Maryline Salvetat (Fra) France 99 Ludivine Henrion (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team 100 Nadejda Vlasova (Rus) Fenixs 11.15 101 Emmanuelle Merlot (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope 102 Toni Bradshaw (NZl) Swift Racing 103 Martina Ruzickova (Cze) Elk Haus 104 Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Menikini - Selle Italia 105 Tanja Hennes (Ger) Team Specialized Designs For Women
1 Suzanne De Goede (Ned) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung 98 pts 2 Judith Arndt (Ger) Team High Road Women 75 3 Emma Pooley (GBr) Team Specialized Designs For Women 75 4 Katheryn Curi Mattis (USA) Webcor Builders Cycling Team 75 5 Oenone Wood (Aus) Team High Road Women 57 6 Kristin Armstrong (USA) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 50 7 Emma Rickards (Aus) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 50 8 Julia Martisova (Rus) Gauss RDZ Ormu 45 9 Miho Oki (Jpn) Menikini - Selle Italia 40 10 Emma Johansson (Swe) AA-Drink Cycling Team 36 11 Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 36 12 Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA-Drink Cycling Team 35 13 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan 35 14 Ina Teutenberg (Ger) Team High Road Women 35 15 Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Menikini - Selle Italia 30 16 Marianne Vos (Ned) Team DSB Bank 27 17 Regina Schleicher (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung 27 18 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Australia 21 19 Nicole Brändli (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team 19 20 Charlotte Becker (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung 18 21 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 18 22 Noemi Cantele (Ita) Bigla Cycling Team 17 23 Lorian Graham (Aus) Vrienden Van Het Platteland 15 24 Gina Grain (Can) Webcor Builders Cycling Team 15 25 Regina Bruins (Ned) Netherlands 14 26 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 11 27 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung 11 28 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 10 29 Joanne Kiesanowski (NZl) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team 9 30 Peta Mullens (Aus) Australia 9 31 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo 8 32 Carly Hibberd (Aus) 8 33 Chantal Beltman (Ned) Team High Road Women 6 34 Vicki Whitelaw (Aus) 6 35 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Team Halfords Bikehut 6 36 Alison Powers (USA) United States Of America 5 37 Lang Meng (Chn) Giant Pro Cycling 5 38 Monica Holler (Swe) Bigla Cycling Team 4 39 Carissa Wilkes (NZl) New Zealand 4 40 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung 4 41 Angela Brodtka (Ger) Team DSB Bank 3 42 Carlee Taylor (Aus) 3 43 Grete Treier (Est) Gauss RDZ Ormu 2 44 Sofie Goor (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam 2 45 Tina Mayolo Pic (USA) Vrienden Van Het Platteland 2 46 Martine Bras (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland 1 47 Yong Li Liu (Chn) Giant Pro Cycling 1