We start the 2021 race season in Europe with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium on Saturday 27 February. The roster for the UCI 1.Pro race will be headlined by Hannah Barnes, alongside Alena Amialiusik, Lisa Klein, Kasia Niewiadoma, Alexis Ryan and Swiss road champion Elise Chabbey.
This year’s parcours is identical to the 2020 edition, maintaining five cobblestone sections and ten climbs over its 126 kilometres length, with a finish in Ninove. When landmark streets and climbs such as Paddestraat, Molenberg and Tenbosse are included, the peloton and fans alike can be assured the spring races have arrived. If previous editions are used as a forecast, the Muur Kapelmuur – Bosberg climb combination within the final 17km of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will be a decisive point.
After enjoying a return to form in 2020, Hannah Barnes has fresh motivation for the upcoming races.
“I really enjoy Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. It’s the first race of the year for a lot of the peloton so everyone is very excited and motivated, including me. I have had good days there in the past and will use those results as motivation going into Saturday’s edition.”
Hannah continued, “I’m expecting an aggressive race. It’s one of the best races on the calendar as it has a little bit of everything and can be won solo, from a bunch sprint or from a small group. I want to have a strong race and be there fighting for the podium in the final.”
Kasia is another rider expected to play a key role for our team. “I’m stronger than this time last year, even stronger than two or three years ago. My winter block of preparation was solid. After the two training camps with the team, and taking a proper rest afterwards, I can see that I’m coming into my power,” said Niewiadoma.
“I’ve found the right balance between training hard and resting. I’m excited to get going with the first one. It’s always special because I feel like I have to get rid of those first race of the season nerves. After this, I will concentrate on winning races.”
Kasia says she will go into the race without pressure on herself.
“I try not to have expectations of myself throughout a race because that makes me stressed. I do know that I want to finish Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and be completely exhausted. I want to have shown the right race attitude and that I didn’t give up mentally. To finish knowing that there was nothing else I could have done in that race, that I showed no fear of pain, and that I showed my readiness to race and willingness to suffer. Then I’ll know I’ve done my best,” stated Kasia.
“I believe we can win this race. The team is strong enough to stand on the highest step of the podium. We need to be smart and race well together.”
“I have prepared well and feel my form is good coming into next weekend. I expect to play a key role in the outcome of the race and ensure a rider in our jersey is on the top step.”
Saturday will be Chabbey’s first race with CANYON//SRAM Racing. “I feel really good in this new team and feel like we’ll achieve some great things. My motivation is really high so I had a good training this winter and my shape is good! I can’t wait to do my first race with the Swiss jersey on my shoulders. It was always on the plan that I’ll race Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and I’m sure I can bring something to the team for this race.”
FOLLOW THE RACE
The women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad starts at 13:45CET and will be televised on Sporza, Proximus Pickx, GCN and Eurosport (check for broadcast times and geo-restrictions). The race can be followed on Twitter with #OHN21 and #OHNwomen.