On Sunday 2 April CANYON//SRAM will race one of the most prestigious spring classics on the calendar, Ronde van Vlaanderen. The 2017 monumental classic, with now twelve climbs, five cobblestone sectors and a total of 153km, remains the race that every cyclist dreams of winning.
Our roster for ‘The Ronde’ or ‘Flanders’: Trixi Worrack, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Elena Cecchini, Tiffany Cromwell, Lisa Brennauer and Hannah Barnes.
Three-time Italian road champion Cecchini says the re-introduction of the Muur van Geraardsbergen (Muur-Kapelmuur) climb could well see the start of a race-winning move. “Overall I expect that there will be more selections made as a result of the climbs and more action between the climbs as teams try to create situations to save their leader. I think the real selection will be made here and then it will be full of action right up until the end.” After the infamous Muur-Kapelmuur, there is still 70km and five more climbs to the finish.
For the first time Cecchini has started her season focused only on the road, and feels the different preparation can only be helpful in improving her best result ever in Flanders, a fifth place in 2015.
“I have more kilometres and more climbing in my legs than for the spring classics last year. Even if Flanders is one of the hardest races, physically and mentally, I feel confident. You really need to have the perfect day to win this race but perfect days happen and in our team we’re all feeling good about Sunday.”
Cecchini’s teammate, Tiffany Cromwell agrees the team is in a strong position for Flanders. “We have a really strong team and I’m excited to see what we do together. Over the last few weeks I’ve been feeling great on the bike in training and racing. Whatever my role in the team is on race day I’ll be ready to fight for as long as possible with my teammates and hopefully have an impact on the outcome of the race.”
Cecchini who sits second overall on the Women’s WorldTour behind former Flanders winner Elisa Longo Borghini says it’s not something she is focused on at all. “To be honest I’m quite happy to be sitting second before Flanders because that means I can wear the tricolore jersey and it’s a bit more fashionable,” laughs Cecchini.
“You can’t really chase the WorldTour lead throughout the year as you can’t do all the races and so it’s better to just see how it develops throughout the season. I’m happy for now that we get car two in the convoy for the spring classics.”
Racing starts from Oudenaarde at 11:00 on Sunday and can be followed on the team’s Twitter using #RVVwomen and #UCIWWT. The final 1.5 hours can be live streamed from the Flanders Classic website.