CANYON//SRAM Racing’s Team Manager, Ronny Lauke, once said “The conditions riders face in Flanders—the climbs, the cobbles—means you need to have so much quality as a rider to win it. I think every rider wants to prove that they are something special; that they have what it takes to win Flanders.”
On Sunday 7 April, CANYON//SRAM Racing will line up at Ronde van Vlaanderen (affectionately known as Flanders) with six hopefuls: Alena Amialiusik, Elena Cecchini, Tiffany Cromwell, Lisa Klein, Kasia Niewiadoma and Alexis Ryan.
Ask all six riders and all six would answer they’d love to win this iconic race. “To win this hard race is a dream of mine” and “I would love to win Flanders for the satisfaction of being the best on this extremely brutal circuit!” are characteristic of the responses.
The same goes however, for the majority of the peloton. The history, prestige and atmosphere, merged with the brutal physical and mental demands of Flanders have every rider longing for triumph.
Cromwell points out that CANYON//SRAM Racing are longing for victory as a team.
“There’s no hiding in Flanders. Everyone knows how difficult it is to win this race; cyclists and fans alike recognise it. Those who win are remembered as warriors and legends. You need to be a complete bike rider to win, but more importantly you need to be a complete team,” said Cromwell.
A battle ground
“Flanders is a battle ground. It is the biggest of the spring classics and there’s something mythical and magical about this race,” said Cromwell.
“You don’t get a ‘lucky’ winner and it’s very difficult for a ‘first timer’ to win, yet you don’t necessarily need to be the strongest rider to win it either. To win Flanders you need to be a complete bike rider: strong, smart, tactically savvy, and a good bike handler.”
The tools to win
Cromwell continues, “To win Flanders your whole team needs to have strong course knowledge, you need to have a strong team behind you, a team that is willing to take risks. You need to be able to deal with any weather conditions, be mentally strong, have a little bit of luck, and as a team be willing to suffer like you’ve never suffered before.”
A strong and well-balanced team
“We have a strong and well-balanced team for Flanders this year with a number of different cards that can be played:
Kasia and Alena bring the climbing strength and to make it hard over those leg-stinging punchy climbs at the business end of the race.
Alexis and Lisa are the power riders, can ride the wind for us, and both have a fast finish if it happens to be a bunch sprint.
Elena is the all-round ‘complete package’ who has been in strong form for all the classics so far. She can climb well, knows how to position herself and has a fast finish especially from a reduced field.
Then you have me who brings the tactical knowledge and can hopefully keep everyone together to help execute the perfect race plan.”
2018 versus 2019
From 150km to 159.2km, the 2019 parcours has one less cobblestone (four in total), and one less climb (ten in total) than last year’s edition. However, the women’s peloton will race for the first time up the cobblestoned climb, the Taaineberg. With the new addition coming hot on the heels of the Kanarieberg, to expect the race to explode at this point is an understatement.
“Flanders is super long and demanding! We are completely prepared and ready for the crazy battle on Sunday. We’re in excellent shape and we have the best equipment. Our team is incredibly strong and everyone is willing to go out there, do their job properly and race their hearts out for our team’s success. It’s going to hurt but we’re good with dealing with suffering and accepting pain!” remarked Niewiadoma.
How to follow
When: Sunday 7 April | start 10:55CET | finish 15:21CET
Where: 159.2km with start and finish in Oudenaarde, Belgium
How: on Twitter with #UCIWWT and #RVVwomen. Livestreams on SBS (AUS), Supersport (RSA), Fubo & FloBikes (USA, CAN), TDN (Mexico), ESPN (Brazil), Sky (NZL), DAZN (Japan), La Une (Belgium), RTS2 (Switzerland), France3 (France), RaiSport & Rai2 (Italy), Netherlands (NPO1), and more here.